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Title: Farthest North - Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration of the Ship 'Fram' 1893-1896 - Vol. I
Author: Nansen, Fridtjof, 1861-1930
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                             FARTHEST NORTH

     Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration of the Ship "Fram"
   1893-96 and of a Fifteen Months' Sleigh Journey by Dr. Nansen and
                            Lieut. Johansen

                                   By

                          Dr. FRIDTJOF NANSEN

         With an Appendix by Otto Sverdrup Captain of the Fram


     About 120 Full-page and Numerous Text Illustrations 16 Colored
  Plates in Facsimile from Dr. Nansen's Own Sketches, Etched Portrait,
                           and Photogravures

                             In two volumes

                                Vol. I.

                          New York and London
                      Harper & Brothers Publishers



                 Copyright, 1897, by Harper & Brothers.

                          All rights reserved.



                                   TO
                                  HER
                        WHO CHRISTENED THE SHIP
                                  AND
                    HAD THE COURAGE TO REMAIN BEHIND



CONTENTS OF VOL. I.


          CHAP.                                             PAGE

             I. Introduction                                   1
            II. Preparations and Equipment                    54
           III. The Start                                     81
            IV. Farewell To Norway                           104
             V. Voyage Through the Kara Sea                  146
            VI. The Winter Night                             237
           VII. The Spring and Summer of 1894                442
          VIII. Second Autumn in the Ice                     525



ILLUSTRATIONS IN VOL. I.


                                                                PAGE.

        Fridtjof Nansen                          Etched Frontispiece
        Colin Archer                                              58
        Design of the "Fram"                                      61
        Sigurd Scott-Hansen                                       85
        Adolf Juell                                               89
        The "Fram" leaving Bergen                                 93
        Otto Sverdrup                                             99
        First drift-ice (July 28, 1893)                          107
        The new church and the old church at Khabarova           116
        Peter Henriksen                                          119
        Our trial trip with the dogs                             127
        Evening scene at Khabarova                               131
        O. Christofersen and A. Trontheim                        135
        Landing on Yalmal                                        148
        The plain of Yalmal                                      150
        In the Kara Sea                                          152
        The "Fram" in the Kara Sea                               155
        Ostrova Kamenni (Rocky Island), off the coast
        of Siberia                                               158
        Theodor C. Jacobsen, mate of the "Fram"                  161
        Henrik Blessing                                          167
        A dead bear on Reindeer Island (August 21, 1893)         172
        "We first tried to drag the bears"                       173
        Bernard Nordahl                                          177
        Ivar Mogstad                                             185
        Bernt Bentzen                                            193
        Lars Pettersen                                           205
        Anton Amundsen                                           213
        Cape Chelyuskin, the Northernmost point of
        the Old World                                            218
        On land East of Cape Chelyuskin (September 10, 1893)     219
        A warm corner among the walruses, off East Taimur        223
        The ice into which the "Fram" was frozen
        (September 25, 1893)                                     234
        The smithy on the "Fram"                                 239
        The thermometer house                                    244
        Magnetic observations                                    247
        A smoke in the galley of the "Fram"                      250
        "The saloon was converted into a reading-room"           252
        Scott-Hansen and Johansen inspecting the
        barometers                                     Facing p. 254
        Dr. Blessing in his cabin                                257
        "I let loose some of the dogs"                           263
        The men who were afraid of frightening the bear.
        "Off steals Blessing on tiptoe"                          267
        Dogs chained on the ice                                  272
        We lay in open water                                     275
        My first attempt at dog driving                          289
        A chronometer--observation with the theodolite
                                                       Facing p. 314
        A lively game of cards                                   318
        "'I took the lantern and gave him such a whack
        on the head with it'"                                    330
        A nocturnal visitant                                     336
        Sverdrup's bear-trap (moonlight, December 20, 1893)      339
        "He stared, hesitating, at the delicious morsel"         341
        Promenade in times of peace with Sverdrup's
        patent foot-gear                                         345
        "Fram" fellows on the war-path: difference
        between the Sverdrup and the Lapp foot-gear              346
        "Fram" fellows still on the war-path                     347
        "It was strange once more to see the moonlight
        playing on the coal-black waves"                         351
        A game of halma                                          355
        First appearance of the sun                              394
        Diagrams of ice with layers                              401
        Johansen reading the anemometer                          409
        Two friends                                              418
        Experiment in sledge sailing                             421
        At the coming of the Spring (March, 1894)                425
        Returning home after sunset (March 31, 1894)             429
        Observing the eclipse of the sun (April 6, 1894)         433
        Tailpiece                                                441
        Taking a sounding of 2058 fathoms                        447
        Home-sickness (June 16, 1894)                            451
        Sailing on the fresh-water pool (July 12, 1894)          454
        Reading temperatures with lens                 Facing p. 456
        Peter Henriksen in a brown study (July 6, 1894)          461
        Taking water temperatures                                466
        Summer guests                                            469
        Rhodos Tethia                                            473
        Nansen takes a walk (July 6, 1894)                       477
        Our kennels (September 27, 1894)                         480
        The dogs basking in the sun (June 13, 1894)              482
        The Seventeenth-of-May procession, 1894                  485
        The drift-ice in Summer (July 12, 1894)                  487
        A Summer scene (July 21, 1894)                           493
        The stern of the "Fram." Johansen and "Sultan"
        (June 16, 1894)                                          499
        Blessing goes off in search of algæ                      503
        A Summer evening (July 14, 1894)                         505
        Blessing fishing for algæ                                507
        Pressure-ridge on the port quarter of the "Fram"
        (July 1, 1894)                                           509
        Skeletons of a kayak for one man (bamboo) and of
        a double kayak, lying on a hand-sledge                   511
        A Summer evening (July 14, 1894)                         519
        Tailpiece                                                524
        Pettersen after the explosion                            529
        Snow-shoe practice (September 28, 1894)                  542
        Return from a snow-shoe run (September 28, 1894)         544
        Block of ice (September 28, 1894)                        546
        The waning day (October, 1894)                           548
        A snow-shoe excursion (October, 1894)                    553
        In line for the photographer                             555
        Deep-water temperature.  "Up with the
        thermometer" (July 12, 1894)                             559
        On the after-deck of the "Fram" (October, 1894)          563
        The return of snow-shoers                      Facing p. 566


        COLORED PLATES IN VOL. I.

                                                            Facing p.

     I. Walruses killed off the East coast of the
        Taimur Peninsula (September 12, 1893)                    220
    II. Sleepy and cross (September 12, 1893)                    228
   III. Sunset off the North coast of Asia, North of
        the mouth of the Chatanga (September 12, 1893)           232
    IV. Off the edge of the ice.--Gathering storm
        (September 14, 1893)                                     290
     V. Evening among the drift-ice (September 22, 1893)         304
    VI. At sunset (September 22, 1893)                           324
   VII. The waning polar day (September 22, 1893)                352
  VIII. Moonlight (November 22, 1893)                            576



PUBLISHER'S NOTE


The Author had not originally contemplated the publication of the
colored sketches which are produced in this work. He has permitted
their reproduction because they may be useful as showing color effects
in the Arctic; but he wishes it understood that he claims no artistic
merit for them.



FARTHEST NORTH


CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION


                "A time will come in later years when the Ocean will
                unloose the bands of things, when the immeasurable
                earth will lie open, when seafarers will discover new
                countries, and Thule will no longer be the extreme
                point among the lands."--Seneca.


Unseen and untrodden under their spotless mantle of ice the rigid
polar regions slept the profound sleep of death from the earliest dawn
of time. Wrapped in his white shroud, the mighty giant stretched his
clammy ice-limbs abroad, and dreamed his age-long dreams.

Ages passed--deep was the silence.

Then, in the dawn of history, far away in the south, the awakening
spirit of man reared its head on high and gazed over the earth. To
the south it encountered warmth, to the north, cold; and behind the
boundaries of the unknown it placed in imagination the twin kingdoms
of consuming heat and of deadly cold.

But the limits of the unknown had to recede step by step before the
ever-increasing yearning after light and knowledge of the human mind,
till they made a stand in the north at the threshold of Nature's
great Ice Temple of the polar regions with their endless silence.

Up to this point no insuperable obstacles had opposed the progress
of the advancing hosts, which confidently proceeded on their way. But
here the ramparts of ice and the long darkness of winter brought them
to bay. Host after host marched on towards the north, only to suffer
defeat. Fresh ranks stood ever ready to advance over the bodies of
their predecessors. Shrouded in fog lay the mythic land of Nivlheim,
where the "Rimturser" [1] carried on their wild gambols.

Why did we continually return to the attack? There in the darkness
and cold stood Helheim, where the death-goddess held her sway;
there lay Nåstrand, the shore of corpses. Thither, where no living
being could draw breath, thither troop after troop made its way. To
what end? Was it to bring home the dead, as did Hermod when he
rode after Baldur? No! It was simply to satisfy man's thirst for
knowledge. Nowhere, in truth, has knowledge been purchased at greater
cost of privation and suffering. But the spirit of mankind will never
rest till every spot of these regions has been trodden by the foot
of man, till every enigma has been solved.

Minute by minute, degree by degree, we have stolen forward, with
painful effort. Slowly the day has approached; even now we are but in
its early dawn; darkness still broods over vast tracts around the Pole.

Our ancestors, the old Vikings, were the first Arctic voyagers. It has
been said that their expeditions to the frozen sea were of no moment,
as they have left no enduring marks behind them. This, however,
is scarcely correct. Just as surely as the whalers of our age, in
their persistent struggles with ice and sea, form our outposts of
investigation up in the north, so were the old Northmen, with Eric
the Red, Leif, and others at their head, the pioneers of the polar
expeditions of future generations.

It should be borne in mind that as they were the first ocean
navigators, so also were they the first to combat with the ice. Long
before other seafaring nations had ever ventured to do more than hug
the coast lines, our ancestors had traversed the open seas in all
directions, had discovered Iceland and Greenland, and had colonized
them. At a later period they discovered America, and did not shrink
from making a straight course over the Atlantic Ocean, from Greenland
to Norway. Many and many a bout must they have had with the ice along
the coasts of Greenland in their open barks, and many a life must
have been lost.

And that which impelled them to undertake these expeditions was not the
mere love of adventure, though that is, indeed, one of the essential
traits of our national character. It was rather the necessity of
discovering new countries for the many restless beings that could
find no room in Norway. Furthermore, they were stimulated by a real
interest for knowledge. Othar, who about 890 resided in England at
Alfred's Court, set out on an errand of geographical investigation;
or, as he says himself, "he felt an inspiration and a desire to learn,
to know, and to demonstrate how far the land stretched towards the
north, and if there were any regions inhabited by man northward beyond
the desert waste." He lived in the northernmost part of Helgeland,
probably at Bjarköi, and sailed round the North Cape and eastward,
even to the White Sea.

Adam of Bremen relates of Harald Hårdråde, "the experienced king of
the Northmen," that he undertook a voyage out into the sea towards
the north and "explored the expanse of the northern ocean with his
ships, but darkness spread over the verge where the world falls away,
and he put about barely in time to escape being swallowed in the
vast abyss." This was Ginnungagap, the abyss at the world's end. How
far he went no one knows, but at all events he deserves recognition
as one of the first of the polar navigators that were animated by
pure love of knowledge. Naturally, these Northmen were not free from
the superstitious ideas about the polar regions prevalent in their
times. There, indeed, they placed their Ginnungagap, their Nivlheim,
Helheim, and later on Trollebotn; but even these mythical and poetical
ideas contained so large a kernel of observation that our fathers may
be said to have possessed a remarkably clear conception of the true
nature of things. How soberly and correctly they observed may best
be seen a couple of hundred years later in Kongespeilet ("The Mirror
of Kings"), the most scientific treatise of our ancient literature,
where it is said that "as soon as one has traversed the greater
part of the wild sea, one comes upon such a huge quantity of ice
that nowhere in the whole world has the like been known. Some of the
ice is so flat that it looks as if it were frozen on the sea itself;
it is from 8 to 10 feet thick, and extends so far out into the sea
that it would take a journey of four or more days to reach the land
over it. But this ice lies more to the northeast or north, beyond
the limits of the land, than to the south and southwest or west....

"This ice is of a wonderful nature. It lies at times quite still, as
one would expect, with openings or large fjords in it; but sometimes
its movement is so strong and rapid as to equal that of a ship running
before the wind, and it drifts against the wind as often as with it."

This is a conception all the more remarkable when viewed in the light
of the crude ideas entertained by the rest of the world at that period
with regard to foreign climes.

The strength of our people now dwindled away, and centuries elapsed
before explorers once more sought the northern seas. Then it was
other nations, especially the Dutch and the English, that led the
van. The sober observations of the old Northmen were forgotten, and
in their stead we meet with repeated instances of the attraction of
mankind towards the most fantastic ideas; a tendency of thought that
found ample scope in the regions of the north. When the cold proved
not to be absolutely deadly, theories flew to the opposite extreme,
and marvellous were the erroneous ideas that sprang up and have
held their own down to the present day. Over and over again it has
been the same--the most natural explanation of phenomena is the very
one that men have most shunned; and, if no middle course was to be
found, they have rushed to the wildest hypothesis. It is only thus
that the belief in an open polar sea could have arisen and held its
ground. Though everywhere ice was met with, people maintained that
this open sea must lie behind the ice. Thus the belief in an ice-free
northeast and northwest passage to the wealth of Cathay or of India,
first propounded towards the close of the 15th century, cropped up
again and again, only to be again and again refuted. Since the ice
barred the southern regions, the way must lie farther north; and
finally a passage over the Pole itself was sought for. Wild as these
theories were, they have worked for the benefit of mankind; for by
their means our knowledge of the earth has been widely extended. Hence
we may see that no work done in the service of investigation is ever
lost, not even when carried out under false assumptions. England has
to thank these chimeras in no small degree for the fact that she has
become the mightiest seafaring nation of the world.

By many paths and by many means mankind has endeavored to penetrate
this kingdom of death. At first the attempt was made exclusively by
sea. Ships were then ill adapted to combat the ice, and people were
loath to make the venture. The clinker-built pine and fir barks of
the old Northmen were no better fitted for the purpose than were
the small clumsy carvels of the first English and Dutch Arctic
explorers. Little by little they learnt to adapt their vessels to
the conditions, and with ever-increasing daring they forced them in
among the dreaded floes.

But the uncivilized polar tribes, both those that inhabit the Siberian
tundras and the Eskimo of North America, had discovered, long before
polar expeditions had begun, another and a safer means of traversing
these regions--to wit, the sledge, usually drawn by dogs. It was in
Siberia that this excellent method of locomotion was first applied
to the service of polar exploration. Already in the 17th and 18th
centuries the Russians undertook very extensive sledge journeys, and
charted the whole of the Siberian coast from the borders of Europe
to Bering Strait. And they did not merely travel along the coasts,
but crossed the drift-ice itself to the New Siberian Islands, and
even north of them. Nowhere, perhaps, have travellers gone through
so many sufferings, or evinced so much endurance.

In America, too, the sledge was employed by Englishmen at an early date
for the purpose of exploring the shores of the Arctic seas. Sometimes
the toboggan or Indian sledge was used, sometimes that of the
Eskimo. It was under the able leadership of M'Clintock that sledge
journeys attained their highest development. While the Russians had
generally travelled with a large number of dogs, and only a few men,
the English employed many more men on their expeditions, and their
sledges were entirely, or for the most part, drawn by the explorers
themselves. Thus in the most energetic attempt ever made to reach high
latitudes, Albert Markham's memorable march towards the north from the
Alert's winter quarters, there were 33 men who had to draw the sledges,
though there were plenty of dogs on board the ship. It would appear,
indeed, as if dogs were not held in great estimation by the English.

The American traveller Peary has, however, adopted a totally different
method of travelling on the inland ice of Greenland, employing as
few men and as many dogs as possible. The great importance of dogs
for sledge journeys was clear to me before I undertook my Greenland
expedition, and the reason I did not use them then was simply that
I was unable to procure any serviceable animals. [2]

A third method may yet be mentioned which has been employed in the
Arctic regions--namely, boats and sledges combined. It is said of the
old Northmen in the Sagas and in the Kongespeilet, that for days on
end they had to drag their boats over the ice in the Greenland sea,
in order to reach land. The first in modern times to make use of
this means of travelling was Parry, who, in his memorable attempt
to reach the Pole in 1827, abandoned his ship and made his way over
the drift-ice northward with boats, which he dragged on sledges. He
succeeded in attaining the highest latitude (82° 45') that had yet been
reached; but here the current carried him to the south more quickly
than he could advance against it, and he was obliged to turn back.

Of later years this method of travelling has not been greatly employed
in approaching the Pole. It may, however, be mentioned that Markham
took boats with him also on his sledge expedition. Many expeditions
have through sheer necessity accomplished long distances over the
drift-ice in this way, in order to reach home after having abandoned or
lost their ship. Especial mention may be made of the Austro-Hungarian
Tegethoff expedition to Franz Josef Land, and the ill-fated American
Jeannette expedition.

It seems that but few have thought of following the example of the
Eskimo--living as they do, and, instead of heavy boats, taking light
kayaks drawn by dogs. At all events, no attempts have been made in
this direction.

The methods of advance have been tested on four main routes: the
Smith Sound route, the sea route between Greenland and Spitzbergen,
Franz Josef Land route, and the Bering Strait route.

In later times, the point from which the Pole has been most
frequently assailed is Smith Sound, probably because American
explorers had somewhat too hastily asserted that they had there
descried the open Polar Sea, extending indefinitely towards the
north. Every expedition was stopped, however, by immense masses of
ice, which came drifting southward, and piled themselves up against
the coasts. The most important expedition by this route was the
English one conducted by Nares in 1875-76, the equipment of which
involved a vast expenditure. Markham, the next in command to Nares,
reached the highest latitude till then attained, 83° 20', but at
the cost of enormous exertion and loss; and Nares was of opinion
that the impossibility of reaching the Pole by this route was fully
demonstrated for all future ages.

During the stay of the Greely expedition (from 1881 to 1884) in this
same region, Lockwood attained a somewhat higher record, viz., 83°
24', the most northerly point on the globe that human feet had trodden
previous to the expedition of which the present work treats.

By way of the sea between Greenland and Spitzbergen, several attempts
have been made to penetrate the secrets of the domain of ice. In
1607 Henry Hudson endeavored to reach the Pole along the east coast
of Greenland, where he was in hopes of finding an open basin and a
waterway to the Pacific. His progress was, however, stayed at 73°
north latitude, at a point of the coast which he named "Hold with
Hope." The German expedition under Koldeway (1869-70), which visited
the same waters, reached by the aid of sledges as far north as 77°
north latitude. Owing to the enormous masses of ice which the polar
current sweeps southward along this coast, it is certainly one of the
most unfavorable routes for a polar expedition. A better route is that
by Spitzbergen, which was essayed by Hudson, when his progress was
blocked off Greenland. Here he reached 80° 23' north latitude. Thanks
to the warm current that runs by the west coast of Spitzbergen in a
northerly direction, the sea is kept free from ice, and it is without
comparison the route by which one can the most safely and easily reach
high latitudes in ice-free waters. It was north of Spitzbergen that
Edward Parry made his attempt in 1827, above alluded to.

Farther eastward the ice-conditions are less favorable, and therefore
few polar expeditions have directed their course through these
regions. The original object of the Austro-Hungarian expedition
under Weyprecht and Payer (1872-74) was to seek for the Northeast
Passage; but at its first meeting with the ice it was set fast off
the north point of Novaya Zemlya, drifted northward, and discovered
Franz Josef Land, whence Payer endeavored to push forward to the
north with sledges, reaching 82° 5' north latitude on an island,
which he named Crown-Prince Rudolf's Land. To the north of this he
thought he could see an extensive tract of land, lying in about 83°
north latitude, which he called Petermann's Land. Franz Josef Land
was afterwards twice visited by the English traveller Leigh Smith in
1880 and 1881-82; and it is here that the English Jackson-Harmsworth
expedition is at present established.

The plan of the Danish expedition under Hovgaard was to push forward
to the North Pole from Cape Chelyuskin along the east coast of an
extensive tract of land which Hovgaard thought must lie to the east
of Franz Josef Land. He got set fast in the ice, however, in the Kara
Sea, and remained the winter there, returning home the following year.

Only a few attempts have been made through Bering Strait. The first was
Cook's, in 1776; the last the Jeannette expedition (1879-81), under De
Long, a lieutenant in the American navy. Scarcely anywhere have polar
travellers been so hopelessly blocked by ice in comparatively low
latitudes. The last-named expedition, however, had a most important
bearing upon my own. As De Long himself says in a letter to James
Gordon Bennett, who supplied the funds for the expedition, he was
of opinion that there were three routes to choose from--Smith Sound,
the east coast of Greenland, or Bering Strait; but he put most faith
in the last, and this was ultimately selected. His main reason for
this choice was his belief in a Japanese current running north through
Bering Strait and onward along the east coast of Wrangel Land, which
was believed to extend far to the north. It was urged that the warm
water of this current would open a way along that coast, possibly
up to the Pole. The experience of whalers showed that whenever their
vessels were set fast in the ice here they drifted northwards; hence it
was concluded that the current generally set in that direction. "This
will help explorers," says De Long, "to reach high latitudes, but at
the same time will make it more difficult for them to come back." The
truth of these words he himself was to learn by bitter experience.

The Jeannette stuck fast in the ice on September 6th, 1879, in 71°
35' north latitude and 175° 6' east longitude, southeast of Wrangel
Land--which, however, proved to be a small island--and drifted with
the ice in a west-northwesterly direction for two years, when it
foundered, June 12th, 1881, north of the New Siberian Islands, in 77°
15' north latitude and 154° 59' east longitude.

Everywhere, then, has the ice stopped the progress of mankind
towards the north. In two cases only have ice-bound vessels drifted
in a northerly direction--in the case of the Tegethoff and the
Jeannette--while most of the others have been carried away from their
goal by masses of ice drifting southward.

On reading the history of Arctic explorations, it early occurred to
me that it would be very difficult to wrest the secrets from these
unknown regions of ice by adopting the routes and the methods hitherto
employed. But where did the proper route lie?

It was in the autumn of 1884 that I happened to see an article by
Professor Mohn in the Norwegian Morgenblad, in which it was stated that
sundry articles which must have come from the Jeannette had been found
on the southwest coast of Greenland. He conjectured that they must have
drifted on a floe right across the Polar Sea. It immediately occurred
to me that here lay the route ready to hand. If a floe could drift
right across the unknown region, that drift might also be enlisted in
the service of exploration--and my plan was laid. Some years, however,
elapsed before, in February, 1890, after my return from my Greenland
expedition, I at last propounded the idea in an address before the
Christiania Geographical Society. As this address plays an important
part in the history of the expedition, I shall reproduce its principal
features, as printed in the March number of Naturen, 1891.

After giving a brief sketch of the different polar expeditions of
former years, I go on to say: "The results of these numerous attempts,
as I have pointed out, seem somewhat discouraging. They appear to
show plainly enough that it is impossible to sail to the Pole by any
route whatever; for everywhere the ice has proved an impenetrable
barrier, and has stayed the progress of invaders on the threshold of
the unknown regions.

"To drag boats over the uneven drift-ice, which moreover is constantly
moving under the influence of the current and wind, is an equally
great difficulty. The ice lays such obstacles in the way that any one
who has ever attempted to traverse it will not hesitate to declare
it well-nigh impossible to advance in this manner with the equipment
and provisions requisite for such an undertaking."

Had we been able to advance over land, I said, that would have been the
most certain route; in that case the Pole could have been reached "in
one summer by Norwegian snow-shoe runners." But there is every reason
to doubt the existence of any such land. Greenland, I considered,
did not extend farther than the most northerly known point of its
west coast. "It is not probable that Franz Josef Land reaches to the
Pole; from all we can learn it forms a group of islands separated
from each other by deep sounds, and it appears improbable that any
large continuous track of land is to be found there.

"Some people are perhaps of opinion that one ought to defer the
examination of regions like those around the Pole, beset, as they
are, with so many difficulties, till new means of transport have been
discovered. I have heard it intimated that one fine day we shall be
able to reach the Pole by a balloon, and that it is only waste of time
to seek to get there before that day comes. It need scarcely be shown
that this line of reasoning is untenable. Even if one could really
suppose that in the near or distant future this frequently mooted idea
of travelling to the Pole in an air-ship would be realized, such an
expedition, however interesting it might be in certain respects, would
be far from yielding the scientific results of expeditions carried out
in the manner here indicated. Scientific results of importance in all
branches of research can be attained only by persistent observations
during a lengthened sojourn in these regions, while those of a balloon
expedition cannot but be of a transitory nature.

"We must, then, endeavor to ascertain if there are not other
routes--and I believe there are. I believe that if we pay attention
to the actually existent forces of nature, and seek to work with and
not against them, we shall thus find the safest and easiest method
of reaching the Pole. It is useless, as previous expeditions have
done, to work against the current; we should see if there is not a
current we can work with. The Jeannette expedition is the only one,
in my opinion, that started on the right track, though it may have
been unwittingly and unwillingly.

"The Jeannette drifted for two years in the ice, from Wrangel Land
to the New Siberian Islands. Three years after she foundered to the
north of these islands there was found frozen into the drift-ice, in
the neighborhood of Julianehaab, on the southwest coast of Greenland,
a number of articles which appeared, from sundry indubitable marks, to
proceed from the sunken vessel. These articles were first discovered
by the Eskimo, and were afterwards collected by Mr. Lytzen, Colonial
Manager at Julianehaab, who has given a list of them in the Danish
Geographical Journal for 1885. Among them the following may especially
be mentioned:


    "1. A list of provisions, signed by De Long, the commander of
        the Jeannette.
    "2. A MS. list of the Jeannette's boats.
    "3. A pair of oilskin breeches marked 'Louis Noros,' the name of
        one of the Jeannette's crew, who was saved.
    "4. The peak of a cap on which, according to Lytzen's statement,
        was written F. C. Lindemann. The name of one of the crew of
        the Jeannette, who was also saved, was F. C. Nindemann. This
        may either have been a clerical error on Lytzen's part or a
        misprint in the Danish journal.


"In America, when it was reported that these articles had been found,
people were very sceptical, and doubts of their genuineness were
expressed in the American newspapers. The facts, however, can scarcely
be sheer inventions; and it may therefore be safely assumed that an
ice-floe bearing these articles from the Jeannette had drifted from
the place where it sank to Julianehaab.

"By what route did this ice-floe reach the west coast of Greenland?

"Professor Mohn, in a lecture before the Scientific Society of
Christiania, in November, 1894, showed that it could have come by no
other way than across the Pole. [3]

"It cannot possibly have come through Smith Sound, as the current
there passes along the western side of Baffin's Bay, and it would
thus have been conveyed to Baffin's Land or Labrador, and not to
the west coast of Greenland. The current flows along this coast in
a northerly direction, and is a continuation of the Greenland polar
current, which comes along the east coast of Greenland, takes a bend
round Cape Farewell, and passes upward along the west coast.

"It is by this current only that the floe could have come.

"But the question now arises: What route did it take from the New
Siberian Islands in order to reach the east coast of Greenland?

"It is conceivable that it might have drifted along the north coast
of Siberia, south of Franz Josef Land, up through the sound between
Franz Josef Land and Spitzbergen, or even to the south of Spitzbergen,
and might after that have got into the polar current which flows along
Greenland. If, however, we study the directions of the currents in
these regions so far as they are at present ascertained, it will be
found that this is extremely improbable, not to say impossible."

Having shown that this is evident from the Tegethoff drift and from
many other circumstances, I proceeded:

"The distance from the New Siberian Islands to the 80th degree
of latitude on the east coast of Greenland is 1360 miles, and the
distance from the last-named place to Julianehaab 1540 miles, making
together a distance of 2900 miles. This distance was traversed by
the floe in 1100 days, which gives a speed of 2.6 miles per day of 24
hours. The time during which the relics drifted after having reached
the 80th degree of latitude, till they arrived at Julianehaab, can be
calculated with tolerable precision, as the speed of the above-named
current along the east coast of Greenland is well known. It may be
assumed that it took at least 400 days to accomplish this distance;
there remain, then, about 700 days as the longest time the drifting
articles can have taken from the New Siberian Islands to the 80th
degree of latitude. Supposing that they took the shortest route--i. e.,
across the Pole--this computation gives a speed of about 2 miles in
24 hours. On the other hand, supposing they went by the route south of
Franz Josef Land, and south of Spitzbergen, they must have drifted at
much higher speed. Two miles in the 24 hours, however, coincides most
remarkably with the rate at which the Jeannette drifted during the
last months of her voyage, from January 1 to June 12, 1881. In this
time she drifted at an average rate of a little over 2 miles in the 24
hours. If, however, the average speed of the whole of the Jeannette's
drifting be taken, it will be found to be only 1 mile in the 24 hours.

"But are there no other evidences of a current flowing across the
North Pole from Bering Sea on the one side to the Atlantic Ocean on
the other?

"Yes, there are.

"Dr. Rink received from a Greenlander at Godthaab a remarkable piece
of wood which had been found among the drift-timber on the coast. It
is one of the 'throwing sticks' which the Eskimo use in hurling their
bird-darts, but altogether unlike those used by the Eskimo on the west
coast of Greenland. Dr. Rink conjectured that it possibly proceeded
from the Eskimo on the east coast of Greenland.

"From later inquiries, [4] however, it appeared that it must have
come from the coast of Alaska in the neighborhood of Bering Strait,
as that is the only place where 'throwing sticks' of a similar form
are used. It was even ornamented with Chinese glass beads, exactly
similar to those which the Alaskan Eskimo obtain by barter from
Asiatic tribes, and use for the decoration of their 'throwing sticks.'

"We may, therefore, with confidence assert that this piece of wood
was carried from the west coast of Alaska over to Greenland by a
current the whole course of which we do not know, but which may be
assumed to flow very near the North Pole, or at some place between
it and Franz Josef Land.

"There are, moreover, still further proofs that such a current
exists. As is well known, no trees grow in Greenland that can be used
for making boats, sledges, or other appliances. The driftwood that is
carried down by the polar current along the east coast of Greenland
and up the west coast is, therefore, essential to the existence of
the Greenland Eskimo. But whence does this timber come?

"Here our inquiries again carry us to lands on the other side of the
Pole. I have myself had an opportunity of examining large quantities of
driftwood both on the west coast and on the east coast of Greenland. I
have, moreover, found pieces drifting in the sea off the east coast,
and, like earlier travellers, have arrived at the conclusion that
much the greater part of it can only have come from Siberia, while
a smaller portion may possibly have come from America. For amongst
it are to be found fir, Siberian larch, and other kinds of wood
peculiar to the north, which could scarcely have come from any other
quarter. Interesting in this respect are the discoveries that have
been made on the east coast of Greenland by the second German Polar
Expedition. Out of twenty-five pieces of driftwood, seventeen were
Siberian larch, five Norwegian fir (probably Picea obovata), two a
kind of alder (Alnus incana?), and one a poplar (Populus tremula? the
common aspen), all of which are trees found in Siberia.

"By way of supplement to these observations on the Greenland side,
it may be mentioned that the Jeannette expedition frequently found
Siberian driftwood (fir and birch) between the floes in the strong
northerly current to the northward of the New Siberian Islands.

"Fortunately for the Eskimo, such large quantities of this driftwood
come every year to the coasts of Greenland that in my opinion one
cannot but assume that they are conveyed thither by a constantly
flowing current, especially as the wood never appears to have been
very long in the sea--at all events, not without having been frozen
in the ice.

"That this driftwood passes south of Franz Josef Land and Spitzbergen
is quite as unreasonable a theory as that the ice-floe with the relics
from the Jeannette drifted by this route. In further disproof of this
assumption it may be stated that Siberian driftwood is found north
of Spitzbergen in the strong southerly current, against which Parry
fought in vain.

"It appears, therefore, that on these grounds also we cannot but admit
the existence of a current flowing across, or in close proximity to,
the Pole.

"As an interesting fact in this connection, it may also be mentioned
that the German botanist Grisebach has shown that the Greenland flora
includes a series of Siberian vegetable forms that could scarcely
have reached Greenland in any other way than by the help of such a
current conveying the seeds.

"On the drift-ice in Denmark Strait (between Iceland and Greenland)
I have made observations which tend to the conclusion that this ice
too was of Siberian origin. For instance, I found quantities of mud on
it, which seemed to be of Siberian origin, or might possibly have come
from North American rivers. It is possible, however, to maintain that
this mud originates in the glacier rivers that flow from under the ice
in the north of Greenland, or in other unknown polar lands; so that
this piece of evidence is of less importance than those already named.

"Putting all this together, we seem driven to the conclusion that
a current flows at some point between the Pole and Franz Josef Land
from the Siberian Arctic Sea to the east coast of Greenland.

"That such must be the case we may also infer in another way. If we
regard, for instance, the polar current--that broad current which
flows down from the unknown polar regions between Spitzbergen and
Greenland--and consider what an enormous mass of water it carries
along, it must seem self-evident that this cannot come from a
circumscribed and small basin, but must needs be gathered from
distant sources, the more so as the Polar Sea (so far as we know
it) is remarkably shallow everywhere to the north of the European,
Asiatic, and American coasts. The polar current is no doubt fed by
that branch of the Gulf Stream which makes its way up the west side
of Spitzbergen; but this small stream is far from being sufficient,
and the main body of its water must be derived from farther northward.

"It is probable that the polar current stretches its suckers,
as it were, to the coast of Siberia and Bering Strait, and draws
its supplies from these distant regions. The water it carries off
is replaced partly through the warm current before mentioned which
makes its way through Bering Strait, and partly by that branch of the
Gulf Stream which, passing by the north of Norway, bends eastward
towards Novaya Zemlya, and of which a great portion unquestionably
continues its course along the north coast of this island into the
Siberian Arctic Sea. That a current coming from the south takes this
direction--at all events, in some measure--appears probable from
the well-known fact that in the northern hemisphere the rotation of
the earth tends to compel a northward-flowing current, whether of
water or of air, to assume an easterly course. The earth's rotation
may also cause a southward-flowing stream, like the polar current,
to direct its course westward to the east coast of Greenland.

"But even if these currents flowing in the polar basin did not exist,
I am still of opinion that in some other way a body of water must
collect in it, sufficient to form a polar current. In the first place,
there are the North European, the Siberian, and North American rivers
debouching into the Arctic Sea, to supply this water. The fluvial basin
of these rivers is very considerable, comprising a large portion of
Northern Europe, almost the whole of Northern Asia or Siberia down
to the Altai Mountains and Lake Baikal, together with the principal
part of Alaska and British North America. All these added together
form no unimportant portion of the earth, and the rainfall of these
countries is enormous. It is not conceivable that the Arctic Sea of
itself could contribute anything of importance to this rainfall; for,
in the first place, it is for the most part covered with drift-ice,
from which the evaporation is but trifling; and, in the next place,
the comparatively low temperature in these regions prevents any
considerable evaporation taking place even from open surfaces of
water. The moisture that produces this rainfall must consequently in
a great measure come from elsewhere, principally from the Atlantic
and Pacific oceans, and the amount of water which thereby feeds the
Arctic Sea must be very considerable. If we possessed sufficient
knowledge of the rainfall in the different localities it might be
exactly calculated. [5]

"The importance of this augmentation appears even greater when we
consider that the polar basin is comparatively small, and, as has
been already remarked, very shallow; its greatest known depth being
from 60 to 80 fathoms.

"But there is still another factor that must help to increase
the quantity of water in the polar basin, and that is its own
rainfall. Weyprecht has already pointed out the probability that
the large influx of warm, moist atmosphere from the south, attracted
by the constant low atmospheric pressure in the polar regions, must
engender so large a rainfall as to augment considerably the amount
of water in the Polar Sea. Moreover, the fact that the polar basin
receives large supplies of fresh water is proved by the small amount
of salt in the water of the polar current.

"From all these considerations it appears unquestionable that the
sea around the Pole is fed with considerable quantities of water,
partly fresh, as we have just seen, partly salt, as we indicated
further back, proceeding from the different ocean currents. It thus
becomes inevitable, according to the law of equilibrium, that these
masses of water should seek such an outlet as we find in the Greenland
polar current.

"Let us now inquire whether further reasons can be found to show why
this current flows exactly in the given direction.

"If we examine the ocean soundings, we at once find a conclusive reason
why the main outlet must lie between Spitzbergen and Greenland. The
sea here, so far as we know it, is at all points very deep; there is,
indeed, a channel of as much as 2500 fathoms depth; while south of
Spitzbergen and Franz Josef Land it is remarkably shallow--not more
than 160 fathoms. As has been stated, a current passes northward
through Bering Strait and Smith Sound, and the sounds between the
islands north of America, though here, indeed, there is a southward
current, are far too small and narrow to form adequate outlets for
the mass of water of which we are speaking. There is, therefore,
no other assumption left than that this mass of water must find its
outlet by the route actually followed by the polar current. The channel
discovered by the Jeannette expedition between Wrangel Land and the
New Siberian Islands may here be mentioned as a notable fact. It
extended in a northerly direction, and was at some points more than
80 fathoms deep, while at the sides the soundings ran only to 40 or
50 fathoms. It is by no means impossible that this channel may be a
continuation of the channel between Spitzbergen and Greenland, [6]
in which case it would certainly influence, if not actually determine,
the direction of the main current.

"If we examine the conditions of wind and atmospheric pressure over
the Polar Sea, as far as they are known, it would appear that they
must tend to produce a current across the Pole in the direction
indicated. From the Atlantic to the south of Spitzbergen and Franz
Josef Land a belt of low atmospheric pressure (minimum belt) extends
into the Siberian Arctic Sea. In accordance with well-known laws, the
wind must have a preponderating direction from west to east on the
south side of this belt, and this would promote an eastward-flowing
current along the north coast of Siberia, such as has been found
to exist there. [7] The winds on the north side of the minimum
belt must, however, blow mainly in a direction from east to west,
and will consequently produce a westerly current, passing across the
Pole towards the Greenland Sea, exactly as we have seen to be the case.

"It thus appears that, from whatever side we consider this question,
even apart from the specially cogent evidences above cited, we cannot
escape the conclusion that a current passes across or very near to
the Pole into the sea between Greenland and Spitzbergen.

"This being so, it seems to me that the plain thing for us to do is to
make our way into the current on that side of the Pole where it flows
northward, and by its help to penetrate into those regions which all
who have hitherto worked against it have sought in vain to reach.

"My plan is, briefly, as follows: I propose to have a ship built as
small and as strong as possible--just big enough to contain supplies
of coals and provisions for twelve men for five years. A ship of
about 170 tons (gross) will probably suffice. Its engine should be
powerful enough to give a speed of 6 knots; but in addition it must
also be fully rigged for sailing.

"The main point in this vessel is that it be built on such principles
as to enable it to withstand the pressure of the ice. The sides must
slope sufficiently to prevent the ice, when it presses together, from
getting firm hold of the hull, as was the case with the Jeannette and
other vessels. Instead of nipping the ship, the ice must raise it up
out of the water. No very new departure in construction is likely
to be needed, for the Jeannette, notwithstanding her preposterous
build, was able to hold out against the ice pressure for about two
years. That a vessel can easily be built on such lines as to fulfil
these requirements no one will question who has seen a ship nipped
by the ice. For the same reason, too, the ship ought to be a small
one; for, besides being thus easier to manoeuvre in the ice, it will
be more readily lifted by the pressure of the ice, not to mention
that it will be easier to give it the requisite strength. It must,
of course, be built of picked materials. A ship of the form and size
here indicated will not be a good or comfortable sea-boat, but that
is of minor importance in waters filled with ice such as we are here
speaking of. It is true that it would have to travel a long distance
over the open sea before it would get so far, but it would not be
so bad a sea-boat as to be unable to get along, even though sea-sick
passengers might have to offer sacrifices to the gods of the sea.

"With such a ship and a crew of ten, or at the most twelve, able-bodied
and carefully picked men, with a full equipment for five years, in
every respect as good as modern appliances permit of, I am of opinion
that the undertaking would be well secured against risk. With this
ship we should sail up through Bering Strait and westward along the
north coast of Siberia towards the New Siberian Islands [8] as early
in the summer as the ice would permit.

"Arrived at the New Siberian Islands, it will be advisable to employ
the time to the best advantage in examining the conditions of currents
and ice, and to wait for the most opportune moment to advance as
far as possible in ice-free water, which, judging by the accounts of
the ice conditions north of Bering Strait given by American whalers,
will probably be in August or the beginning of September.

"When the right time has arrived, then we shall plough our way in
amongst the ice as far as we can. We may venture to conclude from
the experience of the Jeannette expedition that we should thus be
able to reach a point north of the most northerly of the New Siberian
Islands. De Long notes in his journal that while the expedition was
drifting in the ice north of Bennett Island they saw all around them a
dark 'water-sky'--that is to say, a sky which gives a dark reflection
of open water--indicating such a sea as would be, at all events, to
some extent navigable by a strong ice-ship. Next, it must be borne in
mind that the whole Jeannette expedition travelled in boats, partly
in open water, from Bennett Island to the Siberian coast, where, as
we know, the majority of them met with a lamentable end. Nordenskiöld
advanced no farther northward than to the southernmost of the islands
mentioned (at the end of August) but here he found the water everywhere
open.

"It is, therefore, probable that we may be able to push our way up
past the New Siberian Islands, and that accomplished we shall be right
in the current which carried the Jeannette. The thing will then be
simply to force our way northward till we are set fast. [9]

"Next we must choose a fitting place and moor the ship firmly between
suitable ice-floes, and then let the ice screw itself together as much
as it likes--the more the better. The ship will simply be hoisted up
and will ride safely and firmly. It is possible it may heel over to
a certain extent under this pressure; but that will scarcely be of
much importance. ... Henceforth the current will be our motive power,
while our ship, no longer a means of transport, will become a barrack,
and we shall have ample time for scientific observations.

"In this manner the expedition will, as above indicated, probably
drift across the Pole, and onward to the sea between Greenland and
Spitzbergen. And when we get down to the 80th degree of latitude,
or even sooner, if it is summer, there is every likelihood of our
getting the ship free and being able to sail home. Should she,
however, be lost before this--which is certainly possible, though,
as I think, very unlikely if she is constructed in the way above
described--the expedition will not, therefore, be a failure, for our
homeward course must in any case follow the polar current on to the
North Atlantic basin; there is plenty of ice to drift on, and of this
means of locomotion we have already had experience. If the Jeannette
expedition had had sufficient provisions, and had remained on the
ice-floe on which the relics were ultimately found, the result would
doubtless have been very different from what it was. Our ship cannot
possibly founder under the ice-pressure so quickly but that there would
be time enough to remove, with all our equipment and provisions, to a
substantial ice-floe, which we should have selected beforehand in view
of such a contingency. Here the tents, which we should take with us
to meet this contingency, would be pitched. In order to preserve our
provisions and other equipments, we should not place them all together
on one spot, but should distribute them over the ice, laying them
on rafts of planks and beams which we should have built on it. This
will obviate the possibility of any of our equipments sinking, even
should the floe on which they are break up. The crew of the Hansa, who
drifted for more than half a year along the east coast of Greenland,
in this way lost a great quantity of their supplies.

"For the success of such an expedition two things only are required,
viz., good clothing and plenty of food, and these we can take care
to have with us. We should thus be able to remain as safely on our
ice-floe as in our ship, and should advance just as well towards the
Greenland Sea. The only difference would be that on our arrival there,
instead of proceeding by ship, we must take to our boats, which would
convey us just as safely to the nearest harbor.

"Thus it seems to me there is an overwhelming probability that such an
expedition would be successful. Many people, however, will certainly
urge: 'In all currents there are eddies and backwaters; suppose, then,
you get into one of these, or perhaps stumble on an unknown land
up by the Pole and remain lying fast there, how will you extricate
yourselves?' To this I would merely reply, as concerns the backwater,
that we must get out of it just as surely as we got into it, and that
we shall have provisions for five years. And as regards the other
possibility, we should hail such an occurrence with delight, for no
spot on earth could well be found of greater scientific interest. On
this newly discovered land we should make as many observations as
possible. Should time wear on and find us still unable to get our ship
into the set of the current again, there would be nothing for it but
to abandon her, and with our boats and necessary stores to search for
the nearest current, in order to drift in the manner before mentioned.

"How long may we suppose such a voyage to occupy? As we have already
seen, the relics of the Jeannette expedition at most took two years to
drift along the same course down to the 80th degree of latitude, where
we may, with tolerable certainty, count upon getting loose. This would
correspond to a rate of about two miles per day of twenty-four hours.

"We may therefore not unreasonably calculate on reaching this point in
the course of two years; and it is also possible that the ship might
be set free in a higher latitude than is here contemplated. Five years'
provisions must therefore be regarded as ample.

"But is not the cold in winter in these regions so severe that life
will be impossible? There is no probability of this. We can even say
with tolerable certainty that at the Pole itself it is not so cold in
winter as it is (for example) in the north of Siberia, an inhabited
region, or on the northern part of the west coast of Greenland,
which is also inhabited. Meteorologists have calculated that the mean
temperature at the Pole in January is about -33° Fahr. (-36° C), while,
for example, in Yakutsk it is -43° Fahr. (-42° C), and in Verkhoyansk
-54° Fahr. (-48° C.). We should remember that the Pole is probably
covered with sea, radiation from which is considerably less than from
large land surfaces, such as the plains of North Asia. The polar region
has, therefore, in all probability a marine climate with comparatively
mild winters, but, by way of a set-off, with cold summers.

"The cold in these regions cannot, then, be any direct obstacle. One
difficulty, however, which many former expeditions have had to contend
against, and which must not be overlooked here, is scurvy. During
a sojourn of any long duration in so cold a climate this malady
will unquestionably show itself unless one is able to obtain fresh
provisions. I think, however, it may be safely assumed that the very
various and nutritious foods now available in the form of hermetically
closed preparations of different kinds, together with the scientific
knowledge we now possess of the food-stuffs necessary for bodily
health, will enable us to hold this danger at a distance. Nor do I
think that there will be an entire absence of fresh provisions in the
waters we shall travel through. Polar bears and seals we may safely
calculate on finding far to the north, if not up to the very Pole. It
may be mentioned also that the sea must certainly contain quantities
of small animals that might serve as food in case of necessity.

"It will be seen that whatever difficulties may be suggested as
possible, they are not so great but that they can be surmounted by
means of a careful equipment, a fortunate selection of the members
of the expedition, and judicious leadership; so that good results
may be hoped for. We may reckon on getting out into the sea between
Greenland and Spitzbergen as surely as we can reckon on getting into
the Jeannette current off the New Siberian Islands.

"But if this Jeannette current does not pass right across the
Pole? If, for instance, it passes between the Pole and Franz Josef
Land, as above intimated? What will the expedition do in that case
to reach the earth's axis? Yes, this may seem to be the Achilles'
heel of the undertaking; for should the ship be carried past the
Pole at more than one degree's distance it may then appear extremely
imprudent and unsafe to abandon it in mid-current and face such a long
sledge-journey over uneven sea-ice, which itself is drifting. Even if
one reached the Pole it would be very uncertain whether one could find
the ship again on returning. ... I am, however, of opinion that this
is of small import: it is not to seek for the exact mathematical point
that forms the northern extremity of the earth's axis that we set out,
for to reach this point is intrinsically of small moment. Our object
is to investigate the great unknown region that surrounds the Pole,
and these investigations will be equally important, from a scientific
point of view, whether the expedition passes over the polar point
itself or at some distance from it."

In this lecture I had submitted the most important data on which my
plan was founded; but in the following years I continued to study
the conditions of the northern waters, and received ever fresh proofs
that my surmise of a drift right across the Polar Sea was correct. In
a lecture delivered before the Geographical Society in Christiania,
on September 28, 1892, I alluded to some of these inquiries. [10] I
laid stress on the fact that on considering the thickness and extent
of the drift-ice in the seas on both sides of the Pole, one cannot
but be struck by the fact that while the ice on the Asiatic side,
north of the Siberian coast, is comparatively thin (the ice in which
the Jeannette drifted was, as a rule, not more than from 7 to 10
feet thick), that on the other side, which comes drifting from the
north in the sea between Greenland and Spitzbergen, is remarkably
massive, and this, notwithstanding that the sea north of Siberia is
one of the coldest tracts on the earth. This, I suggested, could be
explained only on the assumption that the ice is constantly drifting
from the Siberian coast, and that, while passing through the unknown
and cold sea there is time for it to attain its enormous thickness,
partly by freezing, partly by the constant packing that takes place
as the floes screw themselves together.

I further mentioned in the same lecture that the mud found on this
drift-ice seemed to point to a Siberian origin. I did not at the time
attach great importance to this fact, but on a further examination
of the deposits I had collected during my Greenland expedition
it appeared that it could scarcely come from anywhere else but
Siberia. On investigating its mineralogical composition, Dr. Törnebohm,
of Stockholm, came to the conclusion that the greater part of it must
be Siberian river mud. He found about twenty different minerals in
it. "This quantity of dissimilar constituent mineral parts appears to
me," he says, "to point to the fact that they take their origin from
a very extensive tract of land, and one's thoughts naturally turn to
Siberia." Moreover, more than half of this mud deposit consisted of
humus, or boggy soil. More interesting, however, than the actual mud
deposit were the diatoms found in it, which were examined by Professor
Cleve, of Upsala, who says: "These diatoms are decidedly marine (i.e.,
take their origin from salt-water), with some few fresh-water forms
which the wind has carried from land. The diatomous flora in this dust
is quite peculiar, and unlike what I have found in many thousands
of other specimens, with one exception, with which it shows the
most complete conformity--namely, a specimen which was collected by
Kellman during the Vega expedition on an ice-floe off Cape Wankarem,
near Bering Strait. Species and varieties were perfectly identical
in both specimens." Cleve was able to distinguish sixteen species
of diatoms. All these appear also in the dust from Cape Wankarem,
and twelve of them have been found at that place alone, and nowhere
else in all the world. This was a notable coincidence between two
such remote points, and Cleve is certainly right in saying: "It is,
indeed, quite remarkable that the diatomous flora on the ice-floes off
Bering Strait and on the east coast of Greenland should so completely
resemble each other, and should be so utterly unlike all others;
it points to an open connection between the seas east of Greenland
and north of Asia." "Through this open connection," I continued in
my address, "drift-ice is, therefore, yearly transported across the
unknown Polar Sea. On this same drift-ice, and by the same route,
it must be no less possible to transport an expedition."

When this plan was propounded it certainly met with approval in various
quarters, especially here at home. Thus it was vigorously supported
by Professor Mohn, who, indeed, by his explanation of the drift of the
Jeannette relics, had given the original impulse to it. But as might be
expected, it met with opposition in the main, especially from abroad,
while most of the polar travellers and Arctic authorities declared,
more or less openly, that it was sheer madness. The year before we
set out, in November, 1892, I laid it before the Geographical Society
in London in a lecture at which the principal Arctic travellers of
England were present. After the lecture a discussion took place, [11]
which plainly showed how greatly I was at variance with the generally
accepted opinions as to the conditions in the interior of the Polar
Sea, the principles of ice navigation, and the methods that a polar
expedition ought to pursue. The eminent Arctic traveller, Admiral Sir
Leopold M'Clintock, opened the discussion with the remark: "I think I
may say this is the most adventurous programme ever brought under the
notice of the Royal Geographical Society." He allowed that the facts
spoke in favor of the correctness of my theories, but was in a high
degree doubtful whether my plan could be realized. He was especially of
opinion that the danger of being crushed in the ice was too great. A
ship could, no doubt, be built that would be strong enough to resist
the ice pressure in summer; but should it be exposed to this pressure
in the winter months, when the ice resembled a mountain frozen fast
to the ship's side, he thought that the possibility of being forced
up on the surface of the ice was very remote. He firmly believed,
as did the majority of the others, that there was no probability of
ever seeing the Fram again when once she had given herself over to
the pitiless polar ice, and concluded by saying, "I wish the doctor
full and speedy success. But it will be a great relief to his many
friends in England when he returns, and more particularly to those
who have had experience of the dangers at all times inseparable from
ice navigation, even in regions not quite so far north."

Admiral Sir George Nares said:

"The adopted Arctic axioms for successfully navigating an icy region
are that it is absolutely necessary to keep close to a coast line, and
that the farther we advance from civilization, the more desirable it
is to insure a reasonably safe line of retreat. Totally disregarding
these, the ruling principle of the voyage is that the vessel--on
which, if the voyage is in any way successful, the sole future
hope of the party will depend--is to be pushed deliberately into
the pack-ice. Thus, her commander--in lieu of retaining any power
over her future movements--will be forced to submit to be drifted
helplessly about in agreement with the natural movements of the ice
in which he is imprisoned. Supposing the sea currents are as stated,
the time calculated as necessary to drift with the pack across the
polar area is several years, during which time, unless new lands are
met with, the ice near the vessel will certainly never be quiet and
the ship herself never free from the danger of being crushed by ice
presses. To guard against this the vessel is said to be unusually
strong, and of a special form to enable her to rise when the ice
presses against her sides. This idea is no novelty whatever; but
when once frozen into the polar pack the form of the vessel goes
for nothing. She is hermetically sealed to, and forms a part of, the
ice block surrounding her. The form of the ship is for all practical
purposes the form of the block of ice in which she is frozen. This is
a matter of the first importance, for there is no record of a vessel
frozen into the polar pack having been disconnected from the ice,
and so rendered capable of rising under pressure as a separate body
detached from the ice block, even in the height of summer. In the event
of the destruction of the vessel, the boats--necessarily fully stored,
not only for the retreat, but for continuing the voyage--are to be
available. This is well in theory, but extremely difficult to arrange
for in practice. Preparation to abandon the vessel is the one thing
that gives us the most anxiety. To place boats, etc., on the ice,
packed ready for use, involves the danger of being separated from
them by a movement of the ice, or of losing them altogether should a
sudden opening occur. If we merely have everything handy for heaving
over the side, the emergency may be so sudden that we have not time
to save anything..."

As regards the assumed drift of the polar ice, Nares expressed himself
on the whole at variance with me. He insisted that the drift was
essentially determined by the prevailing winds:

"As to the probable direction of the drift, the Fram, starting from
near the mouth of the Lena River, may expect to meet the main pack
not farther north than about latitude 76° 30'. I doubt her getting
farther north before she is beset, but taking an extreme case, and
giving her 60 miles more, she will then only be in the same latitude as
Cape Chelyuskin, 730 miles from the Pole, and about 600 miles from my
supposed limit of the effective homeward-carrying ocean current. After
a close study of all the information we possess, I think the wind
will be more likely to drift her towards the west than towards the
east. With an ice-encumbered sea north of her, and more open water or
newly made ice to the southward, the chances are small for a northerly
drift, at all events, at first, and afterwards I know of no natural
forces that will carry the vessel in any reasonable time much farther
from the Siberian coast than the Jeannette was carried, and during
the whole of this time, unless protected by newly discovered lands,
she will be to all intents and purposes immovably sealed up in the
pack, and exposed to its well-known dangers. There is no doubt that
there is an ocean connection across the area proposed to be explored."

In one point, however, Nares was able to declare himself in agreement
with me. It was the idea "that the principal aim of all such voyages
is to explore the unknown polar regions, not to reach exactly that
mathematical point in which the axis of our globe has its northern
termination." [12]

Sir Allen Young says, among other things: "Dr. Nansen assumes the
blank space around the axis of the earth to be a pool of water or ice;
I think the great danger to contend with will be the land in nearly
every direction near the Pole. Most previous navigators seem to have
continued seeing land again and again farther and farther north. These
Jeannette relics may have drifted through narrow channels, and thus
finally arrived at their destination, and, I think, it would be an
extremely dangerous thing for the ship to drift through them, where
she might impinge upon the land, and be kept for years."

With regard to the ship's form, Sir Allen Young says: "I do not think
the form of the ship is any great point, for, when a ship is fairly
nipped, the question is if there is any swell or movement of the ice
to lift the ship. If there is no swell the ice must go through her,
whatever material she is made of."

One or two authorities, however, expressed themselves in favor of
my plan. One was the Arctic traveller, Sir E. Inglefield, another
Captain (now Admiral) Wharton, Director of the Hydrographic Department
of England.

In a letter to the Geographical Society, Admiral Sir George H. Richards
says, on the occasion of my address: "I regret to have to speak
discouragingly of this project, but I think that any one who can speak
with authority ought to speak plainly where so much may be at stake."

With regard to the currents, he says: "I believe there is a constant
outflow (I prefer this word to current) from the north, in consequence
of the displacement of the water from the region of the Pole by the
ice-cap which covers it, intensified in its density by the enormous
weight of snow accumulated on its surface." This outflow takes place
on all sides, he thinks, from the polar basin, but should be most
pronounced in the tract between the western end of the Parry Islands
and Spitzbergen; and with this outflow all previous expeditions have
had to contend. He does not appear to make any exception as to the
Tegethoff or Jeannette, and can find no reason "for believing that
a current sets north over the Pole from the New Siberian Islands,
which Dr. Nansen hopes for and believes in. ... It is my opinion
that when really within what may be called the inner circle, say
about 78° of latitude, there is little current of any kind that would
influence a ship in the close ice that must be expected; it is when
we get outside this circle--round the corners, as it were--into the
straight wide channels, where the ice is loose, that we are really
affected by its influence, and here the ice gets naturally thinner,
and more decayed in autumn, and less dangerous to a ship. Within the
inner circle probably not much of the ice escapes; it becomes older
and heavier every year, and in all probability completely blocks the
navigation of ships entirely. This is the kind of ice which was brought
to Nares's winter quarters at the head of Smith Sound in about 82°
30' north; and this is the ice which Markham struggled against in
his sledge journey, and against which no human power could prevail."

He attached "no real importance" to the Jeannette relics. "If found
in Greenland, they may well have drifted down on a floe from the
neighborhood of Smith Sound, from some of the American expeditions
which went to Greely's rescue." "It may also well be that some of
De Long's printed or written documents in regard to his equipment
may have been taken out by these expeditions, and the same may apply
to the other articles." He does not, however, expressly say whether
there was any indication of such having been the case.

In a similar letter to the Geographical Society the renowned botanist
Sir Joseph Hooker says: "Dr. Nansen's project is a wide departure
from any hitherto put in practice for the purpose of polar discovery,
and it demands the closest scrutiny both on this account, and because
it is one involving the greatest peril...

"From my experience of three seasons in the Antarctic regions I do not
think that a ship, of whatever build, could long resist destruction if
committed to the movements of the pack in the polar regions. One built
as strongly as the Fram would no doubt resist great pressures in the
open pack, but not any pressure or repeated pressures, and still less
the thrust of the pack if driven with or by it against land. The lines
of the Fram might be of service so long as she was on an even keel or
in ice of no great height above the water-line; but amongst floes and
bergs, or when thrown on her beam-ends, they would avail her nothing."

If the Fram were to drift towards the Greenland coast or the American
polar islands he is of opinion that, supposing a landing could be
effected, there would be no probability at all of salvation. Assuming
that a landing could be effected, it must be on an inhospitable and
probably ice-bound coast, or on the mountainous ice of a palæocrystic
sea. With a certainly enfeebled, and probably reduced ship's company,
there could, in such a case, be no prospect of reaching succor. Putting
aside the possibility of scurvy (against which there is no certain
prophylactic), have the depressing influence on the minds of the crew
resulting from long confinement in very close quarters during many
months of darkness, extreme cold, inaction, ennui, constant peril,
and the haunting uncertainty as to the future, been sufficiently
taken into account? Perfunctory duties and occupations do not avert
the effects of these conditions; they hardly mitigate them, and have
been known to aggravate them. I do not consider the attainment of
Dr. Nansen's object by the means at his disposal to be impossible;
but I do consider that the success of such an enterprise would not
justify the exposure of valuable lives for its attainment.

In America, General Greely, the leader of the ill-fated expedition
generally known by his name (1881-84), wrote an article in The Forum
(August, 1891), in which he says, among other things: "It strikes
me as almost incredible that the plan here advanced by Dr. Nansen
should receive encouragement or support. It seems to me to be based
on fallacious ideas as to physical conditions within the polar
regions, and to foreshadow, if attempted, barren results, apart
from the suffering and death among its members. Dr. Nansen, so far
as I know, has had no Arctic service; his crossing of Greenland,
however difficult, is no more polar work than the scaling of
Mount St. Elias. It is doubtful if any hydrographer would treat
seriously his theory of polar currents, or if any Arctic traveller
would indorse the whole scheme. There are perhaps a dozen men whose
Arctic service has been such that the positive support of this plan
by even a respectable minority would entitle it to consideration and
confidence. These men are: Admiral M'Clintock, Richards, Collinson,
and Nares, and Captain Markham of the Royal Navy, Sir Allen Young
and Leigh-Smith of England, Koldewey of Germany, Payer of Austria,
Nordenskiöld of Sweden, and Melville in our own country. I have no
hesitation in asserting that no two of these believe in the possibility
of Nansen's first proposition--to build a vessel capable of living
or navigating in a heavy Arctic pack, into which it is proposed
to put his ship. The second proposition is even more hazardous,
involving as it does a drift of more than 2000 miles in a straight
line through an unknown region, during which the party in its voyage
(lasting two or more years, we are told) would take only boats along,
encamp on an iceberg, and live there while floating across."

After this General Greely proceeds to prove the falsity of all my
assumptions. Respecting the objects from the Jeannette, he says plainly
that he does not believe in them. "Probably some drift articles were
found," he says, "and it would seem more reasonable to trace them
to the Porteus, which was wrecked in Smith Sound, about 1000 miles
north of Julianehaab... It is further important to note that, if the
articles were really from the Jeannette, the nearest route would have
been, not across the North Pole along the east coast of Greenland,
but down Kennedy Channel and by way of Smith Sound and Baffin's Bay,
as was suggested, as to drift from the Porteus."

We could not possibly get near the Pole itself by a long distance, says
Greely, as "we know almost as well as if we had seen it that there is
in the unknown regions an extensive land which is the birthplace of the
flat-topped icebergs or the palæocrystic ice." In this glacier-covered
land, which he is of opinion must be over 300 miles in diameter, and
which sends out icebergs to Greenland as well as to Franz Josef Land,
[13] the Pole itself must be situated.

"As to the indestructible ship," he says, "it is certainly a most
desirable thing for Dr. Nansen." His meaning, however, is that it
cannot be built. "Dr. Nansen appears to believe that the question of
building on such lines as will give the ship the greatest power of
resistance to the pressure of the ice-floe has not been thoroughly and
satisfactorily solved, although hundreds of thousands of dollars have
been spent for this end by the seal and whaling companies of Scotland
and Newfoundland." As an authority he quotes Melville, and says "every
Arctic navigator of experience agrees with Melville's dictum that even
if built solid a vessel could not withstand the ice-pressure of the
heavy polar pack." To my assertion that the ice along the "Siberian
coast is comparatively thin, 7 to 10 feet," he again quotes Melville,
who speaks of ice "50 feet high, etc." (something we did not discover,
by-the-way, during the whole of our voyage).

After giving still more conclusive proofs that the Fram must inevitably
go to the bottom as soon as it should be exposed to the pressure of
the ice, he goes on to refer to the impossibility of drifting in the
ice with boats. And he concludes his article with the remark that
"Arctic exploration is sufficiently credited with rashness and danger
in its legitimate and sanctioned methods, without bearing the burden
of Dr. Nansen's illogical scheme of self-destruction."

From an article Greely wrote after our return home, in Harper's Weekly
for September 19th, 1896, he appears to have come to the conclusion
that the Jeannette relics were genuine and that the assumption of
their drift may have been correct, mentioning "Melville, Dall, and
others" as not believing in them. He allows also that my scheme has
been carried out in spite of what he had said. This time he concludes
the article as follows: "In contrasting the expeditions of De Long and
Nansen, it is necessary to allude to the single blemish that mars the
otherwise magnificent career of Nansen, who deliberately quitted his
comrades on the ice-beset ship hundreds of miles from any known land,
with the intention of not returning, but, in his own reported words,
'to go to Spitzbergen, where he felt certain to find a ship,' 600
miles away. De Long and Ambler had such a sense of honor that they
sacrificed their lives rather than separate themselves from a dying
man, whom their presence could not save. It passes comprehension how
Nansen could have thus deviated from the most sacred duty devolving on
the commander of a naval expedition. The safe return of brave Captain
Sverdrup with the Fram does not excuse Nansen. Sverdrup's consistency,
courage, and skill in holding fast to the Fram and bringing his
comrades back to Norway will win for him, in the minds of many,
laurels even brighter than those of his able and accomplished chief."

One of the few who publicly gave to my plan the support of his
scientific authority was Professor Supan, the well-known editor
of Petermann's Mitteilungen. In an article in this journal for 1891
(p. 191), he not only spoke warmly in its favor, but supported it with
new suggestions. His view was that what he terms the Arctic "wind-shed"
probably for the greater part of the year divides the unknown polar
basin into two parts. In the eastern part the prevailing winds blow
towards the Bering Sea, while those of the western part blow towards
the Atlantic. He thought that, as a rule, this "wind-shed" must lie
near the Bering Sea, and that the prevailing winds in the tracts we
purposed traversing would thus favor our drift. Our experience bore
out Professor Supan's theory in a remarkable degree.



CHAPTER II

PREPARATIONS AND EQUIPMENT


Foolhardy as the scheme appeared to some, it received powerful support
from the Norwegian Government and the King of Norway. A bill was
laid before the Storthing for a grant of £11,250 (200,000 kroner),
or two-thirds of the estimated cost. The remaining third I hoped
to be able to raise from private sources, as I had already received
promises of support from many quarters.

On June 30, 1890, the amount demanded was voted by the Storthing,
which thereby expressed its wish that the expedition should be a
Norwegian one. In January, 1891, Mr. Thomas Fearnley, Consul Axel
Heiberg, and Mr. Ellef Ringnes set to work to collect the further
sum required, and in a few days the amount was subscribed.

His Majesty King Oscar gave £1125 (20,000 kroner), while private
individuals in Norway gave as follows:


                                                    £     s.   d.

Consul Axel Heiberg                               562    10    0
        Ditto      (later)                        393    15    0
Mr. Anton Chr. Houen                             1125     0    0
Mr. A. Dick, Hövik                                281     5    0
       Ditto        (later)                       393    15    0
Mr. Thomas Fearnley (merchant)                    281     5    0
             Ditto            (later)              56     5    0
Messrs. Ringnes & Co. (brewers)                   281     5    0
              Ditto            (later)             56     5    0
Mr. A. S. Kjösterud (merchant), Drammen           281     5    0
                  Ditto                 (later)    56     5    0
Mr. E. Sundt (merchant), Bergen                   281     5    0
Consul Westye Egeberg                             562    10    0
Mr. Halver Schou                                  281     5    0
Baron Harald Wedel Jarlsberg and C. Iövenskiold,
Minister of State                                 562    10    0
Consul Nicolay H. Knudtzon, Christiansund         281     5    0


Among foreign contributors may be mentioned the Royal Geographical
Society of London, which showed its sympathy with the undertaking by
subscribing £300 sterling. Baron Oscar Dickson provided at his own
cost the electric installation (dynamo accumulators, and conductors).

As the work of equipment proceeded, it appeared that the first estimate
was not sufficient. This was especially due to the ship, which was
estimated to cost £8437 10s. (150,000 kroner), but which came to
nearly double that sum. Where so much was at stake, I did not think
it right to study the cost too much, if it seemed that a little extra
outlay could insure the successful result of the expedition. The three
gentlemen who had taken the lead in the first collection, Mr. Thomas
Fearnley, Consul Axel Heiberg, and Mr. Ellef Ringnes, undertook at my
request to constitute themselves the committee of the expedition and
to take charge of its pecuniary affairs. In order to cover a portion
of the deficiency, they, together with certain members of the Council
of the Geographical Society, set on foot another private subscription
all over the country, while the same society at a later period headed
a national subscription. By these means about £956 5s. was collected
in all. I had further to petition the Norwegian Storthing for an
additional sum of £4500, when our national assembly again gave proof
of its sympathy with the undertaking by granting the amount named
(June 9, 1890).

Finally Consul Axel Heiberg and Mr. Dick subscribed an additional £337
10s. each, while I myself made up the deficiency that still remained
on the eve of our departure.


Statement of Accounts of the Expedition on its Setting Out, 1893.

Income.

                                                     Kroner  ore.
State Grant                                         280,000    0
H.M. The King, and original private subscribers     105,000    0
Private subscription of the Geographical Society     12,781   23
National subscription                                 2,287   23
Interest accrued                                      9,729   78
Guaranteed by private individuals                     5,400    0
Deficit covered by A. Heiberg and A. Dick            12,000    0
        Ditto      F. Nansen                          5,400    0
Geographical Society, London (£300)                        ...
H. Simon, Manchester (£100)                                ...
A Norwegian in Riga (1000 roubles) and others .        9,278  62
                                                    ------------
                Total                               444,339   36 [14]

Expenditure.

                                                     Kroner  ore.

Wages account                                        46,440    0
Life insurance premiums of married participators      5,361   90
Instruments account                                  12,978   68
Ship account                                        271,927    8
Provisions account                                   39,172   98
Expenses account                                     10,612   38
Equipment account                                    57,846   34
                                                    ------------
                Total                               444,339   36


It will be evident from the plan above expounded that the most
important point in the equipment of our expedition was the building
of the ship that was to carry us through the dreaded ice regions. The
construction of this vessel was accordingly carried out with greater
care, probably, than has been devoted to any ship that has hitherto
ploughed the Arctic waters. I found in the well-known shipbuilder,
Colin Archer, a man who thoroughly understood the task I set him,
and who concentrated all his skill, foresight, and rare thoroughness
upon the work. We must gratefully recognize that the success of the
expedition was in no small degree due to this man.

If we turn our attention to the long list of former expeditions
and to their equipments, it cannot but strike us that scarcely a
single vessel had been built specially for the purpose--in fact,
the majority of explorers have not even provided themselves with
vessels which were originally intended for ice navigation. This is
the more surprising when we remember the sums of money that have been
lavished on the equipment of some of these expeditions. The fact is,
they have generally been in such a hurry to set out that there has
been no time to devote to a more careful equipment. In many cases,
indeed, preparations were not begun until a few months before the
expedition sailed. The present expedition, however, could not be
equipped in so short a time, and if the voyage itself took three years,
the preparations took no less time, while the scheme was conceived
thrice three years earlier.

Plan after plan did Archer make of the projected ship; one model
after another was prepared and abandoned.

Fresh improvements were constantly being suggested. The form were
finally adhered to may seem to many people by no means beautiful; but
that it is well adapted to the ends in view I think our expedition
has fully proved. What was especially aimed at was, as mentioned
on page 29, to give the ship such sides that it could readily be
hoisted up during ice-pressure without being crushed between the
floes. Greely, Nares, etc., etc., are certainly right in saying that
this is nothing new. I relied here simply on the sad experiences of
earlier expeditions. What, however, may be said to be new is the fact
that we not only realized that the ship ought to have such a form,
but that we gave it that form, as well as the necessary strength for
resisting great ice-pressure, and that this was the guiding idea
in the whole work of construction. Colin Archer is quite right in
what he says in an article in the Norsk Tidsskrift for Sövæsen, 1892:
"When one bears in mind what is, so to speak, the fundamental idea of
Dr. Nansen's plan in his North Pole Expedition ... it will readily be
seen that a ship which is to be built with exclusive regard to its
suitability for this object must differ essentially from any other
previously known vessel....

"In the construction of the ship two points must be especially
studied: (1) that the shape of the hull be such as to offer as small
a vulnerable target as possible to the attacks of the ice; and (2)
that it be built so solidly as to be able to withstand the greatest
possible pressure from without in any direction whatsoever."

And thus she was built, more attention being paid to making her a
safe and warm stronghold while drifting in the ice than to endowing
her with speed or good sailing qualities.

As above stated, our aim was to make the ship as small as possible. The
reason of this was that a small ship is, of course, lighter than a
large one, and can be made stronger in proportion to her weight. A
small ship, too, is better adapted for navigation among the ice; it is
easier to handle her in critical moments, and to find a safe berth for
her between the packing ice-floes. I was of opinion that a vessel of
170 tons register would suffice, but the Fram is considerably larger,
402 tons gross and 307 tons net. It was also our aim to build a short
vessel, which could thread her way easily among the floes, especially
as great length would have been a source of weakness when ice-pressure
set in. But in order that such a ship, which has, moreover, very
sloping sides, shall possess the necessary carrying capacity, she
must be broad; and her breadth is, in fact, about a third of her
length. Another point of importance was to make the sides as smooth
as possible, without projecting edges, while plane surfaces were as
much as possible avoided in the neighborhood of the most vulnerable
points, and the hull assumed a plump and rounded form. Bow, stern,
and keel--all were rounded off so that the ice should not be able to
get a grip of her anywhere. For this reason, too, the keel was sunk
in the planking, so that barely three inches protruded, and its edges
were rounded. The object was that "the whole craft should be able to
slip like an eel out of the embraces of the ice."

The hull was made pointed fore and aft, and somewhat resembles a
pilot-boat, minus the keel and the sharp garboard strakes. Both ends
were made specially strong. The stem consists of three stout oak beams,
one inside the other, forming an aggregate thickness of 4 feet (1.25
m.) of solid oak; inside the stem are fitted solid breasthooks of oak
and iron to bind the ship's sides together, and from these breasthooks
stays are placed against the pawl-bit. The bow is protected by an
iron stem, and across it are fitted transverse bars which run some
small distance backwards on either side, as is usual in sealers.

The stern is of a special and somewhat particular construction. On
either side of the rudder and propeller posts--which are sided 24
inches (65 cm.)--is fitted a stout oak counter-timber following
the curvature of the stern right up to the upper deck, and forming,
so to speak, a double stern-post. The planking is carried outside
these timbers, and the stern protected by heavy iron plates wrought
outside the planking.

Between these two counter-timbers there is a well for the screw,
and also one for the rudder, through which they can both be hoisted
up on deck. It is usual in sealers to have the screw arranged in this
way, so that it can easily be replaced by a spare screw should it be
broken by the ice. But such an arrangement is not usual in the case
of the rudder, and, while with our small crew, and with the help
of the capstan, we could hoist the rudder on deck in a few minutes
in case of any sudden ice-pressure or the like, I have known it take
sealers with a crew of over 60 men several hours, or even a whole day,
to ship a fresh rudder.

The stern is, on the whole, the Achilles' heel of ships in the Polar
Seas; here the ice can easily inflict great damage, for instance,
by breaking the rudder. To guard against this danger, our rudder was
placed so low down as not to be visible above water, so that if a
floe should strike the vessel aft, it would break its force against
the strong stern-part, and could hardly touch the rudder itself. As
a matter of fact, notwithstanding the violent pressures we met with,
we never suffered any injury in this respect.

Everything was of course done to make the sides of the ship as strong
as possible. The frame timbers were of choice Italian oak that had
originally been intended for the Norwegian navy, and had lain under
cover at Horten for 30 years. They were all grown to shape, and
10-11 inches thick. The frames were built in two courses or tiers,
closely wrought together, and connected by bolts, some of which were
riveted. Over each joint flat iron bands were placed. The frames
were about 21 inches (56 cm.) wide, and were placed close together,
with only about an inch or an inch and a half between; and these
interstices were filled with pitch and sawdust mixed, from the keel
to a little distance above the water-line, in order to keep the ship
moderately water-tight, even should the outer skin be chafed through.

The outside planking consists of three layers. The inner one is
of oak, 3 inches thick, fastened with spikes and carefully calked;
outside this another oak sheathing, 4 inches thick, fastened with
through bolts and calked; and outside these comes the ice-skin of
greenheart, which like the other planking runs right down to the
keel. At the water-line it is 6 inches thick, gradually diminishing
towards the bottom to 3 inches. It is fastened with nails and jagged
bolts, and not with through bolts; so that if the ice had stripped
off the whole of the ice sheathing the hull of the ship would not
have suffered any great damage. The lining inside the frame timbers
is of pitch-pine planks, some 4, some 8 inches thick; it was also
carefully calked once or twice.

The total thickness of the ship's sides is, therefore, from 24 to 28
inches of solid water-tight wood. It will readily be understood that
such a ship's side, with its rounded form, would of itself offer a
very good resistance to the ice; but to make it still stronger the
inside was shored up in every possible way, so that the hold looks
like a cobweb of balks, stanchions, and braces. In the first place,
there are two rows of beams, the upper deck and between decks,
principally of solid oak, partly also of pitch pine; and all of
these are further connected with each other, as well as with the
sides of the ship, by numerous supports. The accompanying diagrams
will show how they are arranged. The diagonal stays are, of course,
placed as nearly as possible at right angles to the sides of the ship,
so as to strengthen them against external pressure and to distribute
its force. The vertical stanchions between both tiers of beams and
between the lower beams and keelson are admirably adapted for this
latter object. All are connected together with strong knees and iron
fastenings, so that the whole becomes, as it were, a single coherent
mass. It should be borne in mind that, while in former expeditions
it was thought sufficient to give a couple of beams amidships some
extra strengthening, every single cross beam in the Fram was stayed
in the manner described and depicted.

In the engine-room there was, of course, no space for supports in the
middle, but in their place two stay ends were fixed on either side. The
beams of the lower deck were placed a little under the water-line,
where the ice pressure would be severest. In the after-hold these
beams had to be raised a little to give room for the engine. The
upper deck aft, therefore, was somewhat higher than the main deck,
and the ship had a poop or half-deck, under which were the cabins for
all the members of the expedition, and also the cooking-galley. Strong
iron riders were worked in for the whole length of the ship in the
spaces between the beams, extending in one length from the clamp
under the upper deck nearly to the keelson. The keelson was in two
tiers and about 31 inches (80 cm.) high, save in the engine-room,
where the height of the room only allows one tier. The keel consists
of two heavy American elm logs 14 inches square; but, as has been
mentioned, so built in that only 3 inches protrude below the outer
planking. The sides of the hull are rounded downward to the keel, so
that a transverse section at the midship frame reminds one forcibly
of half a cocoanut cut in two. The higher the ship is lifted out of
the water, the heavier does she, of course, become, and the greater
her pressure on the ice, but for the above reason the easier also
does it become for the ice to lift. To obviate much heeling, in
case the hull should be lifted very high, the bottom was made flat,
and this proved to be an excellent idea. I endeavored to determine
experimentally the friction of ice against wood, and taking into
account the strength of the ship, and the angle of her sides with the
surface of the water, I came to the conclusion that her strength must
be many times sufficient to withstand the pressure necessary to lift
her. This calculation was amply borne out by experience.

The principal dimensions of the ship were as follows: Length of keel,
102 feet; length of water-line, 113 feet; length from stem to stern
on deck, 128 feet; extreme breadth, 36 feet; breadth of water-line,
exclusive of ice-skin, 34 feet; depth, 17 feet; draught of water with
light cargo, 12 1/2 feet; displacement with light cargo, 530 tons;
with heavy cargo the draught is over 15 feet and the displacement is
800 tons; there is a freeboard of about 3 feet 6 inches. The hull,
with boilers filled, was calculated to weigh about 420 tons, and with
800 tons displacement there should, therefore, be spare carrying power
for coal and other cargo to the amount of 380 tons. Thus, in addition
to the requisite provisions for dogs and men for more than five years,
we could carry coal for four months' steaming at full speed, which
was more than sufficient for such an expedition as this.

As regards the rigging, the most important object was to have it as
simple and as strong as possible, and at the same time so contrived
as to offer the least possible resistance to the wind while the ship
was under steam. With our small crew it was, moreover, of the last
importance that it should be easy to work from deck. For this reason
the Fram was rigged as a three-masted fore-and-aft schooner. Several
of our old Arctic skippers disapproved of this arrangement. They
had always been used to sail with square-rigged ships, and, with the
conservatism peculiar to their class, were of opinion that what they
had used was the only thing that could be used in the ice. However,
the rig we chose was unquestionably the best for our purpose. In
addition to the ordinary fore-and-aft sails we had two movable yards
on the foremast for a square foresail and topsail. As the yards were
attached to a sliding truss they could easily be hauled down when not
in use. The ship's lower masts were tolerably high and massive. The
mainmast was about 80 feet high, the maintopmast was 50 feet high,
and the crow's-nest on the top was about 102 feet (32 m.) above the
water. It was important to have this as high as possible, so as to
have a more extended view when it came to picking our way through
the ice. The aggregate sail area was about 6000 square feet.

The ship's engine, a triple expansion, was made with particular
care. The work was done at the Akers Mechanical Factory, and Engineer
Norbeck deserves especial credit for its construction. With his
quick insight he foresaw the various possibilities that might occur,
and took precautions against them. The triple-expansion system was
chosen as being the most economical in the consumption of coal;
but as it might happen that one or other of the cylinders should
get out of order, it was arranged, by means of separate pipes, that
any of the cylinders could be cut off, and thus the other two, or,
at a pinch, even one alone, could be used. In this way the engine,
by the mere turning of a cock or two, could be changed at will into a
compound high-pressure or low-pressure engine. Although nothing ever
went wrong with any of the cylinders, this arrangement was frequently
used with advantage. By using the engine as a compound one, we could,
for instance, give the Fram greater speed for a short time, and when
occasion demanded we often took this means of forcing our way through
the ice. The engine was of 220 indicated horse-power, and we could
in calm weather with a light cargo attain a speed of 6 or 7 knots.

The propellers, of which we had two in reserve, were two-bladed, and
made of cast-iron; but we never used either the spare propellers or
a spare rudder which we had with us.

Our quarters lay, as before mentioned, abaft under the half-deck,
and were arranged so that the saloon, which formed our dining-room
and drawing-room, was in the middle, surrounded on all sides by the
sleeping-cabins. These consisted of four state-rooms with one berth
apiece and two with four berths. The object of this arrangement
was to protect the saloon from external cold; but, further, the
ceiling, floors, and walls were covered with several thick coatings of
non-conducting material, the surface layer, in touch with the heat of
the cabin, consisting of air-tight linoleum, to prevent the warm, damp
air from penetrating to the other side and depositing moisture, which
would soon turn to ice. The sides of the ship were lined with tarred
felt, then came a space with cork padding, next a deal panelling,
then a thick layer of felt, next air-tight linoleum, and last of all
an inner panelling. The ceiling of the saloon and cabins consisted
of many different layers: air, felt, deal panelling, reindeer-hair
stuffing, deal panelling, linoleum, air and deal panelling, which,
with the 4-inch deck planks, gave a total thickness of about 15
inches. To form the floor of the saloon, cork padding, 6 or 7 inches
thick, was laid on the deck planks, on this a thick wooden floor, and
above all linoleum. The skylight which was most exposed to the cold
was protected by three panes of glass, one within the other, and in
various other ways. One of the greatest difficulties of life on board
ship which former Arctic expeditions had had to contend with was that
moisture collecting on the cold outside walls either froze at once or
ran down in streams into the berths and on to the floor. Thus it was
not unusual to find the mattresses converted into more or less solid
masses of ice. We, however, by these arrangements, entirely avoided
such an unpleasant state of things, and when the fire was lighted in
the saloon there was not a trace of moisture on the walls, even in
the sleeping-cabins. In front of the saloon lay the cook's galley,
on either side of which was a companion leading to the deck.

As a protection against the cold, each of these companion-ways was
fitted with four small solid doors consisting of several layers of
wood with felt between, all of which had to be passed through on going
out. And the more completely to exclude the cold air the thresholds
of the doors were made more than ordinarily high. On the half-deck
over the cook's galley, between the mainmast and the funnel, was a
chart-room facing the bow, and a smaller work-room abaft.

In order to secure the safety of the ship in case of a leak,
the hold was divided into three compartments by water-tight
bulkheads. Besides the usual pumps, we had a powerful centrifugal
pump driven by the engine, which could be connected with each of
the three compartments. It may be mentioned as an improvement on
former expeditions that the Fram was furnished with an electric light
installation. The dynamo was to be driven by the engine while we were
under steam; while the intention was to drive it partly by means of
the wind, partly by hand power, during our sojourn in the ice. For
this purpose we took a windmill with us, and also a "horse-mill"
to be worked by ourselves. I had anticipated that this latter might
have been useful in giving us exercise in the long polar night. We
found, however, that there were plenty of other things to do, and
we never used it; on the other hand, the windmill proved extremely
serviceable. For illumination when we might not have enough power to
produce electric light, we took with us about 16 tons of petroleum,
which was also intended for cooking purposes and for warming the
cabins. This petroleum, as well as 20 tons of common kerosene,
[15] intended to be used along with coal in the boiler, was stored
in massive iron tanks, eight of which were in the hold, and one on
deck. In all, the ship had eight boats, two of which were especially
large, 29 feet long and 9 feet wide. These were intended for use
in case the ship should, after all, be lost, the idea being that
we should live in them while drifting in the ice. They were large
enough to accommodate the whole ship's company with provisions for
many months. Then there were four smaller boats of the form sealers
generally use. They were exceedingly strong and lightly built, two
of oak and two of elm. The seventh boat was a small pram, and the
eighth a launch with a petroleum engine, which, however, was not very
serviceable, and caused us a great deal of trouble.

As I shall have frequent occasion later on to speak of other details
of our equipment, I shall content myself here with mentioning a few
of the most important.

Special attention was, of course, devoted to our commissariat with
a view to obviating the danger of scurvy and other ailments. The
principle on which I acted in the choice of provisions was to combine
variety with wholesomeness. Every single article of food was chemically
analyzed before being adopted, and great care was taken that it should
be properly packed. Such articles, even, as bread, dried vegetables,
etc., etc., were soldered down in tins as a protection against damp.

A good library was of great importance to an expedition like ours,
and thanks to publishers and friends, both in our own and in other
countries, we were very well supplied in this respect.

The instruments for taking scientific observations of course formed
an important part of our equipment, and special care was bestowed
upon them. In addition to the collection of instruments I had used on
my Greenland expedition, a great many new ones were provided, and no
pains were spared to get them as good and complete as possible. For
meteorological observations, in addition to the ordinary thermometers,
barometers, aneroids, psychrometers, hygrometers, anemometers, etc.,
etc., self-registering instruments were also taken. Of special
importance were a self-registering aneroid barometer (barograph)
and a pair of self-registering thermometers (thermographs). For
astronomical observations we had a large theodolite and two smaller
ones, intended for use on sledge expeditions, together with several
sextants of different sizes. We had, moreover, four ship's chronometers
and several pocket-chronometers. For magnetic observations, for taking
the declination, inclination, and intensity (both horizontal and total
intensity) we had a complete set of instruments. Among others may be
mentioned a spectroscope especially adapted for the northern lights,
an electroscope for determining the amount of electricity in the air,
photographic apparatuses, of which we had seven, large and small,
and a photographometer for making charts. I considered a pendulum
apparatus with its adjuncts to be of special importance to enable
us to make pendulum experiments in the far north. To do this,
however, land was necessary, and, as we did not find any, this
instrument unfortunately did not come into use. For hydrographic
observations we took a full equipment of water-samplers, deep-water
thermometers, etc. To ascertain the saltness of the water, we had,
in addition to the ordinary areometers, an electric apparatus
specially constructed by Mr. Thornöe. Altogether, our scientific
equipment was especially excellent, thanks in great measure to the
obliging assistance rendered me by many men of science. I would take
this opportunity of tendering my special thanks to Professor Mohn,
who, besides seeing to the meteorological instruments, helped me in
many other ways with his valuable advice; to Professor Geelmuyden,
who undertook the supervision of the astronomical instruments; to
Dr. Neumeyer, of Hamburg, who took charge of the magnetic equipment;
and to Professor Otto Petterson, of Stockholm, and Mr. Thornöe, of
Christiania, both of whom superintended the hydrographic department. Of
no less importance were the physiologico-medicinal preparations,
to which Professor Torup devoted particular care.

As it might be of the utmost importance in several contingencies to
have good sledge-dogs, I applied to my friend, Baron Edward von Toll,
of St. Petersburg, and asked him whether it was possible to procure
serviceable animals from Siberia. [16] With great courtesy Von Toll
replied that he thought he himself could arrange this for me, as he
was just on the point of undertaking his second scientific expedition
to Siberia and the New Siberian Islands. He proposed to send the
dogs to Khabarova, on Yugor Strait. On his journey through Tiumen in
January, 1893, by the help of an English merchant named Wardroper,
who resided there, he engaged Alexander Ivanovitch Trontheim to
undertake the purchase of thirty Ostiak dogs and their conveyance to
Yugor Strait. But Von Toll was not content with this. Mr. Nikolai
Kelch having offered to bear the expense, my friend procured the
East Siberian dogs, which are acknowledged to be better draught
dogs than those of West Siberia (Ostiak dogs), and Johan Torgersen,
a Norwegian, undertook to deliver them at the mouth of the Olenek,
where it was arranged that we should touch.

Von Toll, moreover, thought it would be important to establish some
depots of provisions on the New Siberian Islands, in case the Fram
should meet with disaster and the expedition should be obliged to
return home that way. On Von Toll's mentioning this, Kelch at once
expressed himself willing to bear the cost, as he wished us in that
event to meet with Siberian hospitality even on the New Siberian
Islands. As it was difficult to find trustworthy agents to carry out a
task involving so much responsibility, Von Toll determined to establish
the depots himself, and in May, 1893, he set out on an adventurous
and highly interesting journey from the mainland over the ice to the
New Siberian Islands, where, besides laying down three depots for us,
[17] he made some very important geological researches.

Another important matter, I thought, was to have a cargo of coal
sent out as far as possible on our route, so that when we broke off
all connection with the rest of the world we should have on board the
Fram as much coal as she could carry. I therefore joyfully accepted an
offer from an Englishman, who was to accompany us with his steam-yacht
to Novaya Zemlya or the Kara Sea and give us 100 tons of coal on
parting company. As our departure was drawing nigh I learnt, however,
that other arrangements had been made. It being now too late to take
any other measures, I chartered the sloop Urania, of Brönösund, in
Nordland, to bring a cargo of coals to Khabarova, on the Yugor Strait.

No sooner did the plan of my expedition become known than petitions
poured in by the hundred from all quarters of the earth--from Europe,
America, Australia--from persons who wished to take part in it,
in spite of the many warning voices that had been raised. It was
no easy thing to choose among all the brave men who applied. As a
matter of course, it was absolutely essential that every man should
be strong and healthy, and not one was finally accepted till he had
been carefully examined by Professor Hialmar Heiberg, of Christiania.

The following is a list of the members of the expedition:

Otto Neumann Sverdrup, commander of the Fram, was born in Bindal,
in Helgeland, 1855. At the age of seventeen he went to sea, passed
his mate's examination in 1878, and for some years was captain of a
ship. In 1888-89 he took part in the Greenland expedition. As soon as
he heard of the plan of the polar expedition he expressed his desire
to accompany it, and I knew that I could not place the Fram in better
hands. He is married, and has one child.

Sigurd Scott-Hansen, first lieutenant in the navy, undertook
the management of the meteorological, astronomical, and magnetic
observations. He was born in Christiania in 1868. After passing
through the naval school at Horten, he became an officer in 1889,
and first lieutenant in 1892. He is a son of Andreas Hansen, parish
priest in Christiania.

Henrik Greve Blessing, doctor and botanist to the expedition, was born
in Drammen in 1866, where his father was at that time a clergyman. He
became a student in 1885, and graduated in medicine in the spring
of 1893.

Theodore Claudius Jacobsen, mate of the Fram, was born at Tromsö in
1855, where his father was a ship's captain, afterwards harbor-master
and head pilot. At the age of fifteen he went to sea, and passed his
mate's examination four years later. He spent two years in New Zealand,
and from 1886-90 he went on voyages to the Arctic Sea as skipper of
a Tromsö sloop. He is married, and has one child.

Anton Amundsen, chief engineer of the Fram, was born at Horten in
1853. In 1884 he passed his technical examination, and soon afterwards
his engineer's examination. For twenty-five years he has been in the
navy, where he attained the rank of chief engineer. He is married,
and has six children.

Adolf Juell, steward and cook of the Fram, was born in the parish of
Skåtö, near Kragerö, in 1860. His father, Claus Nielsen, was a farmer
and ship-owner. In 1879 he passed his mate's examination, and has been
captain of a ship many years. He is married, and has four children.

Lars Pettersen, second engineer of the Fram, was born in 1860, at
Borre, near Landskrona, in Sweden, of Norwegian parents. He is a
fully qualified smith and machinist, in which capacity he has served
in the Norwegian navy for several years. Is married, and has children.

Frederik Hjalmar Johansen, lieutenant in the Reserve, was born at
Skien in 1867, and matriculated at the University in 1886. In 1891-92
he went to the Military School and became a supernumerary officer. He
was so eager to take part in the expedition that, as no other post
could be found for him, he accepted that of stoker.

Peter Leonard Henriksen, harpooner, was born in Balsfjord, near Tromsö,
in 1859. From childhood he has been a sailor, and from fourteen years
old has gone on voyages to the Arctic Sea as harpooner and skipper. In
1888 he was shipwrecked off Novaya Zemlya in the sloop Enigheden,
from Christiansund. He is married, and has four children.

Bernhard Nordahl was born in Christiania in 1862. At the age of
fourteen he entered the navy, and advanced to be a gunner. Subsequently
he has done a little of everything, and, among other things, has
worked as an electrical engineer. He had charge of the dynamo and
electric installation on board, acted, moreover, as stoker, and for
a time assisted in the meteorological observations. He is married,
and has five children.

Ivar Otto Irgens Mogstad was born at Aure, in Nordmöre, in 1856. In
1877 passed his examination as first assistant, and from 1882 onward
was one of the head keepers at the Gaustad Lunatic Asylum.

Bernt Bentzen, born in 1860, went to sea for several years. In 1890
he passed his mate's examination, since which he has sailed as mate
in several voyages to the Arctic Sea. We engaged him at Tromsö, just
as we were starting. It was 8.30 when he came on board to speak to me,
and at 10 o'clock the Fram set sail.



CHAPTER III

THE START


                            "So travel I north to the gloomy abode
                            That the sun never shines on--
                            There is no day."


It was midsummer day. A dull, gloomy day; and with it came the
inevitable leave-taking. The door closed behind me. For the last time
I left my home and went alone down the garden to the beach, where the
Fram's little petroleum launch pitilessly awaited me. Behind me lay
all I held dear in life. And what before me? How many years would
pass ere I should see it all again? What would I not have given at
that moment to be able to turn back; but up at the window little Liv
was sitting clapping her hands. Happy child, little do you know what
life is--how strangely mingled and how full of change. Like an arrow
the little boat sped over Lysaker Bay, bearing me on the first stage
of a journey on which life itself, if not more, was staked.

At last everything was in readiness. The hour had arrived towards
which the persevering labor of years had been incessantly bent, and
with it the feeling that, everything being provided and completed,
responsibility might be thrown aside and the weary brain at last
find rest. The Fram lies yonder at Pepperviken, impatiently panting
and waiting for the signal, when the launch comes puffing past Dyna
and runs alongside. The deck is closely packed with people come
to bid a last farewell, and now all must leave the ship. Then the
Fram weighs anchor, and, heavily laden and moving slowly, makes the
tour of the little creek. The quays are black with crowds of people
waving their hats and handkerchiefs. But silently and quietly the Fram
heads towards the fjord, steers slowly past Bygdö and Dyna out on her
unknown path, while little nimble craft, steamers, and pleasure-boats
swarm around her. Peaceful and snug lay the villas along the shore
behind their veils of foliage, just as they ever seemed of old. Ah,
"fair is the woodland slope, and never did it look fairer!" Long,
long, will it be before we shall plough these well-known waters again.

And now a last farewell to home. Yonder it lies on the point--the
fjord sparkling in front, pine and fir woods around, a little smiling
meadow-land and long wood-clad ridges behind. Through the glass one
could descry a summer-clad figure by the bench under the fir-tree....

It was the darkest hour of the whole journey.

And now out into the fjord. It was rainy weather, and a feeling
of melancholy seemed to brood over the familiar landscape with all
its memories.

It was not until noon next day (June 25th) that the Fram glided into
the bay by Rækvik, Archer's shipyard, near Laurvik, where her cradle
stood, and where many a golden dream had been dreamt of her victorious
career. Here we were to take the two long-boats on board and have
them set up on their davits, and there were several other things to
be shipped. It took the whole day and a good part of the next before
all was completed. About three o'clock on the 26th we bade farewell
to Rækvik and made a bend into Laurvik Bay, in order to stand out to
sea by Frederiksværn. Archer himself had to take the wheel and steer
his child this last bit before leaving the ship. And then came the
farewell hand-shake; but few words were spoken, and they got into
the boat, he, my brothers, and a friend, while the Fram glided ahead
with her heavy motion, and the bonds that united us were severed. It
was sad and strange to see this last relic of home in that little
skiff on the wide blue surface, Anker's cutter behind, and Laurvik
farther in the distance. I almost think a tear glittered on that fine
old face as he stood erect in the boat and shouted a farewell to us
and to the Fram. Do you think he does not love the vessel? That he
believes in her I know well. So we gave him the first salute from
the Fram's guns--a worthier inauguration they could not well have had.

Full speed ahead, and in the calm, bright summer weather, while the
setting sun shed his beams over the land, the Fram stood out towards
the blue sea, to get its first roll in the long, heaving swell. They
stood up in the boat and watched us for long.

We bore along the coast in good weather, past Christiansand. The
next evening, June 27th, we were off the Naze. I sat up and chatted
with Scott-Hansen till late in the night. He acted as captain on
the trip from Christiania to Trondhjem, where Sverdrup was to join,
after having accompanied his family to Steenkiær. As we sat there
in the chart-house and let the hours slip by while we pushed on in
the ever-increasing swell, all at once a sea burst open the door and
poured in. We rushed out on deck. The ship rolled like a log, the
seas broke in over the rails on both sides, and one by one up came
all the crew. I feared most lest the slender davits which supported
the long-boats should give way, and the boats themselves should go
overboard, perhaps carrying away with them a lot of the rigging. Then
twenty-five empty paraffin casks which were lashed on deck broke loose,
washed backward and forward, and gradually filled with water; so that
the outlook was not altogether agreeable. But it was worst of all when
the piles of reserve timber, spars, and planks began the same dance,
and threatened to break the props under the boats. It was an anxious
hour. Sea-sick, I stood on the bridge, occupying myself in alternately
making libations to Neptune and trembling for the safety of the boats
and the men, who were trying to make snug what they could forward on
deck. I often saw only a hotch-potch of sea, drifting planks, arms,
legs, and empty barrels. Now a green sea poured over us and knocked
a man off his legs so that the water deluged him; now I saw the lads
jumping over hurtling spars and barrels, so as not to get their feet
crushed between them. There was not a dry thread on them. Juell, who
lay asleep in the "Grand Hotel," as we called one of the long-boats,
awoke to hear the sea roaring under him like a cataract. I met him
at the cabin door as he came running down. It was no longer safe
there, he thought; best to save one's rags--he had a bundle under
his arm. Then he set off forward to secure his sea-chest, which
was floating about on the fore-deck, and dragged it hurriedly aft,
while one heavy sea after another swept over him. Once the Fram
buried her bows and shipped a sea over the forecastle. There was
one fellow clinging to the anchor-davits over the frothing water. It
was poor Juell again. We were hard put to it to secure our goods and
chattels. We had to throw all our good paraffin casks overboard, and
one prime timber balk after another went the same way, while I stood
and watched them sadly as they floated off. The rest of the deck cargo
was shifted aft on to the half-deck. I am afraid the shares in the
expedition stood rather low at this moment. Then all at once, when
things were about at their worst with us, we sighted a bark looming
out of the fog ahead. There it lay with royals and all sails set, as
snugly and peacefully as if nothing were the matter, rocking gently
on the sea. It made one feel almost savage to look at it. Visions of
the Flying Dutchman and other devilry flashed through my mind.

Terrible disaster in the cook's galley! Mogstad goes in and sees the
whole wall sprinkled over with dark-red stains--rushes off to Nordahl,
and says he believes Juell has shot himself through despair at the
insufferable heat he complains so about. "Great revolver disaster on
board the Fram!..." On close inspection, however, the stains appeared
to proceed from a box of chocolate that had upset in the cupboard.

Owing to the fog we dared not go too near land, so kept out to sea,
till at last, towards morning, the fog lifted somewhat, and the pilot
found his bearings between Farsund and Hummerdus. We put into Lister
Fjord, intending to anchor there and get into better sea trim; but as
the weather improved we went on our way. It was not till the afternoon
that we steered into Ekersund, owing to thick weather and a stiff
breeze, and anchored in Hovland's Bay, where our pilot, Hovland, [18]
lived. Next morning the boat davits, etc., were put in good working
order. The Fram, however, was too heavily laden to be at all easy
in a seaway; but this we could not alter. What we had we must keep,
and if we only got everything on deck shipshape and properly lashed,
the sea could not do us much harm, however rough it might be; for we
knew well enough that ship and rigging would hold out.

It was late in the evening of the last day of June when we rounded
Kvarven and stood in for Bergen in the gloom of the sullen night. Next
morning when I came on deck Vågen lay clear and bright in the sun,
all the ships being gayly decked out with bunting from topmost to
deck. The sun was holding high festival in the sky--Ulriken, Flöiren,
and Lövstakken sparkled and glittered, and greeted me as of old. It
is a marvellous place, that old Hanseatic town!

In the evening I was to give a lecture, but arrived half an hour too
late. For just as I was dressing to go a number of bills poured in,
and if I was to leave the town as a solvent man I must needs pay them,
and so the public perforce had to wait. But the worst of it was that
the saloon was full of those everlastingly inquisitive tourists. I
could hear a whole company of them besieging my cabin door while I was
dressing, declaring "they must shake hands with the doctor!" [19] One
of them actually peeped in through the ventilator at me, my secretary
told me afterwards. A nice sight she must have seen, the lovely
creature! Report says she drew her head back very quickly. Indeed,
at every place where we put in we were looked on somewhat as wild
animals in a menagerie. For they peeped unceremoniously at us in our
berths as if we had been bears and lions in a den, and we could hear
them loudly disputing among themselves as to who was who, and whether
those nearest and dearest to us whose portraits hung on the walls could
be called pretty or not. When I had finished my toilette I opened the
door cautiously and made a rush through the gaping company. "There
he is--there he is!" [20] they called to each other as they tumbled
up the steps after me. It was no use; I was on the quay and in the
carriage long before they had reached the deck.

At 8 o'clock there was a great banquet, many fine speeches, good fare
and excellent wine, pretty ladies, music, and dancing till far into
the night.

Next morning at 11 o'clock--it was Sunday--in bright, sunshiny weather,
we stood northward over Bergen Fjord, many friends accompanying us. It
was a lovely, never-to-be-forgotten summer day. In Herlö Fjord, right
out by the skerries, they parted from us, amid wavings of hats and
pocket-handkerchiefs; we could see the little harbor boat for a long
while with its black cloud of smoke on the sparkling surface of the
water. Outside, the sea rolled in the hazy sunlight; and within lay the
flat Mangerland, full of memories for me of zoological investigations
in fair weather and foul, years and years ago. Here it was that one of
Norway's most famous naturalists, a lonely pastor far removed from
the outer world, made his great discoveries. Here I myself first
groped my way along the narrow path of zoological research.

It was a wondrous evening. The lingering flush of vanished day
suffused the northern sky, while the moon hung large and round over
the mountains behind us. Ahead lay Alden and Kinn, like a fairyland
rising up from the sea. Tired as I was, I could not seek my berth;
I must drink in all this loveliness in deep refreshing draughts. It
was like balm to the soul after all the turmoil and friction with
crowds of strangers.

So we went on our way, mostly in fair weather, occasionally in fog
and rain, through sounds and between islands, northward along the
coast of Norway. A glorious land--I wonder if another fairway like
this is to be found the whole world over? Those never-to-be-forgotten
mornings, when nature wakens to life, wreaths of mist glittering like
silver over the mountains, their tops soaring above the mist like
islands of the sea! Then the day gleaming over the dazzling white
snow-peaks! And the evenings, and the sunsets with the pale moon
overhead, white mountains and islands lay hushed and dreamlike as a
youthful longing! Here and there past homely little havens with houses
around them set in smiling green trees! Ah! those snug homes in the lee
of the skerries awake a longing for life and warmth in the breast. You
may shrug your shoulders as much as you like at the beauties of nature,
but it is a fine thing for a people to have a fair land, be it never so
poor. Never did this seem clearer to me than now when I was leaving it.

Every now and then a hurrah from land--at one time from a troop of
children, at another from grown-up people, but mostly from wondering
peasants who gaze long at the strange-looking ship and muse over its
enigmatic destination. And men and women on board sloops and ten-oared
boats stand up in their red shirts that glow in the sunlight, and rest
on their oars to look at us. Steamboats crowded with people came out
from the towns we passed to greet us, and bid us God-speed on our way
with music, songs, and cannon salutes. The great tourist steamboats
dipped flags to us and fired salutes, and the smaller craft did the
same. It is embarrassing and oppressive to be the object of homage like
this before anything has been accomplished. There is an old saying:


                "At eve the day shall be praised,
                The wife when she is burnt,
                The sword when tried,
                The woman when married,
                The ice when passed over,
                Ale when drunk."


Most touching was the interest and sympathy with which these poor
fisher-folk and peasants greeted us. It often set me wondering. I
felt they followed us with fervent eagerness. I remember one day--it
was north in Helgeland--an old woman was standing waving and waving
to us on a bare crag. Her cottage lay some distance inland. "I wonder
if it can really be us she is waving to," I said to the pilot, who was
standing beside me. "You may be sure it is," was the answer. "But how
can she know who we are?" "Oh! they know all about the Fram up here,
in every cabin, and they will be on the lookout for you as you come
back, I can tell you," he answered. Aye, truly, it is a responsible
task we are undertaking, when the whole nation are with us like
this. What if the thing should turn out a huge disappointment!

In the evening I would sit and look around--lonely huts lay scattered
here and there on points and islets. Here the Norwegian people wear
out their lives in the struggle with the rocks, in the struggle
with the sea; and it is this people that is sending us out into
the great hazardous unknown; the very folk who stand there in their
fishing-boats and look wonderingly after the Fram as she slowly and
heavily steams along on her northward course. Many of them wave their
sou'-westers and shout "Hurrah!" Others have barely time to gape at
us in wonderment. In on the point are a troop of women waving and
shouting; outside a few boats with ladies in light summer-dresses,
and gentlemen at the oars entertaining them with small-talk as they
wave their parasols and pocket-handkerchiefs. Yes; it is they who
are sending us out. It is not a cheering thought. Not one of them,
probably, knows what they are paying their money for. Maybe they
have heard it is a glorious enterprise; but why? To what end? Are
we not defrauding them? But their eyes are riveted on the ship,
and perhaps there dawns before their minds a momentary vision of a
new and inconceivable world, with aspirations after a something of
which they know naught.... And here on board are men who are leaving
wife and children behind them. How sad has been the separation! what
longing, what yearning, await them in the coming years! And it is not
for profit they do it. For honor and glory then? These may be scant
enough. It is the same thirst for achievement, the same craving to
get beyond the limits of the known, which inspired this people in
the Saga times that is stirring in them again to-day. In spite of
all our toil for subsistence, in spite of all our "peasant politics,"
sheer utilitarianism is perhaps not so dominant among us, after all.

As time was precious I did not, as originally intended, put in at
Trondhjem, but stopped at Beian, where Sverdrup joined us. Here
Professor Brögger also came on board, to accompany us as far as Tromsö.

Here, too, our doctor received three monstrous chests with the medicine
supply, a gift from Apothecary Bruun, of Trondhjem.

And so on towards the north, along the lovely coast of Nordland. We
stopped at one or two places to take dried fish on board as provision
for the dogs. Past Torghatten, the Seven Sisters, and Hestemanden; past
Lovunen and Trænen, far out yonder in the sea; past Lofoten and all the
other lovely places--each bold gigantic form wilder and more beautiful
than the last. It is unique--a fairyland--a land of dreams. We felt
afraid to go on too fast, for fear of missing something.

On July 12th we arrived at Tromsö, where we were to take in coal and
other things, such as reindeer cloaks, "komager" (a sort of Lapp
moccasin), Finn shoes, "senne" grass, dried reindeer flesh, etc.,
etc., all of which had been procured by that indefatigable friend
of the expedition, Advocate Mack. Tromsö gave us a cold reception--a
northwesterly gale, with driving snow and sleet. Mountains, plains,
and house-roofs were all covered with snow down to the water's edge. It
was the very bitterest July day I ever experienced. The people there
said they could not remember such a July. Perhaps they were afraid
the place would come into disrepute, for in a town where they hold
snow-shoe races on Midsummer Day one may be prepared for anything in
the way of weather.

In Tromsö the next day a new member of the expedition was engaged,
Bernt Bentzen--a stout fellow to look at. He originally intended
accompanying us only as far as Yugor Strait, but as a matter of fact
he went the whole voyage with us, and proved a great acquisition,
being not only a capital seaman, but a cheerful and amusing comrade.

After a stay of two days we again set out. On the night of the 16th,
east of the North Cape or Magerö, we met with such a nasty sea,
and shipped so much water on deck, that we put into Kjöllefjord to
adjust our cargo better by shifting the coal and making a few other
changes. We worked at this the whole of two days, and made everything
clear for the voyage to Novaya Zemlya. I had at first thought of taking
on board a fresh supply of coal at Vardö, but as we were already deeply
laden, and the Urania was to meet us at Yugor Strait with coal, we
thought it best to be contented with what we had already got on board,
as we might expect bad weather in crossing the White Sea and Barents
Sea. At ten o'clock in the evening we weighed anchor, and reached Vardö
next evening, where we met with a magnificent reception. There was a
band of music on the pier, the fjord teemed with boats, flags waved
on every hand, and salutes were fired. The people had been waiting
for us ever since the previous evening, we were told--some of them,
indeed, coming from Vadsö--and they had seized the opportunity to
get up a subscription to provide a big drum for the town band, the
"North Pole." And here we were entertained at a sumptuous banquet,
with speeches, and champagne flowing in streams, ere we bade Norway
our last farewell.

The last thing that had now to be done for the Fram was to have her
bottom cleaned of mussels and weeds, so that she might be able to
make the best speed possible. This work was done by divers, who were
readily placed at our service by the local inspector of the Government
Harbor Department.

But our own bodies also claimed one last civilized feast of
purification before entering on a life of savagery. The bath-house
of the town is a small timber building. The bath-room itself is low,
and provided with shelves where you lie down and are parboiled with
hot steam, which is constantly kept up by water being thrown on the
glowing hot stones of an awful oven, worthy of hell itself; while all
the time young quæn (lasses) flog you with birch twigs. After that
you are rubbed down, washed, and dried delightfully--everything being
well managed, clean, and comfortable. I wonder whether old Father
Mahomet has set up a bath like this in his paradise.



CHAPTER IV

FAREWELL TO NORWAY


I felt in a strange mood as I sat up the last night writing letters
and telegrams. We had bidden farewell to our excellent pilot,
Johan Hågensen, who had piloted us from Bergen, and now we were only
the thirteen members of the expedition, together with my secretary,
Christofersen, who had accompanied us so far, and was to go on with us
as far as Yugor Strait. Everything was so calm and still, save for the
scraping of the pen that was sending off a farewell to friends at home.

All the men were asleep below.

The last telegram was written, and I sent my secretary ashore with
it. It was 3 o'clock in the morning when he returned, and I called
Sverdrup up, and one or two others. We weighed anchor, and stood
out of the harbor in the silence of the morning. The town still lay
wrapped in sleep; everything looked so peaceful and lovely all around,
with the exception of a little stir of awakening toil on board one
single steamer in the harbor. A sleepy fisherman stuck his head up
out of the half-deck of his ten-oared boat, and stared at us as we
steamed past the breakwater; and on the revenue cutter outside there
was a man fishing in that early morning light.

This last impression of Norway was just the right one for us to
carry away with us. Such beneficent peace and calm; such a rest for
the thoughts; no hubbub and turmoil of people with their hurrahs and
salutes. The masts in the harbor, the house-roofs, and chimneys stood
out against the cool morning sky. Just then the sun broke through
the mist and smiled over the shore--rugged, bare, and weather-worn
in the hazy morning, but still lovely--dotted here and there with
tiny houses and boats, and all Norway lay behind it....

While the Fram was slowly and quietly working her way out to sea,
towards our distant goal, I stood and watched the land gradually
fading away on the horizon. I wonder what will happen to her and to
us before we again see Norway rising up over the sea?

But a fog soon came on and obscured everything.

And through fog, nothing but fog, we steamed away for four days without
stopping, until, when I came on deck on the morning of the 25th of
July, behold clear weather! The sun was shining in a cloudless sky,
the bright blue sea was heaving with a gentle swell. Again it was
good to be a living being, and to drink in the peacefulness of the
sea in long draughts. Towards noon we sighted Goose Land on Novaya
Zemlya, and stood in towards it. Guns and cartridges were got ready,
and we looked forward with joyful anticipation to roast goose and
other game; but we had gone but a short distance when the gray
woolly fog from the southeast came up and enveloped us. Again we
were shut off from the world around us. It was scarcely prudent to
make for land, so we set our course eastward towards Yugor Strait;
but a head-wind soon compelled us to beat up under steam and sail,
which we went on doing for a couple of days, plunged in a world
of fog. Ugh! that endless, stubborn fog of the Arctic Sea! When it
lowers its curtain, and shuts out the blue above and the blue below,
and everything becomes a damp gray mist, day in and day out, then all
the vigor and elasticity of the soul is needed to save one from being
stifled in its clammy embrace. Fog, and nothing but fog, wherever we
turn our eyes. It condenses on the rigging and drips down on every
tiniest spot on deck. It lodges on your clothes, and finally wets
you through and through. It settles down on the mind and spirits,
and everything becomes one uniform gray.

On the evening of July 27th, while still fog-bound, we quite
unexpectedly met with ice; a mere strip, indeed, which we easily
passed through, but it boded ill. In the night we met with more--a
broader strip this time, which also we passed through. But next
morning I was called up with the information that there was thick,
old ice ahead. Well, if ice difficulties were to begin so soon, it
would be a bad lookout indeed. Such are the chill surprises that
the Arctic Sea has more than enough of. I dressed and was up in
the crow's-nest in a twinkling. The ice lay extended everywhere,
as far as the eye could reach through the fog, which had lifted a
little. There was no small quantity of ice, but it was tolerably
open, and there was nothing for it but to be true to our watchword
and "gå fram"--push onward. For a good while we picked our way. But
now it began to lie closer, with large floes every here and there,
and at the same time the fog grew denser, and we could not see our
way at all. To go ahead in difficult ice and in a fog is not very
prudent, for it is impossible to tell just where you are going, and
you are apt to be set fast before you know where you are. So we had to
stop and wait. But still the fog grew ever denser, while the ice did
the same. Our hopes meanwhile rose and fell, but mostly the latter,
I think. To encounter so much ice already in these waters, where at
this time of year the sea is, as a rule, quite free from it, boded
anything but good. Already at Tromsö and Vardö we had heard bad news;
the White Sea, they said, had only been clear of ice a very short time,
and a boat that had tried to reach Yugor Strait had had to turn back
because of the ice. Neither were our anticipations of the Kara Sea
altogether cheerful. What might we not expect there? For the Urania,
with our coals, too, this ice was a bad business; for it would be
unable to make its way through unless it had found navigable water
farther south along the Russian coast.

Just as our prospects were at their darkest, and we were preparing to
seek a way back out of the ice, which kept getting ever denser, the
joyful tidings came that the fog was lifting, and that clear water
was visible ahead to the east on the other side of the ice. After
forcing our way ahead for some hours between the heavy floes, we
were once more in open water. This first bout with the ice, however,
showed us plainly what an excellent ice-boat the Fram was. It was a
royal pleasure to work her ahead through difficult ice. She twisted
and turned "like a ball on a platter." No channel between the floes so
winding and awkward but she could get through it. But it is hard work
for the helmsman. "Hard astarboard! Hard aport! Steady! Hard astarboard
again!" goes on incessantly without so much as a breathing-space. And
he rattles the wheel round, the sweat pours off him, and round it
goes again like a spinning-wheel. And the ship swings round and
wriggles her way forward among the floes without touching, if there
is only just an opening wide enough for her to slip through; and where
there is none she drives full tilt at the ice, with her heavy plunge,
runs her sloping bows up on it, treads it under her, and bursts the
floes asunder. And how strong she is too! Even when she goes full
speed at a floe, not a creak, not a sound, is to be heard in her;
if she gives a little shake it is all she does.

On Saturday, July 29th, we again headed eastward towards Yugor Strait
as fast as sails and steam could take us. We had open sea ahead, the
weather was fine and the wind fair. Next morning we came under the
south side of Dolgoi or Langöia, as the Norwegian whalers call it,
where we had to stand to the northward. On reaching the north of the
island we again bore eastward. Here I descried from the crow's-nest,
as far as I could make out, several islands which are not given on
the charts. They lay a little to the east of Langöia.

It was now pretty clear that the Urania had not made her way through
the ice. While we were sitting in the saloon in the forenoon, talking
about it, a cry was heard from deck that the sloop was in sight. It
was joyful news, but the joy was of no long duration. The next moment
we heard she had a crow's-nest on her mast, so she was doubtless a
sealer. When she sighted us she bore off to the south, probably fearing
that we were a Russian war-ship or something equally bad. So, as we
had no particular interest in her, we let her go on her way in peace.

Later in the day we neared Yugor Strait. We kept a sharp lookout
for land ahead, but none could be seen. Hour after hour passed as we
glided onward at good speed, but still no land. Certainly it would not
be high land, but nevertheless this was strange. Yes--there it lies,
like a low shadow over the horizon, on the port bow. It is land--it is
Vaigats Island. Soon we sight more of it--abaft the beam; then, too,
the mainland on the south side of the strait. More and more of it comes
in sight--it increases rapidly. All low and level land, no heights, no
variety, no apparent opening for the strait ahead. Thence it stretches
away to the north and south in a soft low curve. This is the threshold
of Asia's boundless plains, so different from all we have been used to.

We now glided into the strait, with its low rocky shores on either
side. The strata of the rocks lie endways, and are crumpled and broken,
but on the surface everything is level and smooth. No one who travels
over the flat green plains and tundras would have any idea of the
mysteries and upheavals that lie hidden beneath the sward. Here
once upon a time were mountains and valleys, now all worn away and
washed out.

We looked out for Khabarova. On the north side of the sound there
was a mark; a shipwrecked sloop lay on the shore; it was a Norwegian
sealer. The wreck of a smaller vessel lay by its side. On the south
side was a flag-staff, and on it a red flag; Khabarova must then lie
behind it. At last one or two buildings or shanties appeared behind a
promontory, and soon the whole place lay exposed to view, consisting
of tents and a few houses. On a little jutting-out point close by us
was a large red building, with white door-frames, of a very homelike
appearance. It was indeed a Norwegian warehouse which Sibiriakoff had
imported from Finmarken. But here the water was shallow, and we had to
proceed carefully for fear of running aground. We kept heaving the lead
incessantly--we had 5 fathoms of water, and then 4, then not much more
than we needed, and then it shelved to a little over 3 fathoms. This
was rather too close work, so we stood out again a bit to wait till
we got a little nearer the place before drawing in to the shore.

A boat was now seen slowly approaching from the land. A man of middle
height, with an open, kindly face and reddish beard, came on board. He
might have been a Norwegian from his appearance. I went to meet him,
and asked him in German if he was Trontheim. Yes, he was. After
him there came a number of strange figures clad in heavy robes of
reindeer-skin, which nearly touched the deck. On their heads they wore
peculiar "bashlyk"-like caps of reincalf-skin, beneath which strongly
marked bearded faces showed forth, such as might well have belonged
to old Norwegian Vikings. The whole scene, indeed, called up in my
mind a picture of the Viking Age, of expeditions to Gardarike and
Bjarmeland. They were fine, stalwart-looking fellows, these Russian
traders, who barter with the natives, giving them brandy in exchange
for bearskins, sealskins, and other valuables, and who, when once
they have a hold on a man, keep him in such a state of dependence that
he can scarcely call his soul his own. "Es ist eine alte Geschichte,
doch wird sie immer neu." Soon, too, the Samoyedes came flocking on
board, pleasant-featured people of the broad Asiatic type. Of course
it was only the men who came.

The first question I asked Trontheim was about the ice. He replied that
Yugor Strait had been open a long while, and that he had been expecting
our arrival every day since then with ever-increasing anxiety. The
natives and the Russians had begun to jeer at him as time went on,
and no Fram was to be seen; but now he had his revenge and was all
sunshine. He thought the state of the ice in the Kara Sea would be
favorable; some Samoyedes had said so, who had been seal-hunting near
the eastern entrance of the Strait a day or two previously. This was
not very much to build upon, certainly, but still sufficient to make us
regret that we had not got there before. Then we spoke of the Urania,
of which no one, of course, had seen anything. No ship had put in there
for some time, except the sealing sloop we had passed in the morning.

Next we inquired about the dogs, and learned that everything was all
right with them. To make sure, Trontheim had purchased forty dogs,
though I had only asked for thirty. Five of these, from various
mishaps, had died during their journey--one had been bitten to death,
two had got hung fast and had been strangled while passing through a
forest, etc., etc. One, moreover, had been taken ill a few days before,
and was still on the sick list; but the remaining thirty-four were in
good condition: we could hear them howling and barking. During this
conversation we had come as near to Khabarova as we dared venture,
and at seven in the evening cast anchor in about 3 fathoms of water.

Over the supper-table Trontheim told us his adventures. On the way
from Sopva and Ural to the Pechora he heard that there was a dog
epidemic in that locality; consequently he did not think it advisable
to go to the Pechora as he had intended, but laid his course instead
direct from Ural to Yugor Strait. Towards the end of the journey
the snow had disappeared, and, in company with a reindeer caravan,
he drove on with his dogs over the bare plain, stocks and stones and
all, using the sledges none the less. The Samoyedes and natives of
Northern Siberia have no vehicles but sledges. The summer sledge
is somewhat higher than the winter sledge, in order that it may
not hang fast upon stones and stumps. As may be supposed, however,
summer sledging is anything but smooth work.

After supper we went ashore, and were soon on the flat beach of
Khabarova, the Russians and Samoyedes regarding us with the utmost
curiosity. The first objects to attract our attention were the
two churches--an old venerable-looking wooden shed, of an oblong
rectangular form, and an octagonal pavilion, not unlike many
summer-houses or garden pavilions that I have seen at home. How
far the divergence between the two forms of religion was indicated
in the two mathematical figures I am unable to say. It might be
that the simplicity of the old faith was expressed in the simple,
four-sided building, while the rites and ceremonies of the other were
typified in the octagonal form, with its double number of corners
to stumble against. Then we must go and see the monastery--"Skit,"
as it was called--where the six monks had lived, or rather died, from
what people said was scurvy, probably helped out by alcohol. It lay
over against the new church, and resembled an ordinary low Russian
timber-house. The priest and his assistants were living there now,
and had asked Trontheim to take up his quarters with them. Trontheim,
therefore, invited us in, and we soon found ourselves in a couple of
comfortable log-built rooms with open fireplaces like our Norwegian
"peis."

After this we proceeded to the dog-camp, which was situated on a
plain at some distance from the houses and tents. As we approached
it the howling and barking kept getting worse and worse. When a short
distance off we were surprised to see a Norwegian flag on the top of
a pole. Trontheim's face beamed with joy as our eyes fell on it. It
was, he said, under the same flag as our expedition that his had
been undertaken. There stood the dogs tied up, making a deafening
clamor. Many of them appeared to be well-bred animals--long-haired,
snow-white, with up-standing ears and pointed muzzles. With their
gentle, good-natured looking faces they at once ingratiated themselves
in our affections. Some of them more resembled a fox, and had shorter
coats, while others were black or spotted. Evidently they were of
different races, and some of them betrayed by their drooping ears
a strong admixture of European blood. After having duly admired the
ravenous way in which they swallowed raw fish (gwiniad), not without
a good deal of snarling and wrangling, we took a walk inland to a lake
close by in search of game; but we only found an Arctic gull with its
brood. A channel had been dug from this lake to convey drinking-water
to Khabarova. According to what Trontheim told us, this was the work
of the monks--about the only work, probably, they had ever taken in
hand. The soil here was a soft clay, and the channel was narrow and
shallow, like a roadside ditch or gutter; the work could not have
been very arduous. On the hill above the lake stood the flagstaff
which we had noticed on our arrival. It had been erected by the
excellent Trontheim to bid us welcome, and on the flag itself, as I
afterwards discovered by chance, was the word "Vorwärts." Trontheim
had been told that was the name of our ship, so he was not a little
disappointed when he came on board to find it was Fram instead. I
consoled him, however, by telling him they both meant the same thing,
and that his welcome was just as well meant, whether written in German
or Norwegian. Trontheim told me afterwards that he was by descent a
Norwegian, his father having been a ship's captain from Trondhjem,
and his mother an Esthonian, settled at Riga. His father had been
much at sea, and had died early, so the son had not learnt Norwegian.

Naturally our first and foremost object was to learn all we could
about the ice in the Arctic Sea. We had determined to push on as
soon as possible; but we must have the boiler put in order first,
while sundry pipes and valves in the engine wanted seeing to. As it
would take several days to do this, Sverdrup, Peter Henriksen, and
I set out next morning in our little petroleum launch to the eastern
opening of the Yugor Strait, to see with our own eyes what might be
the condition of the ice to the eastward. It was 28 miles thither. A
quantity of ice was drifting through the strait from the east, and, as
there was a northerly breeze, we at once turned our course northward to
get under the lee of the north shore, where the water was more open. I
had the rather thankless task of acting as helmsman and engineer at
one and the same time. The boat went on like a little hero and made
about six knots. Everything looked bright. But, alas! good fortune
seldom lasts long, especially when one has to do with petroleum
launches. A defect in the circulation-pump soon stopped the engine,
and we could only go for short distances at a time, till we reached
the north shore, where, after two hours' hard work, I got the engines
so far in order as to be able to continue our journey to the northeast
through the sound between the drifting floes. We got on pretty well,
except for an interruption every now and then when the engine took
it into its head to come to a standstill. It caused a good deal of
merriment when the stalwart Peter turned the crank to set her off
again and the engine gave a start so as nearly to pull his arms out
of joint and upset him head over heels in the boat. Every now and
then a flock of long-tailed duck (Harelda glacialis) or other birds
came whizzing by us, one or two of them invariably falling to our guns.

We had kept along the Vaigats shore, but now crossed over towards the
south side of the strait. When about the middle of the channel I was
startled by all at once seeing the bottom grow light under us, and had
nearly run the boat on a shoal of which no one knew anything. There
was scarcely more than two or three feet of water, and the current
ran over it like a rapid river. Shoals and sunken rocks abound there
on every hand, especially on the south side of the strait, and it
required great care to navigate a vessel through it. Near the eastern
mouth of the strait we put into a little creek, dragged the boat up on
the beach, and then, taking our guns, made for some high-lying land
we had noticed. We tramped along over the same undulating plain-land
with low ridges, as we had seen everywhere round the Yugor Strait. A
brownish-green carpet of moss and grass spread over the plain, bestrewn
with flowers of rare beauty. During the long, cold Siberian winter
the snow lies in a thick mass over the tundra; but no sooner does the
sun get the better of it than hosts of tiny northern flowers burst
their way up through the fast-disappearing coating of snow and open
their modest calices, blushing in the radiant summer day that bathes
the plain in its splendor. Saxifrages with large blooms, pale-yellow
mountain poppies (Papaver nudicaule) stand in bright clusters, and
here and there with bluish forget-me-nots and white cloud-berry
flowers; in some boggy hollows the cotton-grass spreads its wavy
down carpet, while in other spots small forests of bluebells softly
tingle in the wind on their upright stalks. These flowers are not at
all brilliant specimens, being in most cases not more than a couple
of inches high, but they are all the more exquisite on that account,
and in such surroundings their beauty is singularly attractive. While
the eye vainly seeks for a resting-place over the boundless plain,
these modest blooms smile at you and take the fancy captive.

And over these mighty tundra-plains of Asia, stretching infinitely
onward from one sky-line to the other, the nomad wanders with his
reindeer herds, a glorious, free life! Where he wills he pitches
his tent, his reindeer around him; and at his will again he goes on
his way. I almost envied him. He has no goal to struggle towards, no
anxieties to endure--he has merely to live! I wellnigh wished that I
could live his peaceful life, with wife and child, on these boundless,
open plains, unfettered, happy.

After we had proceeded a short distance, we became aware of a white
object sitting on a stone heap beneath a little ridge, and soon noticed
more in other directions. They looked quite ghostly as they sat there
silent and motionless. With the help of my field-glass I discovered
that they were snow-owls. We set out after them, but they took care
to keep out of the range of a fowling-piece. Sverdrup, however,
shot one or two with his rifle. There was a great number of them;
I could count as many as eight or ten at once. They sat motionless
on tussocks of grass or stones, watching, no doubt, for lemmings, of
which, judging from their tracks, there must have been quantities. We,
however, did not see any.

From the tops of the ridges we could see over the Kara Sea to the
northeast. Everywhere ice could be descried through the telescope, far
on the horizon--ice, too, that seemed tolerably close and massive. But
between it and the coast there was open water, stretching, like a wide
channel, as far as the eye could reach to the southeast. This was all
we could make out, but it was in reality all we wanted. There seemed to
be no doubt that we could make our way forward, and, well satisfied,
we returned to our boat. Here we lighted a fire of driftwood, and
made some glorious coffee.

As the coffee-kettle was singing over a splendid fire, and we
stretched ourselves at full length on the slope by its side and
smoked a quiet pipe, Sverdrup made himself thoroughly comfortable,
and told us one story after another. However gloomy a country might
look, however desolate, if only there were plenty of driftwood on
the beach, so that one could make a right good fire, the bigger the
better, then his eyes would glisten with delight--that land was his
El Dorado. So from that time forth he conceived a high opinion of
the Siberian coast--a right good place for wintering, he called it.

On our way back we ran at full speed on to a sunken rock. After
a bump or two the boat slid over it; but just as she was slipping
off on the other side the propeller struck on the rock, so that the
stern gave a bound into the air while the engine whizzed round at a
tearing rate. It all happened in a second, before I had time to stop
her. Unluckily one screw blade was broken off, but we drove ahead with
the other as best we could. Our progress was certainly rather uneven,
but for all that we managed to get on somehow.

Towards morning we drew near the Fram, passing two Samoyedes, who had
drawn their boat up on an ice-floe and were looking out for seals. I
wonder what they thought when they saw our tiny boat shoot by them
without steam, sails, or oars. We, at all events, looked down on these
"poor savages" with the self-satisfied compassion of Europeans, as,
comfortably seated, we dashed past them.

But pride comes before a fall! We had not gone far when--whir, whir,
whir--a fearful racket! bits of broken steel springs whizzed past my
ears, and the whole machine came to a dead stop. It was not to be
moved either forward or backward. The vibration of the one-bladed
propeller had brought the lead line little by little within the
range of the fly-wheel, and all at once the whole line was drawn
into the machinery, and got so dreadfully entangled in it that we
had to take the whole thing to pieces to get it clear once more. So
we had to endure the humiliation of rowing back to our proud ship,
for whose flesh-pots we had long been anhungered.

The net result of the day was: tolerably good news about the Kara Sea;
forty birds, principally geese and long-tailed ducks; one seal; and
a disabled boat. Amundsen and I, however, soon put this in complete
repair again--but in so doing I fear I forfeited forever and a day
the esteem of the Russians and Samoyedes in these parts. Some of them
had been on board in the morning and seen me hard at work in the boat
in my shirt-sleeves, face and bare arms dirty with oil and other
messes. They went on shore afterwards to Trontheim, and said that
I could not possibly be a great person, slaving away like any other
workman on board, and looking worse than a common rough. Trontheim,
unfortunately, knew of nothing that could be said in my excuse;
there is no fighting against facts.

In the evening some of us went on shore to try the dogs. Trontheim
picked out ten of them and harnessed them to a Samoyede sledge. No
sooner were we ready and I had taken my seat than the team caught sight
of a wretched strange dog that had come near, and off dashed dogs,
sledge, and my valuable person after the poor creature. There was
a tremendous uproar; all the ten tumbled over each other like wild
wolves, biting and tearing wherever they could catch hold; blood
ran in streams, and the culprit howled pitiably, while Trontheim
tore round like a madman, striking right and left with his long
switch. Samoyedes and Russians came screaming from all sides. I sat
passively on the sledge in the middle of it all, dumb with fright,
and it was ever so long before it occurred to me that there was
perhaps something for me too to do. With a horrible yell I flung
myself on some of the worst fighters, got hold of them by the neck,
and managed to give the culprit time to get away.

Our team had got badly mixed up during the battle, and it took some
time to disentangle them. At last everything was once more ready
for the start. Trontheim cracked his whip, and called, "Pr-r-r-r,
pr-r-r-r," and off we went at a wild gallop, over grass, clay, and
stones, until it seemed as if they were going to carry us right
across the lagoon at the mouth of the river. I kicked and pulled
in with all my might, but was dragged along, and it was all that
Trontheim and I with our united strength could do to stop them
just as they were going into the water, although we shouted "Sass,
sass," so that it echoed over the whole of Khabarova. But at last
we got our team turned in another direction, and off we set again
merrily at such a pace that I had enough to do to hold on. It was an
extraordinary summer ride; and it gave us a high opinion of the dogs'
strength, seeing how easily they drew two men over this, to put it
mildly, bad sledding ground. We went on board again well satisfied,
also the richer by a new experience, having learnt that dog-driving,
at any rate to begin with, requires much patience.

Siberian dog-harness is remarkably primitive. A thick rope or a strap
of sail-cloth passes round the animal's back and belly. This is held
in its place above by a piece of cord attached to the collar. The
single trace is fastened under the belly, goes back between the legs,
and must often plague the animal. I was unpleasantly surprised when
I noticed that, with four exceptions, all the dogs were castrated,
and this surprise I did not conceal. But Trontheim on his side was at
least equally astonished, and informed me that in Siberia castrated
dogs are considered the best. [21] This was a disappointment to me,
as I had reckoned on my canine family increasing on the way. For
the present I should just have to trust to the four "whole" dogs and
"Kvik," the bitch I had brought with me from home.

Next day, August 1st, there was a great religious festival in
Khabarova, that of St. Elias. Samoyedes from far and near had come in
with their reindeer teams to celebrate the day by going to church and
then getting roaring drunk. We were in need of men in the morning
to help in filling the boiler with fresh water and the tank with
drinking-water, but on account of this festival it was difficult to get
hold of any at all. At last, by dint of promising sufficient reward,
Trontheim succeeded in collecting some poor fellows who had not money
enough to drink themselves as drunk as the day required of them. I
was on shore in the morning, partly to arrange about the provision
of water, partly to collect fossils, in which the rock here abounds,
especially one rock below Sibiriakoff's warehouse. I also took a walk
up the hill to the west, to Trontheim's flag-staff, and looked out
to sea in that direction after the Urania. But there was nothing to
be seen except an unbroken sea-line. Loaded with my find I returned
to Khabarova, where I, of course, took advantage of the opportunity
to see something of the festival.

From early morning the women had been dressed in their finest
clothes--brilliant colors, skirts with many tucks, and great
colored bows at the end of plaits of hair which hung far down their
backs. Before service an old Samoyede and a comely young girl led
out a lean reindeer which was to be offered to the church--to the old
church, that is to say. Even up here, as already mentioned, religious
differences have found their way. Nearly all the Samoyedes of these
parts belong to the old faith and attend the old church. But they go
occasionally to the new one too; as far as I could make out, so as
not to offend the priest and Sibiriakoff--or perhaps to be surer of
heaven? From what I got out of Trontheim on the subject, the chief
difference between the two religions lies in the way they make the
sign of the cross, or something of that sort. To-day was high festival
in both churches. All the Samoyedes first paid a short visit to the
new church and then immediately streamed over into the old one. The
old church was for the moment without a priest, but to-day they had
clubbed together and offered the priest of the new church two roubles
to hold a service in the old one too. After careful consideration, he
agreed, and in all his priestly pomp crossed the old threshold. The
air inside was so bad that I could not stand it for more than two
minutes, so I now made my way on board again.

During the afternoon the howling and screaming began, and increased
as time went on. We did not need to be told that the serious part of
the festival had now begun. Some of the Samoyedes tore about over the
plain with their reindeer teams like furious animals. They could not
sit on their sledges, but lay on them, or were dragged behind them,
howling. Some of my comrades went on shore, and brought back anything
but an edifying account of the state of things. Every single man
and woman appeared to be drunk, reeling about the place. One young
Samoyede in particular had made an ineffaceable impression on them. He
mounted a sledge, lashed at the reindeer, and drove "amuck" in among
the tents, over the tied-up dogs, foxes, and whatever came in his way;
he himself fell off the sledge, was caught in the reins, and dragged
behind, shrieking, through sand and clay. Good St. Elias must be much
flattered by such homage. Towards morning the howling gradually died
away, and the whole town slept the loathsome sleep of the drunkard.

There was not a man to be got to help with our coal-shifting next
day. Most of them slept all day after the orgie of the night. We
had just to do without help; but we had not finished by evening,
and I began to be impatient to get away. Precious time was passing;
I had long ago given up the Urania. We did not really need more
coal. The wind had been favorable for several days. It was a south
wind, which was certainly blowing the ice to the northward in the
Kara Sea. Sverdrup was now positive that we should be able to sail
in open water all the way to the New Siberian Islands, so it was
his opinion that there was no hurry for the present. But hope is a
frail reed to lean on, and my expectations were not quite so bright;
so I hurried things on, to get away as soon as possible.

At the supper-table this evening King Oscar's gold medal of merit
was solemnly presented to Trontheim, in recognition of the great care
with which he had executed his difficult commission, and the valuable
assistance thereby rendered to the expedition. His honest face beamed
at the sight of the beautiful medal and the bright ribbon.

Next day, August 3d, we were at last ready for a start, and the 34
dogs were brought on board in the afternoon, with great noise and
confusion. They were all tied up on the deck forward, and began by
providing more musical entertainment than we desired. By evening
the hour had come. We got up steam--everything was ready. But such
a thick fog had set in that we could not see the land. Now came
the moment when our last friend, Christofersen, was to leave the
ship. We supplied him with the barest sufficiency of provisions and
some Ringnes's ale. While this was being done, last lines were added
in feverish eagerness to the letters home. Then came a last hand-clasp;
Christofersen and Trontheim got into the boat, and had soon disappeared
in the fog. With them went our last post; our last link with home
was broken. We were alone in the mist on the sea. It was not likely
that any message from us would reach the world before we ourselves
brought the news of our success or defeat. How much anxiety were
those at home to suffer between now and then! It is true we might
possibly be able to send letters home from the mouth of the Olenek,
where, according to the agreement with Baron Toll, we were to call in
for another supply of dogs; but I did not consider this probable. It
was far on in the summer, and I had an instinctive feeling that the
state of the ice was not so favorable as I could have wished it to be.



TRONTHEIM'S NARRATIVE

Alexander Ivanovitch Trontheim has himself given an account, in the
Tobolsk official newspaper, of his long and difficult journey with
our dogs. The account was written by A. Kryloff from Trontheim's
story. The following is a short résumé:

After having made the contract with Baron Toll, Trontheim was on
January 28th (January 16th by Russian reckoning) already at Berezoff,
where there was then a Yassak-meeting, [22] and consequently a
great assembly of Ostiaks and Samoyedes. Trontheim made use of this
opportunity and bought 33 (this ought probably to be 40) choice sledge
dogs. These he conveyed to the little country town of Muzhi, where
he made preparations for the "very long journey," passing the time in
this way till April 16th. By this date he had prepared 300 pud (about
9600 lbs.) of dog provender, consisting chiefly of dried fish. For
300 roubles he engaged a Syriane, named Terentieff, with a reindeer
herd of 450, to convey him, his dogs, and baggage to Yugor Strait. For
three months these two with their caravan--reindeer, drivers, dogs,
women, and children--travelled through the barren tracts of northern
Siberia. At first their route lay through the Ural Mountains. "It was
more a sort of nomadic life than a journey. They did not go straight on
towards their destination, but wandered over wide tracts of country,
stopping wherever it was suitable for the reindeer, and where they
found lichen. From the little town of Muzhi the expedition passed
up the Voikara River to its sources; and here began the ascent of
the Ural Mountains by the Pass of Kjaila (Kjola). In their crossing
of the chain they tried to skirt along the foot of the mountains,
climbing as little as possible....

"They noticed one marked contrast between the mountains in the northern
and those in the southern part of the Ural chain. In the south the snow
melts quickly in the lower regions and remains lying on the tops. Here
(in the northern Ural), on the contrary, the mountain-tops are free
from snow before the sun's rays penetrate into the valleys and melt
it there. In some valleys, especially those closed by mountains to
the south, and more exposed to north winds, the snow lies the whole
summer. When they had got across the Ural Mountains they first
followed the course of the River Lemva, then crossed it, and now
followed a whole system of small rivers, for which even the natives
have no names. At last, on May 4th, the expedition reached the River
Ussa, on the banks of which lay the hut of the Syriane Nikitsa." This
was "the one inhabited spot in this enormous tract of country," and
here they stopped two weeks to rest the reindeer and get provender
for them. "The country lying between the sources of the Voikara and
the Ussa is wooded in every direction." "Between the River Ussa and
the River Vorkuta, and even beyond that, Trontheim and his company
travelled through quite luxuriant wood. In the middle of May, as the
caravan approached the tundra region, the wood got thinner and thinner,
and by May 27th it was nothing but scattered underwood. After this came
quite small bushes and weeds, and then at last the interminable tundra
came in sight. Not to be without fuel on the tundra, they felled some
dead trees and other wood--eight sledge loads. The day after they got
out on the tundra (May 29th) the caravan set off at full speed, the
Syrianes being anxious to get quickly past a place where a whole herd
of reindeer had perished some years before. The reindeer-drivers take
good note of such places, and do everything possible to avoid them, as
the animals may easily be infected by gnawing the bones of their dead
comrades. God help the herd that this happens to! The disease passes
rapidly from animal to animal, and scores may die of it in a day. [23]

"In this region there are many bogs; the low land forms one continuous
morass. Sometimes we had to walk up to the waist in water; thus on
June 5th we splashed about the whole day in water, in constant fear of
the dogs catching cold. On the 6th a strong northeast wind blew, and
at night the cold was so severe that two reindeer-calves were frozen
to death; and besides this two grown ones were carried off by wolves."

The caravan had often to cross rapid rivers, where it was sometimes
very difficult to find a ford. They were frequently obliged to
construct a bridge with the help of tent-poles and sometimes blocks
of ice, and it occasionally took them a whole day to get across. By
degrees their supply of wood was used up, and it was difficult to
get food cooked. Few bushes were to be found. On June 17th they met a
Syriane reindeer driver and trader; from him they bought two bottles
of wine (brandy) at 70 kopecks each. "It was, as is customary, a very
friendly encounter, and ended with treatings on both sides. One can
see a long way on the tundra; the Syriane's keen eye detects another
herd, or smoke from inhabited tents, 10 versts off; and a nomad who
has discovered the presence of another human being 10 or 12 versts off
never lets slip the opportunity of visiting him in his camp, having
a talk, and being regaled with tea, or, in preference, brandy. The
day after, June 18th, some Samoyedes, who had heard of the caravan,
came on four sledges to the camp. They were entertained with tea. The
conversation, carried on in Samoyede, was about the health of the
reindeer, our journey, and the way to Yugor Strait. When the scanty
news of the tundra had been well discussed they took their departure."

By the end of June, when they had got through all the ramifications of
the Little Ural Mountains, the time was drawing near when, according
to his agreement, Trontheim was due at Yugor Strait. He was obliged
to hasten the rate of travelling, which was not an easy matter, with
more than 40 sledges and 450 reindeer, not counting the calves. He,
therefore, determined to divide the caravan into two parts, leave
the women, children, and domestic animals behind, and push forward
without any baggage, except the necessary food. So, on June 28th,
"thirty sledges, tents, etc., were left with the women and children,
who were to live their nomadic life as best they could. The male
Syrianes took ten sledges and went on with Trontheim." At last, on
July 9th, after more wanderings, they saw the sea from a "high hill,"
and next day they reached Khabarova, where Trontheim learned that no
steamer had arrived yet in Yugor Strait, nor had any sail been seen. At
this time the whole shore of Yugor Strait and all the sea within sight
was covered with ice, driven there by northerly winds. The sea was
not quite open till July 22d. Trontheim passed the time while he was
waiting for the Fram in hunting and making excursions with his dogs,
which were in excellent condition. He was often in the Sibiriakoff
colony, a meeting-place for the Samoyedes of the district, who come
here in considerable numbers to dispose of their wares. And it was a
melancholy phase of life he saw here in this little "world-forsaken"
colony. "Every summer two or three merchants or peasant traders,
generally from Pustozersk, come for the purpose of bartering with the
Samoyedes, and sometimes the Syrianes, too, for their wares--bearskins,
blubber, and sealskins, reindeer-skins, and such like--giving in
exchange tea, sugar, flour, household utensils, etc. No transaction
takes place without the drinking of brandy, for which the Samoyede
has an insatiable craving. When the trader has succeeded in making
a poor wretch quite tipsy, he fleeces him, and buys all he wants at
some ridiculous price--the result of the transaction generally being
that the Samoyede is in debt to his 'benefactor.' All the traders that
come to the colony bring brandy, and one great drinking-bout goes on
all the summer. You can tell where much business is done by the number
of brandy casks in the trader's booth. There is no police inspection,
and it would be difficult to organize anything of the kind. As soon as
there is snow enough for the sledges, the merchants' reindeer caravans
start from the colony on their homeward journey, loaded with empty
brandy casks and with the proceeds of this one-sided bartering.

"On July 30th [this ought to be 29th] Trontheim saw from the shore,
first, smoke, and soon after a steamer. There could be no doubt
of its being the Fram. He went out in a little Samoyede boat to
meet her, and called out in Russian that he wanted to be taken on
board. From the steamer they called back, asking who he was, and when
they heard his name he was hauled up. On deck he met Nansen himself,
in a greasy working-jacket. He is still quite a young man, of middle
height...." Here follows a flattering description of the leader of
the expedition, and the state of matters on board. "It is evident,"
he then goes on, "that we have here one family, united and inspired
by one idea, for the carrying out of which all labor devotedly. The
hard and dirty work on board is fairly divided, no difference being
made between the common sailor and the captain, or even the chief of
the expedition. The doctor, too, takes his share in the general work,
and this community of labor is a close bond between all on board. The
existence of such relations among the ship's company made a very
favorable impression on Trontheim, and this most of all (in his
opinion) justified the hope that in difficult crises the expedition
would be able to hold its own.

"A. I. Trontheim was on board the Fram every day, breakfasting and
dining there. From what he relates, the ship must be admirably built,
leaving nothing whatever to be desired. The cabins are roomy, and
comfortably fitted up; there is an excellent library, containing
the classics of European literature; various musical instruments,
from a beautiful grand-piano [24] to flutes and guitars; then chess,
draughts, etc.--all for the recreation of the company."

Here follows a description of the Fram, her general equipments,
and commissariat. It seems to have made a great impression on him
that we had no wine (brandy) on board. "I was told," he exclaims,
"that only among the medicine stores have they some 20 or 30 bottles
of the best cognac--pure, highly rectified spirit. It is Nansen's
opinion that brandy-drinking in these northern regions is injurious,
and may, if indulged in on such a difficult and dangerous voyage, have
very serious consequences; he has therefore considered it expedient
to supply its place by fruit and various sorts of sweets, of which
there are large supplies on board." "In harbor the crew spent most of
the day together; in spite of community of work, each individual's
duties are fixed down to the minutest detail. They all sit down to
meals together, with the exception of the acting cook, whose duty they
take by turns. Health and good spirits are to be read on every face;
Nansen's immovable faith in a successful and happy issue to their
expedition inspires the whole crew with courage and confidence.

"On August 3d they shifted coal on board the Fram from the ship's
hold down to the stoke-hold (coal bunkers). All the members of
the expedition took part in this work, Nansen at their head, and
they worked unitedly and cheerfully. This same day Nansen and his
companions tried the dogs on shore. Eight [this should be ten] were
harnessed to a sledge on which three persons took their places. Nansen
expressed his satisfaction with the dogs, and thanked Trontheim for
the good selection he had made, and for the excellent condition the
animals were in. When the dogs were taken over and brought on board,
[25] Trontheim applied to Nansen for a certificate of the exact and
scrupulous way in which he had fulfilled his contract. Nansen's
answer was: 'No; a certificate is not enough. Your duty has been
done with absolute conscientiousness, and you have thereby rendered
a great service to the expedition. I am commissioned to present you
with a gold medal from our king in recognition of the great help you
have given us.' With these words Nansen handed to Trontheim a very
large gold medal with a crown on it. On the obverse is the following
inscription: 'Oscar II., King of Norway and Sweden. For the Welfare of
the Brother-Nations.' And on the reverse: 'Reward for valuable service,
A. I. Trontheim.' Along with this Nansen also gave Trontheim a written
testimonial as to the admirable manner in which he had carried out his
commission, mentioning that for this he had been rewarded with a medal.

"Nansen determined to weigh anchor during the night of this same day,
[26] and set sail on his long voyage without waiting for the coal
sloop Urania, which he thought must have been delayed by the ice. In
the evening Trontheim took leave of the whole party, with hearty
wishes for the success of the expedition. Along with him Herr Ole
Christofersen, correspondent of one of the chief London newspapers,
[27] left the ship. He had accompanied Nansen from Vardö. At parting,
Nansen gave them a plentiful supply of provisions, Christofersen and
Trontheim having to await the arrival of the Urania, as they were to
go home by her. Precisely at 12 o'clock on the night between August
4th and 5th the signal for starting was given, and the Fram stood
out to sea."

On August 7th the Urania at last arrived. As I had supposed,
she had been stopped by ice, but had at last got out of it
uninjured. Christofersen and Trontheim were able to sail for home
in her on the 11th, and reached Vardö on the 22d, food having been
very scarce during the last part of the time. The ship, which had
left her home port, Brönö, in May, was not provided for so long
a voyage, and these last days they lived chiefly on dry biscuits,
water, and--weevils.



CHAPTER V

VOYAGE THROUGH THE KARA SEA


It was well into the night, after Christofersen and Trontheim had left
us, before we could get away. The channel was too dangerous for us to
risk it in the thick fog. But it cleared a little, and the petroleum
launch was got ready; I had determined to go on ahead with it and
take soundings. We started about midnight. Hansen stood in the bow
with the lead-line. First we bore over towards the point of Vaigats
to the northwest, as Palander directs, then on through the strait,
keeping to the Vaigats side. The fog was often so thick that it was
with difficulty we could catch a glimpse of the Fram, which followed
close behind us, and on board the Fram they could not see our boat. But
so long as we had enough water, and so long as we saw that they were
keeping to the right course behind us, we went ahead. Soon the fog
cleared again a little. But the depth was not quite satisfactory; we
had been having steadily 4 1/2 to 5 fathoms; then it dropped to 4,
and then to 3 1/2. This was too little. We turned and signalled to
the Fram to stop. Then we held farther out from land and got into
deeper water, so that the Fram could come on again at full speed.

From time to time our petroleum engine took to its old tricks and
stopped. I had to pour in more oil to set it going again, and as I was
standing doing this the boat gave a lurch, so that a little oil was
spilt and took fire. The burning oil ran over the bottom of the boat,
where a good deal had been spilt already. In an instant the whole
stern was in a blaze, and my clothes, which were sprinkled with oil,
caught fire. I had to rush to the bow, and for a moment the situation
was a critical one, especially as a big pail that was standing full
of oil also took fire. As soon as I had stopped the burning of my
clothes I rushed aft again, seized the pail, and poured the flaming
oil into the sea, burning my fingers badly. At once the whole surface
of the water round was in flames. Then I got hold of the baler, and
baled water into the boat as hard as I could, and soon the worst was
over. Things had looked anything but well from the Fram, however,
and they were standing by with ropes and buoys to throw to us.

Soon we were out of Yugor Strait. There was now so little fog that
the low land round us was visible, and we could also see a little
way out to sea, and, in the distance, all drift-ice. At 4 o'clock
in the morning (August 4th) we glided past Sokolii, or Hawk Island,
out into the dreaded Kara Sea.

Now our fate was to be decided. I had always said that if we could get
safely across the Kara Sea and past Cape Cheliuskin, the worst would
be over. Our prospects were not bad--an open passage to the east,
along the land, as far as we could see from the masthead.

An hour and a half later we were at the edge of the ice. It was so
close that there was no use in attempting to go on through it. To the
northwest it seemed much looser, and there was a good deal of blue in
the atmosphere at the horizon there. [28] We kept southeast along the
land through broken ice, but in the course of the day went further
out to sea, the blueness of the atmosphere to the east and northeast
promising more open water in that direction. However, about 3 P.M. the
ice became so close that I thought it best to get back into the open
channel along the land. It was certainly possible that we might have
forced our way through the ice in the sea here, but also possible
that we might have stuck fast, and it was too early to run this risk.

Next morning (August 5th), being then off the coast near to the
mouth of the River Kara, we steered across towards Yalmal. We soon
had that low land in sight, but in the afternoon we got into fog and
close ice. Next day it was no better, and we made fast to a great
ice-block which was lying stranded off the Yalmal coast.

In the evening some of us went on shore. The water was so shallow
that our boat stuck fast a good way from the beach, and we had to
wade. It was a perfectly flat, smooth sand-beach, covered by the
sea at full tide, and beyond that a steep sand-bank, 30 to 40 feet,
in some places probably 60 feet, high.

We wandered about a little. Flat, bare country on every hand. Any
driftwood we saw was buried in the sand and soaking wet. Not a bird
to be seen except one or two snipe. We came to a lake, and out of
the fog in front of me I heard the cry of a loon, but saw no living
creature. Our view was blocked by a wall of fog whichever way we
turned. There were plenty of reindeer tracks, but of course they were
only those of the Samoyedes' tame reindeer. This is the land of the
Samoyedes--and oh but it is desolate and mournful! The only one of
us that bagged anything was the botanist. Beautiful flowers smiled
to us here and there among the sand-mounds--the one message from a
brighter world in this land of fogs. We went far in over the flats,
but came only to sheets of water, with low spits running out into them,
and ridges between. We often heard the cry of loons on the water,
but could never catch sight of one. All these lakelets were of a
remarkable, exactly circular conformation, with steep banks all round,
just as if each had dug out a hole for itself in the sandy plain.

With the oars of our boat and a large tarpaulin we had made a sort
of tent. We were lucky enough to find a little dry wood, and soon the
tent was filled with the fragrant odor of hot coffee. When we had eaten
and drunk and our pipes were lit, Johansen, in spite of fatigue and
a full meal, surprised us by turning one somersault after another on
the heavy, damp sand in front of the tent in his long military cloak
and sea-boots half full of water.

By 6.30 next morning we were on board again. The fog had cleared,
but the ice, which lay drifting backward and forward according to the
set of the tide, looked as close as ever towards the north. During
the morning we had a visit from a boat with two stalwart Samoyedes,
who were well received and treated to food and tobacco. They gave us
to understand that they were living in a tent some distance inland
and farther north. Presently they went off again, enriched with
gifts. These were the last human beings we met.

Next day the ice was still close, and, as there was nothing else to
be done, some of us went ashore again in the afternoon, partly to see
more of this little-known coast, and partly, if possible, to find the
Samoyedes' camp, and get hold of some skins and reindeer flesh. It
is a strange, flat country. Nothing but sand, sand everywhere. Still
flatter, still more desolate than the country about Yugor Strait,
with a still wider horizon. Over the plain lay a green carpet of grass
and moss, here and there spoiled by the wind having torn it up and
swept sand over it. But trudge as we might, and search as we might,
we found no Samoyede camp. We saw three men in the far distance, but
they went off as fast as they could the moment they caught sight of
us. There was little game--just a few ptarmigan, golden plovers, and
long-tailed ducks. Our chief gain was another collection of plants,
and a few geological and geographical notes. Our observations showed
that the land at this place was charted not less than half a degree
or 36 to 38 minutes too far west.

It was not till next forenoon (August 9th) that we went on board
again. The ice to the north now seemed to be rather looser, and at
8 P.M. we at last began once more to make our way north. We found
ice that was easy to get through, and held on our course until,
three days later, we got into open water. On Sunday, August 18th,
we stood out into the open Kara Sea, past the north point of Yalmal
and Bieloi-Ostrov (White Island). There was no ice to be seen in
any direction. During the days that followed we had constant strong
east winds, often increasing to half a gale. We kept on tacking to
make our way eastward, but the broad and keelless Fram can hardly be
called a good "beater"; we made too much leeway, and our progress was
correspondingly slow. In the journal there is a constantly recurring
entry of "Head-wind," "Head-wind." The monotony was extreme; but as
they may be of interest as relating to the navigation of this sea,
I shall give the most important items of the journal, especially
those regarding the state of the ice.

On Monday, August 14th, we beat with only sail against a strong
wind. Single pieces of ice were seen during the middle watch, but
after that there was none within sight.

Tuesday, August 15th. The wind slackened in the middle watch; we
took in sail and got up steam. At 5 in the morning we steamed away
east over a sea perfectly clear of ice; but after mid-day the wind
began to freshen again from E.N.E., and we had to beat with steam
and sail. Single floes of ice were seen during the evening and night.

Wednesday, August 16th. As the Kara Sea seemed so extraordinarily
free from ice, and as a heavy sea was running from the northeast,
we decided to hold north as far as we could, even if it should be
to the Einsamkeit (Lonely) Island. But about half-past three in
the afternoon we had a strip of close ice ahead, so that we had to
turn. Stiff breeze and sea. Kept on beating east along the edge of
the ice. Almost lost the petroleum launch in the evening. The waves
were constantly breaking into it and filling it, the gunwale was burst
in at two places, and the heavy davits it hung on were twisted as if
they had been copper wires. Only just in the nick of time, with the
waves washing over us, some of us managed to get it lashed to the
side of the ship. There seemed to be some fatality about this boat.

Thursday, August 17th. Still beating eastward under sail and steam
through scattered ice, and along a margin of fixed ice. Still blowing
hard, with a heavy sea as soon as we headed a little out from the ice.

Friday, August 18th. Continued storm. Stood southeast. At 4.30 A.M.,
Sverdrup, who had gone up into the crow's-nest to look out for bears
and walrus on the ice-floes, saw land to the south of us. At 10 A.M. I
went up to look at it--we were then probably not more than 10 miles
away from it. It was low land, seemingly of the same formation as
Yalmal, with steep sand-banks, and grass-grown above. The sea grew
shallower as we neared it. Not far from us, small icebergs lay
aground. The lead showed steadily less and less water; by 11.30
A.M. there were only some 8 fathoms; then, to our surprise, the
bottom suddenly fell to 20 fathoms, and after that we found steadily
increasing depth. Between the land and the blocks of stranded ice on
our lee there appeared to be a channel with rather deeper water and
not so much ice aground in it. It seemed difficult to conceive that
there should be undiscovered land here, where both Nordenskiöld and
Edward Johansen, and possibly several Russians, had passed without
seeing anything. Our observations, however, were incontestable, and
we immediately named the land Sverdrup's Island, after its discoverer.

As there was still a great deal of ice to windward, we continued our
southwesterly course, keeping as close to the wind as possible. The
weather was clear, and at 8 o'clock we sighted the mainland, with
Dickson's Island ahead. It had been our intention to run in and anchor
here, in order to put letters for home under a cairn, Captain Wiggins
having promised to pick them up on his way to the Yenisei. But in the
meantime the wind had fallen: it was a favorable chance, and time was
precious. So we gave up sending our post, and continued our course
along the coast.

The country here was quite different from Yalmal. Though not very
high, it was a hilly country, with patches and even large drifts of
snow here and there, some of them lying close down by the shore. Next
morning I sighted the southernmost of the Kamenni Islands. We took
a tack in under it to see if there were animals of any kind, but
could catch sight of none. The island rose evenly from the sea at
all points, with steep shores. They consisted for the most part of
rock, which was partly solid, partly broken up by the action of the
weather into heaps of stones. It appeared to be a stratified rock,
with strongly marked oblique strata. The island was also covered with
quantities of gravel, sometimes mixed with larger stones; the whole
of the northern point seemed to be a sand heap, with steep sand-banks
towards the shore. The most noticeable feature of the island was its
marked shore-lines. Near the top there was a specially pronounced
one, which was like a sharp ledge on the west and north sides, and
stretched across the island like a dark band. Nearer the beach were
several other distinct ones. In form they all resembled the upper
one with its steep ledges, and had evidently been formed in the same
way--by the action of the sea, and more especially of the ice. Like
the upper one, they also were most marked on the west and north sides
of the island, which are those facing most to the open sea.

To the student of the history of the earth these marks of the former
level of the sea are of great interest, showing as they do that the
land has risen or the sea sunk since the time they were formed. Like
Scandinavia, the whole of the north coast of Siberia has undergone
these changes of level since the Great Ice Age.

It was strange that we saw none of the islands which, according to
Nordenskiöld's map, stretch in a line to the northeast from Kamenni
Islands. On the other hand, I took the bearings of one or two other
islands lying almost due east, and next morning we passed a small
island farther north.

We saw few birds in this neighborhood--only a few flocks of geese,
some Arctic gulls (Lestris parasitica and L. buffonii), and a few
sea-gulls and tern.

On Sunday, August 20th, we had, for us, uncommonly fine weather--blue
sea, brilliant sunshine, and light wind, still from the northeast. In
the afternoon we ran in to the Kjellman Islands. These we could
recognize from their position on Nordenskiöld's map, but south of
them we found many unknown ones. They all had smoothly rounded forms,
these Kjellman Islands, like rocks that have been ground smooth by
the glaciers of the Ice Age. The Fram anchored on the north side
of the largest of them, and while the boiler was being refitted,
some of us went ashore in the evening for some shooting. We had not
left the ship when the mate, from the crow's-nest, caught sight of
reindeer. At once we were all agog; every one wanted to go ashore,
and the mate was quite beside himself with the hunter's fever, his
eyes as big as saucers, and his hands trembling as though he were
drunk. Not until we were in the boat had we time to look seriously
for the mate's reindeer. We looked in vain--not a living thing was
to be seen in any direction. Yes--when we were close inshore we
at last descried a large flock of geese waddling upward from the
beach. We were base enough to let a conjecture escape us that these
were the mate's reindeer--a suspicion which he at first rejected with
contempt. Gradually, however, his confidence oozed away. But it is
possible to do an injustice even to a mate. The first thing I saw
when I sprang ashore was old reindeer tracks. The mate had now the
laugh on his side, ran from track to track, and swore that it was
reindeer he had seen.

When we got up on to the first height we saw several reindeer on
flat ground to the south of us; but, the wind being from the north,
we had to go back and make our way south along the shore till we got
to leeward of them. The only one who did not approve of this plan
was the mate, who was in a state of feverish eagerness to rush

straight at some reindeer he thought he had seen to the east, which,
of course, was an absolutely certain way to clear the field of every
one of them. He asked and received permission to remain behind with
Hansen, who was to take a magnetic observation; but had to promise
not to move till he got the order.

On the way along the shore we passed one great flock of geese after
another; they stretched their necks and waddled aside a little until
we were quite near, and only then took flight; but we had no time to
waste on such small game. A little farther on we caught sight of one or
two reindeer we had not noticed before. We could easily have stalked
them, but were afraid of getting to windward of the others, which
were farther south. At last we got to leeward of these latter also,
but they were grazing on flat ground, and it was anything but easy to
stalk them--not a hillock, not a stone to hide behind. The only thing
was to form a long line, advance as best we could, and, if possible,
outflank them. In the meantime we had caught sight of another herd of
reindeer farther to the north, but suddenly, to our astonishment, saw
them tear off across the plain eastward, in all probability startled
by the mate, who had not been able to keep quiet any longer.

A little to the north of the reindeer nearest us there was a hollow,
opening from the shore, from which it seemed that it might be possible
to get a shot at them. I went back to try this, while the others kept
their places in the line. As I went down again towards the shore I
had the sea before me, quiet and beautiful. The sun had gone down
behind it not long before, and the sky was glowing in the clear,
light night. I had to stand still for a minute. In the midst of all
this beauty, man was doing the work of a beast of prey! At this moment
I saw to the north a dark speck move down the height where the mate
and Hansen ought to be. It divided into two, and the one moved east,
just to the windward of the animals I was to stalk. They would get
the scent immediately and be off. There was nothing for it but to
hurry on, while I rained anything but good wishes on these fellows'
heads. The gully was not so deep as I had expected. Its sides were just
high enough to hide me when I crept on all fours. In the middle were
large stones and clayey gravel, with a little runnel soaking through
them. The reindeer were still grazing quietly, only now and then
raising their heads to look round. My "cover" got lower and lower,
and to the north I heard the mate. He would presently succeed in
setting off my game. It was imperative to get on quickly, but there
was no longer cover enough for me to advance on hands and knees. My
only chance was to wriggle forward like a snake on my stomach. But in
this soft clay--in the bed of the stream? Yes--meat is too precious on
board, and the beast of prey is too strong in a man. My clothes must be
sacrificed; on I crept on my stomach through the mud. But soon there
was hardly cover enough even for this. I squeezed myself flat among
the stones and ploughed forward like a drain-cutting machine. And I
did make way, if not quickly and comfortably, still surely.

All this time the sky was turning darker and darker red behind me, and
it was getting more and more difficult to use the sights of my gun, not
to mention the trouble I had in keeping the clay from them and from the
muzzle. The reindeer still grazed quietly on. When they raised their
heads to look round I had to lie as quiet as a mouse, feeling the water
trickling gently under my stomach; when they began to nibble the moss
again, off I went through the mud. Presently I made the disagreeable
discovery that they were moving away from me about as fast as I could
move forward, and I had to redouble my exertions. But the darkness
was getting worse and worse, and I had the mate to the north of me,
and presently he would start them off. The outlook was anything but
bright either morally or physically. The hollow was getting shallower
and shallower, so that I was hardly covered at all. I squeezed myself
still deeper into the mud. A turn in the ground helped me forward
to the next little height; and now they were right in front of me,
within what I should have called easy range if it had been daylight. I
tried to take aim, but could not see the bead on my gun.

Man's fate is sometimes hard to bear. My clothes were dripping with
wet clay, and after what seemed to me most meritorious exertions,
here I was at the goal, unable to take advantage of my position. But
now the reindeer moved down into a small depression. I crept forward
a little way farther as quickly as I could. I was in a splendid
position, so far as I could tell in the dark, but I could not see
the bead any better than before. It was impossible to get nearer,
for there was only a smooth slope between us. There was no sense
in thinking of waiting for light to shoot by. It was now midnight,
and I had that terrible mate to the north of me; besides, the wind
was not to be trusted. I held the rifle up against the sky to see the
bead clearly, and then lowered it on the reindeer. I did this once,
twice, thrice. The bead was still far from clear; but, all the same,
I thought I might hit, and pulled the trigger. The two deer gave a
sudden start, looked round in astonishment, and bolted off a little way
south. There they stood still again, and at this moment were joined
by a third deer, which had been standing rather farther north. I
fired off all the cartridges in the magazine, and all to the same
good purpose. The creatures started and moved off a little at each
shot, and then trotted farther south. Presently they made another
halt, to take a long careful look at me; and I dashed off westward,
as hard as I could run, to turn them. Now they were off straight in
the direction where some of my comrades ought to be. I expected every
moment to hear shots and see one or two of the animals fall; but away
they ambled southward, quite unchecked. At last, far to the south,
crack went a rifle. I could see by the smoke that it was at too long
a range; so in high dudgeon I shouldered my rifle and lounged in the
direction of the shot. It was pleasant to see such a good result for
all one's trouble.

No one was to be seen anywhere. At length I met Sverdrup; it was he
who had fired. Soon Blessing joined us, but all the others had long
since left their posts. While Blessing went back to the boat and his
botanizing box, Sverdrup and I went on to try our luck once more. A
little farther south we came to a valley stretching right across the
island. On the farther side of it we saw a man standing on a hillock,
and not far from him a herd of five or six reindeer. As it never
occurred to us to doubt that the man was in the act of stalking these,
we avoided going in that direction, and soon he and his reindeer
disappeared to the west. I heard afterwards that he had never seen
the deer. As it was evident that when the reindeer to the south of us
were startled they would have to come back across this valley, and as
the island at this part was so narrow that we commanded the whole of
it, we determined to take up our posts here and wait. We accordingly
got in the lee of some great boulders, out of the wind. In front of
Sverdrup was a large flock of geese, near the mouth of the stream,
close down by the shore. They kept up an incessant gabble, and the
temptation to have a shot at them was very great; but, considering
the reindeer, we thought it best to leave them in peace. They gabbled
and waddled away down through the mud and soon took wing.

The time seemed long. At first we listened with all our ears--the
reindeer must come very soon--and our eyes wandered incessantly
backward and forward along the slope on the other side of the
valley. But no reindeer came, and soon we were having a struggle to
keep our eyes open and our heads up--we had not had much sleep the
last few days. They must be coming! We shook ourselves awake, and
gave another look along the bank, till again the eyes softly closed
and the heads began to nod, while the chill wind blew through our
wet clothes, and I shivered with cold. This sort of thing went on for
an hour or two, until the sport began to pall on me, and I scrambled
from my shelter along towards Sverdrup, who was enjoying it about as
much as I was. We climbed the slope on the other side of the valley,
and were hardly at the top before we saw the horns of six splendid
reindeer on a height in front of us. They were restless, scenting
westward, trotting round in a circle, and then sniffing again. They
could not have noticed us as yet, as the wind was blowing at right
angles to the line between them and us. We stood a long time watching
their manoeuvres, and waiting their choice of a direction, but they
had apparently great difficulty in making it. At last off they swung
south and east, and off we went southeast as hard as we could go,
to get across their course before they got scent of us. Sverdrup had
got well ahead, and I saw him rushing across a flat piece of ground:
presently he would be at the right place to meet them. I stopped, to
be in readiness to cut them off on the other side if they should face
about and make off northward again. There were six splendid animals,
a big buck in front. They were heading straight for Sverdrup, who was
now crouching down on the slope. I expected every moment to see the
foremost fall. A shot rang out! Round wheeled the whole flock like
lightning, and back they came at a gallop. It was my turn now to run
with all my might, and off I went over the stones, down towards the
valley we had come from. I only stopped once or twice to take breath,
and to make sure that the animals were coming in the direction I had
reckoned on--then off again. We were getting near each other now;
they were coming on just where I had calculated; the thing now was
to be in time for them. I made my long legs go their fastest over the
boulders, and took leaps from stone to stone that would have surprised
myself at a more sober moment. More than once my foot slipped, and
I went down head first among the boulders, gun and all. But the wild
beast in me had the upper hand now. The passion of the chase vibrated
through every fibre of my body.

We reached the slant of the valley almost at the same time--a leap or
two to get up on some big boulders, and the moment had come--I must
shoot, though the shot was a long one. When the smoke cleared away I
saw the big buck trailing a broken hind-leg. When their leader stopped,
the whole flock turned and ran in a ring round the poor animal. They
could not understand what was happening, and strayed about wildly with
the balls whistling round them. Then off they went down the side of
the valley again, leaving another of their number behind with a broken
leg. I tore after them, across the valley and up the other side, in
the hope of getting another shot, but gave that up and turned back to
make sure of the two wounded ones. At the bottom of the valley stood
one of the victims awaiting its fate. It looked imploringly at me, and
then, just as I was going forward to shoot it, made off much quicker
than I could have thought it possible for an animal on three legs
to go. Sure of my shot, of course I missed; and now began a chase,
which ended in the poor beast, blocked in every other direction,
rushing down towards the sea and wading into a small lagoon on the
shore, whence I feared it might get right out into the sea. At last
it got its quietus there in the water. The other one was not far off,
and a ball soon put an end to its sufferings also. As I was proceeding
to rip it up, Henriksen and Johansen appeared; they had just shot a
bear a little farther south.

After disembowelling the reindeer, we went towards the boat again,
meeting Sverdrup on the way. It was now well on in the morning, and
as I considered that we had already spent too much time here, I was
impatient to push northward. While Sverdrup and some of the others
went on board to get ready for the start, the rest of us rowed south to
fetch our two reindeer and our bear. A strong breeze had begun to blow
from the northeast, and as it would be hard work for us to row back
against it, I had asked Sverdrup to come and meet us with the Fram,
if the soundings permitted of his doing so. We saw quantities of seal
and white fish along the shore, but we had not time to go after them;
all we wanted now was to get south, and in the first place to pick up
the bear. When we came near the place where we expected to find it,
we did see a large white heap resembling a bear lying on the ground,
and I was sure it must be the dead one, but Henriksen maintained that
it was not. We went ashore and approached it, as it lay motionless on
a grassy bank. I still felt a strong suspicion that it had already
had all the shot it wanted. We drew nearer and nearer, but it gave
no sign of life. I looked into Henriksen's honest face, to make sure
that they were not playing a trick on me; but he was staring fixedly
at the bear. As I looked, two shots went off, and to my astonishment
the great creature bounded into the air, still dazed with sleep. Poor
beast! it was a harsh awakening. Another shot, and it fell lifeless.

We first tried to drag the bears down to the boat, but they were
too heavy for us; and we now had a hard piece of work skinning and
cutting them up, and carrying down all we wanted. But, bad as it was,
trudging through the soft clay with heavy quarters of bear on our
backs, there was worse awaiting us on the beach. The tide had risen,
and at the same time the waves had got larger and swamped the boat,
and were now breaking over it. Guns and ammunition were soaking in
the water; bits of bread, our only provision, floated round, and the
butter-dish lay at the bottom, with no butter in it. It required
no small exertion to get the boat drawn up out of this heavy surf
and emptied of water. Luckily, it had received no injury, as the
beach was of a soft sand; but the sand had penetrated with the water
everywhere, even into the most delicate parts of the locks of our
rifles. But worst of all was the loss of our provisions, for now we
were ravenously hungry. We had to make the best of a bad business,
and eat pieces of bread soaked in sea-water and flavored with several
varieties of dirt. On this occasion, too, I lost my sketch-book,
with some sketches that were of value to me.

It was no easy task to get our heavy game into the boat with these
big waves breaking on the flat beach. We had to keep the boat outside
the surf, and haul both skins and flesh on board with a line; a good
deal of water came with them, but there was no help for it. And then
we had to row north along the shore against the wind and sea as
hard as we could. It was very tough work. The wind had increased,
and it was all we could do to make headway against it. Seals were
diving round us, white whales coming and going, but we had no eyes
for them now. Suddenly Henriksen called out that there was a bear
on the point in front. I turned round, and there stood a beautiful
white fellow rummaging among the flotsam on the beach. As we had
no time to shoot it, we rowed on, and it went slowly in front of us
northward along the shore. At last, with great exertions, we reached
the bay where we were to put in for the reindeer. The bear was there
before us. It had not seen the boat hitherto; but now it got scent
of us, and came nearer. It was a tempting shot. I had my finger on
the trigger several times, but did not draw it. After all, we had no
use for the animal; it was quite as much as we could do to stow away
what we had already. It made a beautiful target of itself by getting
up on a stone to have a better scent, and looked about, and, after
a careful survey, it turned round and set off inland at an easy trot.

The surf was by this time still heavier. It was a flat, shallow shore,
and the waves broke a good way out from land. We rowed in till the
boat touched ground and the breakers began to wash over us. The
only way of getting ashore was to jump into the sea and wade. But
getting the reindeer on board was another matter. There was no
better landing-place farther north, and hard as it was to give up
the excellent meat after all our trouble, it seemed to me there was
nothing else for it, and we rowed off towards our ship.

It was the hardest row I ever had a hand in. It went pretty well to
begin with; we had the current with us, and got quickly out from land;
but presently the wind rose, the current slackened, and wave after wave
broke over us. After incredible toil we had at last only a short way
to go. I cheered up the good fellows as best I could, reminding them
of the smoking hot tea that awaited them after a few more tough pulls,
and picturing all the good things in store for them. We really were
all pretty well done up now, but we still took a good grip of the
oars, soaking wet as we were from the sea constantly breaking over
us, for of course none of us had thought of such things as oilskins
in yesterday's beautiful weather. But we soon saw that with all our
pulling and toiling the boat was making no headway whatever. Apart from
the wind and the sea we had the current dead against us here; all our
exertions were of no avail. We pulled till our finger-tips felt as if
they were bursting; but the most we could manage was to keep the boat
where it was; if we slackened an instant it drifted back. I tried to
encourage my comrades: "Now we made a little way! It was just strength
that was needed!" But all to no purpose. The wind whistled round our
ears, and the spray dashed over us. It was maddening to be so near
the ship that it seemed as if we could almost reach out to her, and
yet feel that it was impossible to get on any farther. We had to go in
under the land again, where we had the current with us, and here we did
succeed in making a little progress. We rowed hard till we were about
abreast of the ship; then we once more tried to sheer across to her,
but no sooner did we get into the current again than it mercilessly
drove us back. Beaten again! And again we tried the same manoeuvre with
the same result. Now we saw them lowering a buoy from the ship--if we
could only reach it we were saved; but we did not reach it. They were
not exactly blessings that we poured on those on board. Why the deuce
could they not bear down to us when they saw the straits we were in;
or why, at any rate, could they not ease up the anchor, and let the
ship drift a little in our direction? They saw how little was needed
to enable us to reach them. Perhaps they had their reasons.

We would make our last desperate attempt. We went at it with a
will. Every muscle was strained to the utmost--it was only the buoy
we had to reach this time. But to our rage we now saw the buoy being
hauled up. We rowed a little way on, to the windward of the Fram,
and then tried again to sheer over. This time we got nearer her than
we had ever been before; but we were disappointed in still seeing no
buoy, and none was thrown over; there was not even a man to be seen
on deck. We roared like madmen for a buoy--we had no strength left for
another attempt. It was not a pleasing prospect to have to drift back,
and go ashore again in our wet clothes--we would get on board! Once
more we yelled like wild Indians, and now they came rushing aft and
threw out the buoy in our direction. One more cry to my mates that we
must put our last strength into the work. There were only a few boat
lengths to cover; we bent to our oars with a will. Now there were three
boat lengths. Another desperate spurt. Now there were two and a half
boat lengths--presently two--then only one! A few more frantic pulls,
and there was a little less. "Now, boys, one or two more hard pulls
and it's over! Hard! hard!! Keep to it! Now another! Don't give up! One
more! There, we have it!!!" And one joyful sigh of relief passed round
the boat. "Keep the oars going or the rope will break. Row, boys!" And
row we did, and soon they had hauled us alongside of the Fram. Not
till we were lying there getting our bearskins and flesh hauled on
board did we really know what we had had to fight against. The current
was running along the side of the ship like a rapid river. At last
we were actually on board. It was evening by this time, and it was
splendid to get some good hot food and then stretch one's limbs in a
comfortable dry berth. There is a satisfaction in feeling that one
has exerted one's self to some purpose. Here was the net result of
four-and-twenty hours' hard toil: we had shot two reindeer which we
did not get, got two bears that we had no use for, and had totally
ruined one suit of clothes. Two washings had not the smallest effect
upon them, and they hung on deck to air for the rest of this trip.

I slept badly that night, for this is what I find in my diary: "Got on
board after what I think was the hardest row I ever had. Slept well
for a little, but am now lying tossing about in my berth, unable to
sleep. Is it the coffee I drank after supper? or the cold tea I drank
when I awoke with a burning thirst? I shut my eyes and try again time
after time, but to no purpose. And now memory's airy visions steal
softly over my soul. Gleam after gleam breaks through the mist. I
see before me sunlit landscapes--smiling fields and meadows, green,
leafy trees and woods, and blue mountain ridges. The singing of the
steam in the boiler-pipe turns to bell-ringing--church bells--ringing
in Sabbath peace over Vestre-Aker on this beautiful summer morning. I
am walking with father along the avenue of small birch-trees that
mother planted, up towards the church, which lies on the height before
us, pointing up into the blue sky and sending its call far over the
country-side. From up there you can see a long way. Næsodden looks
quite close in the clear air, especially on an autumn morning. And
we give a quiet Sunday greeting to the people that drive past us, all
going our way. What a look of Sunday happiness dwells on their faces!

"I did not think it all so delightful then, and would much rather
have run off to the woods with my bow and arrow after squirrels--but
now--how fair, how wonderfully beautiful that sunlit picture seems
to me! The feeling of peace and happiness that even then no doubt
made its impression, though only a passing one, comes back now with
redoubled strength, and all nature seems one mighty, thrilling song
of praise! Is it because of the contrast with this poor, barren,
sunless land of mists--without a tree, without a bush--nothing
but stones and clay? No peace in it either--nothing but an endless
struggle to get north, always north, without a moment's delay. Oh,
how one yearns for a little careless happiness!"

Next day we were again ready to sail, and I tried to force the Fram
on under steam against wind and current. But the current ran strong
as a river, and we had to be specially careful with the helm; if we
gave her the least thing too much she would take a sheer, and we
knew there were shallows and rocks on all sides. We kept the lead
going constantly. For a time all went well, and we made way slowly,
but suddenly she took a sheer and refused to obey her helm. She went
off to starboard. The lead indicated shallow water. The same moment
came the order, "Let go the anchor!" And to the bottom it went with
a rush and a clank. There we lay with 4 fathoms of water under the
stern and 9 fathoms in front at the anchor. We were not a moment too
soon. We got the Fram's head straight to the wind, and tried again,
time after time, but always with the same result. The attempt had to
be given up. There was still the possibility of making our way out of
the sound to leeward of the land, but the water got quickly shallow
there, and we might come on rocks at any moment. We could have gone
on in front with the boat and sounded, but I had already had more
than enough of rowing in that current. For the present we must stay
where we were and anoint ourselves with the ointment called Patience,
a medicament of which every polar expedition ought to lay in a large
supply. We hoped on for a change, but the current remained as it was,
and the wind certainly did not decrease. I was in despair at having to
lie here for nothing but this cursed current, with open sea outside,
perhaps as far as Cape Chelyuskin, that eternal cape, whose name had
been sounding in my ears for the last three weeks.

When I came on deck next morning (August 23d) winter had come. There
was white snow on the deck, and on every little projection of the
rigging where it had found shelter from the wind; white snow on
the land, and white snow floating through the air. Oh, how the snow
refreshes one's soul, and drives away all the gloom and sadness from
this sullen land of fogs! Look at it scattered so delicately, as if by
a loving hand, over the stones and the grass-flats on shore! But wind
and current are much as they were, and during the day the wind blows
up to a regular storm, howling and rattling in the Fram's rigging.

The following day (August 24th) I had quite made up my mind that we
must get out some way or other. When I came on deck in the morning the
wind had gone down considerably, and the current was not so strong. A
boat would almost be able to row against it; anyhow one could be
eased away by a line from the stern, and keep on taking soundings
there, while we "kedged" the Fram with her anchor just clear of the
bottom. But before having recourse to this last expedient I would make
another attempt to go against the wind and the current. The engineers
were ordered to put on as much pressure of steam as they dared, and the
Fram was urged on at her top speed. Our surprise was not small when
we saw that we were making way, and even at a tolerable rate. Soon
we were out of the sound or "Knipa" (nipper) as we christened it,
and could beat out to sea with steam and sail. Of course, we had, as
usual, contrary wind and thick weather. There is ample space between
every little bit of sunshine in these quarters.

Next day we kept on beating northward between the edge of the ice
and the land. The open channel was broad to begin with, but farther
north it became so narrow that we could often see the coast when we
put about at the edge of the ice. At this time we passed many unknown
islands and groups of islands. There was evidently plenty of occupation
here, for any one who could spare the time, in making a chart of the
coast. Our voyage had another aim, and all that we could do was to
make a few occasional measurements of the same nature as Nordenskiöld
had made before us.

On August 25th I noted in my diary that in the afternoon we had seven
islands in sight. They were higher than those we had seen before,
and consisted of precipitous hills. There were also small glaciers
or snow-fields, and the rock formation showed clear traces of erosion
by ice or snow, this being especially the case on the largest island,
where there were even small valleys, partially filled with snow.

This is the record of August 26th: "Many new islands in various
directions. There are here," the diary continues, "any number of
unknown islands, so many that one's head gets confused in trying to
keep account of them all. In the morning we passed a very rocky one,
and beyond it I saw two others. After them land or islands farther
to the north and still more to the northeast. We had to go out of our
course in the afternoon, because we dared not pass between two large
islands on account of possible shoals. The islands were round in form,
like those we had seen farther back, but were of a good height. Now
we held east again, with four biggish islands and two islets in the
offing. On our other side we presently had a line of flat islands
with steep shores. The channel was far from safe here. In the evening
we suddenly noticed large stones standing up above the water among
some ice-floes close on our port bow, and on our starboard beam was a
shoal with stranded ice-floes. We sounded, but found over 21 fathoms
of water."

I think this will suffice to give an idea of the nature of this
coast. Its belt of skerries, though it certainly cannot be classed
with the Norwegian one, is yet of the kind that it would be difficult
to find except off glacier-formed coasts. This tends to strengthen
the opinion I had formed of there having been a glacial period in the
earlier history of this part of the world also. Of the coast itself,
we unfortunately saw too little at any distance from which we could
get an accurate idea of its formation and nature. We could not keep
near land, partly because of the thick weather, and partly because
of the number of islands. The little I did see was enough to give
me the conviction that the actual coast line differs essentially
from the one we know from maps; it is much more winding and indented
than it is shown to be. I even several times thought that I saw the
openings into deep fjords, and more than once the suspicion occurred
to me that this was a typical fjord country we were sailing past,
in spite of the hills being comparatively low and rounded. In this
supposition I was to be confirmed by our experiences farther north.

Our record of August 27th reads as follows: "Steamed among a variety
of small islands and islets. Thick fog in the morning. At 12 noon
we saw a small island right ahead, and therefore changed our course
and went north. We were soon close to the ice, and after 3 in the
afternoon held northeast along its edge. Sighted land when the fog
cleared a little, and were about a mile off it at 7 P.M."

It was the same striated, rounded land, covered with clay and large
and small stones strewn over moss and grass flats. Before us we saw
points and headlands, with islands outside, and sounds and fjords
between; but it was all locked up in ice, and we could not see far
for the fog. There was that strange Arctic hush and misty light over
everything--that grayish-white light caused by the reflection from the
ice being cast high into the air against masses of vapor, the dark land
offering a wonderful contrast. We were not sure whether this was the
land near Taimur Sound or that by Cape Palander, but were agreed that
in any case it would be best to hold a northerly course, so as to keep
clear of Almquist's Islands, which Nordenskiöld marks on his map as
lying off Taimur Island. If we shaped our course for one watch north,
or north to west, we should be safe after that, and be able again to
hold farther east. But we miscalculated, after all. At midnight we
turned northeastward, and at 4 A.M. (August 28th) land appeared out of
the fog about half a mile off. It seemed to Sverdrup, who was on deck,
the highest that we had seen since we left Norway. He consequently
took it to be the mainland, and wished to keep well outside of it,
but was obliged to turn from this course because of ice. We held to
the W.S.W., and it was not till 9 A.M. that we rounded the western
point of a large island and could steer north again. East of us were
many islands or points with solid ice between them, and we followed
the edge of the ice. All the morning we went north along the land
against a strong current. There seemed to be no end to this land. Its
discrepancy with every known map grew more and more remarkable, and
I was in no slight dilemma. We had for long been far to the north of
the most northern island indicated by Nordenskiöld. [29] My diary
this day tells of great uncertainty. "This land (or these islands,
or whatever it is) goes confoundedly far north. If it is a group of
islands they are tolerably large ones. It has often the appearance of
connected land, with fjords and points; but the weather is too thick
for us to get a proper view. ... Can this that we are now coasting
along be the Taimur's Island of the Russian maps (or more precisely,
Lapteff's map), and is it separated from the mainland by the broad
strait indicated by him, while Nordenskiöld's Taimur Island is what
Lapteff has mapped as a projecting tongue of land? This supposition
would explain everything, and our observations would also fit in with
it. Is it possible that Nordenskiöld found this strait, and took it
for Taimur Strait, while in reality it was a new one; and that he saw
Almquist's Islands, but had no suspicion that Taimur Island lay to
the outside of them? The difficulty about this explanation is that the
Russian maps mark no islands round Taimur Island. It is inconceivable
that any one should have travelled all about here in sledges without
seeing all these small islands that lie scattered around. [30]

"In the afternoon the water-gauge of the boiler got choked up; we had
to stop to have it repaired, and therefore made fast to the edge of the
ice. We spent the time in taking in drinking-water. We found a pool on
the ice, so small that we thought it would only do to begin with; but
it evidently had a "subterranean" communication with other fresh-water
ponds on the floe. To our astonishment it proved inexhaustible, however
much we scooped. In the evening we stood in to the head of an ice bay,
which opened out opposite the most northern island we then had in
sight. There was no passage beyond. The broken drift-ice lay packed
so close in on the unbroken land-ice that it was impossible to tell
where the one ended and the other began. We could see islands still
farther to the northeast. From the atmosphere it seemed as if there
might also be open water in that direction. To the north it all looked
very close, but to the west there was an open waterway as far as one
could see from the masthead. I was in some doubt as to what should
be done. There was an open channel for a short way up past the north
point of the nearest island, but farther to the east the ice seemed
to be close. It might be possible to force our way through there,
but it was just as likely that we should be frozen in; so I thought
it most judicious to go back and make another attempt between these
islands and that mainland which I had some difficulty in believing
that Sverdrup had seen in the morning.

"Thursday, August 20th. Still foggy weather. New islands were observed
on the way back. Sverdrup's high land did not come to much. It turned
out to be an island, and that a low one. It is wonderful the way
things loom up in the fog. This reminded me of the story of the pilot
at home in the Dröbak Channel. He suddenly saw land right in front,
and gave the order, 'Full speed astern!' Then they approached carefully
and found that it was half a baling-can floating in the water."

After passing a great number of new islands we got into open water
off Taimur Island, and steamed in still weather through the sound to
the northeast. At 5 in the afternoon I saw from the crow's-nest thick
ice ahead, which blocked farther progress. It stretched from Taimur
Island right across to the islands south of it. On the ice bearded
seals (Phoca barbata) were to be seen in all directions, and we saw
one walrus. We approached the ice to make fast to it, but the Fram had
got into dead-water, and made hardly any way, in spite of the engine
going full pressure. It was such slow work that I thought I would row
ahead to shoot seal. In the meantime the Fram advanced slowly to the
edge of the ice with her machinery still going at full speed.

For the moment we had simply to give up all thoughts of getting
on. It was most likely, indeed, that only a few miles of solid ice
lay between us and the probably open Taimur Sea; but to break through
this ice was an impossibility. It was too thick, and there were no
openings in it. Nordenskiöld had steamed through here earlier in
the year (August 18, 1878) without the slightest hinderance, [31]
and here, perhaps, our hopes, for this year at any rate, were to be
wrecked. It was not possible that the ice should melt before winter
set in in earnest. The only thing to save us would be a proper storm
from the southwest. Our other slight hope lay in the possibility that
Nordenskiöld's Taimur Sound farther south might be open, and that we
might manage to get the Fram through there, in spite of Nordenskiöld
having said distinctly "that it is too shallow to allow of the passage
of vessels of any size."

After having been out in the kayak and boat and shot some seals,
we went on to anchor in a bay that lay rather farther south,
where it seemed as if there would be a little shelter in case of a
storm. We wanted now to have a thorough cleaning out of the boiler,
a very necessary operation. It took us more than one watch to steam
a distance we could have rowed in half an hour or less. We could
hardly get on at all for the dead-water, and we swept the whole sea
along with us. It is a peculiar phenomenon, this dead-water. We had
at present a better opportunity of studying it than we desired. It
occurs where a surface layer of fresh water rests upon the salt water
of the sea, and this fresh water is carried along with the ship,
gliding on the heavier sea beneath as if on a fixed foundation. The
difference between the two strata was in this case so great that,
while we had drinking-water on the surface, the water we got from
the bottom cock of the engine-room was far too salt to be used for
the boiler. Dead-water manifests itself in the form of larger or
smaller ripples or waves stretching across the wake, the one behind
the other, arising sometimes as far forward as almost amidships. We
made loops in our course, turned sometimes right round, tried all
sorts of antics to get clear of it, but to very little purpose. The
moment the engine stopped it seemed as if the ship were sucked back. In
spite of the Fram's weight and the momentum she usually has, we could
in the present instance go at full speed till within a fathom or two
of the edge of the ice, and hardly feel a shock when she touched.

Just as we were approaching we saw a fox jumping backward and forward
on the ice, taking the most wonderful leaps and enjoying life. Sverdrup
sent a ball from the forecastle which put an end to it on the spot.

About midday two bears were seen on land, but they disappeared before
we got in to shoot them.

The number of seals to be seen in every direction was something
extraordinary, and it seemed to me that this would be an uncommonly
good hunting-ground. The flocks I saw this first day on the ice
reminded me of the crested-seal hunting-grounds on the west coast
of Greenland.

This experience of ours may appear to contrast strangely with that
of the Vega expedition. Nordenskiöld writes of this sea, comparing it
with the sea to the north and east of Spitzbergen: "Another striking
difference is the scarcity of warm-blooded animals in this region as
yet unvisited by the hunter. We had not seen a single bird in the
whole course of the day, a thing that had never before happened to
me on a summer voyage in the Arctic regions, and we had hardly seen
a seal." The fact that they had not seen a seal is simply enough
explained by the absence of ice. From my impression of it, the region
must, on the contrary, abound in seals. Nordenskiöld himself says that
"numbers of seals, both Phoca barbata and Phoca hispida, were to be
seen" on the ice in Taimur Strait.

So this was all the progress we had made up to the end of August. On
August 18, 1878, Nordenskiöld had passed through this sound, and on
the 19th and 20th passed Cape Chelyuskin, but here was an impenetrable
mass of ice frozen on to the land lying in our way at the end of the
month. The prospect was anything but cheering. Were the many prophets
of evil--there is never any scarcity of them--to prove right even
at this early stage of the undertaking? No! The Taimur Strait must
be attempted, and should this attempt fail another last one should
be made outside all the islands again. Possibly the ice masses out
there might in the meantime have drifted and left an open way. We
could not stop here.

September came in with a still, melancholy snowfall, and this
desolate land, with its low, rounded heights, soon lay under a deep
covering. It did not add to our cheerfulness to see winter thus gently
and noiselessly ushered in after an all too short summer.

On September 2d the boiler was ready at last, was filled with fresh
water from the sea surface, and we prepared to start. While this
preparation was going on Sverdrup and I went ashore to have a look
after reindeer. The snow was lying thick, and if it had not been so
wet we could have used our snow-shoes. As it was, we tramped about in
the heavy slush without them, and without seeing so much as the track
of a beast of any kind. A forlorn land, indeed! Most of the birds of
passage had already taken their way south; we had met small flocks of
them at sea. They were collecting for the great flight to the sunshine,
and we, poor souls, could not help wishing that it were possible to
send news and greeting with them. A few solitary Arctic and ordinary
gulls were our only company now. One day I found a belated straggler
of a goose sitting on the edge of the ice.

We steamed south in the evening, but still followed by the
dead-water. According to Nordenskiöld's map, it was only about 20 miles
to Taimur Strait, but we were the whole night doing this distance. Our
speed was reduced to about a fifth part of what it would otherwise
have been. At 6 A.M. (September 3d) we got in among some thin ice that
scraped the dead-water off us. The change was noticeable at once. As
the Fram cut into the ice crust she gave a sort of spring forward,
and, after this, went on at her ordinary speed; and henceforth we
had very little more trouble with dead-water.

We found what, according to the map, was Taimur Strait entirely blocked
with ice, and we held farther south, to see if we could not come upon
some other strait or passage. It was not an easy matter finding our way
by the map. We had not seen Hovgaard's Islands, marked as lying north
of the entrance to Taimur Strait; yet the weather was so beautifully
clear that it seemed unlikely they could have escaped us if they
lay where Nordenskiöld's sketch-map places them. On the other hand,
we saw several islands in the offing. These, however, lay so far out
that it is not probable that Nordenskiöld saw them, as the weather was
thick when he was here; and, besides, it is impossible that islands
lying many miles out at sea could have been mapped as close to land,
with only a narrow sound separating them from it. Farther south we
found a narrow open strait or fjord, which we steamed into, in order
if possible to get some better idea of the lay of the land. I sat
up in the crow's-nest, hoping for a general clearing up of matters;
but the prospect of this seemed to recede farther and farther. What we
now had to the north of us, and what I had taken to be a projection of
the mainland, proved to be an island; but the fjord wound on farther
inland. Now it got narrower--presently it widened out again. The
mystery thickened. Could this be Taimur Strait, after all? A dead calm
on the sea. Fog everywhere over the land. It was wellnigh impossible
to distinguish the smooth surface of the water from the ice, and the
ice from the snow-covered land. Everything is so strangely still and
dead. The sea rises and falls with each twist of the fjord through
the silent land of mists. Now we have open water ahead, now more
ice, and it is impossible to make sure which it is. Is this Taimur
Strait? Are we getting through? A whole year is at stake! ... No! here
we stop--nothing but ice ahead. No! it is only smooth water with the
snowy land reflected in it. This must be Taimur Strait!

But now we had several large ice-floes ahead, and it was difficult to
get on; so we anchored at a point, in a good, safe harbor, to make
a closer inspection. We now discovered that it was a strong tidal
current that was carrying the ice-floes with it, and there could be
no doubt that it was a strait we were lying in. I rowed out in the
evening to shoot some seals, taking for the purpose my most precious
weapon, a double-barrelled Express rifle, calibre 577. As we were in
the act of taking a sealskin on board the boat heeled over, I slipped,
and my rifle fell into the sea--a sad accident. Peter Henriksen and
Bentzen, who were rowing me, took it so to heart that they could not
speak for some time. They declared that it would never do to leave
the valuable gun lying there in 5 fathoms of water. So we rowed
to the Fram for the necessary apparatus, and dragged the spot for
several hours, well on into the dark, gloomy night. While we were
thus employed a bearded seal circled round and round us, bobbing
up its big startled face, now on one side of us, now on the other,
and always coming nearer; it was evidently anxious to find out what
our night work might be. Then it dived over and over again, probably
to see how the dragging was getting on. Was it afraid of our finding
the rifle? At last it became too intrusive. I took Peter's rifle,
and put a ball through its head; but it sank before we could reach it,
and we gave up the whole business in despair. The loss of that rifle
saved the life of many a seal; and, alas! it had cost me £28.

We took the boat again next day and rowed eastward, to find out if
there really was a passage for us through this strait. It had turned
cold during the night and snow had fallen, so the sea round the Fram
was covered with tolerably thick snow-ice, and it cost us a good
deal of exertion to break through it into open water with the boat. I
thought it possible that the land farther in on the north side of the
strait might be that in the neighborhood of Actinia Bay, where the
Vega had lain; but I sought in vain for the cairn erected there by
Nordenskiöld, and presently discovered to my astonishment that it was
only a small island, and that this island lay on the south side of the
principal entrance to Taimur Strait. The strait was very broad here,
and I felt pretty certain that I saw where the real Actinia Bay cut
into the land far to the north.

We were hungry now, and were preparing to take a meal before we rowed
on from the island, when we discovered to our disappointment that the
butter had been forgotten. We crammed down the dry biscuits as best
we could, and worked our jaws till they were stiff on the pieces we
managed to hack off a hard dried reindeer chine. When we were tired of
eating, though anything but satisfied, we set off, giving this point
the name of "Cape Butterless." We rowed far in through the strait,
and it seemed to us to be a good passage for ships--8 or 9 fathoms
right up to the shore. However, we were stopped by ice in the evening,
and as we ran the risk of being frozen in if we pushed on any farther I
thought it best to turn. We certainly ran no danger of starving, for we
saw fresh tracks both of bears and reindeer everywhere, and there were
plenty of seals in the water; but I was afraid of delaying the Fram,
in view of the possibility of progress in another direction. So we
toiled back against a strong wind, not reaching the ship till next
morning; and this was none too early, for presently we were in the
midst of a storm.

On the subject of the navigability of Taimur Strait, Nordenskiöld
writes that, "according to soundings made by Lieutenant Palander,
it is obstructed by rocky shallows; and being also full of strong
currents, it is hardly advisable to sail through it--at least, until
the direction of these currents has been carefully investigated." I
have nothing particular to add to this, except that, as already
mentioned, the channel was clear as far as we penetrated, and had
the appearance of being practicable as far as I could see. I was,
therefore, determined that we would, if necessary, try to force our
way through with the Fram.

The 5th of September brought snow with a stiff breeze, which steadily
grew stronger. When it was rattling in the rigging in the evening
we congratulated each other on being safe on board--it would not
have been an easy matter to row back to-day. But altogether I was
dissatisfied. There was some chance, indeed, that this wind might
loosen the ice farther north, and yesterday's experiences had given me
the hope of being able, in case of necessity, to force a way through
this strait; but now the wind was steadily driving larger masses of
ice in past us; and this approach of winter was alarming--it might
quite well be on us in earnest before any channel was opened. I
tried to reconcile myself to the idea of wintering in our present
surroundings. I had already laid all the plans for the way in which
we were to occupy ourselves during the coming year. Besides an
investigation of this coast, which offered problems enough to solve,
we were to explore the unknown interior of the Taimur Peninsula right
across to the mouth of the Chatanga. With our dogs and snow-shoes we
should be able to go far and wide; so the year would not be a lost
one as regarded geography and geology. But no! I could not reconcile
myself to it! I could not! A year of one's life was a year; and our
expedition promised to be a long one at best. What tormented me most
was the reflection that if the ice stopped us now we could have no
assurance that it would not do the same at the same time next year;
it has been observed so often that several bad ice-years come together,
and this was evidently none of the best. Though I would hardly confess
the feeling of depression even to myself, I must say that it was not
on a bed of roses I lay these nights until sleep came and carried me
off into the land of forgetfulness.

Wednesday, the 6th of September, was the anniversary of my
wedding-day. I was superstitious enough to feel when I awoke in the
morning that this day would bring a change, if one were coming at
all. The storm had gone down a little, the sun peeped out, and life
seemed brighter. The wind quieted down altogether in the course of the
afternoon, the weather becoming calm and beautiful. The strait to the
north of us, which was blocked before with solid ice, had been swept
open by the storm; but the strait to the east, where we had been with
the boat, was firmly blocked, and if we had not turned when we did
that evening we should have been there yet, and for no one knows how
long. It seemed to us not improbable that the ice between Cape Lapteff
and Almquist's Islands might be broken up. We therefore got up steam
and set off north about 6.30 P.M. to try our fortune once more. I felt
quite sure that the day would bring us luck. The weather was still
beautiful, and we were thoroughly enjoying the sunshine. It was such
an unusual thing that Nordahl, when he was working among the coals
in the hold in the afternoon, mistook a sunbeam falling through the
hatch on the coal dust for a plank, and leaned hard on it. He was not a
little surprised when he fell right through it on to some iron lumber.

It became more and more difficult to make anything of the land, and our
observation for latitude at noon did not help to clear up matters. It
placed us at 76° 2' north latitude, or about 14 miles from what is
marked as the mainland on Nordenskiöld's or Bove's map. It was hardly
to be expected that these should be correct, as the weather seems to
have been foggy the whole time the explorers were here.

Nor were we successful in finding Hovgaard's Islands as we sailed
north. When I supposed that we were off them, just on the north side of
the entrance to Taimur Strait, I saw, to my surprise, a high mountain
almost directly north of us, which seemed as if it must be on the
mainland. What could be the explanation of this? I began to have a
growing suspicion that this was a regular labyrinth of islands we
had got into. We were hoping to investigate and clear up the matter
when thick weather, with sleet and rain, most inconveniently came on,
and we had to leave this problem for the future to solve.

The mist was thick, and soon the darkness of night was added to it, so
that we could not see land at any great distance. It might seem rather
risky to push ahead now, but it was an opportunity not to be lost. We
slackened speed a little, and kept on along the coast all night,
in readiness to turn as soon as land was observed ahead. Satisfied
that things were in good hands, as it was Sverdrup's watch, I lay
down in my berth with a lighter mind than I had had for long.

At 6 o'clock next morning (September 7th) Sverdrup roused me with
the information that we had passed Taimur Island, or Cape Lapteff, at
3 A.M., and were now at Taimur Bay, but with close ice and an island
ahead. It was possible that we might reach the island, as a channel had
just opened through the ice in that direction; but we were at present
in a tearing "whirlpool" current, and should be obliged to put back
for the moment. After breakfast I went up into the crow's-nest. It was
brilliant sunshine. I found that Sverdrup's island must be mainland,
which, however, stretched remarkably far west compared with that
given on the maps. I could still see Taimur Island behind me, and
the most easterly of Almquist's Islands lay gleaming in the sun to
the north. It was a long, sandy point that we had ahead, and I could
follow the land in a southerly direction till it disappeared on the
horizon at the head of the bay in the south. Then there was a small
strip where no land, only open water, could be made out. After that the
land emerged on the west side of the bay, stretching towards Taimur
Island. With its heights and round knolls this land was essentially
different from the low coast on the east side of the bay.

To the north of the point ahead of us I saw open water; there was some
ice between us and it, but the Fram forced her way through. When we got
out, right off the point, I was surprised to notice the sea suddenly
covered with brown, clayey water. It could not be a deep layer, for
the track we left behind was quite clear. The clayey water seemed
to be skimmed to either side by the passage of the ship. I ordered
soundings to be taken, and found, as I expected, shallower water--first
8 fathoms, then 6 1/2, then 5 1/2. I stopped now, and backed. Things
looked very suspicious, and round us ice-floes lay stranded. There
was also a very strong current running northeast. Constantly sounding,
we again went slowly forward. Fortunately the lead went on showing 5
fathoms. Presently we got into deeper water--6 fathoms, then 6 1/2--and
now we went on at full speed again. We were soon out into the clear,
blue water on the other side. There was quite a sharp boundary-line
between the brown surface water and the clear blue. The muddy water
evidently came from some river a little farther south.

From this point the land trended back in an easterly direction, and we
held east and northeast in the open water between it and the ice. In
the afternoon this channel grew very narrow, and we got right under
the coast, where it again slopes north. We kept close along it in a
very narrow cut, with a depth of 6 to 8 fathoms, but in the evening
had to stop, as the ice lay packed close in to the shore ahead of us.

This land we had been coasting along bore a strong resemblance
to Yalmal. The same low plains, rising very little above the sea,
and not visible at any great distance. It was perhaps rather more
undulating. At one or two places I even saw some ridges of a certain
elevation a little way inland. The shore the whole way seemed to
be formed of strata of sand and clay, the margin sloping steeply to
the sea.

Many reindeer herds were to be seen on the plains, and next morning
(September 8th) I went on shore on a hunting expedition. Having shot
one reindeer I was on my way farther inland in search of more, when
I made a surprising discovery, which attracted all my attention and
made me quite forget the errand I had come on. It was a large fjord
cutting its way in through the land to the north of me. I went as far
as possible to find out all I could about it, but did not manage to
see the end of it. So far as I could see, it was a fine broad sheet
of water, stretching eastward to some blue mountains far, far inland,
which, at the extreme limit of my vision, seemed to slope down to
the water. Beyond them I could distinguish nothing. My imagination
was fired, and for a moment it seemed to me as if this might almost
be a strait, stretching right across the land here, and making an
island of the Chelyuskin Peninsula. But probably it was only a river,
which widened out near its mouth into a broad lake, as several of the
Siberian rivers do. All about the clay plains I was tramping over,
enormous erratic blocks, of various formations, lay scattered. They
can only have been brought here by the great glaciers of the Ice
Age. There was not much life to be seen. Besides reindeer there were
just a few willow-grouse, snow-buntings, and snipe; and I saw tracks
of foxes and lemmings. This farthest north part of Siberia is quite
uninhabited, and has probably not been visited even by the wandering
nomads. However, I saw a circular moss-heap on a plain far inland,
which looked as if it might be the work of man's hand. Perhaps, after
all, some Samoyede had been here collecting moss for his reindeer;
but it must have been long ago; for the moss looked quite black and
rotten. The heap was quite possibly only one of Nature's freaks--she
is often capricious.

What a constant alternation of light and shadow there is in this Arctic
land. When I went up to the crow's-nest next morning (September 9th)
I saw that the ice to the north had loosened from the land, and I
could trace a channel which might lead us northward into open water. I
at once gave the order to get up steam. The barometer was certainly
low--lower than we had ever had it yet; it was down to 733 mm.--the
wind was blowing in heavy squalls off the land, and in on the plains
the gusts were whirling up clouds of sand and dust.

Sverdrup thought it would be safer to stay where we were; but it would
be too annoying to miss this splendid opportunity; and the sunshine
was so beautiful, and the sky so smiling and reassuring. I gave orders
to set sail, and soon we were pushing on northward through the ice,
under steam, and with every stitch of canvas that we could crowd
on. Cape Chelyuskin must be vanquished! Never had the Fram gone so
fast; she made more than 8 knots by the log; it seemed as though she
knew how much depended on her getting on. Soon we were through the ice,
and had open water along the land as far as the eye could reach. We
passed point after point, discovering new fjords and islands on the
way, and soon I thought that I caught a glimpse through the large
telescope of some mountains far away north; they must be in the
neighborhood of Cape Chelyuskin itself.

The land along which we to-day coasted to the northward was
quite low, some of it like what I had seen on shore the previous
day. At some distance from the low coast, fairly high mountains or
mountain chains were to be seen. Some of them seemed to consist of
horizontal sedimentary schist; they were flat-topped, with precipitous
sides. Farther inland the mountains were all white with snow. At one
point it seemed as if the whole range were covered with a sheet of
ice, or great snow-field that spread itself down the sides. At the
edge of this sheet I could see projecting masses of rock, but all
the inner part was spotless white. It seemed almost too continuous
and even to be new snow, and looked like a permanent snow mantle.

Nordenskiöld's map marks at this place, "high mountain chains inland";
and this agrees with our observations, though I cannot assert that
the mountains are of any considerable height. But when, in agreement
with earlier maps, he marks at the same place, "high, rocky coast,"
his terms are open to objection. The coast is, as already mentioned,
quite low, and consists, in great part at least, of layers of clay or
loose earth. Nordenskiöld either took this last description from the
earlier, unreliable maps, or possibly allowed himself to be misled
by the fog which beset them during their voyage in these waters.

In the evening we were approaching the north end of the land, but
the current, which we had had with us earlier in the day, was now
against us, and it seemed as if we were never to get past an island
that lay off the shore to the north of us. The mountain height which
I had seen at an earlier hour through the telescope lay here some
way inland. It was flat on the top, with precipitous sides, like
those mountains last described. It seemed to be sandstone or basaltic
rock; only the horizontal strata of the ledges on its sides were not
visible. I calculated its height at 1000 to 1500 feet. Out at sea we
saw several new islands, the nearest of them being of some size.

The moment seemed to be at hand when we were at last to round that
point which had haunted us for so long--the second of the greatest
difficulties I expected to have to overcome on this expedition. I sat
up in the crow's-nest in the evening, looking out to the north. The
land was low and desolate. The sun had long since gone down behind
the sea, and the dreamy evening sky was yellow and gold. It was
lonely and still up here, high above the water. Only one star was
to be seen. It stood straight above Cape Chelyuskin, shining clearly
and sadly in the pale sky. As we sailed on and got the cape more to
the east of us the star went with it; it was always there, straight
above. I could not help sitting watching it. It seemed to have some
charm for me, and to bring such peace. Was it my star? Was it the
spirit of home following and smiling to me now? Many a thought it
brought to me as the Fram toiled on through the melancholy night,
past the northernmost point of the old world.

Towards morning we were off what we took to be actually the northern
extremity. We stood in near land, and at the change of the watch,
exactly at 4 o'clock, our flags were hoisted, and our three last
cartridges sent a thundering salute over the sea. Almost at the same
moment the sun rose. Then our poetic doctor burst forth into the
following touching lines:


            "Up go the flags, off goes the gun;
            The clock strikes four--and lo, the sun!"


As the sun rose, the Chelyuskin troll, that had so long had us
in his power, was banned. We had escaped the danger of a winter's
imprisonment on this coast, and we saw the way clear to our goal--the
drift-ice to the north of the New Siberian Islands. In honor of the
occasion all hands were turned out, and punch, fruit, and cigars were
served in the festally lighted saloon. Something special in the way
of a toast was expected on such an occasion. I lifted my glass, and
made the following speech: "Skoal, my lads, and be glad we've passed
Chelyuskin!" Then there was some organ-playing, during which I went
up into the crow's-nest again, to have a last look at the land. I now
saw that the height I had noticed in the evening, which has already
been described, lies on the west side of the peninsula, while farther
east a lower and more rounded height stretches southward. This last
must be the one mentioned by Nordenskiöld, and, according to his
description, the real north point must lie out beyond it; so that
we were now off King Oscar's Bay; but I looked in vain through the
telescope for Nordenskiöld's cairn. I had the greatest inclination to
land, but did not think that we could spare the time. The bay, which
was clear of ice at the time of the Vega's visit, was now closed in
with thick winter ice, frozen fast to the land.

We had an open channel before us; but we could see the edge of the
drift-ice out at sea. A little farther west we passed a couple of small
islands, lying a short way from the coast. We had to stop before noon
at the northwestern corner of Chelyuskin, on account of the drift-ice
which seemed to reach right into the land before us. To judge by the
dark air, there was open water again on the other side of an island
which lay ahead. We landed and made sure that some straits or fjords on
the inside of this island, to the south, were quite closed with firm
ice; and in the evening the Fram forced her way through the drift-ice
on the outside of it. We steamed and sailed southward along the coast
all night, making splendid way; when the wind was blowing stiffest
we went at the rate of 9 knots. We came upon ice every now and then,
but got through it easily.

Towards morning (September 11th) we had high land ahead, and had
to change our course to due east, keeping to this all day. When
I came on deck before noon I saw a fine tract of hill country,
with high summits and valleys between. It was the first view of the
sort since we had left Vardö, and, after the monotonous low land we
had been coasting along for months, it was refreshing to see such
mountains again. They ended with a precipitous descent to the east,
and eastward from that extended a perfectly flat plain. In the course
of the day we quite lost sight of land, and strangely enough did not
see it again; nor did we see the Islands of St. Peter and St. Paul,
though, according to the maps, our course lay close past them.

Thursday, September 12th. Henriksen awoke me this morning at 6 with
the information that there were several walruses lying on a floe
quite close to us. "By Jove!" Up I jumped and had my clothes on in a
trice. It was a lovely morning--fine, still weather; the walruses'
guffaw sounded over to us along the clear ice surface. They were
lying crowded together on a floe a little to landward from us, blue
mountains glittering behind them in the sun. At last the harpoons were
sharpened, guns and cartridges ready, and Henriksen, Juell, and I set
off. There seemed to be a slight breeze from the south, so we rowed
to the north side of the floe, to get to leeward of the animals. From
time to time their sentry raised his head, but apparently did not see
us. We advanced slowly, and soon we were so near that we had to row
very cautiously. Juell kept us going, while Henriksen was ready in
the bow with a harpoon, and I behind him with a gun. The moment the
sentry raised his head the oars stopped, and we stood motionless;
when he sunk it again, a few more strokes brought us nearer.

Body to body they lay close-packed on a small floe, old and young
ones mixed. Enormous masses of flesh they were! Now and again one
of the ladies fanned herself by moving one of her flappers backward
and forward over her body; then she lay quiet again on her back
or side. "Good gracious! what a lot of meat!" said Juell, who was
cook. More and more cautiously we drew near. While I sat ready with
the gun, Henriksen took a good grip of the harpoon shaft, and as
the boat touched the floe he rose, and off flew the harpoon. But it
struck too high, glanced off the tough hide, and skipped over the
backs of the animals. Now there was a pretty to do! Ten or twelve
great weird faces glared upon us at once; the colossal creatures
twisted themselves round with incredible celerity, and came waddling
with lifted heads and hollow bellowings to the edge of the ice where
we lay. It was undeniably an imposing sight; but I laid my gun to my
shoulder and fired at one of the biggest heads. The animal staggered,
and then fell head foremost into the water. Now a ball into another
head; this creature fell too, but was able to fling itself into the
sea. And now the whole herd dashed in, and we as well as they were
hidden in spray. It had all happened in a few seconds. But up they came
again immediately round the boat, the one head bigger and uglier than
the other, their young ones close beside them. They stood up in the
water, bellowed and roared till the air trembled, threw themselves
forward towards us, then rose up again, and new bellowings filled
the air. Then they rolled over and disappeared with a splash, then
bobbed up again. The water foamed and boiled for yards around--the
ice-world that had been so still before seemed in a moment to have
been transformed into a raging bedlam. Any moment we might expect
to have a walrus tusk or two through the boat, or to be heaved up
and capsized. Something of this kind was the very least that could
happen after such a terrible commotion. But the hurly-burly went on
and nothing came of it. I again picked out my victims. They went on
bellowing and grunting like the others, but with blood streaming from
their mouths and noses. Another ball, and one tumbled over and floated
on the water; now a ball to the second, and it did the same. Henriksen
was ready with the harpoons, and secured them both. One more was shot;
but we had no more harpoons, and had to strike a seal-hook into it
to hold it up. The hook slipped, however, and the animal sank before
we could save it. While we were towing our booty to an ice-floe we
were still, for part of the time at least, surrounded by walruses;
but there was no use in shooting any more, for we had no means of
carrying them off. The Fram presently came up and took our two on
board, and we were soon going ahead along the coast. We saw many
walruses in this part. We shot two others in the afternoon, and could
have got many more if we had had time to spare. It was in this same
neighborhood that Nordenskiöld also saw one or two small herds.

We now continued our course, against a strong current, southward along
the coast, past the mouth of the Chatanga. This eastern part of the
Taimur Peninsula is a comparatively high, mountainous region, but with
a lower level stretch between the mountains and the sea--apparently
the same kind of low land we had seen along the coast almost the
whole way. As the sea seemed to be tolerably open and free from ice,
we made several attempts to shorten our course by leaving the coast
and striking across for the mouth of the Olenek; but every time thick
ice drove us back to our channel by the land.

On September 14th we were off the land lying between the Chatanga and
the Anabara. This also was fairly high, mountainous country, with
a low strip by the sea. "In this respect," so I write in my diary,
"this whole coast reminds one very much of Jæderen, in Norway. But
the mountains here are not so well separated, and are considerably
lower than those farther north. The sea is unpleasantly shallow;
at one time during the night we had only 4 fathoms, and were obliged
to put back some distance. We have ice outside, quite close; but yet
there is a sufficient fairway to let us push on eastward."

The following day we got into good, open water, but shallow--never
more than 6 to 7 fathoms. We heard the roaring of waves to the east,
so there must certainly be open water in that direction, which indeed
we had expected. It was plain that the Lena, with its masses of warm
water, was beginning to assert its influence. The sea here was browner,
and showed signs of some mixture of muddy river-water. It was also
much less salt.

"It would be foolish," I write in my diary for this day (September
15th), "to go in to the Olenek, now that we are so late. Even if there
were no danger from shoals, it would cost us too much time--probably a
year. Besides, it is by no means sure that the Fram can get in there at
all; it would be a very tiresome business if she went aground in these
waters. No doubt we should be very much the better of a few more dogs,
but to lose a year is too much; we shall rather head straight east
for the New Siberian Islands, now that there is a good opportunity,
and really bright prospects.

"The ice here puzzles me a good deal. How in the world is it not
swept northward by the current, which, according to my calculations,
ought to set north from this coast, and which indeed we ourselves
have felt. And it is such hard, thick ice--has the appearance of
being several years old. Does it come from the eastward, or does
it lie and grind round here in the sea between the 'north-going'
current of the Lena and the Taimur Peninsula? I cannot tell yet,
but anyhow it is different from the thin, one-year-old ice we have
seen until now in the Kara Sea and west of Cape Chelyuskin.

"Saturday, September 16th. We are keeping a northwesterly course (by
compass) through open water, and have got pretty well north, but see
no ice, and the air is dark to the northward. Mild weather, and water
comparatively warm, as high as 35° Fahr. We have the current against
us, and are always considerably west of our reckoning. Several flocks
of eider-duck were seen in the course of the day. We ought to have
land to the north of us; can it be that which is keeping back the ice?"

Next day we met ice, and had to hold a little to the south to keep
clear of it; and I began to fear that we should not be able to get
as far as I had hoped. But in my notes for the following day (Monday,
September 18th) I read: "A splendid day. Shaped our course northward,
to the west of Bielkoff Island. Open sea; good wind from the west;
good progress. Weather clear, and we had a little sunshine in the
afternoon. Now the decisive moment approaches. At 12.15 shaped our
course north to east (by compass). Now it is to be proved if my
theory, on which the whole expedition is based, is correct--if we
are to find a little north from here a north-flowing current. So
far everything is better than I had expected. We are in latitude
75 1/2° N., and have still open water and dark sky to the north and
west. In the evening there was ice-light ahead and on the starboard
bow. About seven I thought that I could see ice, which, however,
rose so regularly that it more resembled land, but it was too dark
to see distinctly. It seemed as if it might be Bielkoff Island, and
a big light spot farther to the east might even be the reflection
from the snow-covered Kotelnoi. I should have liked to run in here,
partly to see a little of this interesting island, and partly to
inspect the stores which we knew had been deposited for us here by
the friendly care of Baron von Toll; but time was precious, and to
the north the sea seemed to lie open to us. Prospects were bright,
and we sailed steadily northward, wondering what the morrow would
bring--disappointment or hope? If all went well we should reach
Sannikoff Land--that, as yet, untrodden ground.

"It was a strange feeling to be sailing away north in the dark night
to unknown lands, over an open, rolling sea, where no ship, no boat
had been before. We might have been hundreds of miles away in more
southerly waters, the air was so mild for September in this latitude.

"Tuesday, September 19th. I have never had such a splendid sail. On
to the north, steadily north, with a good wind, as fast as steam and
sail can take us, and open sea mile after mile, watch after watch,
through these unknown regions, always clearer and clearer of ice one
might almost say! How long will this last? The eye always turns to the
northward as one paces the bridge. It is gazing into the future. But
there is always the same dark sky ahead, which means open sea. My
plan was standing its test. It seemed as if luck had been on our side
ever since the 6th of September. We see 'nothing but clean water,' as
Henriksen answered from the crow's-nest when I called up to him. When
he was standing at the wheel later in the morning, and I was on the
bridge, he suddenly said: 'They little think at home in Norway just
now that we are sailing straight for the Pole in clear water.' 'No,
they don't believe we have got so far.' And I shouldn't have believed
it myself if any one had prophesied it to me a fortnight ago; but
true it is. All my reflections and inferences on the subject had led
me to expect open water for a good way farther north; but it is seldom
that one's inspirations turn out to be so correct. No ice-light in any
direction, not even now in the evening. We saw no land the whole day;
but we had fog and thick weather all morning and forenoon, so that we
were still going at half-speed, as we were afraid of coming suddenly on
something. Now we are almost in 77° north latitude. How long is it to
go on? I have said all along that I should be glad if we reached 78°;
but Sverdrup is less easily satisfied; he says over 80°--perhaps 84°,
85°. He even talks seriously of the open Polar Sea, which he once read
about; he always comes back upon it, in spite of my laughing at him.

"I have almost to ask myself if this is not a dream. One must have
gone against the stream to know what it means to go with the stream. As
it was on the Greenland expedition, so it is here.


            "'Dort ward der Traum zur Wirklichkeit,
            Hier wird die Wirklichkeit zum Traum!'


"Hardly any life visible here. Saw an auk or black guillemot to-day,
and later a sea-gull in the distance. When I was hauling up a bucket of
water in the evening to wash the deck I noticed that it was sparkling
with phosphorescence. One could almost have imagined one's self to
be in the south.

"Wednesday, September 20th. I have had a rough awakening from my
dream. As I was sitting at 11 A.M., looking at the map and thinking
that my cup would soon be full--we had almost reached 78°--there
was a sudden luff, and I rushed out. Ahead of us lay the edge of
the ice, long and compact, shining through the fog. I had a strong
inclination to go eastward, on the possibility of there being land
in that direction; but it looked as if the ice extended farther south
there, and there was the probability of being able to reach a higher
latitude if we kept west; so we headed that way. The sun broke through
for a moment just now, so we took an observation, which showed us to
be in about 77° 44' north latitude."

We now held northwest along the edge of the ice. It seemed to me as
if there might be land at no great distance, we saw such a remarkable
number of birds of various kinds. A flock of snipe or wading birds met
us, followed us for a time, and then took their way south. They were
probably on their passage from some land to the north of us. We could
see nothing, as the fog lay persistently over the ice. Again, later,
we saw flocks of small snipe, indicating the possible proximity of
land. Next day the weather was clearer, but still there was no land
in sight. We were now a good way north of the spot where Baron von
Toll has mapped the south coast of Sannikoff Land, but in about the
same longitude. So it is probably only a small island, and in any
case cannot extend far north.

On September 21st we had thick fog again, and when we had sailed
north to the head of a bay in the ice, and could get no farther, I
decided to wait here for clear weather to see if progress farther north
were possible. I calculated that we were now in about 78 1/2° north
latitude. We tried several times during the day to take soundings,
but did not succeed in reaching the bottom with 215 fathoms of line.

"To-day made the agreeable discovery that there are bugs on board. Must
plan a campaign against them.

"Friday, September 22d. Brilliant sunshine once again, and white
dazzling ice ahead. First we lay still in the fog because we could
not see which way to go; now it is clear, and we know just as little
about it. It looks as if we were at the northern boundary of the
open water. To the west the ice appears to extend south again. To
the north it is compact and white--only a small open rift or pool
every here and there; and the sky is whitish-blue everywhere on the
horizon. It is from the east we have just come, but there we could
see very little; and for want of anything better to do we shall make
a short excursion in that direction, on the possibility of finding
openings in the ice. If there were only time, what I should like
would be to go east as far as Sannikoff Island, or, better still,
all the way to Bennet Land, to see what condition things are in there;
but it is too late now. The sea will soon be freezing, and we should
run a great risk of being frozen in at a disadvantageous point."

Earlier Arctic explorers have considered it a necessity to keep near
some coast. But this was exactly what I wanted to avoid. It was the
drift of the ice that I wished to get into, and what I most feared
was being blocked by land. It seemed as if we might do much worse
than give ourselves up to the ice where we were--especially as our
excursion to the east had proved that following the ice-edge in that
direction would soon force us south again. So in the meantime we made
fast to a great ice-block, and prepared to clean the boiler and shift
coals. "We are lying in open water, with only a few large floes here
and there; but I have a presentiment that this is our winter harbor.

"Great bug war to-day. We play the big steam hose on mattresses,
sofa-cushions--everything that we think can possibly harbor the
enemies. All clothes are put into a barrel, which is hermetically
closed, except where the hose is introduced. Then full steam is set
on. It whizzes and whistles inside, and a little forces its way through
the joints, and we think that the animals must be having a fine hot
time of it. But suddenly the barrel cracks, the steam rushes out,
and the lid bursts off with a violent explosion, and is flung far
along the deck. I still hope that there has been a great slaughter,
for these are horrible enemies. Juell tried the old experiment of
setting one on a piece of wood to see if it would creep north. It would
not move at all, so he took a blubber hook and hit it to make it go;
but it would do nothing but wriggle its head--the harder he hit the
more it wriggled. 'Squash it, then,' said Bentzen. And squashed it was.

"Friday, September 23d. We are still at the same moorings, working at
the coal. An unpleasant contrast--everything on board, men and dogs
included, black and filthy, and everything around white and bright
in beautiful sunshine. It looks as if more ice were driving in.

"Sunday, September 24th. Still coal-shifting. Fog in the morning,
which cleared off as the day went on, when we discovered that we
were closely surrounded on all sides by tolerably thick ice. Between
the floes lies slush-ice, which will soon be quite firm. There is
an open pool to be seen to the north, but not a large one. From the
crow's-nest, with the telescope, we can still descry the sea across
the ice to the south. It looks as if we were being shut in. Well,
we must e'en bid the ice welcome. A dead region this; no life in
any direction, except a single seal (Phoca foetida) in the water;
and on the floe beside us we can see a bear-track some days old. We
again try to get soundings, but still find no bottom; it is remarkable
that there should be such depth here."

Ugh! one can hardly imagine a dirtier, nastier job than a spell of
coal-shifting on board. It is a pity that such a useful thing as coal
should be so black! What we are doing now is only hoisting it from the
hold and filling the bunkers with it; but every man on board must help,
and everything is in a mess. So many men must stand on the coal-heap
in the hold and fill the buckets, and so many hoist them. Jacobsen
is specially good at this last job; his strong arms pull up bucket
after bucket as if they were as many boxes of matches. The rest of
us go backward and forward with the buckets between the main-hatch
and the half-deck, pouring the coal into the bunkers; and down
below stands Amundsen packing it, as black as he can be. Of course
coal-dust is flying over the whole deck; the dogs creep into corners,
black and toussled; and we ourselves--well, we don't wear our best
clothes on such days. We got some amusement out of the remarkable
appearance of our faces, with their dark complexions, black streaks
at the most unlikely places, and eyes and white teeth shining through
the dirt. Any one happening to touch the white wall below with his
hand leaves a black five-fingered blot; and the doors have a wealth
of such mementos. The seats of the sofas must have their wrong sides
turned up, else they would bear lasting marks of another part of the
body; and the table-cloth--well, we fortunately do not possess such a
thing. In short, coal-shifting is as dirty and wretched an experience
as one can well imagine in these bright and pure surroundings. One
good thing is that there is plenty of fresh water to wash with; we
can find it in every hollow on the floes, so there is some hope of
our being clean again in time, and it is possible that this may be
our last coal-shifting.

"Monday, September 25th. Frozen in faster and faster! Beautiful, still
weather; 13 degrees of frost last night. Winter is coming now. Had
a visit from a bear, which was off again before any one got a shot
at it."



CHAPTER VI

THE WINTER NIGHT


It really looked as if we were now frozen in for good, and I did not
expect to get the Fram out of the ice till we were on the other side of
the Pole, nearing the Atlantic Ocean. Autumn was already well advanced;
the sun stood lower in the heavens day by day, and the temperature
sank steadily. The long night of winter was approaching--that dreaded
night. There was nothing to be done except prepare ourselves for
it, and by degrees we converted our ship, as well as we could, into
comfortable winter quarters; while at the same time we took every
precaution to assure her against the destructive influences of cold,
drift-ice, and the other forces of nature to which it was prophesied
that we must succumb. The rudder was hauled up, so that it might not
be destroyed by the pressure of the ice. We had intended to do the
same with the screw; but as it, with its iron case, would certainly
help to strengthen the stern, and especially the rudder-stock, we let
it remain in its place. We had a good deal of work with the engine,
too; each separate part was taken out, oiled, and laid away for the
winter; slide-valves, pistons, shafts, were examined and thoroughly
cleaned. All this was done with the very greatest care. Amundsen
looked after that engine as if it had been his own child; late and
early he was down tending it lovingly; and we used to tease him about
it, to see the defiant look come into his eyes and hear him say:
"It's all very well for you to talk, but there's not such another
engine in the world, and it would be a sin and a shame not to take
good care of it." Assuredly he left nothing undone. I don't suppose
a day passed, winter or summer, all these three years, that he did
not go down and caress it, and do something or other for it.

We cleared up in the hold to make room for a joiner's workshop down
there; our mechanical workshop we had in the engine-room. The smithy
was at first on deck, and afterwards on the ice; tinsmith's work
was done chiefly in the chart-room; shoemaker's and sailmaker's, and
various odd sorts of work, in the saloon. And all these occupations
were carried on with interest and activity during the rest of the
expedition. There was nothing, from the most delicate instruments
down to wooden shoes and axe-handles, that could not be made on
board the Fram. When we were found to be short of sounding-line,
a grand rope-walk was constructed on the ice. It proved to be a very
profitable undertaking, and was well patronized.

Presently we began putting up the windmill which was to drive the
dynamo and produce the electric light. While the ship was going, the
dynamo was driven by the engine, but for a long time past we had had
to be contented with petroleum lamps in our dark cabins. The windmill
was erected on the port side of the fore-deck, between the main-hatch
and the rail. It took several weeks to get this important appliance
into working order.

As mentioned on page 71, we had also brought with us a "horse-mill"
for driving the dynamo. I had thought that it might be of service
in giving us exercise whenever there was no other physical work
for us. But this time never came, and so the "horse-mill" was never
used. There was always something to occupy us; and it was not difficult
to find work for each man that gave him sufficient exercise, and so
much distraction that the time did not seem to him unbearably long.

There was the care of the ship and rigging, the inspection of sails,
ropes, etc., etc.; there were provisions of all kinds to be got out
from the cases down in the hold, and handed over to the cook; there
was ice--good, pure, fresh-water ice--to be found and carried to the
galley to be melted for cooking, drinking, and washing water. Then,
as already mentioned, there was always something doing in the various
workshops. Now "Smith Lars" had to straighten the long-boat davits,
which had been twisted by the waves in the Kara Sea; now it was a hook,
a knife, a bear-trap, or something else to be forged. The tinsmith,
again "Smith Lars," had to solder together a great tin pail for the
ice-melting in the galley. The mechanician, Amundsen, would have an
order for some instrument or other--perhaps a new current-gauge. The
watchmaker, Mogstad, would have a thermograph to examine and clean,
or a new spring to put into a watch. The sailmaker might have an
order for a quantity of dog-harness. Then each man had to be his own
shoemaker--make himself canvas boots with thick, warm, wooden soles,
according to Sverdrup's newest pattern. Presently there would come an
order to mechanician Amundsen for a supply of new zinc music-sheets
for the organ--these being a brand-new invention of the leader of
the expedition. The electrician would have to examine and clean the
accumulator batteries, which were in danger of freezing. When at last
the windmill was ready, it had to be attended to, turned according to
the wind, etc. And when the wind was too strong some one had to climb
up and reef the mill sails, which was not a pleasant occupation in
this winter cold, and involved much breathing on fingers and rubbing
of the tip of the nose.

It happened now and then, too, that the ship required to be
pumped. This became less and less necessary as the water froze round
her and in the interstices in her sides. The pumps, therefore, were
not touched from December, 1893, till July, 1895. The only noticeable
leakage during that time was in the engine-room, but it was nothing
of any consequence: just a few buckets of ice that had to be hewn
away every month from the bottom of the ship and hoisted up.

To these varied employments was presently added, as the most important
of all, the taking of scientific observations, which gave many of us
constant occupation. Those that involved the greatest labor were,
of course, the meteorological observations, which were taken every
four hours day and night; indeed, for a considerable part of the time,
every two hours. They kept one man, sometimes two, at work all day. It
was Hansen who had the principal charge of this department, and his
regular assistant until March, 1895, was Johansen, whose place was then
taken by Nordahl. The night observations were taken by whoever was
on watch. About every second day, when the weather was clear, Hansen
and his assistant took the astronomical observation which ascertained
our position. This was certainly the work which was followed with
most interest by all the members of the expedition; and it was not
uncommon to see Hansen's cabin, while he was making his calculations,
besieged with idle spectators, waiting to hear the result--whether
we had drifted north or south since the last observation, and how
far. The state of feeling on board very much depended on these results.

Hansen had also at stated periods to take observations to determine
the magnetic constant in this unknown region. These were carried on
at first in a tent, specially constructed for the purpose, which was
soon erected on the ice; but later we built him a large snow hut,
as being both more suitable and more comfortable.

For the ship's doctor there was less occupation. He looked long and
vainly for patients, and at last had to give it up and in despair take
to doctoring the dogs. Once a month he too had to make his scientific
observations, which consisted in the weighing of each man, and the
counting of blood corpuscles, and estimating the amount of blood
pigment, in order to ascertain the number of red-blood corpuscles
and the quantity of red coloring matter (hæmoglobin) in the blood
of each. This was also work that was watched with anxious interest,
as every man thought he could tell from the result obtained how long
it would be before scurvy overtook him.

Among our scientific pursuits may also be mentioned the determining
of the temperature of the water and of its degree of saltness at
varying depths; the collection and examination of such animals as are
to be found in these northern seas; the ascertaining of the amount of
electricity in the air; the observation of the formation of the ice,
its growth and thickness, and of the temperature of the different
layers of ice; the investigation of the currents in the water under it,
etc., etc. I had the main charge of this department. There remains to
be mentioned the regular observation of the aurora borealis, which we
had a splendid opportunity of studying. After I had gone on with it
for some time, Blessing undertook this part of my duties; and when
I left the ship I made over to him all the other observations that
were under my charge. Not an inconsiderable item of our scientific
work were the soundings and dredgings. At the greater depths it was
such an undertaking that every one had to assist; and, from the way
we were obliged to do it later, one sounding sometimes gave occupation
for several days.

One day differed very little from another on board, and the description
of one is, in every particular of any importance, a description of all.

We all turned out at eight, and breakfasted on hard bread (both rye
and wheat), cheese (Dutch-clove cheese, Cheddar, Gruyère, and Mysost,
or goat's-whey cheese, prepared from dry powder), corned beef or corned
mutton, luncheon ham or Chicago tinned tongue or bacon, cod-caviare,
anchovy roe; also oatmeal biscuits or English ship-biscuits--with
orange marmalade or Frame Food jelly. Three times a week we had
fresh-baked bread as well, and often cake of some kind. As for our
beverages, we began by having coffee and chocolate day about; but
afterwards had coffee only two days a week, tea two, and chocolate
three.

After breakfast some men went to attend to the dogs--give them their
food, which consisted of half a stockfish or a couple of dog-biscuits
each, let them loose, or do whatever else there was to do for them. The
others went all to their different tasks. Each took his turn of a
week in the galley--helping the cook to wash up, lay the table, and
wait. The cook himself had to arrange his bill of fare for dinner
immediately after breakfast, and to set about his preparations at
once. Some of us would take a turn on the floe to get some fresh air,
and to examine the state of the ice, its pressure, etc. At 1 o'clock
all were assembled for dinner, which generally consisted of three
courses--soup, meat, and dessert; or, soup, fish, and meat; or, fish,
meat, and dessert; or sometimes only fish and meat. With the meat we
always had potatoes, and either green vegetables or macaroni. I think
we were all agreed that the fare was good; it would hardly have been
better at home; for some of us it would perhaps have been worse. And we
looked like fatted pigs; one or two even began to cultivate a double
chin and a corporation. As a rule, stories and jokes circulated at
table along with the bock-beer.

After dinner the smokers of our company would march off, well fed and
contented, into the galley, which was smoking-room as well as kitchen,
tobacco being tabooed in the cabins except on festive occasions. Out
there they had a good smoke and chat; many a story was told, and not
seldom some warm dispute arose. Afterwards came, for most of us, a
short siesta. Then each went to his work again until we were summoned
to supper at 6 o'clock, when the regulation day's work was done. Supper
was almost the same as breakfast, except that tea was always the
beverage. Afterwards there was again smoking in the galley, while
the saloon was transformed into a silent reading-room. Good use was
made of the valuable library presented to the expedition by generous
publishers and other friends. If the kind donors could have seen us
away up there, sitting round the table at night with heads buried in
books or collections of illustrations, and could have understood how
invaluable these companions were to us, they would have felt rewarded
by the knowledge that they had conferred a real boon--that they had
materially assisted in making the Fram the little oasis that it was in
this vast ice desert. About half-past seven or eight cards or other
games were brought out, and we played well on into the night, seated
in groups round the saloon table. One or other of us might go to the
organ, and, with the assistance of the crank-handle, perform some of
our beautiful pieces, or Johansen would bring out the accordion and
play many a fine tune. His crowning efforts were "Oh, Susanna!" and
"Napoleon's March Across the Alps in an Open Boat." About midnight we
turned in, and then the night watch was set. Each man went on for an
hour. Their most trying work on watch seems to have been writing their
diaries and looking out, when the dogs barked, for any signs of bears
at hand. Besides this, every two hours or four hours the watch had
to go aloft or on to the ice to take the meteorological observations.

I believe I may safely say that on the whole the time passed pleasantly
and imperceptibly, and that we throve in virtue of the regular habits
imposed upon us.

My notes from day to day will give the best idea of our life, in all
its monotony. They are not great events that are here recorded, but
in their very bareness they give a true picture. Such, and no other,
was our life. I shall give some quotations direct from my diary:

"Tuesday, September 26th. Beautiful weather. The sun stands much
lower now; it was 9° above the horizon at midday. Winter is rapidly
approaching; there are 14 1/2° of frost this evening, but we do not
feel it cold. To-day's observations unfortunately show no particular
drift northward; according to them we are still in 78° 50' north
latitude. I wandered about over the floe towards evening. Nothing
more wonderfully beautiful can exist than the Arctic night. It is
dreamland, painted in the imagination's most delicate tints; it
is color etherealized. One shade melts into the other, so that you
cannot tell where one ends and the other begins, and yet they are
all there. No forms--it is all faint, dreamy color music, a far-away,
long-drawn-out melody on muted strings. Is not all life's beauty high,
and delicate, and pure like this night? Give it brighter colors, and
it is no longer so beautiful. The sky is like an enormous cupola, blue
at the zenith, shading down into green, and then into lilac and violet
at the edges. Over the ice-fields there are cold violet-blue shadows,
with lighter pink tints where a ridge here and there catches the last
reflection of the vanished day. Up in the blue of the cupola shine the
stars, speaking peace, as they always do, those unchanging friends. In
the south stands a large red-yellow moon, encircled by a yellow ring
and light golden clouds floating on the blue background. Presently the
aurora borealis shakes over the vault of heaven its veil of glittering
silver--changing now to yellow, now to green, now to red. It spreads,
it contracts again, in restless change; next it breaks into waving,
many-folded bands of shining silver, over which shoot billows of
glittering rays, and then the glory vanishes. Presently it shimmers
in tongues of flame over the very zenith, and then again it shoots a
bright ray right up from the horizon, until the whole melts away in
the moonlight, and it is as though one heard the sigh of a departing
spirit. Here and there are left a few waving streamers of light,
vague as a foreboding--they are the dust from the aurora's glittering
cloak. But now it is growing again; new lightnings shoot up, and the
endless game begins afresh. And all the time this utter stillness,
impressive as the symphony of infinitude. I have never been able to
grasp the fact that this earth will some day be spent and desolate
and empty. To what end, in that case, all this beauty, with not a
creature to rejoice in it? Now I begin to divine it. This is the
coming earth--here are beauty and death. But to what purpose? Ah,
what is the purpose of all these spheres? Read the answer, if you can,
in the starry blue firmament.

"Wednesday, September 27th. Gray weather and strong wind from the
south-southwest. Nordahl, who is cook to-day, had to haul up some
salt meat which, rolled in a sack, had been steeping for two days
in the sea. As soon as he got hold of it he called out, horrified,
that it was crawling with animals. He let go the sack and jumped
away from it, the animals scattering round in every direction. They
proved to be sandhoppers, or Amphipoda, which had eaten their way
into the meat. There were pints of them, both inside and outside of
the sack. A pleasant discovery; there will be no need to starve when
such food is to be had by hanging a sack in the water.

"Bentzen is the wag of the party; he is always playing some practical
joke. Just now one of the men came rushing up and stood respectfully
waiting for me to speak to him. It was Bentzen that had told him I
wanted him. It won't be long before he has thought of some new trick.

"Thursday, September 28th. Snowfall with wind. To-day the dogs'
hour of release has come. Until now their life on board has been
really a melancholy one. They have been tied up ever since we left
Khabarova. The stormy seas have broken over them, and they have
been rolled here and there in the water on the deck; they have half
hanged themselves in their leashes, howling miserably; they have had
the hose played over them every time the deck was washed; they have
been sea-sick; in bad as in good weather they have had to lie on the
spot hard fate had chained them to, without more exercise than going
backward and forward the length of their chains. It is thus you are
treated, you splendid animals, who are to be our stay in the hour of
need! When that time comes, you will, for a while at least, have the
place of honor. When they were let loose there was a perfect storm of
jubilation. They rolled in the snow, washed and rubbed themselves,
and rushed about the ice in wild joy, barking loudly. Our floe, a
short time ago so lonesome and forlorn, was quite a cheerful sight
with this sudden population; the silence of ages was broken."

It was our intention after this to tie up the dogs on the ice.

"Friday, September 29th. Dr. Blessing's birthday, in honor of which
we of course had a fête, our first great one on board. There was a
double occasion for it. Our midday observation showed us to be in
latitude 79° 5' north; so we had passed one more degree. We had no
fewer than five courses at dinner, and a more than usually elaborate
concert during the meal. Here follows a copy of the printed menu:


                                 'FRAM'

                        Menu. September 29, 1893

            Soupe à la julienne avec des macaroni-dumplings.
            Potage de poison (sic) avec des pommes de terre.
            Pudding de Nordahl.
            Glacé du Greenland.
            De la table bière de la Ringnæes.
            Marmalade intacte.


                           MUSIC À DINÉ (sic)

                 1. Valse Myosotic.
                 2. Menuette de Don Juan de Mozart.
                 3. Les Troubadours.
                 4. College Hornpipe.
                 5. Die letzte Rose de Martha.
                 6. Ein flotter Studio Marsch de Phil. Farbach.
                 7. Valse de Lagune de Strauss.
                 8. Le Chanson du Nord (Du gamla, du friska....).
                 9. Hoch Habsburg Marsch de Kral.
                10. Josse Karads Polska.
                11. Vårt Land, vårt Land.
                12. Le Chanson de Chaseuse.
                13. Les Roses, Valse de Métra.
                14. Fischers Hornpipe.
                15. Traum-Valse de Millocher.
                16. Hemlandssång. 'A le misérable.'
                17. Diamanten und Perlen.
                18. Marsch de 'Det lustiga Kriget.'
                19. Valse de 'Det lustiga Kriget.'
                20. Prière du Freischütz.


I hope my readers will admit that this was quite a fine entertainment
to be given in latitude 79° north; but of such we had many on board
the Fram at still higher latitudes.

"Coffee and sweets were served after dinner; and after a better
supper than usual came strawberry and lemon ice (alias granitta) and
limejuice toddy, without alcohol. The health of the hero of the day
was first proposed 'in a few well-chosen words'; and then we drank a
bumper to the seventy-ninth degree, which we were sure was only the
first of many degrees to be conquered in the same way.

"Saturday, September 30th. I am not satisfied that the Fram's present
position is a good one for the winter. The great floe on the port side
to which we are moored sends out an ugly projection about amidships,
which might give her a bad squeeze in case of the ice packing. We
therefore began to-day to warp her backward into better ice. It is by
no means quick work. The comparatively open channel around us is now
covered with tolerably thick ice, which has to be hewn and broken in
pieces with axes, ice-staves, and walrus-spears. Then the capstan is
manned, and we heave her through the broken floe foot by foot. The
temperature this evening is -12.6° C. A wonderful sunset.

"Sunday, October 1st. Wind from the W.S.W. and weather mild. We
are taking a day of rest, which means eating, sleeping, smoking,
and reading.

"Monday, October 2d. Warped the ship farther astern, until we found a
good berth for her out in the middle of the newly frozen pool. On the
port side we have our big floe, with the dogs' camp--thirty-five black
dogs tied up on the white ice. This floe turns a low, and by no means
threatening, edge towards us. We have good low ice on the starboard
too; and between the ship and the floes we have on both sides the
newly frozen surface ice, which has, in the process of warping, also
got packed in under the ship's bottom, so that she lies in a good bed.

"As Sverdrup, Juell, and I were sitting in the chart-room in the
afternoon, splicing rope for the sounding-line, Peter [32] rushed
in shouting, 'A bear! a bear!' I snatched up my rifle and tore
out. 'Where is it?' 'There, near the tent, on the starboard side;
it came right up to it, and had almost got hold of them!'

"And there it was, big and yellow, snuffing away at the tent
gear. Hansen, Blessing, and Johansen were running at the top of
their speed towards the ship. On to the ice I jumped, and off I went,
broke through, stumbled, fell, and up again. The bear in the meantime
had done sniffing, and had probably determined that an iron spade,
an ice-staff, an axe, some tent-pegs, and a canvas tent were too
indigestible food even for a bear's stomach. Anyhow, it was following
with mighty strides in the track of the fugitives. It caught sight
of me and stopped, astonished, as if it were thinking, 'What sort of
insect can that be?' I went on to within easy range; it stood still,
looking hard at me. At last it turned its head a little, and I gave
it a ball in the neck. Without moving a limb, it sank slowly to the
ice. I now let loose some of the dogs, to accustom them to this sort
of sport, but they showed a lamentable want of interest in it; and
'Kvik,' on whom all our hope in the matter of bear-hunting rested,
bristled up and approached the dead animal very slowly and carefully,
with her tail between her legs--a sorry spectacle.

"I must now give the story of the others who made the bear's
acquaintance first. Hansen had to-day begun to set up his observatory
tent a little ahead of the ship, on the starboard bow. In the afternoon
he got Blessing and Johansen to help him. While they were hard at
work they caught sight of the bear not far from them, just off the
bow of the Fram.

"'Hush! Keep quiet, in case we frighten him,' says Hansen.

"'Yes, yes!' And they crouch together and look at him.

"'I think I'd better try to slip on board and announce him,' says
Blessing.

"'I think you should,' says Hansen.

"And off steals Blessing on tiptoe, so as not to frighten the bear. By
this time Bruin has seen and scented them, and comes jogging along,
following his nose, towards them.

"Hansen now began to get over his fear of startling him. The bear
caught sight of Blessing slinking off to the ship and set after
him. Blessing also was now much less concerned than he had been as to
the bear's nerves. He stopped, uncertain what to do; but a moment's
reflection brought him to the conclusion that it was pleasanter to
be three than one just then, and he went back to the others faster
than he had gone from them. The bear followed at a good rate. Hansen
did not like the look of things, and thought the time had come to try
a dodge he had seen recommended in a book. He raised himself to his
full height, flung his arms about, and yelled with all the power of
his lungs, ably assisted by the others. But the bear came on quite
undisturbed. The situation was becoming critical. Each snatched
up his weapon--Hansen an ice-staff, Johansen an axe, and Blessing
nothing. They screamed with all their strength, 'Bear! bear!' and
set off for the ship as hard as they could tear. But the bear held on
his steady course to the tent, and examined everything there before
(as we have seen) he went after them.

"It was a lean he-bear. The only thing that was found in its stomach
when it was opened was a piece of paper, with the names 'Lütken and
Mohn.' This was the wrapping-paper of a 'ski' light, and had been
left by one of us somewhere on the ice. After this day some of the
members of the expedition would hardly leave the ship without being
armed to the teeth.

"Wednesday, October 4th. Northwesterly wind yesterday and
to-day. Yesterday we had -16°, and to-day -14° C. I have worked
all day at soundings and got to about 800 fathoms depth. The bottom
samples consisted of a layer of gray clay 4 to 4 1/2 inches thick, and
below that brown clay or mud. The temperature was, strangely enough,
just above freezing-point (+0.18° C.) at the bottom, and just below
freezing-point (-0.4° C.) 75 fathoms up. This rather disposes of the
story of a shallow polar basin and of the extreme coldness of the
water of the Arctic Ocean.

"While we were hauling up the line in the afternoon the ice cracked
a little astern of the Fram, and the crack increased in breadth so
quickly that three of us, who had to go out to save the ice-anchors,
were obliged to make a bridge over it with a long board to get back
to the ship again. Later in the evening there was some packing in
the ice, and several new passages opened out behind this first one.

"Thursday, October 5th. As I was dressing this morning, just before
breakfast, the mate rushed down to tell me a bear was in sight. I was
soon on deck and saw him coming from the south, to the lee of us. He
was still a good way off, but stopped and looked about. Presently he
lay down, and Henriksen and I started off across the ice, and were
lucky enough to send a bullet into his breast at about 310 yards,
just as he was moving off.

"We are making everything snug for the winter and for the
ice-pressure. This afternoon we took up the rudder. Beautiful weather,
but cold, -18° C. at 8 P.M. The result of the medical inspection
to-day was the discovery that we still have bugs on board; and I do
not know what we are to do. We have no steam now, and must fix our
hopes on the cold.

"I must confess that this discovery made me feel quite ill. If bugs
got into our winter furs the thing was hopeless. So the next day
there was a regular feast of purification, according to the most rigid
antiseptic prescriptions. Each man had to deliver up his old clothes,
every stitch of them, wash himself, and dress in new ones from top to
toe. All the old clothes, fur rugs, and such things, were carefully
carried up on to the deck, and kept there the whole winter. This was
more than even these animals could stand; 53° C. of cold proved to
be too much for them, and we saw no more of them. As the bug is made
to say in the popular rhyme:


        "'Put me in the boiling pot, and shut me down tight;
        But don't leave me out on a cold winter night!'


"Friday, October 6th. Cold, down to 11° below zero (Fahr.). To-day
we have begun to rig up the windmill. The ice has been packing to
the north of the Fram's stern. As the dogs will freeze if they are
kept tied up and get no exercise, we let them loose this afternoon,
and are going to try if we can leave them so. Of course they at
once began to fight, and some poor creatures limped away from the
battle-field scratched and torn. But otherwise great joy prevailed;
they leaped, and ran, and rolled themselves in the snow. Brilliant
aurora in the evening.

"Saturday, October 7th. Still cold, with the same northerly wind we
have had all these last days. I am afraid we are drifting far south
now. A few days ago we were, according to the observations, in 78°
47' north latitude. That was 16' south in less than a week. This
is too much; but we must make it up again; we must get north. It
means going away from home now, but soon it will mean going nearer
home. What depth of beauty, with an undercurrent of endless sadness,
there is in these dreamily glowing evenings! The vanished sun has
left its track of melancholy flame. Nature's music, which fills
all space, is instinct with sorrow that all this beauty should be
spread out day after day, week after week, year after year, over a
dead world. Why? Sunsets are always sad at home too. This thought
makes the sight seem doubly precious here and doubly sad. There is
red burning blood in the west against the cold snow--and to think
that this is the sea, stiffened in chains, in death, and that the
sun will soon leave us, and we shall be in the dark alone! 'And the
earth was without form and void;' is this the sea that is to come?

"Sunday, October 8th. Beautiful weather. Made a snow-shoe expedition
westward, all the dogs following. The running was a little spoiled
by the brine, which soaks up through the snow from the surface of
the ice--flat, newly frozen ice, with older, uneven blocks breaking
through it. I seated myself on a snow hummock far away out; the dogs
crowded round to be patted. My eye wandered over the great snow plain,
endless and solitary--nothing but snow, snow everywhere.

"The observations to-day gave us an unpleasant surprise; we
are now down in 78° 35' north latitude; but there is a simple
enough explanation of this when one thinks of all the northerly and
northwesterly wind we have had lately, with open water not far to the
south of us. As soon as everything is frozen we must go north again;
there can be no question of that; but none the less this state of
matters is unpleasant. I find some comfort in the fact that we have
also drifted a little east, so that at all events we have kept with
the wind and are not drifting down westward.

"Monday, October 9th. I was feverish both during last night and
to-day. Goodness knows what is the meaning of such nonsense. When
I was taking water samples in the morning I discovered that the
water-lifter suddenly stopped at the depth of a little less than 80
fathoms. It was really the bottom. So we have drifted south again to
the shallow water. We let the weight lie at the bottom for a little,
and saw by the line that for the moment we were drifting north. This
was some small comfort, anyhow.

"All at once in the afternoon, as we were sitting idly chattering,
a deafening noise began, and the whole ship shook. This was the first
ice-pressure. Every one rushed on deck to look. The Fram behaved
beautifully, as I had expected she would. On pushed the ice with
steady pressure, but down under us it had to go, and we were slowly
lifted up. These 'squeezings' continued off and on all the afternoon,
and were sometimes so strong that the Fram was lifted several feet;
but then the ice could no longer bear her, and she broke it below
her. Towards evening the whole slackened again, till we lay in a
good-sized piece of open water, and had hurriedly to moor her to our
old floe, or we should have drifted off. There seems to be a good deal
of movement in the ice here. Peter has just been telling us that he
hears the dull booming of strong pressures not far off.

"Tuesday, October 10th. The ice continues disturbed.

"Wednesday, October 11th. The bad news was brought this afternoon
that 'Job' is dead, torn in pieces by the other dogs. He was found
a good way from the ship, 'Old Suggen' lying watching the corpse,
so that no other dog could get to it. They are wretches, these dogs;
no day passes without a fight. In the day-time one of us is generally
at hand to stop it, but at night they seldom fail to tear and bite
one of their comrades. Poor 'Barabbas' is almost frightened out of his
wits. He stays on board now, and dares not venture on the ice, because
he knows the other monsters would set on him. There is not a trace
of chivalry about these curs. When there is a fight, the whole pack
rush like wild beasts on the loser. But is it not, perhaps, the law of
nature that the strong, and not the weak, should be protected? Have
not we human beings, perhaps, been trying to turn nature topsy-turvy
by protecting and doing our best to keep life in all the weak?

"The ice is restless, and has pressed a good deal to-day again. It
begins with a gentle crack and moan along the side of the ship, which
gradually sounds louder in every key. Now it is a high plaintive
tone, now it is a grumble, now it is a snarl, and the ship gives a
start up. The noise steadily grows till it is like all the pipes of an
organ; the ship trembles and shakes, and rises by fits and starts, or
is sometimes gently lifted. There is a pleasant, comfortable feeling
in sitting listening to all this uproar and knowing the strength of
our ship. Many a one would have been crushed long ago. But outside
the ice is ground against our ship's sides, the piles of broken-up
floe are forced under her heavy, invulnerable hull, and we lie as if
in a bed. Soon the noise begins to die down; the ship sinks into its
old position again, and presently all is silent as before. In several
places round us the ice is piled up, at one spot to a considerable
height. Towards evening there was a slackening, and we lay again in
a large, open pool.

"Thursday, October 12th. In the morning we and our floe were drifting
on blue water in the middle of a large, open lane, which stretched
far to the north, and in the north the atmosphere at the horizon was
dark and blue. As far as we could see from the crow's-nest with the
small field-glass, there was no end to the open water, with only single
pieces of ice sticking up in it here and there. These are extraordinary
changes. I wondered if we should prepare to go ahead. But they had
long ago taken the machinery to pieces for the winter, so that it
would be a matter of time to get it ready for use again. Perhaps
it would be best to wait a little. Clear weather, with sunshine--a
beautiful, inspiriting winter day--but the same northerly wind. Took
soundings, and found 50 fathoms of water (90 metres). We are drifting
slowly southward. Towards evening the ice packed together again with
much force; but the Fram can hold her own. In the afternoon I fished
in a depth of about 27 fathoms (50 metres) with Murray's silk net,
[33] and had a good take, especially of small crustaceans (Copepoda,
Ostracoda, Amphipoda, etc.) and of a little Arctic worm (Spadella)
that swims about in the sea. It is horribly difficult to manage a
little fishing here. No sooner have you found an opening to slip
your tackle through than it begins to close again, and you have to
haul up as hard as you can, so as not to get the line nipped and
lose everything. It is a pity, for there are interesting hauls to
be made. One sees phosphorescence [34] in the water here whenever
there is the smallest opening in the ice. There is by no means such
a scarcity of animal life as one might expect.

"Friday, October 13th. Now we are in the very midst of what the
prophets would have had us dread so much. The ice is pressing and
packing round us with a noise like thunder. It is piling itself up into
long walls, and heaps high enough to reach a good way up the Fram's
rigging; in fact, it is trying its very utmost to grind the Fram into
powder. But here we sit quite tranquil, not even going up to look at
all the hurly-burly, but just chatting and laughing as usual. Last
night there was tremendous pressure round our old dog-floe. The ice
had towered up higher than the highest point of the floe and hustled
down upon it. It had quite spoiled a well, where we till now had found
good drinking-water, filling it with brine. Furthermore, it had cast
itself over our stern ice-anchor and part of the steel cable which
held it, burying them so effectually that we had afterwards to cut
the cable. Then it covered our planks and sledges, which stood on
the ice. Before long the dogs were in danger, and the watch had to
turn out all hands to save them. At last the floe split in two. This
morning the ice was one scene of melancholy confusion, gleaming in
the most glorious sunshine. Piled up all round us were high, steep
ice walls. Strangely enough, we had lain on the very verge of the
worst confusion, and had escaped with the loss of an ice-anchor, a
piece of steel cable, a few planks and other bits of wood, and half
of a Samoyede sledge, all of which might have been saved if we had
looked after them in time. But the men have grown so indifferent to
the pressure now that they do not even go up to look, let it thunder
ever so hard. They feel that the ship can stand it, and so long as
that is the case there is nothing to hurt except the ice itself.

"In the morning the pressure slackened again, and we were soon lying
in a large piece of open water, as we did yesterday. To-day, again,
this stretched far away towards the northern horizon, where the same
dark atmosphere indicated some extent of open water. I now gave the
order to put the engine together again; they told me it could be
done in a day and a half or at most two days. We must go north and
see what there is up there. I think it possible that it may be the
boundary between the ice-drift the Jeannette was in and the pack we
are now drifting south with--or can it be land?

"We had kept company quite long enough with the old, now broken-up
floe, so worked ourselves a little way astern after dinner, as the
ice was beginning to draw together. Towards evening the pressure began
again in earnest, and was especially bad round the remains of our old
floe, so that I believe we may congratulate ourselves on having left
it. It is evident that the pressure here stands in connection with,
is perhaps caused by, the tidal wave. It occurs with the greatest
regularity. The ice slackens twice and packs twice in 24 hours. The
pressure has happened about 4, 5, and 6 o'clock in the morning, and
almost at exactly the same hour in the afternoon, and in between we
have always lain for some part of the time in open water. The very
great pressure just now is probably due to the spring-tide; we had
new moon on the 9th, which was the first day of the pressure. Then
it was just after mid-day when we noticed it, but it has been later
every day, and now it is at 8 P.M."

The theory of the ice-pressure being caused to a considerable extent by
the tidal wave has been advanced repeatedly by Arctic explorers. During
the Fram's drifting we had better opportunity than most of them to
study this phenomenon, and our experience seems to leave no doubt
that over a wide region the tide produces movement and pressure of the
ice. It occurs especially at the time of the spring-tides, and more at
new moon than at full moon. During the intervening periods there was,
as a rule, little or no trace of pressure. But these tidal pressures
did not occur during the whole time of our drifting. We noticed them
especially the first autumn, while we were in the neighborhood of
the open sea north of Siberia, and the last year, when the Fram was
drawing near the open Atlantic Ocean; they were less noticeable while
we were in the polar basin. Pressure occurs here more irregularly,
and is mainly caused by the wind driving the ice. When one pictures to
one's self these enormous ice-masses, drifting in a certain direction,
suddenly meeting hinderances--for example, ice-masses drifting from
the opposite direction, owing to a change of wind in some more or
less distant quarter--it is easy to understand the tremendous pressure
that must result.

Such an ice conflict is undeniably a stupendous spectacle. One
feels one's self to be in the presence of titanic forces, and it
is easy to understand how timid souls may be overawed and feel as
if nothing could stand before it. For when the packing begins in
earnest it seems as though there could be no spot on the earth's
surface left unshaken. First you hear a sound like the thundering
rumbling of an earthquake far away on the great waste; then you hear
it in several places, always coming nearer and nearer. The silent
ice world re-echoes with thunders; nature's giants are awakening to
the battle. The ice cracks on every side of you, and begins to pile
itself up; and all of a sudden you too find yourself in the midst
of the struggle. There are howlings and thunderings round you; you
feel the ice trembling, and hear it rumbling under your feet; there
is no peace anywhere. In the semi-darkness you can see it piling and
tossing itself up into high ridges nearer and nearer you--floes 10,
12, 15 feet thick, broken, and flung on the top of each other as if
they were feather-weights. They are quite near you now, and you jump
away to save your life. But the ice splits in front of you, a black
gulf opens, and water streams up. You turn in another direction,
but there through the dark you can just see a new ridge of moving
ice-blocks coming towards you. You try another direction, but there
it is the same. All round there is thundering and roaring, as of some
enormous waterfall, with explosions like cannon salvoes. Still nearer
you it comes. The floe you are standing on gets smaller and smaller;
water pours over it; there can be no escape except by scrambling over
the rolling ice-blocks to get to the other side of the pack. But now
the disturbance begins to calm down. The noise passes on, and is lost
by degrees in the distance.

This is what goes on away there in the north month after month and
year after year. The ice is split and piled up into mounds, which
extend in every direction. If one could get a bird's-eye view of the
ice-fields, they would seem to be cut up into squares or meshes by a
network of these packed ridges, or pressure-dikes, as we called them,
because they reminded us so much of snow-covered stone dikes at home,
such as, in many parts of the country, are used to enclose fields. At
first sight these pressure-ridges appeared to be scattered about in
all possible directions, but on closer inspection I was sure that I
discovered certain directions which they tended to take, and especially
that they were apt to run at right angles to the course of the pressure
which produced them. In the accounts of Arctic expeditions one often
reads descriptions of pressure-ridges or pressure-hummocks as high
as 50 feet. These are fairy tales. The authors of such fantastic
descriptions cannot have taken the trouble to measure. During the
whole period of our drifting and of our travels over the ice-fields
in the far north I only once saw a hummock of a greater height than
23 feet. Unfortunately, I had not the opportunity of measuring this
one, but I believe I may say with certainty that it was very nearly 30
feet high. All the highest blocks I measured--and they were many--had
a height of 18 to 23 feet; and I can maintain with certainty that
the packing of sea ice to a height of over 25 feet is a very rare
exception. [35]

"Saturday, October 14th. To-day we have got on the rudder; the
engine is pretty well in order, and we are clear to start north
when the ice opens to-morrow morning. It is still slackening and
packing quite regularly twice a day, so that we can calculate on
it beforehand. To-day we had the same open channel to the north,
and beyond it open sea as far as our view extended. What can this
mean? This evening the pressure has been pretty violent. The floes
were packed up against the Fram on the port side, and were once
or twice on the point of toppling over the rail. The ice, however,
broke below; they tumbled back again, and had to go under us after
all. It is not thick ice, and cannot do much damage; but the force is
something enormous. On the masses come incessantly without a pause;
they look irresistible; but slowly and surely they are crushed
against the Fram's sides. Now (8.30 P.M.) the pressure has at last
stopped. Clear evening, sparkling stars, and flaming northern lights."

I had finished writing my diary, gone to bed, and was lying reading,
in The Origin of Species, about the struggle for existence, when
I heard the dogs out on the ice making more noise than usual. I
called into the saloon that some one ought to go up and see if it was
bears they were barking at. Hansen went, and came back immediately,
saying that he believed he had seen some large animal out in the
dark. "Go and shoot it, then." That he was quite ready to do, and
went up again at once, accompanied by some of the others. A shot
went off on deck above my head, then another; shot followed shot,
nine in all. Johansen and Henriksen rushed down for more cartridges,
and declared that the creature was shot, it was roaring so horribly;
but so far they had only indistinctly seen a large grayish-white
mass out there in the dark, moving about among the dogs. Now they
were going on to the ice after it. Four of them set off, and not far
away they really did find a dead bear, with marks of two shots. It
was a young one. The old one must be at hand, and the dogs were still
barking loudly. Now they all felt sure that they had seen two together,
and that the other also must be badly wounded. Johansen and Henriksen
heard it groaning in the distance when they were out on the ice again
afterwards to fetch a knife they had left lying where the dead one
had lain. The creature had been dragged on board and skinned at once,
before it had time to stiffen in the cold.

"Sunday, October 15th. To our surprise, the ice did not slacken away
much during last night after the violent pressure; and, what was worse,
there was no indication of slackening in the morning, now that we
were quite ready to go. Slight signs of it showed themselves a little
later, upon which I gave orders to get up steam; and while this was
being done I took a stroll on the ice, to look for traces of yesterday
evening. I found tracks not only of the bear that had been killed and
of a larger one that might be the mother, but of a third, which must
have been badly wounded, as it had sometimes dragged itself on its
hind quarters, and had left a broad track of blood. After following
the traces for a good way and discovering that I had no weapon to
despatch the animal with but my own fists, I thought it would be as
well to return to the ship to get a gun and companions who would help
to drag the bear back. I had also some small hope that in the meantime
the ice might have slackened, so that, in place of going after game,
we might go north with the Fram. But no such luck! So I put on my
snow-shoes and set off after our bear, some of the dogs with me, and
one or two men following. At some distance we came to the place where
it had spent the night--poor beast, a ghastly night! Here I also saw
tracks of the mother. One shudders to think of her watching over her
poor young one, which must have had its back shot through. Soon we
came up to the cripple, dragging itself away from us over the ice as
best it could. Seeing no other way of escape, it threw itself into a
small water opening and dived time after time. While we were putting
a noose on a rope the dogs rushed round the hole as if they had gone
mad, and it was difficult to keep them from jumping into the water
after the bear. At last we were ready, and the next time the creature
came up it got a noose round one paw and a ball in the head. While
the others drew it to the ship, I followed the mother's tracks for
some way, but could not find her. I had soon to turn back to see if
there was no prospect of moving the Fram; but I found that the ice
had packed together again a little at the very time when we could
generally calculate on its slackening. In the afternoon Hansen and I
went off once more after the bear. We saw, as I expected, that she had
come back, and had followed her daughter's funeral procession for some
way, but then she had gone off east, and as it grew dark we lost her
tracks in some newly packed ice. We have only one matter for regret
in connection with this bear episode, and that is the disappearance
of two dogs--'Narrifas' and 'Fox.' Probably they went off in terror
on the first appearance of the three bears. They may have been hurt,
but I have seen nothing to suggest this. The ice is quiet this evening
also, only a little pressure about 7 o'clock.

"Monday, October 16th. Ice quiet and close. Observations on the 12th
placed us in 78° 5' north latitude. Steadily southward. This is almost
depressing. The two runaways returned this morning.

"Tuesday, October 17th. Continuous movement in the ice. It slackened
a little again during the night; some way off to starboard there was
a large opening. Shortly after midnight there was strong pressure,
and between 11 and 12 A.M. came a tremendous squeeze; since then it
has slackened again a little.

"Wednesday, October 18th. When the meteorologist, Johansen, was on deck
this morning reading the thermometers, he noticed that the dogs, which
are now tied up on board, were barking loudly down at something on the
ice. He bent over the rail astern, near the rudder, and saw the back of
a bear below him, close in at the ship's side. Off he went for a gun,
and the animal fell with a couple of shots. We saw afterwards by its
tracks that it had inspected all the heaps of sweepings round the ship.

"A little later in the morning I went for a stroll on the ice. Hansen
and Johansen were busy with some magnetic observations to the south
of the ship. It was beautiful sunshiny weather. I was standing beside
an open pool a little way ahead, examining the formation and growth
of the new ice, when I heard a gun go off on board. I turned, and
just caught a glimpse of a bear making off towards the hummocks. It
was Henriksen who had seen it from the deck coming marching towards
the ship. When it was a few paces off it saw Hansen and Johansen,
and made straight for them. By this time Henriksen had got his gun,
but it missed fire several times. He has an unfortunate liking for
smearing the lock so well with vaseline that the spring works as if
it lay in soft soap. At last it went off, and the ball went through
the bear's back and breast in a slanting direction. The animal stood
up on its hind-legs, fought the air with its fore-paws, then flung
itself forward and sprang off, to fall after about 30 steps; the ball
had grazed the heart. It was not till the shot went off that Hansen
saw the bear, and then he rushed up and put two revolver-balls into
its head. It was a large bear, the largest we had got yet.

"About midday I was in the crow's-nest. In spite of the clear weather I
could not discover land on any side. The opening far to the north has
quite disappeared; but during the night a large new one has formed
quite close to us. It stretches both north and south, and has now
a covering of ice. The pressure is chiefly confined to the edges of
this opening, and can be traced in walls of packed ice as far as the
horizon in both directions. To the east the ice is quite unbroken
and flat. We have lain just in the worst pressure.

"Thursday, October 19th. The ice again slackened a little last
night. In the morning I attempted a drive with six of the dogs. When I
had managed to harness them to the Samoyede sledge, had seated myself
on it, and called 'Pr-r-r-r, pr-r-r-r!' they went off in quite good
style over the ice. But it was not long before we came to some high
pack-ice and had to turn. This was hardly done before they were off
back to the ship at lightning speed, and they were not to be got
away from it again. Round and round it they went, from refuse-heap
to refuse-heap. If I started at the gangway on the starboard side,
and tried by thrashing them to drive them out over the ice, round
the stern they flew to the gangway on the port side. I tugged, swore,
and tried everything I could think of, but all to no purpose. I got
out and tried to hold the sledge back, but was pulled off my feet,
and dragged merrily over the ice in my smooth sealskin breeches, on
back, stomach, side--just as it happened. When I managed to stop them
at some pieces of pack-ice or a dust-heap, round they went again to
the starboard gangway, with me dangling behind, swearing madly that I
would break every bone in their bodies when I got at them. This game
went on till they probably tired of it, and thought they might as
well go my way for a change. So now they went off beautifully across
the flat floe until I stopped for a moment's breathing space. But
at the first movement I made in the sledge they were off again,
tearing wildly back the way we had come. I held on convulsively,
pulled, raged, and used the whip; but the more I lashed the faster
they went on their own way. At last I got them stopped by sticking
my legs down into the snow between the sledge-shafts, and driving a
strong seal-hook into it as well. But while I was off my guard for a
moment they gave a tug. I lay with my hinder-part where my legs had
been, and we went on at lightning speed--that substantial part of my
body leaving a deep track in the snow. This sort of thing went on time
after time. I lost the board I should have sat on, then the whip, then
my gloves, then my cap--these losses not improving my temper. Once
or twice I ran round in front of the dogs, and tried to force them
to turn by lashing at them with the whip. They jumped to both sides
and only tore on the faster; the reins got twisted round my ankles,
and I was thrown flat on the sledge, and they went on more wildly
than ever. This was my first experience in dog driving on my own
account, and I will not pretend that I was proud of it. I inwardly
congratulated myself that my feats had been unobserved.

"In the afternoon I examined the melted water of the newly formed
brownish-red ice, of which there is a good deal in the openings round
us here. The microscope proved this color to be produced by swarms of
small organisms, chiefly plants--quantities of diatomæ and some algæ,
a few of them very peculiar in form.

"Saturday, October 21st. I have stayed in to-day because of an
affection of the muscles, or rheumatism, which I have had for some days
on the right side of my body, and for which the doctor is 'massaging'
me, thereby greatly adding to my sufferings. Have I really grown so
old and palsied, or is the whole thing imagination? It is all I can do
to limp about; but I just wonder if I could not get up and run with
the best of them if there happened to be any great occasion for it:
I almost believe I could. A nice Arctic hero of 32, lying here in my
berth! Have had a good time reading home letters, dreaming myself at
home, dreaming of the home-coming--in how many years? Successful or
unsuccessful, what does that matter?

"I had a sounding taken; it showed over 73 fathoms (135 m.), so we are
in deeper water again. The sounding-line indicated that we are drifting
southwest. I do not understand this steady drift southward. There has
not been much wind either lately; there is certainly a little from
the north to-day, but not strong. What can be the reason of it? With
all my information, all my reasoning, all my putting of two and two
together, I cannot account for any south-going current here--there
ought to be a north-going one. If the current runs south here, how
is that great open sea we steamed north across to be explained? and
the bay we ended in farthest north? These could only be produced by
the north-going current which I presupposed. The only thing which
puts me out a bit is that west-going current which we had against us
during our whole voyage along the Siberian coast. We are never going
to be carried away south by the New Siberian Islands, and then west
along the coast of Siberia, and then north by Cape Chelyuskin, the
very way we came! That would be rather too much of a good thing--to
say nothing of its being dead against every calculation.

"Well, who cares? Somewhere we must go; we can't stay here forever. 'It
will all come right in the end,' as the saying goes; but I wish we
could get on a little faster wherever we are going. On our Greenland
expedition, too, we were carried south to begin with, and that
ended well.

"Sunday, October 22d. Henriksen took soundings this morning, and found
70 fathoms (129 m.) of water. 'If we are drifting at all,' said he,
'it is to the east; but there seems to be almost no movement.' No
wind to-day. I am keeping in my den.

"Monday, October 23d. Still in the den. To-day, 5 fathoms shallower
than yesterday. The line points southwest, which means that we are
drifting northeast-ward. Hansen has reckoned out the observation for
the 19th, and finds that we must have got 10 minutes farther north,
and must be in 78° 15' N. lat. So at last, now that the wind has gone
down, the north-going current is making itself felt. Some channels
have opened near us, one along the side of the ship, and one ahead,
near the old channel. Only slight signs of pressure in the afternoon.

"Tuesday, October 24th. Between 4 and 5 A.M. there was strong pressure,
and the Fram was lifted up a little. It looks as if the pressure were
going to begin again; we have spring-tide with full moon. The ice
opened so much this morning that the Fram was afloat in her cutting;
later on it closed again, and about 11 there was some strong pressure;
then came a quiet time; but in the afternoon the pressure began once
more, and was violent from 4 to 4.30. The Fram was shaken and lifted
up; didn't mind a bit. Peter gave it as his opinion that the pressure
was coming from the northeast, for he had heard the noise approaching
from that direction. Johansen let down the silk net for me about 11
fathoms. It was all he could do to get it up again in time, but it
brought up a good catch. Am still keeping in.

"Wednesday, October 25th. We had a horrible pressure last night. I
awoke and felt the Fram being lifted, shaken, and tossed about, and
heard the loud cracking of the ice breaking against her sides. After
listening for a little while I fell asleep again, with a snug feeling
that it was good to be on board the Fram; it would be confoundedly
uncomfortable to have to be ready to turn out every time there was a
little pressure, or to have to go off with our bundles on our backs
like the Tegethoff people.

"It is quickly getting darker. The sun stands lower and lower every
time we see it; soon it will disappear altogether, if it has not done
so already. The long, dark winter is upon us, and glad shall we be
to see the spring; but nothing matters much if we could only begin to
move north. There is now southwesterly wind, and the windmill, which
has been ready for several days, has been tried at last and works
splendidly. We have beautiful electric light to-day, though the wind
has not been especially strong (5-8 m. per second). Electric lamps
are a grand institution. What a strong influence light has on one's
spirits! There was a noticeable brightening-up at the dinner-table
to-day; the light acted on our spirits like a draught of good wine. And
how festive the saloon looks! We felt it quite a great occasion--drank
Oscar Dickson's health, and voted him the best of good fellows.

"Wonderful moonshine this evening, light as day; and along with it
aurora borealis, yellow and strange in the white moonlight; a large
ring round the moon--all this over the great stretch of white,
shining ice, here and there in our neighborhood piled up high by
the pressure. And in the midst of this silent silvery ice-world the
windmill sweeps round its dark wings against the deep-blue sky and
the aurora. A strange contrast: civilization making a sudden incursion
into this frozen ghostly world.

"To-morrow is the Fram's birthday. How many memories it recalls of
the launch-day a year ago!

"Thursday, October 26th. 54 fathoms (90 m.) of water when the soundings
were taken this morning. We are moving quickly north--due north--says
Peter. It does look as if things were going better. Great celebration
of the day, beginning with target-shooting. Then we had a splendid
dinner of four courses, which put our digestive apparatus to a severe
test. The Fram's health was drunk amidst great and stormy applause. The
proposer's words were echoed by all hearts when he said that she was
such an excellent ship for our purpose that we could not imagine a
better (great applause), and we therefore wished her, and ourselves
with her, long life (hear, hear!). After supper came strawberry
and lemon punch, and prizes were presented with much ceremony and a
good deal of fun; all being 'taken off' in turn in suitable mottoes,
for the most part composed by the ship's doctor. There was a prize
for each man. The first prize-taker was awarded the wooden cross of
the Order of the Fram, to wear suspended from his neck by a ribbon
of white tape; the last received a mirror, in which to see his
fallen greatness. Smoking in the saloon was allowed this evening,
so now pipes, toddy, and an animated game of whist ended a bright
and successful holiday.

"Sitting here now alone, my thoughts involuntarily turn to the year
that has gone since we stood up there on the platform, and she threw
the champagne against the bow, saying: 'Fram is your name!' and
the strong, heavy hull began to glide so gently. I held her hand
tight; the tears came into eyes and throat, and one could not get
out a word. The sturdy hull dived into the glittering water; a sunny
haze lay over the whole picture. Never shall I forget the moment we
stood there together, looking out over the scene. And to think of
all that has happened these four last months! Separated by sea and
land and ice; coming years, too, lying between us--it is all just
the continuation of what happened that day. But how long is it to
last? I have such difficulty in feeling that I am not to see home
again soon. When I begin to reflect, I know that it may be long,
but I will not believe it.

"To-day, moreover, we took solemn farewell of the sun. Half of its
disk showed at noon for the last time above the edge of the ice in
the south, a flattened body, with a dull red glow, but no heat. Now
we are entering the night of winter. What is it bringing us? Where
shall we be when the sun returns? No one can tell. To console us for
the loss of the sun we have the most wonderful moonlight; the moon
goes round the sky night and day. There is, strange to say, little
pressure just now; only an occasional slight squeeze. But the ice
often opens considerably; there are large pieces of water in several
directions; to-day there were some good-sized ones to the south.

"Friday, October 27th. The soundings this morning showed 52 fathoms
(95 m.) of water. According to observations taken yesterday afternoon,
we are about 3' farther north and a little farther west than on the
19th. It is disgusting the way we are muddling about here. We must
have got into a hole where the ice grinds round and round, and can't
get farther. And the time is passing all to no purpose; and goodness
only knows how long this sort of thing may go on. If only a good
south wind would come and drive us north out of this hobble! The boys
have taken up the rudder again to-day. While they were working at
this in the afternoon, it suddenly grew as bright as day. A strange
fireball crossed the sky in the west--giving a bluish-white light,
they said. Johansen ran down to the saloon to tell Hansen and me;
he said they could still see the bright trails it had left in its
train. When we got on deck we saw a bent bow of light in the Triangle,
near Deneb. The meteor had disappeared in the neighborhood of Epsilon
Cygni (constellation Swan), but its light remained for a long time
floating in the air like glowing dust. No one had seen the actual
fire-ball, as they had all had their backs turned to it, and they
could not say if it had burst. This is the second great meteor of
exceptional splendor that has appeared to us in these regions. The
ice has a curious inclination to slacken, without pressure having
occurred, and every now and then we find the ship floating in open
water. This is the case to-day.

"Saturday, October 28th. Nothing of any importance. Moonshine night
and day. A glow in the south from the sun.

"Sunday, October 29th. Peter shot a white fox this morning close in to
the ship. For some time lately we have been seeing fox-tracks in the
mornings, and one Sunday Mogstad saw the fox itself. It has, no doubt,
been coming regularly to feed on the offal of the bears. Shortly after
the first one was shot another was seen; it came and smelt its dead
comrade, but soon set off again and disappeared. It is remarkable
that there should be so many foxes on this drift-ice so far from
land. But, after all, it is not much more surprising than my coming
upon fox-tracks out on the ice between Jan Mayen and Spitzbergen.

"Monday, October 30th. To-day the temperature has gone down to 18°
below zero (-27° C.). I took up the dredge I had put out yesterday. It
brought up two pails of mud from the bottom, and I have been busy all
day washing this out in the saloon in a large bath, to get the many
animals contained in it. They were chiefly starfish, waving starfish,
medusæ (Astrophyton), sea-slugs, coral insects (Alcyonaria), worms,
sponges, shell-fish, and crustaceans; and were, of course, all
carefully preserved in spirits.

"Tuesday, October 31st. Forty-nine fathoms (90 m.) of water to-day,
and the current driving us hard to the southwest. We have good wind
for the mill now, and the electric lamps burn all day. The arc lamp
under the skylight makes us quite forget the want of sun. Oh! light is
a glorious thing, and life is fair in spite of all privations! This is
Sverdrup's birthday, and we had revolver practice in the morning. Of
course a magnificent dinner of five courses--chicken soup, boiled
mackerel, reindeer ribs with baked cauliflower and potatoes, macaroni
pudding, and stewed pears with milk--Ringnes ale to wash it down.

"Thursday, November 2d. The temperature keeps at about 22° below
zero (-30° C.) now; but it does not feel very cold, the air is so
still. We can see the aurora borealis in the daytime too. I saw a very
remarkable display of it about 3 this afternoon. On the southwestern
horizon lay the glow of the sun; in front of it light clouds were
swept together--like a cloud of dust rising above a distant troop
of riders. Then dark streamers of gauze seemed to stretch from the
dust-cloud up over the sky, as if it came from the sun, or perhaps
rather as if the sun were sucking it in to itself from the whole
sky. It was only in the southwest that these streamers were dark;
a little higher up, farther from the sun-glow, they grew white and
shining, like fine, glistening silver gauze. They spread over the vault
of heaven above us, and right away towards the north. They certainly
resembled aurora borealis; but perhaps they might be only light vapors
hovering high up in the sky and catching the sunlight? I stood long
looking at them. They were singularly still, but they were northern
lights, changing gradually in the southwest into dark cloud-streamers,
and ending in the dust-cloud over the sun. Hansen saw them too, later,
when it was dark. There was no doubt of their nature. His impression
was that the aurora borealis spread from the sun over the whole vault
of heaven like the stripes on the inner skin of an orange.

"Sunday, November 5th. A great race on the ice was advertised for
to-day. The course was measured, marked off, and decorated with
flags. The cook had prepared the prizes--cakes, numbered, and properly
graduated in size. The expectation was great; but it turned out that,
from excessive training during the few last days, the whole crew
were so stiff in the legs that they were not able to move. We got
our prizes all the same. One man was blindfolded, and he decided who
was to have each cake as it was pointed at. This just arrangement met
with general approbation, and we all thought it a pleasanter way of
getting the prizes than running half a mile for them.

"So it is Sunday once more. How the days drag past! I work, read,
think, and dream; strum a little on the organ; go for a walk on the
ice in the dark. Low on the horizon in the southwest there is the
flush of the sun--a dark fierce red, as if of blood aglow with all
life's smouldering longings--low and far-off, like the dreamland of
youth. Higher in the sky it melts into orange, and that into green
and pale blue; and then comes deep blue, star-sown, and then infinite
space, where no dawn will ever break. In the north are quivering
arches of faint aurora, trembling now like awakening longings, but
presently, as if at the touch of a magic wand, to storm as streams of
light through the dark blue of heaven--never at peace, restless as the
very soul of man. I can sit and gaze and gaze, my eyes entranced by
the dream-glow yonder in the west, where the moon's thin, pale, silver
sickle is dipping its point into the blood; and my soul is borne beyond
the glow, to the sun, so far off now--and to the home-coming! Our
task accomplished, we are making our way up the fjord as fast as
sail and steam can carry us. On both sides of us the homeland lies
smiling in the sun; and then ... the sufferings of a thousand days
and hours melt into a moment's inexpressible joy. Ugh! that was a
bitter gust--I jump up and walk on. What am I dreaming about! so far
yet from the goal--hundreds and hundreds of miles between us, ice and
land and ice again. And we are drifting round and round in a ring,
bewildered, attaining nothing, only waiting, always waiting, for what?


            "'I dreamt I lay on a grassy bank,
            And the sun shone warm and clear;
            I wakened on a desert isle,
            And the sky was black and drear.'


"One more look at the star of home, the one that stood that evening
over Cape Chelyuskin, and I creep on board, where the windmill is
turning in the cold wind, and the electric light is streaming out
from the skylight upon the icy desolation of the Arctic night.

"Wednesday, November 8th. The storm (which we had had the two
previous days) is quite gone down; not even enough breeze for the
mill. We tried letting the dogs sleep on the ice last night, instead
of bringing them on board in the evening, as we have been doing
lately. The result was that another dog was torn to pieces during the
night. It was 'Ulabrand,' the old brown, toothless fellow, that went
this time. 'Job' and 'Moses' had gone the same way before. Yesterday
evening's observations place us in 77° 43' north latitude and 138° 8'
east longitude. This is farther south than we have been yet. No help
for it; but it is a sorry state of matters; and that we are farther
east than ever before is only a poor consolation. It is new moon again,
and we may therefore expect pressure; the ice is, in fact, already
moving; it began to split on Saturday, and has broken up more each
day. The channels have been of a good size, and the movement becomes
more and more perceptible. Yesterday there was slight pressure, and
we noticed it again this morning about 5 o'clock. To-day the ice by
the ship has opened, and we are almost afloat.

"Here I sit in the still winter night on the drifting ice-floe,
and see only stars above me. Far off I see the threads of life
twisting themselves into the intricate web which stretches unbroken
from life's sweet morning dawn to the eternal death-stillness of the
ice. Thought follows thought--you pick the whole to pieces, and it
seems so small--but high above all towers one form.... Why did you
take this voyage?... Could I do otherwise? Can the river arrest its
course and run up hill? My plan has come to nothing. That palace of
theory which I reared, in pride and self-confidence, high above all
silly objections has fallen like a house of cards at the first breath
of wind. Build up the most ingenious theories and you may be sure
of one thing--that fact will defy them all. Was I so very sure? Yes,
at times; but that was self-deception, intoxication. A secret doubt
lurked behind all the reasoning. It seemed as though the longer I
defended my theory, the nearer I came to doubting it. But no, there
is no getting over the evidence of that Siberian drift-wood.

"But if, after all, we are on the wrong track, what then? Only
disappointed human hopes, nothing more. And even if we perish, what
will it matter in the endless cycles of eternity?

"Thursday, November 9th. I took temperatures and sea-water samples
to-day every 10 yards from the surface to the bottom, The depth was 9
1/2 fathoms. An extraordinarily even temperature of 30° Fahr. (-1.5
C.) through all the layers. I have noticed the same thing before as
far south as this. So it is only polar water here? There is not much
pressure; an inclination to it this morning, and a little at 8 o'clock
this evening; also a few squeezes later, when we were playing cards.

"Friday, November 10th. This morning made despairing examinations of
yesterday's water samples with Thornöe's electric apparatus. There
must be absolute stillness on board when this is going on. The men are
all terrified, slip about on tiptoe, and talk in the lowest possible
whispers. But presently one begins to hammer at something on deck, and
another to file in the engine-room, when the chief's commanding voice
is at once heard ordering silence. These examinations are made by means
of a telephone, through which a very faint noise is heard, which dies
slowly away; the moment at which it stops must be exactly ascertained.

"I find remarkably little salt all the way to the bottom in the water
here; it must be mixed with fresh water from the Siberian river.

"There was some pressure this morning, going on till nearly noon,
and we heard the noise of it in several directions. In the afternoon
the ice was quite slack, with a large opening alongside the port
side of the ship. At half-past seven pretty strong pressure began,
the ice crashing and grinding along the ship's side. About midnight
the roar of packing was heard to the south.

"Saturday, November 11th. There has been some pressure in the course
of the day. The newly formed ice is about 15 inches thick. It is hard
on the top, but looser and porous below. This particular piece of ice
began to form upon a large opening in the night between the 27th and
28th October, so it has frozen 15 inches in 15 days. I observed that
it froze 3 inches the first night, and 5 inches altogether during
the three first nights; so that it has taken 12 days to the last
10 inches."

Even this small observation serves to show that the formation of ice
goes on most easily where the crust is thin, becoming more and more
difficult as the thickness increases, until at a certain thickness,
as we observed later, it stops altogether. "It is curious that the
pressure has gone on almost all day--no slackening such as we have
usually observed."

"Sunday, November 19th. Our life has gone on its usual monotonous
routine since the 11th. The wind has been steadily from the south all
week, but to-day there is a little from N.N.W. We have had pressure
several times, and have heard sounds of it in the southeast. Except
for this, the ice has been unusually quiet, and it is closed in tightly
round the ship. Since the last strong pressure we have probably 10 to
20 feet of ice packed in below us. [36] Hansen to-day worked out an
observation taken the day before yesterday, and surprised us with the
welcome intelligence that we have travelled 44' north and a little
east since the 8th. We are now in 78° 27' north latitude, 139° 23'
east longitude. This is farther east than we have been yet. For any
sake, let us only keep on as we are going!

"The Fram is a warm, cozy abode. Whether the thermometer stands at
22° above zero or at 22° below it we have no fire in the stove. The
ventilation is excellent, especially since we rigged up the air sail,
which sends a whole winter's cold in through the ventilator; yet
in spite of this we sit here warm and comfortable, with only a lamp
burning. I am thinking of having the stove removed altogether; it is
only in the way. At least, as far as our protection from the winter
cold is concerned, my calculations have turned out well. Neither do
we suffer much from damp. It does collect and drop a little from the
roof in one or two places, especially astern in the four-man cabins,
but nothing in comparison with what is common in other ships; and
if we lighted the stove it would disappear altogether. When I have
burned a lamp for quite a short time in my cabin every trace of
damp is gone. [37] These are extraordinary fellows for standing the
cold. With the thermometer at 22° below zero Bentzen goes up in his
shirt and trousers to read the thermometer on deck.

"Monday, November 27th. The prevailing wind has been southerly, with
sometimes a little east. The temperature still keeps between 13°
and 22° below zero; in the hold it has fallen to 12°."

It has several times struck me that the streamers of the aurora
borealis followed in the direction of the wind, from the wind's eye on
the horizon. On Thursday morning, when we had very slight northeasterly
wind, I even ventured to prophesy, from the direction of the streamers,
that it would go round to the southeast, which it accordingly did. On
the whole there has been much less of the aurora borealis lately
than at the beginning of our drift. Still, though it may have been
faint, there has been a little every day. To-night it is very strong
again. These last days the moon has sometimes had rings round it, with
mock-moons and axes, accompanied by rather strange phenomena. When the
moon stands so low that the ring touches the horizon, a bright field
of light is formed where the horizon cuts the ring. Similar expanses
of light are also formed where the perpendicular axis from the moon
intersects the horizon. Faint rainbows are often to be seen in these
shining light-fields; yellow was generally the strongest tint nearest
the horizon, passing over into red, and then into blue. Similar colors
could also be distinguished in the mock-moons. Sometimes there are
two large rings, the one outside the other, and then there may be four
mock-moons. I have also seen part of a new ring above the usual one,
meeting it at a tangent directly above the moon. As is well known,
these various ring formations round the sun, as well as round the
moon, are produced by the refraction of rays of light by minute ice
crystals floating in the air.

"We looked for pressure with full moon and springtide on 23d of
November; but then, and for several days afterwards, the ice was
quite quiet. On the afternoon of Saturday, the 25th, however, its
distant roar was heard from the south, and we have heard it from
the same direction every day since. This morning it was very loud,
and came gradually nearer. At 9 o'clock it was quite close to us,
and this evening we hear it near us again. It seems, however, as if
we had now got out of the groove to which the pressure principally
confines itself. We were regularly in it before. The ice round us
is perfectly quiet. The probability is that the last severe pressure
packed it very tight about us, and that the cold since has frozen it
into such a thick, strong mass that it offers great resistance, while
the weaker ice in other places yields to the pressure. The depth of the
sea is increasing steadily, and we are drifting north. This evening
Hansen has worked out the observations of the day before yesterday,
and finds that we are in 79° 11' north latitude. That is good, and the
way we ought to get on. It is the most northern point we have reached
yet, and to-day we are in all likelihood still farther north. We
have made good way these last days, and the increasing depth seems
to indicate a happy change in the direction of our drift. Have we,
perhaps, really found the right road at last? We are drifting about 5'
a day. The most satisfactory thing is that there has not been much
wind lately, especially not the last two days; yesterday it was only
1 metre per second; to-day is perfectly still, and yet the depth has
increased 21 fathoms (40 m.) in these two days. It seems as if there
were a northerly current, after all. No doubt many disappointments
await us yet; but why not rejoice while fortune smiles?

"Tuesday, November 28th. The disappointment lost no time in
coming. There had been a mistake either in the observation or in
Hansen's calculations. An altitude of Jupiter taken yesterday evening
shows us to be in 76° 36' north latitude. The soundings to-day showed
74 fathoms (142 m.) of water, or about the same as yesterday, and the
sounding-line indicated a southwesterly drift. However anxious one
is to take things philosophically, one can't help feeling a little
depressed. I try to find solace in a book; absorb myself in the
learning of the Indians--their happy faith in transcendental powers,
in the supernatural faculties of the soul, and in a future life. Oh,
if one could only get hold of a little supernatural power now, and
oblige the winds always to blow from the south!

"I went on deck this evening in rather a gloomy frame of mind,
but was nailed to the spot the moment I got outside. There is the
supernatural for you--the northern lights flashing in matchless power
and beauty over the sky in all the colors of the rainbow! Seldom
or never have I seen the colors so brilliant. The prevailing one at
first was yellow, but that gradually flickered over into green, and
then a sparkling ruby-red began to show at the bottom of the rays on
the under side of the arch, soon spreading over the whole arch. And
now from the far-away western horizon a fiery serpent writhed itself
up over the sky, shining brighter and brighter as it came. It split
into three, all brilliantly glittering. Then the colors changed. The
serpent to the south turned almost ruby-red, with spots of yellow;
the one in the middle, yellow; and the one to the north, greenish
white. Sheaves of rays swept along the side of the serpents, driven
through the ether-like waves before a storm-wind. They sway backward
and forward, now strong, now fainter again. The serpents reached and
passed the zenith. Though I was thinly dressed and shivering with
cold, I could not tear myself away till the spectacle was over, and
only a faintly glowing fiery serpent near the western horizon showed
where it had begun. When I came on deck later the masses of light had
passed northward and spread themselves in incomplete arches over the
northern sky. If one wants to read mystic meanings into the phenomena
of nature, here, surely, is the opportunity.

"The observation this afternoon showed us to be in 78° 38' 42''
north latitude. This is anything but rapid progress.

"Wednesday, November 29th. Another dog has been bitten to death
to-day--'Fox,' a handsome, powerful animal. He was found lying dead
and stiff on the ice at our stern this evening when they went to
bring the dogs in, 'Suggen' performing her usual duty of watching the
body. They are wretches, these dogs. But now I have given orders that
some one must always watch them when they are out on the ice.

"Thursday, November 30th. The lead showed a depth of exactly 83
fathoms (170 m.) to-day, and it seemed by the line as if we were
drifting northwest. We are almost certainly farther north now; hopes
are rising, and life is looking brighter again. My spirits are like a
pendulum, if one could imagine such an instrument giving all sorts of
irregular swings backward and forward. It is no good trying to take
the thing philosophically; I cannot deny that the question whether we
are to return successful or unsuccessful affects me very deeply. It
is quite easy to convince myself with the most incontrovertible
reasoning that what really matters is to carry through the expedition,
whether successfully or not, and get safe home again. I could not
but undertake it; for my plan was one that I felt must succeed, and
therefore it was my duty to try it. Well, if it does not succeed,
is that my affair? I have done my duty, done all that could be done,
and can return home with an easy conscience to the quiet happiness I
have left behind. What can it matter whether chance, or whatever name
you like to give it, does or does not allow the plan to succeed and
make our names immortal? The worth of the plan is the same whether
chance smiles or frowns upon it. And as to immortality, happiness is
all we want, and that is not to be had here.

"I can say all this to myself a thousand times; I can bring myself to
believe honestly that it is all a matter of indifference to me; but
none the less my spirits change like the clouds of heaven according
as the wind blows from this direction or from that, or the soundings
show the depth to be increasing or not, or the observations indicate a
northerly or southerly drift. When I think of the many that trust us,
think of Norway, think of all the friends that gave us their time,
their faith, and their money, the wish comes that they may not be
disappointed, and I grow sombre when our progress is not what we
expected it would be. And she that gave most--does she deserve that
her sacrifice should have been made in vain? Ah, yes, we must and
will succeed!

"Sunday, December 3d. Sunday again, with its feeling of peace,
and its permission to indulge in the narcotic of happy day-dreams,
and let the hours go idly by without any prickings of conscience.

"To-day the bottom was not reached with over 133 fathoms (250 m.) of
line. There was a northeasterly drift. Yesterday's observation showed
us to be in 78° 44' north latitude, that is 5' farther north than on
Tuesday. It is horribly slow; but it is forward, and forward we must
go; there can be no question of that.

"Tuesday, December 5th. This is the coldest day we have had yet, with
the thermometer 31° below zero (-35.7° C.) and a biting wind from the
E.S.E. Observation in the afternoon shows 78° 50' north latitude; that
is 6' farther north than on Saturday, or 2' per day. In the afternoon
we had magnificent aurora borealis--glittering arches across the whole
vault of the sky from the east towards west; but when I was on deck
this evening the sky was overcast: only one star shone through the
cloudy veil--the home star. How I love it! It is the first thing my
eye seeks, and it is always there, shining on our path. I feel as if
no ill could befall us as long as I see it there....

"Wednesday, December 6th. This afternoon the ice cracked abaft the
starboard quarter; this evening I see that the crack has opened. We
may expect pressure now, as it is new moon either to-day or to-morrow."

"Thursday, December 7th. The ice pressed at the stern at 5 o'clock
this morning for about an hour. I lay in my berth and listened to it
creaking and grinding and roaring. There was slight pressure again
in the afternoon; nothing to speak of. No slackening in the forenoon.

"Friday, December 8th. Pressure from seven till eight this morning. As
I was sitting drawing in the afternoon I was startled by a sudden
report or crash. It seemed to be straight overhead, as if great masses
of ice had fallen from the rigging on to the deck above my cabin. Every
one starts up and throws on some extra garment; those that are taking
an afternoon nap jump out of their berths right into the middle of the
saloon, calling out to know what has happened. Pettersen rushes up the
companion-ladder in such wild haste that he bursts open the door in the
face of the mate, who is standing in the passage holding back 'Kvik,'
who has also started in fright from the bed in the chart-room, where
she is expecting her confinement. On deck we could discover nothing,
except that the ice was in motion, and seemed to be sinking slowly
away from the ship. Great piles had been packed up under the stern
this morning and yesterday. The explosion was probably caused by a
violent pressure suddenly loosening all the ice along the ship's side,
the ship at the same time taking a strong list to port. There was
no cracking of wood to be heard, so that, whatever it was, the Fram
cannot have been injured. But it was cold, and we crept down again.

"As we were sitting at supper about 6 o'clock, pressure suddenly
began. The ice creaked and roared so along the ship's sides close by
us that it was not possible to carry on any connected conversation;
we had to scream, and all agreed with Nordahl when he remarked
that it would be much pleasanter if the pressure would confine its
operations to the bow instead of coming bothering us here aft. Amidst
the noise we caught every now and again from the organ a note or
two of Kjerulf's melody--'I could not sleep for the nightingale's
voice.' The hurly-burly outside lasted for about twenty minutes,
and then all was still.

"Later in the evening Hansen came down to give notice of what really
was a remarkable appearance of aurora borealis. The deck was brightly
illuminated by it, and reflections of its light played all over the
ice. The whole sky was ablaze with it, but it was brightest in the
south; high up in that direction glowed waving masses of fire. Later
still Hansen came again to say that now it was quite extraordinary. No
words can depict the glory that met our eyes. The glowing fire-masses
had divided into glistening, many-colored bands, which were writhing
and twisting across the sky both in the south and north. The rays
sparkled with the purest, most crystalline rainbow colors, chiefly
violet-red or carmine and the clearest green. Most frequently the rays
of the arch were red at the ends, and changed higher up into sparkling
green, which quite at the top turned darker and went over into blue or
violet before disappearing in the blue of the sky; or the rays in one
and the same arch might change from clear red to clear green, coming
and going as if driven by a storm. It was an endless phantasmagoria
of sparkling color, surpassing anything that one can dream. Sometimes
the spectacle reached such a climax that one's breath was taken away;
one felt that now something extraordinary must happen--at the very
least the sky must fall. But as one stands in breathless expectation,
down the whole thing trips, as if in a few quick, light scale-runs,
into bare nothingness. There is something most undramatic about such a
dénouement, but it is all done with such confident assurance that one
cannot take it amiss; one feels one's self in the presence of a master
who has the complete command of his instrument. With a single stroke of
the bow he descends lightly and elegantly from the height of passion
into quiet, every-day strains, only with a few more strokes to work
himself up into passion again. It seems as if he were trying to mock,
to tease us. When we are on the point of going below, driven by 61
degrees of frost (-34.7 C.), such magnificent tones again vibrate over
the strings that we stay until noses and ears are frozen. For a finale,
there is a wild display of fireworks in every tint of flame--such a
conflagration that one expects every minute to have it down on the
ice, because there is not room for it in the sky. But I can hold out
no longer. Thinly dressed, without a proper cap and without gloves,
I have no feeling left in body or limbs, and I crawl away below.

"Sunday, December 10th. Another peaceful Sunday. The motto for the
day in the English almanac is: 'He is happy whose circumstances suit
his temper: but he is more excellent who can suit his temper to any
circumstances' (Hume). Very true, and exactly the philosophy I am
practising at this moment. I am lying on my berth in the light of
the electric lamp, eating cake and drinking beer while I am writing
my journal; presently I shall take a book and settle down to read
and sleep. The arc lamp has shone like a sun to-day over a happy
company. We have no difficulty now in distinguishing hearts from
diamonds on our dirty cards. It is wonderful what an effect light
has. I believe I am becoming a fire-worshipper. It is strange enough
that fire-worship should not exist in the Arctic countries.


                    "'For the sons of men
                    Fire is the best,
                    And the sight of the sun.'


"A newspaper appears on board now. Framsjaa [38] (news of, or outlook
from, the Fram) is its name, and our doctor is its irresponsible
editor. The first number was read aloud this evening, and gave occasion
for much merriment. Among its contents are:


                    '"WINTER IN THE ICE

            (Contribution to the Infant Framsjaa)

            Far in the ice there lies a ship, boys,
            Mast and sail ice to the very tip, boys;
            But, perfectly clear,
            If you listen you can hear,
            There is life and fun on board that ship, boys.
            What can it be?
            Come along and see--
            It is Nansen and his men that laugh, boys.

            Nothing to be heard at night but glasses' clink, boys,
            Fall of greasy cards and counters' chink, boys;
            If he won't "declare,"
            Nordahl he will swear
            Bentzen is stupid as an owl, boys.
            Bentzen cool, boys,
            Is not a fool, boys;
            "You're another!" quickly he replies, boys.

            Among those sitting at the table, boys,
            Is "Heika," [39] with his body big and stable, boys;
            He and Lars, so keen,
            It would almost seem
            They would stake their lives if they were able, boys.
            Amundsen, again,
            Looks at these two men,
            Shakes his head and sadly goes to bed, boys. [40]
            Sverdrup, Blessing, Hansen, and our Mohn, [41] boys,
            Say of "marriage," "This game is our own," boys;
            Soon for them, alas!
            The happy hour is past;
            And Hansen he says, "Come away, old Mohn!" boys.
            "It is getting late,
            And the stars won't wait,
            You and I must up and out alone," boys.

            The doctor here on board has nought to do, boys;
            Not a man to test his skill among the crew, boys;
            Well may he look blue,
            There's nought for him to do,
            When every man is strong and hearty, too, boys.
            "Now on the Fram," boys,
            He says "I am," boys,
            "Chief editor of newspaper for you!" boys.


    "'WARNING!!!

    "'I think it is my duty to warn the public that a travelling
    watchmaker has been making the round of this neighborhood lately,
    getting watches to repair, and not returning them to their
    owners. How long is this to be allowed to go on under the eyes
    of the authorities?

    "'The watchmaker's appearance is as follows: Middle height,
    fair, gray eyes, brown full beard, round shoulders, and generally
    delicate-looking.

        "'A. Juell. [42]


    "'The person above notified was in our office yesterday,
    asking for work, and we consider it right to add the following
    particulars as completing the description. He generally goes
    about with a pack of mongrel curs at his heels; he chews tobacco,
    and of this his beard shows traces. This is all we have to say,
    as we did not consider ourselves either entitled or called upon
    to put him under the microscope.

        "'Ed. Framsjaa.'


"Yesterday's observation placed us in 79° 0' north latitude, 139° 14'
east longitude. At last, then, we have got as far north again as we
were in the end of September, and now the northerly drift seems to
be steady: 10 minutes in 4 days.

"Monday, December 11th. This morning I took a long excursion to
westward. It is hard work struggling over the packed ice in the
dark, something like scrambling about a moraine of big boulders at
night. Once I took a step in the air, fell forward, and bruised my
right knee. It is mild to-day, only 9 1/2° below zero (-23° C.). This
evening there was a strange appearance of aurora borealis--white,
shining clouds, which I thought at first must be lit up by the moon,
but there is no moon yet. They were light cumuli, or cirro-cumuli,
shifting into a brightly shining mackerel sky. I stood and watched them
as long as my thin clothing permitted, but there was no perceptible
pulsation, no play of flame; they sailed quietly on. The light seemed
to be strongest in the southeast, where there were also dark clouds to
be seen. Hansen said that it moved over later into the northern sky;
clouds came and went, and for a time there were many white shining
ones--'white as lambs,' he called them--but no aurora played behind
them.

"In this day's meteorological journal I find noted for 4 P.M.: 'Faint
aurora borealis in the north. Some distinct branchings or antlers
(they are of ribbon crimped like blond) in some diffused patches on the
horizon in the N.N.E.' In his aurora borealis journal Hansen describes
that of this evening as follows: 'About 8 P.M. an aurora borealis arch
of light was observed, stretching from E.S.E. to N.W., through the
zenith; diffused quiet intensity 3-4 most intense in N.W. The arch
spread at the zenith by a wave to the south. At 10 o'clock there was
a fainter aurora borealis in the southern sky; eight minutes later it
extended to the zenith, and two minutes after this there was a shining
broad arch across the zenith with intensity 6. Twelve seconds later
flaming rays shot from the zenith in an easterly direction. During
the next half-hour there was constant aurora, chiefly in bands across
or near the zenith, or lower in the southern sky. The observation
ended about 10.38. The intensity was then 2, the aurora diffused
over the southern sky. There were cumulus clouds of varying closeness
all the time. They came up in the southeast at the beginning of the
observation, and disappeared towards the end of it; they were closest
about 10 minutes past 10. At the time that the broad shining arch
through the zenith was at its highest intensity the cumulus clouds in
the northwest shone quite white, though we were unable to detect any
aurora borealis phenomena in this quarter. The reflection of light
on the ice-field was pretty strong at the same time. In the aurora
borealis the cumulus clouds appeared of a darker color, almost the
gray of wool. The colors of the aurora were yellowish, bluish white,
milky blue--cold coloring.' According to the meteorological journal
there was still aurora borealis in the southern sky at midnight.

"Tuesday, December 12th. Had a long walk southeast this morning. The
ice is in much the same condition there as it is to the west, packed
or pressed up into mounds, with flat floes between. This evening
the dogs suddenly began to make a great commotion on deck. We were
all deep in cards, some playing whist, others 'marriage.' I had no
shoes on, so said that some one else must go up and see what was the
matter. Mogstad went. The noise grew worse and worse. Presently Mogstad
came down and said that all the dogs that could get at the rail were
up on it, barking out into the dark towards the north. He was sure
there must be an animal of some sort there, but perhaps it was only a
fox, for he thought he had heard the bark of a fox far in the north;
but he was not sure. Well,--it must be a devil of a fox to excite
the dogs like that. As the disturbance continued, I at last went
up myself, followed by Johansen. From different positions we looked
long and hard into the darkness in the direction in which the dogs
were barking, but we could see nothing moving. That something must
be there was quite certain; and I had no doubt that it was a bear,
for the dogs were almost beside themselves. 'Pan' looked up into my
face with an odd expression, as if he had something important to tell
me, and then jumped up on the rail and barked away to the north. The
dogs' excitement was quite remarkable; they had not been so keen when
the bear was close in to the side of the ship. However, I contented
myself with remarking that the thing to do would be to loose some
dogs and go north with them over the ice. But these wretched dogs
won't tackle a bear, and besides it is so dark that there is hardly
a chance of finding anything. If it is a bear he will come again. At
this season, when he is so hungry, he will hardly go right away from
all the good food for him here on board. I struck about with my arms
to get a little heat into me, then went below and to bed. The dogs went
on barking, sometimes louder than before. Nordahl, whose watch it was,
went up several times, but could discover no reason for it. As I was
lying reading in my berth I heard a peculiar sound; it was like boxes
being dragged about on deck, and there was also scraping, like a dog
that wanted to get out, scratching violently at a door. I thought of
'Kvik,' who was shut up in the chart-room. I called into the saloon
to Nordahl that he had better go up again and see what this new noise
was. He did so, but came back saying that there was still nothing to be
seen. It was difficult to sleep, and I lay long tossing about. Peter
came on watch. I told him to go up and turn the air-sail to the wind,
to make the ventilation better. He was a good time on deck doing this
and other things, but he also could see no reason for the to-do the
dogs were still making. He had to go forward, and then noticed that
the three dogs nearest the starboard gangway were missing. He came
down and told me, and we agreed that possibly this might be what all
the excitement was about; but never before had they taken it so to
heart when some of their number had run away. At last I fell asleep,
but heard them in my sleep for a long time.

"Wednesday, December 13th. Before I was rightly awake this morning I
heard the dogs 'at it' still, and the noise went on all the time of
breakfast, and had, I believe, gone on all night. After breakfast
Mogstad and Peter went up to feed the wretched creatures and let
them loose on the ice. Three were still missing. Peter came down to
get a lantern; he thought he might as well look if there were any
tracks of animals. Jacobsen called after him that he had better
take a gun. No, he did not need one, he said. A little later, as
I was sitting sorrowfully absorbed in the calculation of how much
petroleum we had used, and how short a time our supply would last if
we went on burning it at the same rate, I heard a scream at the top
of the companion. 'Come with a gun!' In a moment I was in the saloon,
and there was Peter tumbling in at the door, breathlessly shouting,
'A gun! a gun!' The bear had bitten him in the side. I was thankful
that it was no worse. Hearing him put on so much dialect, [43]
I had thought it was a matter of life and death. I seized one gun,
he another, and up we rushed, the mate with his gun after us. There
was not much difficulty in knowing in what direction to turn, for from
the rail on the starboard side came confused shouts of human voices,
and from the ice below the gangway the sound of a frightful uproar
of dogs. I tore out the tow-plug at the muzzle of my rifle, then up
with the lever and in with a cartridge; it was a case of hurry. But,
hang it! there is a plug in at this end too. I poked and poked,
but could not get a grip of it. Peter screamed: 'Shoot, shoot! Mine
won't go off!' He stood clicking and clicking, his lock full of frozen
vaseline again, while the bear lay chewing at a dog just below us at
the ship's side. Beside me stood the mate, groping after a tow-plug
which he also had shoved down into his gun, but now he flung the gun
angrily away and began to look round the deck for a walrus spear to
stick the bear with. Our fourth man, Mogstad, was waving an empty
rifle (he had shot away his cartridges), and shouting to some one
to shoot the bear. Four men, and not one that could shoot, although
we could have prodded the bear's back with our gun-barrels. Hansen,
making a fifth, was lying in the passage to the chart-room, groping
with his arm through a chink in the door for cartridges; he could
not get the door open because of 'Kvik's' kennel. At last Johansen
appeared and sent a ball straight down into the bear's hide. That
did some good. The monster let go the dog and gave a growl. Another
shot flashed and hissed down on the same spot. One more, and we saw
the white dog the bear had under him jump up and run off, while the
other dogs stood round, barking. Another shot still, for the animal
began to stir a little. At this moment my plug came out, and I gave
him a last ball through the head to make sure. The dogs had crowded
round barking as long as he moved, but now that he lay still in death
they drew back terrified. They probably thought it was some new ruse
of the enemy. It was a little thin one-year-old bear that had caused
all this terrible commotion.

"While it was being flayed I went off in a northwesterly direction
to look for the dogs that were still missing. I had not gone far
when I noticed that the dogs that were following me had caught scent
of something to the north and wanted to go that way. Soon they got
frightened, and I could not get them to go on; they kept close in to
my side or slunk behind me. I held my gun ready, while I crawled on
all-fours over the pack-ice, which was anything but level. I kept
a steady lookout ahead, but it was not far my eyes could pierce in
that darkness. I could only just see the dogs, like black shadows,
when they were a few steps away from me. I expected every moment
to see a huge form rise among the hummocks ahead, or come rushing
towards me. The dogs got more and more cautious; one or two of them
sat down, but they probably felt that it would be a shame to let me
go on alone, so followed slowly after. Terrible ice to force one's
way over. Crawling along on hands and knees does not put one in a
very convenient position to shoot from if the bear should make a
sudden rush. But unless he did this, or attacked the dogs, I had no
hope of getting him. We now came out on some flat ice. It was only
too evident that there must be something quite near now. I went on,
and presently saw a dark object on the ice in front of me. It was not
unlike an animal. I bent down--it was poor 'Johansen's Friend,' the
black dog with the white tip to his tail, in a sad state, and frozen
stiff. Beside him was something else dark. I bent down again and
found the second of the missing dogs, brother of the corpse-watcher
'Suggen.' This one was almost whole, only eaten a little about the
head, and it was not frozen quite stiff. There seemed to be blood all
round on the ice. I looked about in every direction, but there was
nothing more to be seen. The dogs stood at a respectful distance,
staring and sniffing in the direction of their dead comrades. Some
of us went, not long after this, to fetch the dogs' carcasses,
taking a lantern to look for bear tracks, in case there had been
some big fellows along with the little one. We scrambled on among
the pack-ice. 'Come this way with the lantern, Bentzen; I think
I see tracks here.' Bentzen came, and we turned the light on some
indentations in the snow; they were bear-paw marks, sure enough, but
only the same little fellow's. 'Look! the brute has been dragging
a dog after him here.' By the light of the lantern we traced the
blood-marked path on among the hummocks. We found the dead dogs, but
no footprints except small ones, which we all thought must be those of
our little bear. 'Svarten,' alias 'Johansen's Friend,' looked bad in
the lantern-light. Flesh and skin and entrails were gone; there was
nothing to be seen but a bare breast and back-bone, with some stumps
of ribs. It was a pity that the fine strong dog should come to such
an end. He had just one fault: he was rather bad-tempered. He had
a special dislike to Johansen; barked and showed his teeth whenever
he came on deck or even opened a door, and when he sat whistling in
the top or in the crow's-nest these dark winter days the 'Friend'
would answer with a howl of rage from far out on the ice. Johansen
bent down with the lantern to look at the remains.

"'Are you glad, Johansen, that your enemy is done for?'

"'No, I am sorry.'

"'Why?'

"'Because we did not make it up before he died.'

"And we went on to look for more bear-tracks, but found none; so we
took the dead dogs on our backs and turned homeward.

"On the way I asked Peter what had really happened with him and the
bear. 'Well, you see,' said he, 'when I came along with the lantern
we saw a few drops of blood by the gangway; but that might quite well
have been a dog that had cut itself. On the ice below the gangway
we saw some bear-tracks, and we started away west, the whole pack of
dogs with us, running on far ahead. When we had got away a bit from
the ship, there was suddenly an awful row in front, and it wasn't long
before a great beast came rushing at us, with the whole troop of dogs
around it. As soon as we saw what it was, we turned and ran our best
for the ship. Mogstad, you see, had moccasins (komager) on, and knew
his way better and got there before me. I couldn't get along so fast
with my great wooden shoes, and in my confusion I got right on to the
big hummock to the west of the ship's bow, you know. I turned here and
lighted back to see if the bear was behind me, but I saw nothing and
pushed on again, and in a minute these slippery wooden shoes had me
flat on my back among the hummocks. I was up again quick enough; but
when I got down on to the flat ice close to the ship I saw something
coming straight for me on the right-hand side. First I thought it
was a dog--it's not so easy to see in the dark, you know. I had no
time for a second thought, for the beast jumped on me and bit me in
the side. I had lifted my arm like this, you see, and so he caught
me here, right on the hip. He growled and hissed as he bit.'

"'What did you think then, Peter?'

"'What did I think? I thought it was all up with me. What was I to
do? I had neither gun nor knife. But I took the lantern and gave
him such a whack on the head with it that the thing broke, and went
flying away over the ice. The moment he felt the blow he sat down and
looked at me. I was just taking to my heels when he got up; I don't
know whether it was to grip me again or what it was for, but anyhow
at that minute he caught sight of a dog coming and set off after it,
and I got on board.'

"'Did you scream, Peter?'

"'Scream! I screamed with all my might.'

"And apparently this was true, for he was quite hoarse.

"'But where was Mogstad all this time?'

"'Well, you see, he had reached the ship long before me, but he
never thought of running down and giving the alarm, but takes his gun
from the round-house wall and thinks he'll manage all right alone;
but his gun wouldn't go off, and the bear would have had time to eat
me up before his nose.'

"We were now near the ship, and Mogstad, who had heard the last
part of the story from the deck, corrected it in so far that he had
just reached the gangway when Peter began to roar. He jumped up and
fell back three times before he got on board, and had no time to do
anything then but seize his gun and go to Peter's assistance.

"When the bear left Peter and rushed after the dogs he soon had the
whole pack about him again. Now he would make a spring and get one
below him; but then all the rest would set upon him and jump on his
back, so that he had to turn to defend himself. Then he would spring
upon another dog, and the whole pack would be on him again. And so
the dance went on, backward and forward over the ice, until they were
once more close to the ship. A dog stood there, below the gangway,
wanting to get on board; the bear made a spring on it, and it was
there, by the ship's side, that the villain met his fate.

"An examination on board showed that the hook of 'Svarten's' leash
was pulled out quite straight; 'Gammelen's' was broken through; but
the third dog's was only wrenched a little; it hardly looked as if
the bear had done it. I had a slight hope that this dog might still
be in life, but, though we searched well, we could not find it.

"It was altogether a deplorable story. To think that we should have let
a bear scramble on board like this, and should have lost three dogs at
once! Our dogs are dwindling down; we have only 26 now. That was a wily
demon of a bear, to be such a little one. He had crawled on board by
the gangway, shoved away a box that was standing in front of it, taken
the dog that stood nearest, and gone off with it. When he had satisfied
the first pangs of his hunger, he had come back and fetched No. 2,
and, if he had been allowed, he would have continued the performance
until the deck was cleared of dogs. Then he would probably have come
bumping down-stairs 'and beckoned with cold hand' in at the galley
door to Juell. It must have been a pleasant feeling for 'Svarten'
to stand there in the dark and see the bear come creeping in upon him.

"When I went below after this bear affair, Juell said as I passed the
galley door, 'You'll see that "Kvik" will have her pups to-day; for
it's always the way here on board, that things happen together.' And,
sure enough, when we were sitting in the saloon in the evening,
Mogstad, who generally plays 'master of the hounds,' came and
announced the arrival of the first. Soon there was another, and then
one more. This news was a little balsam to our wounds. 'Kvik' has got
a good warm box, lined with fur, up in the passage on the starboard;
it is so warm there that she is lying sweating, and we hope that the
young ones will live, in spite of 54 degrees of frost. It seems this
evening as if every one had some hesitation in going out on the ice
unarmed. Our bayonet-knives have been brought out, and I am providing
myself with one. I must say that I felt quite certain that we should
find no bears as far north as this in the middle of winter; and it
never occurred to me, in making long excursions on the ice without
so much as a penknife in my pocket, that I was liable to encounters
with them. But, after Peter's experience, it seems as if it might be
as well to have, at any rate, a lantern to hit them with. The long
bayonet-knife shall accompany me henceforth.

"They often chaffed Peter afterwards about having screamed so horribly
when the bear seized him. 'H'm! I wonder,' said he, 'if there aren't
others that would have screeched just as loud. I had to yell after
the fellows that were so afraid of frightening the bear that when
they ran they covered seven yards at each stride.'

"Thursday, December 14th. 'Well, Mogstad, how many pups have you
now?' I asked at breakfast. 'There are five now.' But soon after he
came down to tell me that there were at least twelve. Gracious! that
is good value for what we have lost. But we were almost as pleased
when Johansen came down and said that he heard the missing dog
howling on the ice far away to the northwest. Several of us went up
to listen, and we could all hear him quite well; but it sounded as
if he were sitting still, howling in despair. Perhaps he was at an
opening in the ice that he could not get across. Blessing had also
heard him during his night-watch, but then the sound had come more
from a southwesterly direction. When Peter went after breakfast to
feed the dogs, there was the lost one, standing below the gangway
wanting to get on board. Hungry he was--he dashed straight into the
food-dish--but otherwise hale and hearty.

"This evening Peter came and said that he was certain he had heard
a bear moving about and pawing the ice; he and Pettersen had stood
and listened to him scraping at the snow crust. I put on my 'pesk'
(a fur blouse), got hold of my double-barrelled rifle, and went on
deck. The whole crew were collected aft, gazing out into the night. We
let loose 'Ulenka' and 'Pan,' and went in the direction where the bear
was said to be. It was pitch-dark, but the dogs would find the tracks
if there was anything there. Hansen thought he had seen something
moving about the hummock near the ship, but we found and heard nothing,
and, as several of the others had by this time come out on the ice
and could also discover nothing, we scrambled on board again. It is
extraordinary all the sounds that one can fancy one hears out on that
great, still space, mysteriously lighted by the twinkling stars.

"Friday, December 15th. This morning Peter saw a fox on the ice astern,
and he saw it again later, when he was out with the dogs. There is
something remarkable about this appearance of bears and foxes now,
after our seeing no life for so long. The last time we saw a fox we
were far south of this, possibly near Sannikoff Land. Can we have
come into the neighborhood of land again?

"I inspected 'Kvik's' pups in the afternoon. There were thirteen,
a curious coincidence--thirteen pups on December 13th, for thirteen
men. Five were killed; 'Kvik' can manage eight, but more would
be bad for her. Poor mother! she was very anxious about her young
ones--wanted to jump up into the box beside them and take them from
us. And you can see that she is very proud of them.

"Peter came this evening and said that there must be a ghost on the
ice, for he heard exactly the same sounds of walking and pawing as
yesterday evening. This seems to be a populous region, after all.

"According to an observation taken on Tuesday we must be pretty nearly
in 79° 8' north latitude. That was 8 minutes' drift in the three days
from Saturday; we are getting on better and better.

"Why will it not snow? Christmas is near, and what is Christmas without
snow, thickly falling snow? We have not had one snowfall all the time
we have been drifting. The hard grains that come down now and again are
nothing. Oh the beautiful white snow, falling so gently and silently,
softening every hard outline with its sheltering purity! There is
nothing more deliciously restful, soft, and white. This snowless
ice-plain is like a life without love--nothing to soften it. The
marks of all the battles and pressures of the ice stand forth just
as when they were made, rugged and difficult to move among. Love is
life's snow. It falls deepest and softest into the gashes left by
the fight--whiter and purer than snow itself. What is life without
love? It is like this ice--a cold, bare, rugged mass, the wind driving
it and rending it and then forcing it together again, nothing to cover
over the open rifts, nothing to break the violence of the collisions,
nothing to round away the sharp corners of the broken floes--nothing,
nothing but bare, rugged drift-ice.

"Saturday, December 16th. In the afternoon Peter came quietly into the
saloon, and said that he heard all sorts of noises on the ice. There
was a sound to the north exactly like that of ice packing against
land, and then suddenly there was such a roar through the air that
the dogs started up and barked. Poor Peter! They laugh at him when
he comes down to give an account of his many observations; but there
is not one among us as sharp as he is.

"Wednesday, December 20th. As I was sitting at breakfast, Peter came
roaring that he believed he had seen a bear on the ice, 'and that
"Pan" set off the moment he was loosed.' I rushed on to the ice with my
gun. Several men were to be seen in the moonlight, but no bear. It was
long before 'Pan' came back; he had followed him far to the northwest.

"Sverdrup and 'Smith Lars' in partnership have made a great bear-trap,
which was put out on the ice to-day. As I was afraid of more dogs
than bears being caught in it, it was hung from a gallows, too high
for the dogs to jump up to the piece of blubber which hangs as bait
right in the mouth of the trap. All the dogs spend the evening now
sitting on the rail barking at this new man they see out there on
the ice in the moonlight.

"Thursday, December 21st. It is extraordinary, after all, how the time
passes. Here we are at the shortest day, though we have no day. But now
we are moving on to light and summer again. We tried to sound to-day;
had out 2100 metres (over 1100 fathoms) of line without reaching
the bottom. We have no more line; what is to be done? Who could have
guessed that we should find such deep water? There has been an arch of
light in the sky all day, opposite the moon; so it is a lunar rainbow,
but without color, so far as I have been able to see.

"Friday, December 22d. A bear was shot last night. Jacobsen saw it
first, during his watch. He shot at it. It made off; and he then
went down and told about it in the cabin. Mogstad and Peter came on
deck; Sverdrup was called, too, and came up a little later. They
saw the bear on his way towards the ship again; but he suddenly
caught sight of the gallows with the trap on the ice to the west,
and went off there. He looked well at the apparatus, then raised
himself cautiously on his hind-legs, and laid his right paw on the
cross-beam just beside the trap, stared for a little, hesitating,
at the delicious morsel, but did not at all like the ugly jaws round
it. Sverdrup was by this time out at the deck-house, watching in
the sparkling moonshine. His heart was jumping--he expected every
moment to hear the snap of his trap. But the bear shook his head
suspiciously, lowered himself cautiously on to all-fours again,
and sniffed carefully at the wire that the trap was fastened by,
following it along to where it was made fast to a great block of
ice. He went round this, and saw how cleverly it was all arranged,
then slowly followed the wire back, raised himself up as before, with
his paw on the beam of the gallows, had a long look at the trap, and
shook his head again, probably saying to himself, 'These wily fellows
have planned this very cleverly for me.' Now he resumed his march
to the ship. When he was within 60 paces of the bow Peter fired. The
bear fell, but jumped up and again made off. Jacobsen, Sverdrup, and
Mogstad all fired now, and he fell among some hummocks. He was flayed
at once, and in the skin there was only the hole of one ball, which
had gone through him from behind the shoulder-blade. Peter, Jacobsen,
and Mogstad all claimed this ball. Sverdrup gave up his claim, as
he had stood so far astern. Mogstad, seeing the bear fall directly
after his shot, called out, 'I gave him that one'; Jacobsen swears
that it was he that hit; and Bentzen, who was standing looking on,
is prepared to take his oath anywhere that it was Peter's ball that
did the deed. The dispute upon this weighty point remained unsettled
during the whole course of the expedition.

"Beautiful moonlight. Pressure in several directions. To-day we carried
our supply of gun-cotton and cannon and rifle powder on deck. It is
safer there than in the hold. In case of fire or other accident,
an explosion in the hold might blow the ship's sides out and send
us to the bottom before we had time to turn round. Some we put on
the forecastle, some on the bridge. From these places it would be
quickly thrown on to the ice.

"Saturday, December 23d. What we call in Norway 'Little
Christmas-eve.' I went a long way west this morning, coming home
late. There was packed up ice everywhere, with flat floes between. I
was turned by a newly formed opening in the ice, which I dared not
cross on the thin layer of fresh ice. In the afternoon, as a first
Christmas entertainment, we tried an ice-blasting with four prisms
of gun-cotton. A hole was made with one of the large iron drills we
had brought with us for this purpose, and the charge, with the end
of the electric connecting wire, was sunk about a foot below the
surface of the ice. Then all retired, the knob was touched, there
was a dull crash, and water and pieces of ice were shot up into the
air. Although it was 60 yards off, it gave the ship a good jerk that
shook everything on board, and brought the hoar-frost down from the
rigging. The explosion blew a hole through the four-feet-thick ice,
but its only other effect was to make small cracks round this hole.

"Sunday, December 24th (Christmas-eve), 67 degrees of cold (-37°
C.). Glittering moonlight and the endless stillness of the Arctic
night. I took a solitary stroll over the ice. The first Christmas-eve,
and how far away! The observation shows us to be in 79° 11' north
latitude. There is no drift. Two minutes farther south than six
days ago."

There are no further particulars given of this day in the diary;
but when I think of it, how clearly it all comes back to me! There
was a peculiar elevation of mood on board that was not at all common
among us. Every man's inmost thoughts were with those at home; but
his comrades were not to know that, and so there was more joking
and laughing than usual. All the lamps and lights we had on board
were lit, and every corner of the saloon and cabins was brilliantly
illuminated. The bill of fare for the day, of course, surpassed
any previous one--food was the chief thing we had to hold festival
with. The dinner was a very fine one indeed; so was the supper,
and after it piles of Christmas cakes came on the table; Juell had
been busy making them for several weeks. After that we enjoyed a
glass of toddy and a cigar, smoking in the saloon being, of course,
allowed. The culminating point of the festival came when two boxes with
Christmas presents were produced. The one was from Hansen's mother,
the other from his fiancée--Miss Fougner. It was touching to see the
childlike pleasure with which each man received his gift--it might
be a pipe or a knife or some little knickknack--he felt that it was
like a message from home. After this there were speeches; and then
the Framsjaa appeared, with an illustrated supplement, selections
from which are given. The drawings are the work of the famous Arctic
draughtsman, Huttetu. Here are two verses from the poem for the day:


    "When the ship's path is stopped by fathom-thick ice,
      And winter's white covering is spread,
    When we're quite given up to the power of the stream,
      Oh! 'tis then that so often of home we must dream.

    "We wish them all joy at this sweet Christmas-tide,
      Health and happiness for the next year,
    Ourselves patience to wait; 'twill bring us to the Pole,
      And home the next spring, never fear!"


There were many more poems, among others one giving some account of
the principal events of the last weeks, in this style:


        "Bears are seen, and dogs are born,
          Cakes are baked, both small and large;
        Henriksen, he does not fall,
          Spite of bear's most violent charge;
        Mogstad with his rifle clicks,
        Jacobsen with long lance sticks,"


and so on. There was a long ditty on the subject of the "Dog Rape on
board the Fram:"


        "Up and down on a night so cold,
          Kvirre virre vip, bom, bom,
        Walk harpooner and kennelman bold,
          Kvirre virre vip, bom, bom;

        Our kennelman swings, I need hardly tell,
          Kvirre virre vip, bom, bom,
        The long, long lash you know so well,
          Kvirre virre vip, bom, bom;
        Our harpooner, he is a man of light,
          Kvirre virre vip, bom, bom,
        A burning lantern he grasps tight,
          Kvirre virre vip, bom, bom,
        They as they walk the time beguile,
          Kvirre virre vip, bom, bom,
        With tales of bears and all their wile,
          Kvirre virre vip, bom, bom.

        "Now suddenly a bear they see,
          Kvirre virre vip, bom, bom,
        Before whom all the dogs do flee,
          Kvirre virre vip, bom, bom;
        Kennelman, like a deer, runs fast,
          Kvirre virre vip, bom, bom,
        Harpooner slow comes in the last,
          Kvirre virre vip, bom, bom,"


and so on.

Among the announcements are--


    "Instruction in Fencing.

    "In consequence of the indefinite postponement of our departure,
    a limited number of pupils can be received for instruction in
    both fencing and boxing.

                        "Majakoft,
                    "Teacher of Boxing,
                "Next door to the Doctor's."


Again--


    "On account of want of storage room, a quantity of old clothes
    are at present for sale, by private arrangement, at No. 2 Pump
    Lane. [44] Repeated requests to remove them having been of no
    effect, I am obliged to dispose of them in this way. The clothes
    are quite fresh, having been in salt for a long time."


After the reading of the newspaper came instrumental music and singing,
and it was far on in the night before we sought our berths.

"Monday, December 25th (Christmas-day). Thermometer at 36° Fahr. below
zero (-38° C.). I took a walk south in the beautiful light of the
full moon. At a newly made crack I went through the fresh ice with
one leg and got soaked; but such an accident matters very little in
this frost. The water immediately stiffens into ice; it does not make
one very cold, and one feels dry again soon.

"They will be thinking much of us just now at home and giving many
a pitying sigh over all the hardships we are enduring in this cold,
cheerless, icy region. But I am afraid their compassion would cool
if they could look in upon us, hear the merriment that goes on, and
see all our comforts and good cheer. They can hardly be better off
at home. I myself have certainly never lived a more sybaritic life,
and have never had more reason to fear the consequences it brings in
its train. Just listen to to-day's dinner menu:


    1.  Ox-tail soup;
    2.  Fish-pudding, with potatoes and melted butter;
    3.  Roast of reindeer, with pease, French beans, potatoes, and
        cranberry jam;
    4.  Cloudberries with cream;
    5.  Cake and marchpane (a welcome present from the baker to the
        expedition; we blessed that man).


And along with all this that Ringnes bock-beer which is so famous in
our part of the world. Was this the sort of dinner for men who are
to be hardened against the horrors of the Arctic night?

"Every one had eaten so much that supper had to be skipped
altogether. Later in the evening coffee was served, with pineapple
preserve, gingerbread, vanilla-cakes, cocoanut macaroons, and various
other cakes, all the work of our excellent cook, Juell; and we ended
up with figs, almonds, and raisins.

"Now let us have the breakfast, just to complete the day: coffee,
freshly baked bread, beautiful Danish butter, Christmas cake, Cheddar
cheese, clove-cheese, tongue, corned-beef, and marmalade. And if
any one thinks that this is a specially good breakfast because it is
Christmas-day he is wrong. It is just what we have always, with the
addition of the cake, which is not part of the every-day diet.

"Add now to this good cheer our strongly built, safe house, our
comfortable saloon, lighted up with the large petroleum lamp and
several smaller ones (when we have no electric light), constant gayety,
card-playing, and books in any quantity, with or without illustrations,
good and entertaining reading, and then a good, sound sleep--what
more could one wish?

" ... But, O Arctic night, thou art like a woman, a marvellously lovely
woman. Thine are the noble, pure outlines of antique beauty, with its
marble coldness. On thy high, smooth brow, clear with the clearness of
ether, is no trace of compassion for the little sufferings of despised
humanity; on thy pale, beautiful cheek no blush of feeling. Among thy
raven locks, waving out into space, the hoar-frost has sprinkled its
glittering crystals. The proud lines of thy throat, thy shoulders'
curves, are so noble, but, oh! unbendingly cold; thy bosom's white
chastity is feelingless as the snowy ice. Chaste, beautiful, and
proud, thou floatest through ether over the frozen sea, thy glittering
garment, woven of aurora beams, covering the vault of heaven. But
sometimes I divine a twitch of pain on thy lips, and endless sadness
dreams in thy dark eye.

"Oh, how tired I am of thy cold beauty! I long to return to
life. Let me get home again, as conqueror or as beggar; what does
that matter? But let me get home to begin life anew. The years are
passing here, and what do they bring? Nothing but dust, dry dust,
which the first wind blows away; new dust comes in its place, and the
next wind takes it too. Truth? Why should we always make so much of
truth? Life is more than cold truth, and we live but once.

"Tuesday, December 26th. 36° Fahr. below zero (-38° C.). This (the
same as yesterday's) is the greatest cold we have had yet. I went
a long way north to-day; found a big lane covered with newly frozen
ice, with a quite open piece of water in the middle. The ice rocked
up and down under my steps, sending waves out into the open pool. It
was strange once more to see the moonlight playing on the coal-black
waves, and awakened a remembrance of well-known scenes. I followed
this lane far to the north, seemed to see the outlines of high land
in the hazy light below the moon, and went on and on; but in the end
it turned out to be a bank of clouds behind the moonlit vapor rising
from the open water. I saw from a high hummock that this opening
stretched north as far as the eye could reach.

"The same luxurious living as yesterday; a dinner of four
courses. Shooting with darts at a target for cigarettes has been the
great excitement of the day. Darts and target are Johansen's Christmas
present from Miss Fougner.

"Wednesday, December 27th. Wind began to blow this afternoon, 19 1/2 to
26 feet per second; the windmill is going again, and the arc lamp once
more brightens our lives. Johansen gave notice of 'a shooting-match
by electric light, with free concert,' for the evening. It was a
pity for himself that he did, for he and several others were shot
into bankruptcy and beggary, and had to retire one after the other,
leaving their cigarettes behind them."

"Thursday, December 28th. A little forward of the Fram there is a
broad, newly formed open lane, in which she could lie crossways. It
was covered with last night's ice, in which slight pressure began
to-day. It is strange how indifferent we are to this pressure,
which was the cause of such great trouble to many earlier Arctic
navigators. We have not so much as made the smallest preparation
for possible accident, no provisions on deck, no tent, no clothing
in readiness. This may seem like recklessness, but in reality there
is not the slightest prospect of the pressure harming us; we know
now what the Fram can bear. Proud of our splendid, strong ship, we
stand on her deck watching the ice come hurtling against her sides,
being crushed and broken there and having to go down below her,
while new ice-masses tumble upon her out of the dark, to meet the
same fate. Here and there, amid deafening noise, some great mass
rises up and launches itself threateningly upon the bulwarks, only
to sink down suddenly, dragged the same way as the others. But at
times when one hears the roaring of tremendous pressure in the night,
as a rule so deathly still, one cannot but call to mind the disasters
that this uncontrollable power has wrought.

"I am reading the story of Kane's expedition just now. Unfortunate
man, his preparations were miserably inadequate; it seems to me to
have been a reckless, unjustifiable proceeding to set out with such
equipments. Almost all the dogs died of bad food; all the men had
scurvy from the same cause, with snow-blindness, frost-bites, and all
kinds of miseries. He learned a wholesome awe of the Arctic night,
and one can hardly wonder at it. He writes on page 173: 'I feel
that we are fighting the battle of life at disadvantage, and that
an Arctic day and an Arctic night age a man more rapidly and harshly
than a year anywhere else in this weary world.' In another place he
writes that it is impossible for civilized men not to suffer in such
circumstances. These were sad but by no means unique experiences. An
English Arctic explorer with whom I had some conversation also
expressed himself very discouragingly on the subject of life in the
polar regions, and combated my cheerful faith in the possibility
of preventing scurvy. He was of opinion that it was inevitable, and
that no expedition yet had escaped it, though some might have given
it another name: rather a humiliating view to take of the matter,
I think. But I am fortunately in a position to maintain that it
is not justified; and I wonder if they would not both change their
opinions if they were here. For my own part, I can say that the Arctic
night has had no aging, no weakening, influence of any kind upon me;
I seem, on the contrary, to grow younger. This quiet, regular life
suits me remarkably well, and I cannot remember a time when I was in
better bodily health balance than I am at present. I differ from these
other authorities to the extent of feeling inclined to recommend this
region as an excellent sanatorium in cases of nervousness and general
breakdown. This is in all sincerity.

"I am almost ashamed of the life we lead, with none of those darkly
painted sufferings of the long winter night which are indispensable to
a properly exciting Arctic expedition. We shall have nothing to write
about when we get home. I may say the same of my comrades as I have
said for myself; they all look healthy, fat, in good condition; none
of the traditional pale, hollow faces; no low spirits--any one hearing
the laughter that goes on in the saloon, 'the fall of greasy cards,'
etc. (see Juell's poem), would be in no doubt about this. But how,
indeed, should there be any illness? With the best of food of every
kind, as much of it as we want, and constant variety, so that even the
most fastidious cannot tire of it, good shelter, good clothing, good
ventilation, exercise in the open air ad libitum, no over-exertion
in the way of work, instructive and amusing books of every kind,
relaxation in the shape of cards, chess, dominoes, halma, music,
and story-telling--how should any one be ill? Every now and then I
hear remarks expressive of perfect satisfaction with the life. Truly
the whole secret lies in arranging things sensibly, and especially in
being careful about the food. A thing that I believe has a good effect
upon us is this living together in the one saloon, with everything
in common. So far as I know, it is the first time that such a thing
has been tried; but it is quite to be recommended. I have heard some
of the men complain of sleeplessness. This is generally considered
to be one inevitable consequence of the Arctic darkness. As far as I
am personally concerned, I can say that I have felt nothing of it; I
sleep soundly at night. I have no great belief in this sleeplessness;
but then I do not take an after-dinner nap, which most of the others
are addicted to; and if they sleep for several hours during the day
they can hardly expect to sleep all night as well. 'One must be awake
part of one's time,' as Sverdrup said.

"Sunday, December 31st. And now the last day of the year has come;
it has been a long year, and has brought much both of good and bad. It
began with good by bringing little Liv--such a new, strange happiness
that at first I could hardly believe in it. But hard, unspeakably hard,
was the parting that came later; no year has brought worse pain than
that. And the time since has been one great longing.


            "'Would'st thou be free from care and pain,
            Thou must love nothing here on earth."


"But longing--oh, there are worse things than that! All that is good
and beautiful may flourish in its shelter. Everything would be over
if we cease to long.

"But you fell off at the end, old year; you hardly carried us so far
as you ought. Still you might have done worse; you have not been so
bad, after all. Have not all hopes and calculations been justified,
and are we not drifting away just where I wished and hoped we should
be? Only one thing has been amiss--I did not think the drift would
have gone in quite so many zig-zags.

"One could not have a more beautiful New-year's-eve. The aurora
borealis is burning in wonderful colors and bands of light over the
whole sky, but particularly in the north. Thousands of stars sparkle
in the blue firmament among the northern lights. On every side the
ice stretches endless and silent into the night. The rime-covered
rigging of the Fram stands out sharp and dark against the shining sky.

"The newspaper was read aloud; only verses this time; among other
poems the following:


        "'TO THE NEW YEAR.

        "'And you, my boy, must give yourself trouble
        Of your old father to be the double;
        Your lineage, honor, and fight hard to merit
        Our praise for the habits we trust you inherit.
        On we must go if you want to please us;
        To make us lie still is the way to tease us.
        In the old year we sailed not so badly,
        Be it so still, or you'll hear us groan sadly.
        When the time comes you must break up the ice for us;
        When the time comes you must win the great prize for us;
        We fervently hope, having reached our great goal,
        To eat next Christmas dinner beyond the North Pole.'


"During the evening we were regaled with pineapple, figs, cakes,
and other sweets, and about midnight Hansen brought in toddy, and
Nordahl cigars and cigarettes. At the moment of the passing of the
year all stood up and I had to make an apology for a speech--to the
effect that the old year had been, after all, a good one, and I hoped
the new would not be worse; that I thanked them for good comradeship,
and was sure that our life together this year would be as comfortable
and pleasant as it had been during the last. Then they sang the songs
that had been written for the farewell entertainments given to us at
Christiania and at Bergen:


            "'Our mother, weep not! it was thou
              Gave them the wish to wander;
            To leave our coasts and turn their prow
              Towards night and perils yonder.
            Thou pointedst to the open sea,
              The long cape was thy finger;
            The white sail wings they got from thee;
              Thou canst not bid them linger!

            "'Yes, they are thine, O mother old!
              And proud thou dost embrace them;
            Thou hear'st of dangers manifold,
              But know'st thy sons can face them.
            And tears of joy thine eyes will rain,
              The day the Fram comes steering
            Up fjord again to music strain,
              And the roar of thousands cheering.

                                                "'E. N.'


"Then I read aloud our last greeting, a telegram we received at Tromsö
from Moltke Moe:


            "'Luck on the way,
            Sun on the sea,
            Sun on your minds,
            Help from the winds;
            May the packed floes
            Part and unclose
            Where the ship goes.
            Forward her progress be,
            E'en though the silent sea,
                      Then
            After her freeze up again.

            "'Strength enough, meat enough,
            Hope enough, heat enough;
            The Fram will go sure enough then
            To the Pole and so back to the dwellings of men.
                Luck on the way
            To thee and thy band,
            And welcome back to the fatherland!'


"After this we read some of Vinje's poems, and then sang songs from
the Framsjaa and others.

"It seems strange that we should have seen the New Year in already,
and that it will not begin at home for eight hours yet. It is almost 4
A.M. now. I had thought of sitting up till it was New Year in Norway
too; but no; I will rather go to bed and sleep, and dream that I am
at home.

"Monday, January 1st, 1894. The year began well. I was awakened by
Juell's cheerful voice wishing me a Happy New Year. He had come
to give me a cup of coffee in bed--delicious Turkish coffee, his
Christmas present from Miss Fougner. It is beautiful clear weather,
with the thermometer at 36° below zero (-38° C.). It almost seems to
me as if the twilight in the south were beginning to grow; the upper
edge of it to-day was 14° above the horizon.

"An extra good dinner at 6 P.M.


    1.  Tomato soup.
    2.  Cod roe with melted butter and potatoes.
    3.  Roast reindeer, with green pease, potatoes, and cranberry jam.
    4.  Cloudberries with milk.

                        Ringnes beer.


"I do not know if this begins to give any impression of great
sufferings and privations. I am lying in my berth, writing, reading,
and dreaming. It is always a curious feeling to write for the first
time the number of a New Year. Not till then does one grasp the fact
that the old year is a thing of the past; the new one is here, and one
must prepare to wrestle with it. Who knows what it is bringing? Good
and evil, no doubt, but most good. It cannot but be that we shall go
forward towards our goal and towards home.


            "'Life is rich and wreathed in roses;
            Gaze forth into a world of dreams.'


"Yes; lead us, if not to our goal--that would be too early--at least
towards it; strengthen our hope; but perhaps--no, no perhaps. These
brave boys of mine deserve to succeed. There is not a doubt in their
minds. Each one's whole heart is set on getting north. I can read
it in their faces--it shines from every eye. There is one sigh of
disappointment every time that we hear that we are drifting south, one
sigh of relief when we begin to go north again, to the unknown. And
it is in me and my theories that they trust. What if I have been
mistaken, and am leading them astray? Oh, I could not help myself! We
are the tools of powers beyond us. We are born under lucky or unlucky
stars. Till now I have lived under a lucky one; is its light to be
darkened? I am superstitious, no doubt, but I believe in my star. And
Norway, our fatherland, what has the old year brought to thee, and
what is the new year bringing? Vain to think of that; but I look
at our pictures, the gifts of Werenskjöld, Munthe, Kitty Kielland,
Skredsvig, Hansteen, Eilif Pettersen, and I am at home, at home!

"Wednesday, January 3d. The old lane about 1300 feet ahead of the Fram
has opened again--a large rift, with a coating of ice and rime. As
soon as ice is formed in this temperature the frost forces it to throw
out its salinity on the surface, and this itself freezes into pretty
salt flowers, resembling hoar-frost. The temperature is between 38°
Fahr. and 40° Fahr. below zero (-39° C. to -40° C), but when there
is added to this a biting wind, with a velocity of from 9 to 16 feet
per second, it must be allowed that it is rather 'cool in the shade.'

"Sverdrup and I agreed to-day that the Christmas holidays had better
stop now and the usual life begin again; too much idleness is not good
for us. It cannot be called a full nor a complicated one, this life
of ours; but it has one advantage, that we are all satisfied with it,
such as it is.

"They are still working in the engine-room, but expect to finish
what they are doing to the boiler in a few days, and then all is done
there. Then the turning-lathe is to be set up in the hold, and tools
for it have to be forged. There is often a job for Smith Lars, and
then the forge flames forward by the forecastle, and sends its red
glow on to the rime-covered rigging, and farther up into the starry
night, and out over the waste of ice. From far off you can hear the
strokes on the anvil ringing through the silent night. When one is
wandering alone out there, and the well-known sound reaches one's ear,
and one sees the red glow, memory recalls less solitary scenes. While
one stands gazing, perhaps a light moves along the deck and slowly
up the rigging. It is Johansen on his way up to the crow's-nest to
read the temperature. Blessing is at present engaged in counting
blood corpuscles again, and estimating amounts of hæmoglobin. For
this purpose he draws blood every month from every mother's son of
us, the bloodthirsty dog, with supreme contempt for all the outcry
against vivisection. Hansen and his assistant take observations. The
meteorological ones, which are taken every four hours, are Johansen's
special department. First he reads the thermometer, hygrometer,
and thermograph on deck (they were afterwards kept on the ice);
next the barometer, barograph, and thermometer in the saloon; and
then the minimum and maximum thermometers in the crow's-nest (this
to take the record of the temperature of a higher air stratum). Then
he goes to read the thermometers that are kept on the ice to measure
the radiations from its surface, and perhaps down to the hold, too,
to see what the temperature is there. Every second day, as a rule,
astronomical observations are taken, to decide our whereabouts and
keep us up to date in the crab's progress we are making. Taking these
observations with the thermometer between 22° Fahr. and 40° Fahr. below
zero (-30° C. to -40° C.) is a very mixed pleasure. Standing still
on deck working with these fine instruments, and screwing in metal
screws with one's bare fingers, is not altogether agreeable. It
often happens that they must slap their arms about and tramp hard up
and down the deck. They are received with shouts of laughter when
they reappear in the saloon after the performance of one of these
thundering nigger break-downs above our heads that has shaken the
whole ship. We ask innocently if it was cold on deck. 'Not the very
least,' says Hansen; 'just a pleasant temperature.' 'And your feet
are not cold now?' 'No, I can't say that they are, but one's fingers
get a little cold sometimes.' Two of his had just been frost-bitten;
but he refused to wear one of the wolf-skin suits which I had given
out for the meteorologists. 'It is too mild for that yet; and it does
not do to pamper one's self,' he says.

"I believe it was when the thermometer stood at 40° below zero that
Hansen rushed up on deck one morning in shirt and drawers to take an
observation. He said he had not time to get on his clothes.

"At certain intervals they also take magnetic observations on the
ice, these two. I watch them standing there with lanterns, bending
over their instruments; and presently I see them tearing away over
the floe, their arms swinging like the sails of the windmill when
there is a wind pressure of 32 to 39 feet--but 'it is not at all
cold.' I cannot help thinking of what I have read in the accounts of
some of the earlier expeditions--namely, that at such temperatures
it was impossible to take observations. It would take worse than
this to make these fellows give in. In the intervals between their
observations and calculations I hear a murmuring in Hansen's cabin,
which means that the principal is at present occupied in inflicting
a dose of astronomy or navigation upon his assistant.

"It is something dreadful the amount of card-playing that goes on in
the saloon in the evenings now; the gaming demon is abroad far into
the night; even our model Sverdrup is possessed by him. They have
not yet played the shirts off their backs, but some of them have
literally played the bread out of their mouths; two poor wretches
have had to go without fresh bread for a whole month because they had
forfeited their rations of it to their opponents. But, all the same,
this card-playing is a healthy, harmless recreation, giving occasion
for much laughter, fun, and pleasure.

"An Irish proverb says, 'Be happy; and if you cannot be happy,
be careless; and if you cannot be careless, be as careless as you
can.' This is good philosophy, which--no, what need of proverbs here,
where life is happy! It was in all sincerity that Amundsen burst
out yesterday with, 'Yes, isn't it just as I say, that we are the
luckiest men on earth that can live up here where we have no cares,
get everything given us without needing to trouble about it, and are
well off in every possible way?' Hansen agreed that it certainly
was a life without care. Juell said much the same a little ago;
what seems to please him most is that there are no summonses here,
no creditors, no bills. And I? Yes, I am happy too. It is an easy
life; nothing that weighs heavy on one, no letters, no newspapers,
nothing disturbing; just that monastic, out-of-the-world existence
that was my dream when I was younger and yearned for quietness in
which to give myself up to my studies. Longing, even when it is
strong and sad, is not unhappiness. A man has truly no right to be
anything but happy when fate permits him to follow up his ideals,
exempting him from the wearing strain of every-day cares, that he
may with clearer vision strive towards a lofty goal.

"'Where there is work, success will follow,' said a poet of the
land of work. I am working as hard as I can, so I suppose success
will pay me a visit by-and-by. I am lying on the sofa, reading about
Kane's misfortunes, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes. Truth obliges
me to confess that I have become addicted to the vice I condemn so
strongly--but flesh is grass; so I blow the smoke clouds into the air
and dream sweet dreams. It is hard work, but I must do the best I can.

"Thursday, January 4th. It seems as if the twilight were increasing
quite perceptibly now, but this is very possibly only imagination. I
am in good spirits in spite of the fact that we are drifting south
again. After all, what does it matter? Perhaps the gain to science
will be as great, and, after all, I suppose this desire to reach the
North Pole is only a piece of vanity. I have now a very good idea of
what it must be like up there. ('I like that!' say you.) Our deep
water here is connected with, is a part of, the deep water of the
Atlantic Ocean--of this there can be no doubt. And have not I found
that things go exactly as I calculated they would whenever we get a
favorable wind? Have not many before us had to wait for wind? And
as to vanity--that is a child's disease, got over long ago. All
calculations, with but one exception, have proved correct. We made
our way along the coast of Asia, which many prophesied we should
have great difficulty in doing. We were able to sail farther north
than I had dared to hope for in my boldest moments, and in just the
longitude I wished. We are closed in by the ice, also as I wished. The
Fram has borne the ice-pressure splendidly, and allows herself to
be lifted by it without so much as creaking, in spite of being more
heavily loaded with coal, and drawing more water than we reckoned on
when we made our calculations; and this after her certain destruction
and ours was prophesied by those most experienced in such matters. I
have not found the ice higher nor heavier than I expected it to be;
and the comfort, warmth, and good ventilation on board are far beyond
my expectations. Nothing is wanting in our equipment, and the food
is quite exceptionally good. As Blessing and I agreed a few days
ago, it is as good as at home; there is not a thing we long for;
not even the thought of a beefsteak à la Châteaubriand, or a pork
cutlet with mushrooms and a bottle of Burgundy, can make our mouths
water; we simply don't care about such things. The preparations for
the expedition cost me several years of precious life; but now I do
not grudge them: my object is attained. On the drifting ice we live a
winter life, not only in every respect better than that of previous
expeditions, but actually as if we had brought a bit of Norway, of
Europe, with us. We are as well off as if we were at home. All together
in one saloon, with everything in common, we are a little part of the
fatherland, and daily we draw closer and closer together. In one point
only have my calculations proved incorrect, but unfortunately in one
of the most important. I presupposed a shallow Polar Sea, the greatest
depth known in these regions up till now being 80 fathoms, found by the
Jeannette. I reasoned that all currents would have a strong influence
in the shallow Polar Sea, and that on the Asiatic side the current of
the Siberian rivers would be strong enough to drive the ice a good way
north. But here I already find a depth which we cannot measure with
all our line, a depth of certainly 1000 fathoms, and possibly double
that. This at once upsets all faith in the operation of a current;
we find either none, or an extremely slight one; my only trust now
is in the winds. Columbus discovered America by means of a mistaken
calculation, and even that not his own; heaven only knows where my
mistake will lead us. Only I repeat once more--the Siberian driftwood
on the coast of Greenland cannot lie, and the way it went we must go.

"Monday, January 8th. Little Liv is a year old to-day; it will be a
fête day at home. As I was lying on the sofa reading after dinner,
Peter put his head in at the door and asked me to come up and look at
a strange star which had just shown itself above the horizon, shining
like a beacon flame. I got quite a start when I came on deck and saw
a strong red light just above the edge of the ice in the south. It
twinkled and changed color; it looked just as if some one were coming
carrying a lantern over the ice; I actually believe that for a moment
I so far forgot our surroundings as to think that it really was some
person approaching from the south. It was Venus, which we see to-day
for the first time, as it has till now been beneath the horizon. It
is beautiful with its red light. Curious that it should happen to come
to-day. It must be Liv's star, as Jupiter is the home star. And Liv's
birthday is a lucky day--we are on our way north again. According to
observations we are certainly north of 79° north latitude. On the home
day, September 6th, the favorable wind began to blow that carried us
along the coast of Asia; perhaps Liv's day has brought us into a good
current, and we are making the real start for the north under her star.

"Friday, January 12th. There was pressure about 10 o'clock this morning
in the opening forward, but I could see no movement when I was there
a little later. I followed the opening some way to the north. It is
pretty cold work walking with the thermometer at 40° Fahr. below zero,
and the wind blowing with a velocity of 16 feet per second straight in
your face. But now we are certainly drifting fast to the north under
Liv's star. After all, it is not quite indifferent to me whether we
are going north or south. When the drift is northward new life seems
to come into me, and hope, the ever-young, springs fresh and green
from under the winter snow. I see the way open before me, and I see
the home-coming in the distance--too great happiness to believe in.

"Sunday, January 14th. Sunday again. The time is passing almost
quickly, and there is more light every day. There was great excitement
to-day when yesterday evening's observations were being calculated. All
guessed that we had come a long way north again. Several thought to
79° 18' or 20'. Others, I believe, insisted on 80°. The calculation
places us in 79° 19' north latitude, 137° 31' east longitude. A good
step onward. Yesterday the ice was quiet, but this morning there
was considerable pressure in several places. Goodness knows what is
causing it just now; it is a whole week after new moon. I took a long
walk to the southwest, and got right in among it. Packing began where
I stood, with roars and thunders below me and on every side. I jumped,
and ran like a hare, as if I had never heard such a thing before; it
came so unexpectedly. The ice was curiously flat there to the south;
the farther I went the flatter it grew, with excellent sledging
surface. Over such ice one could drive many miles a day.

"Monday, January 15th. There was pressure forward both this morning and
towards noon, but we heard the loudest sounds from the north. Sverdrup,
Mogstad, and Peter went in that direction and were stopped by a
large, open channel. Peter and I afterwards walked a long distance
N.N.E., past a large opening that I had skirted before Christmas. It
was shining, flat ice, splendid for sledging on, always better the
farther north we went. The longer I wander about and see this sort
of ice in all directions, the more strongly does a plan take hold of
me that I have long had in my mind. It would be possible to get with
dogs and sledges over this ice to the Pole, if one left the ship for
good and made one's way back in the direction of Franz Josef Land,
Spitzbergen, or the west coast of Greenland. It might almost be called
an easy expedition for two men.

"But it would be too hasty to go off in spring. We must first see
what kind of drift the summer brings. And as I think over it, I feel
doubtful if it would be right to go off and leave the others. Imagine
if I came home and they did not! Yet it was to explore the unknown
polar regions that I came; it was for that the Norwegian people
gave their money; and surely my first duty is to do that if I can. I
must give the drift plan a longer trial yet; but if it takes us in a
wrong direction, then there is nothing for it but to try the other,
come what may.

"Tuesday, January 16th. The ice is quiet to-day. Does longing
stupefy one, or does it wear itself out and turn at last into
stolidity? Oh that burning longing night and day were happiness! But
now its fire has turned to ice. Why does home seem so far away? It
is one's all; life without it is so empty, so empty--nothing but
dead emptiness. Is it the restlessness of spring that is beginning
to come over one?--the desire for action, for something different
from this indolent, enervating life? Is the soul of man nothing but
a succession of moods and feelings, shifting as incalculably as the
changing winds? Perhaps my brain is over-tired; day and night my
thoughts have turned on the one point, the possibility of reaching
the Pole and getting home. Perhaps it is rest I need--to sleep,
sleep! Am I afraid of venturing my life? No, it cannot be that. But
what else, then, can be keeping me back? Perhaps a secret doubt of
the practicability of the plan. My mind is confused; the whole thing
has got into a tangle; I am a riddle to myself. I am worn out, and
yet I do not feel any special tiredness. Is it perhaps because I sat
up reading last night? Everything around is emptiness, and my brain
is a blank. I look at the home pictures and am moved by them in a
curious, dull way; I look into the future, and feel as if it does
not much matter to me whether I get home in the autumn of this year
or next. So long as I get home in the end, a year or two seem almost
nothing. I have never thought this before. I have no inclination to
read, nor to draw, nor to do anything else whatever. Folly! Shall I
try a few pages of Schopenhauer? No, I will go to bed, though I am
not sleepy. Perhaps, if the truth were known, I am longing now more
than ever. The only thing that helps me is writing, trying to express
myself on these pages, and then looking at myself, as it were, from
the outside. Yes, man's life is nothing but a succession of moods,
half memory and half hope.

"Thursday, January 18th. The wind that began yesterday has gone on
blowing all to-day with a velocity of 16 to 19 feet per second, from
S.S.E., S.E., and E.S.E. It has no doubt helped us on a good way north;
but it seems to be going down; now, about midnight, it has sunk to
4 metres; and the barometer, which has been rising all the time, has
suddenly begun to fall; let us hope that it is not a cyclone passing
over us, bringing northerly wind. It is curious that there is almost
always a rise of the thermometer with these stronger winds; to-day it
rose to 13° Fahr. below zero (-25° C). A south wind of less velocity
generally lowers the temperature, and a moderate north wind raises
it. Payer's explanation of this raising of the temperature by strong
winds is that the wind is warmed by passing over large openings in
the ice. This can hardly be correct, at any rate in our case, for
we have few or no openings. I am rather inclined to believe that the
rise is produced by air from higher strata being brought down to the
surface of the earth. It is certain that the higher air is warmer
than the lower, which comes into contact with snow and ice surfaces
cooled by radiation. Our observations go to prove that such is the
case. Add to this that the air in its fall is heated by the rising
pressure. A strong wind, even if it does not come from the higher
strata of the atmosphere, must necessarily make some confusion in the
mutual position of the various strata, mixing the higher with those
below them, and vice versa.

"I had a strange dream last night. I had got home. I can still feel
something of the trembling joy, mixed with fear, with which I neared
land and the first telegraph station. I had carried out my plan;
we had reached the North Pole on sledges, and then got down to Franz
Josef Land. I had seen nothing but drift-ice; and when people asked
what it was like up there, and how we knew we had been to the Pole, I
had no answer to give; I had forgotten to take accurate observations,
and now began to feel that this had been stupid of me. It is very
curious that I had an exactly similar dream when we were drifting on
the ice-floes along the east coast of Greenland, and thought that we
were being carried farther and farther from our destination. Then
I dreamed that I had reached home after crossing Greenland on the
ice; but that I was ashamed because I could give no account of what
I had seen on the way--I had forgotten everything. Is there not a
lucky omen in the resemblance between these two dreams? I attained
my aim the first time, bad as things looked; shall I not do so this
time too? If I were superstitious I should feel surer of it; but,
even though I am not at all superstitious, I have a firm conviction
that our enterprise must be successful. This belief is not merely the
result of the last two days' south wind; something within me says that
we shall succeed. I laugh now at myself for having been weak enough to
doubt it. I can spend hours staring into the light, dreaming of how,
when we land, I shall grope my way to the first telegraph station,
trembling with emotion and suspense. I write out telegram after
telegram; I ask the clerk if he can give me any news from home.

"Friday, January 19th. Splendid wind, with velocity of 13 to 19
feet per second; we are going north at a grand rate. The red,
glowing twilight is now so bright about midday that if we were in
more southern latitudes we should expect to see the sun rise bright
and glorious above the horizon in a few minutes; but we shall have
to wait a month yet for that.

"Saturday, January 20th. I had about 600 pounds of pemmican and 200
pounds of bread brought up from the hold to-day and stowed on the
forecastle. It is wrong not to have some provisions on deck against
any sudden emergency, such as fire.

"Sunday, January 21st. We took a long excursion to the northwest;
the ice in that direction, too, was tolerably flat. Sverdrup and
I got on the top of a high-pressure mound at some distance from
here. It was in the centre of what had been very violent packing,
but, all the same, the wall at its highest was not over 17 feet,
and this was one of the highest and biggest altogether that I have
seen yet. An altitude of the moon taken this evening showed us to
be in 79° 35' north latitude--exactly what I had thought. We are so
accustomed now to calculating our drift by the wind that we are able
to tell pretty nearly where we are. This is a good step northward,
if we could take many more such. In honor of the King's birthday we
have a treat of figs, raisins, and almonds.

"Tuesday, January 23d. When I came on deck this morning 'Caiaphas'
was sitting out on the ice on the port quarter, barking incessantly
to the east. I knew there must be something there, and went off with
a revolver, Sverdrup following with one also. When I got near the dog
he came to meet me, always wriggling his head round to the east and
barking; then he ran on before us in that direction; it was plain that
there was some animal there, and of course it could only be a bear. The
full moon stood low and red in the north, and sent its feeble light
obliquely across the broken ice-surface. I looked out sharply in all
directions over the hummocks, which cast long, many-shaped shadows; but
I could distinguish nothing in this confusion. We went on, 'Caiaphas'
first, growling and barking and pricking his ears, and I after him,
expecting every moment to see a bear loom up in front of us. Our
course was eastward along the opening. The dog presently began to go
more cautiously and straighter forward; then he stopped making any
noise except a low growl--we were evidently drawing near. I mounted
a hummock to look about, and caught sight among the blocks of ice of
something dark, which seemed to be coming towards us. 'There comes a
black dog,' I called. 'No, it is a bear,' said Sverdrup, who was more
to the side of it and could see better. I saw now, too, that it was a
large animal, and that it had only been its head that I had taken for
a dog. It was not unlike a bear in its movements, but it seemed to me
remarkably dark in color. I pulled the revolver out of the holster and
rushed forward to empty all its barrels into the creature's head. When
I was just a few paces from it, and preparing to shoot, it raised its
head and I saw that it was a walrus, and that same moment it threw
itself sideways into the water. There we stood. To shoot at such a
fellow with a revolver would be of as much use as squirting water at
a goose. The great black head showed again immediately in a strip
of moonlight on the dark water. The animal took a long look at us,
disappeared for a little, appeared again nearer, bobbed up and down,
blew, lay with its head under water, shoved itself over towards us,
raised its head again. It was enough to drive one mad; if we had only
had a harpoon I could easily have stuck it into its back. Yes, if we
had had--and back to the Fram we ran as fast as our legs would carry
us to get harpoon and rifle. But the harpoon and line were stored
away, and were not to be had at once. Who could have guessed that
they would be needed here? The harpoon point had to be sharpened,
and all this took time. And for all our searching afterwards east and
west along the opening, no walrus was to be found. Goodness knows
where it had gone, as there are hardly any openings in the ice for
a long distance round. Sverdrup and I vainly fret over not having
known at once what kind of animal it was, for if we had only guessed
we should have him now. But who expects to meet a walrus on close ice
in the middle of a wild sea of a thousand fathoms depth, and that in
the heart of winter? None of us ever heard of such a thing before; it
is a perfect mystery. As I thought we might have come upon shoals or
into the neighborhood of land, I had soundings taken in the afternoon
with 130 fathoms (240 metres) of line, but no bottom was found.

"By yesterday's observations we are in 79° 41' north latitude and 135°
29' east longitude. That is good progress north, and it does not much
matter that we have been taken a little west. The clouds are driving
this evening before a strong south wind, so we shall likely be going
before it soon too; in the meantime there is a breeze from the south
so slight that you hardly feel it.

"The opening on our stern lies almost east and west. We could see
no end to it westward when we went after the walrus; and Mogstad and
Peter had gone three miles east, and it was as broad as ever there.

"Wednesday, January 24th. At supper this evening Peter told some of his
remarkable Spitzbergen stories--about his comrade Andreas Bek. 'Well,
you see, it was up about Dutchman's Island, or Amsterdam Island, that
Andreas Bek and I were on shore and got in among all the graves. We
thought we'd like to see what was in them, so we broke up some of
the coffins, and there they lay. Some of them had still flesh on
their jaws and noses, and some of them still had their caps on their
heads. Andreas, he was a devil of a fellow, you see, and he broke up
the coffins and got hold of the skulls, and rolled them about here
and there. Some of them he set up for targets and shot at. Then he
wanted to see if there was marrow left in their bones, so he took
and broke a thigh-bone--and, sure enough, there was marrow; he took
and picked it out with a wooden pin.'

"'How could he do a thing like that?'

"'Oh, it was only a Dutchman, you know. But he had a bad dream that
night, had Andreas. All the dead men came to fetch him, and he ran
from them and got right out on the bowsprit, and there he sat and
yelled, while the dead men stood on the forecastle. And the one with
his broken thigh-bone in his hand was foremost, and he came crawling
out, and wanted Andreas to put it together again. But just then he
wakened. We were lying in the same berth, you see, Andreas and me,
and I sat up in the berth and laughed, listening to him yelling. I
wouldn't waken him, not I. I thought it was fun to hear him getting
paid out a little.'

"'It was bad of you, Peter, to have any part in that horrid plundering
of dead bodies.'

"'Oh, I never did anything to them, you know. Just once I broke up a
coffin to get wood to make a fire for our coffee; but when we opened
it the body just fell to pieces. But it was juicy wood, that, better
to burn than the best fir-roots--such a fire as it made!'

"One of the others now remarked, 'Wasn't it the devil that used a
skull for his coffee-cup?'

"'Well, he hadn't anything else, you see, and he just happened to
find one. There was no harm in that, was there?'

"Then Jacobsen began to hold forth: 'It's not at all such an uncommon
thing to use skulls for shooting at, either because people fancy them
for targets, or because of some other reason; they shoot in through
the eyeholes,' etc., etc.

"I asked Peter about 'Tobiesen's' coffin--if it had ever been dug up
to find out if it was true that his men had killed him and his son.

"'No, that one has never been dug up.'

"'I sailed past there last year,' begins Jacobsen again; 'I didn't
go ashore, but it seems to me that I heard that it had been dug up.'

"'That's just rubbish; it has never been dug up.'

"'Well,' said I, 'it seems to me that I've heard something about it
too; I believe it was here on board, and I am very much mistaken if
it was not yourself that said it, Peter.'

"'No, I never said that. All I said was that a man once struck a
walrus-spear through the coffin, and it's sticking there yet.'

"'What did he do that for?'

"'Oh, just because he wanted to know if there was anything in the
coffin; and yet he didn't want to open it, you know. But let him lie
in peace now.'"

"Friday January 26th. Peter and I went eastward along the opening this
morning for about seven miles, and we saw where it ends, in some old
pressure-ridges; its whole length is over seven miles. Movement in the
ice began on our way home; indeed, there was pretty strong pressure
all the time. As we were walking on the new ice in the opening it
rose in furrows or cracked under our feet. Then it raised itself up
into two high walls, between which we walked as if along a street,
amidst unceasing noises, sometimes howling and whining like a dog
complaining of the cold, sometimes a roar like the thunder of a great
waterfall. We were often obliged to take refuge on the old ice, either
because we came to open water with a confusion of floating blocks, or
because the line of the packing had gone straight across the opening,
and there was a wall in front of us like a high frozen wave. It seemed
as if the ice on the south side of the opening where the Fram is lying
were moving east, or else that on the north side was moving west;
for the floes on the two sides slanted in towards each other in these
directions. We saw tracks of a little bear which had trotted along
the opening the day before. Unfortunately it had gone off southwest,
and we had small hope, with this steady south wind, of its getting
scent of the ship and coming to fetch a little of the flesh on board.

"Saturday, January 27th. The days are turning distinctly lighter
now. We can just see to read Verdens Gang [45] about midday. At that
time to-day Sverdrup thought he saw land far astern; it was dark and
irregular, in some places high; he fancied that it might be only an
appearance of clouds. When I returned from a walk, about 1 o'clock,
I went up to look, but saw only piled-up ice. Perhaps this was the
same as he saw, or possibly I was too late. (It turned out next day
to be only an optical illusion.) Severe pressure has been going on
this evening. It began at 7.30 astern in the opening, and went on
steadily for two hours. It sounded as if a roaring waterfall were
rushing down upon us with a force that nothing could resist. One
heard the big floes crashing and breaking against each other. They
were flung and pressed up into high walls, which must now stretch
along the whole opening east and west, for one hears the roar the
whole way. It is coming nearer just now; the ship is getting violent
shocks; it is like waves in the ice. They come on us from behind,
and move forward. We stare out into the night, but can see nothing,
for it is pitch-dark. Now I hear cracking and shifting in the hummock
on the starboard quarter; it gets louder and stronger, and extends
steadily. At last the waterfall roar abates a little. It becomes more
unequal; there is a longer interval between each shock. I am so cold
that I creep below.

"But no sooner have I seated myself to write than the ship begins to
heave and tremble again, and I hear through her sides the roar of the
packing. As the bear-trap may be in danger, three men go off to see
to it, but they find that there is a distance of 50 paces between
the new pressure-ridge and the wire by which the trap is secured,
so they leave it as it is. The pressure-ridge was an ugly sight,
they say, but they could distinguish nothing well in the dark.

"Most violent pressure is beginning again. I must go on deck and
look at it. The loud roar meets one as one opens the door. It is
coming from the bow now, as well as from the stern. It is clear that
pressure-ridges are being thrown up in both openings, so if they reach
us we shall be taken by both ends and lifted lightly and gently out of
the water. There is pressure near us on all sides. Creaking has begun
in the old hummock on the port quarter; it is getting louder, and,
so far as I can see, the hummock is slowly rising. A lane has opened
right across the large floe on the port side; you can see the water,
dark as it is. Now both pressure and noise get worse and worse; the
ship shakes, and I feel as if I myself were being gently lifted with
the stern-rail, where I stand gazing out at the welter of ice-masses
that resemble giant snakes writhing and twisting their great bodies
out there under the quiet, starry sky, whose peace is only broken by
one aurora serpent waving and flickering restlessly in the northeast. I
once more think what a comfort it is to be safe on board the Fram, and
look out with a certain contempt at the horrible hurly-burly Nature
is raising to no purpose whatever; it will not crush us in a hurry,
nor even frighten us. Suddenly I remember that my fine thermometer
is in a hole on a floe to port on the other side of the opening,
and must certainly be in danger. I jump on to the ice, find a place
where I can leap across the opening, and grope about in the dark until
I find the piece of ice covering the hole; I get hold of the string,
and the thermometer is saved. I hurry on board again well pleased, and
down into my comfortable cabin to smoke a pipe of peace--alas! this
vice grows upon me more and more--and to listen with glee to the
roar of the pressure outside and feel its shakings, like so many
earthquakes, as I sit and write my diary. Safe and comfortable, I
cannot but think with deep pity of the many who have had to stand by
on deck in readiness to leave their frail vessels on the occurrence
of any such pressure. The poor Tegethoff fellows--they had a bad time
of it, and yet theirs was a good ship in comparison with many of the
others. It is now 11.30, and the noise outside seems to be subsiding.

"It is remarkable that we should have this strong pressure just now,
with the moon in its last quarter and neap tide. This does not agree
with our previous experiences; no more does the fact that the pressure
the day before yesterday was from 12 A.M. to about 2 P.M., and then
again at 2 A.M., and now we have had it from 7.30 to 10.30 P.M. Can
land have something to do with it here, after all? The temperature
to-day is 42° Fahr. below zero (-41.4° C), but there is no wind, and
we have not had such pleasant weather for walking for a long time;
it feels almost mild here when the air is still.

"No, that was not the end of the pressure. When I was on deck at
a quarter to twelve roaring and trembling began again in the ice
forward on the port quarter; then suddenly came one loud boom after
another, sounding out in the distance, and the ship gave a start;
there was again a little pressure, and after that quietness. Faint
aurora borealis.

"Sunday, January 28th. Strange to say, there has been no pressure
since 12 o'clock last night; the ice seems perfectly quiet. The
pressure-ridge astern showed what violent packing yesterday's was;
in one place its height was 18 or 19 feet above the surface of the
water; floe-ice 8 feet thick was broken, pressed up in square blocks,
and crushed to pieces. At one point a huge monolith of such floe-ice
rose high into the air. Beyond this pressure-wall there was no great
disturbance to be detected. There had been a little packing here and
there, and the floe to port had four or five large cracks across it,
which no doubt accounted for the explosions I heard last night. The
ice to starboard was also cracked in several places. The pressure
had evidently come from the north or N.N.E. The ridge behind us is
one of the highest I have seen yet. I believe that if the Fram had
been lying there she would have been lifted right out of the water. I
walked for some distance in a northeasterly direction, but saw no
signs of pressure there.

"Another Sunday. It is wonderful that the time can pass so quickly
as it does. For one thing we are in better spirits, knowing that we
are drifting steadily north. A rough estimate of to-day's observation
gives 79° 50' north latitude. That is not much since Monday; but then
yesterday and to-day there has been almost no wind at all, and the
other days it has been very light--only once or twice with as much
as 9 feet velocity, the rest of the time 3 and 6.

"A remarkable event happened yesterday afternoon: I got Munthe's
picture of the 'Three Princesses' fastened firmly on the wall. It is
a thing that we have been going to do ever since we left Christiania,
but we have never been able to summon up energy for such a heavy
undertaking--it meant knocking in four nails--and the picture has
amused itself by constantly falling and guillotining whoever happened
to be sitting on the sofa below it.

"Tuesday, January 30th. 79° 49' north latitude, 134° 57' east
longitude, is the tale told by this afternoon's observations, while
by Sunday afternoon's we were in 79° 50' north latitude, and 133° 23'
east longitude. This fall-off to the southeast again was not more than
I had expected, as it has been almost calm since Sunday. I explain the
thing to myself thus: When the ice has been set adrift in a certain
direction by the wind blowing that way for some time it gradually
in process of drifting becomes more compressed, and when that wind
dies away a reaction in the opposite direction takes place. Such a
reaction must, I believe, have been the cause of Saturday's pressure,
which stopped entirely as suddenly as it began. Since then there has
not been the slightest appearance of movement in the ice. Probably the
pressure indicates the time when the drift turned. A light breeze has
sprung up this afternoon from S.E. and E.S.E., increasing gradually
to almost 'mill wind.' We are going north again; surely we shall get
the better of the 80th degree this time.

"Wednesday, January 31st. The wind is whistling among the hummocks;
the snow flies rustling through the air; ice and sky are melted into
one. It is dark; our skins are smarting with the cold; but we are
going north at full speed, and are in the wildest of gay spirits.

"Thursday, February 1st. The same sort of weather as yesterday, except
that it has turned quite mild--7 1/2° Fahr. below zero (-22° C.). The
snow is falling exactly as it does in winter weather at home. The
wind is more southerly, S.S.E. now, and rather lighter. It may be
taken for granted that we have passed the 80th degree, and we had a
small preliminary fête this evening--figs, raisins, and almonds--and
dart-shooting, which last resulted for me in a timely replenishment
of my cigarette-case."

"Friday, February 2d. High festival to-day in honor of the 80th degree,
beginning with fresh rye-bread and cake for breakfast. Took a long
walk to get up an appetite for dinner. According to this morning's
observation, we are in 80° 10' north latitude and 132° 10' east
longitude. Hurrah! Well sailed! I had offered to bet heavily that we
had passed 80°, but no one would take the bet. Dinner menu: Ox-tail
soup, fish-pudding, potatoes, rissoles, green pease, haricot beans,
cloudberries with milk, and a whole bottle of beer to each man. Coffee
and a cigarette after dinner. Could one wish for more? In the evening
we had tinned pears and peaches, gingerbread, dried bananas, figs,
raisins, and almonds. Complete holiday all day. We read aloud the
discussions of this expedition published before we left, and had some
good laughs at the many objections raised. But our people at home,
perhaps, do not laugh if they read them now.

"Monday, February 5th. Last time we shall have Ringnes beer at
dinner. Day of mourning.

"Tuesday, February 6th. Calm, clear weather. A strong sun-glow above
the horizon in the south; yellow, green, and light blue above that;
all the rest of the sky deep ultramarine. I stood looking at it,
trying to remember if the Italian sky was ever bluer; I do not think
so. It is curious that this deep color should always occur along with
cold. Is it perhaps that a current from more northerly, clear regions
produces drier and more transparent air in the upper strata? The color
was so remarkable to-day that one could not help noticing it. Striking
contrasts to it were formed by the Fram's red deck-house and the white
snow on roof and rigging. Ice and hummocks were quite violet wherever
they were turned from the daylight. This color was specially strong
over the fields of snow upon the floes. The temperature has been 52°
Fahr. and 54° Fahr. below zero (-47° and -48° C.). There is a sudden
change of 125° Fahr. when one comes up from the saloon, where the
thermometer is at 72° Fahr. (+22° C.); but, although thinly clad and
bareheaded, one does not feel it cold, and can even with impunity take
hold of the brass door-handle or the steel cable of the rigging. The
cold is visible, however; one's breath is like cannon smoke before it
is out of one's mouth; and when a man spits there is quite a little
cloud of steam round the fallen moisture. The Fram always gives off
a mist, which is carried along by the wind, and a man or a dog can be
detected far off among the hummocks or pressure-ridges by the pillar
of vapor that follows his progress.

"Wednesday, February 7th. It is extraordinary what a frail thing hope,
or rather the mind of man, is. There was a little breeze this morning
from the N.N.E., only 6 feet per second, thermometer at 57° Fahr. below
zero (-49.6° C.), and immediately one's brow is clouded over, and it
becomes a matter of indifference how we get home, so long as we only
get home soon. I immediately assume land to the northward, from which
come these cold winds, with clear atmosphere and frost and bright blue
skies, and conclude that this extensive tract of land must form a pole
of cold with a constant maximum of air-pressure, which will force us
south with northeast winds. About midday the air began to grow more
hazy and my mood less gloomy. No doubt there is a south wind coming,
but the temperature is still too low for it. Then the temperature,
too, rises, and now we can rely on the wind. And this evening it came,
sure enough, from S.S.W., and now, 12 P.M., its velocity is 11 feet,
and the temperature has risen to 43° Fahr. below zero ( -42° C.). This
promises well. We should soon reach 81°. The land to the northward
has now vanished from my mind's eye.

"We had lime-juice with sugar at dinner to-day instead of beer,
and it seemed to be approved of. We call it wine, and we agreed
that it was better than cider. Weighing has gone on this evening,
and the increase in certain cases is still disquieting. Some have
gained as much as 4 pounds in the last month--for instance, Sverdrup,
Blessing, and Juell, who beats the record on board with 13 stone. 'I
never weighed so much as I do now,' says Blessing, and it is much
the same story with us all. Yes, this is a fatiguing expedition,
but our menus are always in due proportion to our labors. To-day's
dinner: Knorr's bean soup, toad-in-the-hole, potatoes, rice and milk,
with cranberry jam. Yesterday's dinner: Fish au gratin (hashed fish)
with potatoes, curried rabbit with potatoes and French beans, stewed
bilberries, and cranberries with milk. At breakfast yesterday we
had freshly baked wheat-bread, at breakfast to-day freshly baked
rye-bread. These are specimens of our ordinary bills of fare. It
is as I expected: I hear the wind roaring in the rigging now; it is
going to be a regular storm, according to our ideas of one here.

"Saturday, February 10th. Though that wind the other day did not
come to much after all, we still hoped that we had made good way
north, and it was consequently an unwelcome surprise when yesterday's
observation showed our latitude to be 79° 57' N., 13' farther south
instead of farther north. It is extraordinary how little inured
one gets to disappointments; the longing begins again; and again
attainment seems so far off, so doubtful. And this though I dream at
nights just now of getting out of the ice west of Iceland. Hope is a
rickety craft to trust one's self to. I had a long, successful drive
with the dogs to-day.

"Sunday, February 11th. To-day we drove out with two teams of
dogs. Things went well; the sledges got on much better over this ice
than I thought they would. They do not sink much in the snow. On flat
ice four dogs can draw two men.

"Tuesday, February 13th. A long drive southwest yesterday with white
dogs. To-day still farther in the same direction on snow-shoes. It
is good healthy exercise, with a temperature of 43° Fahr. to 47°
Fahr. below zero (-42° and -44° C.) and a biting north wind. Nature is
so fair and pure, the ice is so spotless, and the lights and shadows
of the growing day so beautiful on the new-fallen snow. The Fram's
hoar-frost-covered rigging rises straight and white with rime towards
the sparkling blue sky. One's thoughts turn to the snow-shoeing days
at home.

"Thursday, February 15th. I went yesterday on snow-shoes farther
northeast than I have ever been before, but I could still see the
ship's rigging above the edge of the ice. I was able to go fast,
because the ice was flat in that direction. To-day I went the same
way with dogs. I am examining the 'lie of the land' all round, and
thinking of plans for the future.

"What exaggerated reports of the Arctic cold are in circulation! It
was cold in Greenland, and it is not milder here; the general
day temperature just now is about 40° Fahr. and 43° Fahr. below
zero. I was clothed yesterday as usual as regards the legs--drawers,
knickerbockers, stockings, frieze leggings, snow-socks, and moccasins;
my body covering consisted of an ordinary shirt, a wolf-skin cape,
and a sealskin jacket, and I sweated like a horse. To-day I sat still,
driving with only thin ducks above my ordinary leg wear, and on my
body woollen shirt, vest, Iceland woollen jersey, a frieze coat,
and a sealskin one. I found the temperature quite pleasant, and even
perspired a little to-day, too. Both yesterday and to-day I had a
red-flannel mask on my face, but it made me too warm, and I had to take
it off, though there was a bitter breeze from the north. That north
wind is still persistent, sometimes with a velocity of 9 or even 13
feet, but yet we do not seem to be drifting south; we lie in 80° north
latitude, or even a few minutes farther north. What can be the reason
of this? There is a little pressure every day just now. Curious that
it should again occur at the moon's change of quarter. The moon stands
high in the sky, and there is daylight now, too. Soon the sun will
be making his appearance, and when he does we shall hold high festival.

"Friday, February 16th. Hurrah! A meridian observation to-day shows
80° 1' north latitude, so that we have come a few minutes north since
last Friday, and that in spite of constant northerly winds since
Monday. There is something very singular about this. Is it, as I have
thought all along from the appearance of the clouds and the haziness
of the air, that there has been south wind in the south, preventing
the drift of the ice that way, or have we at last come under the
influence of a current? That shove we got to the south lately in
the face of southerly winds was a remarkable thing, and so is our
remaining where we are now in spite of the northerly ones. It would
seem that new powers of some kind must be at work. "To-day another
noteworthy thing happened, which was that about midday we saw the
sun, or, to be more correct, an image of the sun, for it was only
a mirage. A peculiar impression was produced by the sight of that
glowing fire lit just above the outermost edge of the ice. According
to the enthusiastic descriptions given by many Arctic travellers of
the first appearance of this god of life after the long winter night,
the impression ought to be one of jubilant excitement; but it was
not so in my case. We had not expected to see it for some days yet,
so that my feeling was rather one of pain, of disappointment, that
we must have drifted farther south than we thought. So it was with
pleasure I soon discovered that it could not be the sun itself. The
mirage was at first like a flattened-out glowing red streak of fire
on the horizon; later there were two streaks, the one above the other,
with a dark space between; and from the main-top I could see four, or
even five, such horizontal lines directly over one another, and all
of equal length; as if one could only imagine a square dull-red sun
with horizontal dark streaks across it. An astronomical observation we
took in the afternoon showed that the sun must in reality have been 2°
22' below the horizon at noon; we cannot expect to see its disk above
the ice before Tuesday at the earliest: it depends on the refraction,
which is very strong in this cold air. All the same, we had a small
sun-festival this evening, on the occasion of the appearance of its
image--a treat of figs, bananas, raisins, almonds, and gingerbread.

"Sunday, February 18th. I went eastward yesterday on snow-shoes, and
found a good snow-shoeing and driving road out to the flats that lie
in that direction. There is a pretty bad bit first, with hummocks and
pressure-ridges, and then you come out on these great wide plains,
which seem to extend for miles and miles to the north, east, and
southeast. To-day I drove out there with eight dogs; the driving
goes capitally now; some of the others followed on snow-shoes. Still
northerly wind. This is slow work; but anyhow we are having clear,
bright weather. Yes, it is all very well--we snow-shoe, sledge,
read both for instruction and amusement, write, take observations,
play cards, chat, smoke, play chess, eat and drink; but all the same
it is an execrable life in the long-run, this--at least, so it seems
to me at times. When I look at the picture of our beautiful home in
the evening light, with my wife standing in the garden, I feel as
if it were impossible that this could go on much longer. But only
the merciless fates know when we shall stand there together again,
feeling all life's sweetness as we look out over the smiling fjord,
and ... Taking everything into calculation, if I am to be perfectly
honest, I think this is a wretched state of matters. We are now in
about 80° north latitude, in September we were in 79°; that is,
let us say, one degree for five months. If we go on at this rate
we shall be at the Pole in forty-five, or say fifty, months, and
in ninety or one hundred months at 80° north latitude on the other
side of it, with probably some prospect of getting out of the ice
and home in a month or two more. At best, if things go on as they
are doing now, we shall be home in eight years. I remember Brogger
writing before I left, when I was planting small bushes and trees in
the garden for future generations, that no one knew what length of
shadows these trees would cast by the time I came back. Well, they
are lying under the winter snow now, but in spring they will shoot
and grow again--how often? Oh! at times this inactivity crushes one's
very soul; one's life seems as dark as the winter night outside;
there is sunlight upon no part of it except the past and the far,
far distant future. I feel as if I must break through this deadness,
this inertia, and find some outlet for my energies. Can't something
happen? Could not a hurricane come and tear up this ice, and set it
rolling in high waves like the open sea? Welcome danger, if it only
brings us the chance of fighting for our lives--only lets us move
onward! The miserable thing is to be inactive onlookers, not to be
able to lift a hand to help ourselves forward. It wants ten times
more strength of mind to sit still and trust in your theories and let
nature work them out without your being able so much as to lay one
stick across another to help, than it does to trust in working them
out by your own energy--that is nothing when you have a pair of strong
arms. Here I sit, whining like an old woman. Did I not know all this
before I started? Things have not gone worse than I expected, but,
on the contrary, rather better. Where is now the serene hopefulness
that spread itself in the daylight and the sun? Where are those proud
imaginings now that mounted like young eagles towards the brightness of
the future? Like broken-winged, wet crows they leave the sunlit sea,
and hide themselves in the misty marshes of despondency. Perhaps it
will all come back again with the south wind; but, no--I must go and
rummage up one of the old philosophers again.

"There is a little pressure this evening, and an observation just
taken seems to indicate a drift of 3' south.

"11 P.M. Pressure in the opening astern. The ice is cracking and
squeezing against the ship, making it shake.

"Monday, February 19th. Once more it may be said that the night is
darkest just before the dawn. Wind began to blow from the south
to-day, and has reached a velocity of 13 feet per second. We did
some ice-boring this morning, and found that the ice to port is 5
feet 11-5/8 inches (1.875 metres) thick, with a layer of about 1
1/2 inches of snow over it. The ice forward was 6 feet 7 1/2 inches
(2.08 metres) thick, but a couple of inches of this was snow. This
cannot be called much growth for quite a month, when one thinks that
the temperature has been down to 58° Fahr. below zero.

"Both to-day and yesterday we have seen the mirage of the sun again;
to-day it was high above the horizon, and almost seemed to assume
a round, disk-like form. Some of the others maintain that they have
seen the upper edge of the sun itself; Peter and Bentzen, that they
have seen at least half of the disk, and Juell and Hansen declare
that the whole of it was above the horizon. I am afraid it is so long
since they saw it that they have forgotten what it is like.

"Tuesday, February 20th. Great sun festival to-day without any
sun. We felt certain we should see it, but there were clouds on the
horizon. However, we were not going to be cheated out of our festival;
we can hold another on the occasion of really seeing it for the first
time. We began with a grand rifle practice in the morning; then there
was a dinner of three or four courses and 'Fram wine,' otherwise
lime-juice, coffee afterwards with 'Fram cake.' In the evening
pineapple, cake, figs, bananas, and sweets. We go off to bed feeling
that we have over-eaten ourselves, while half a gale from the S.E. is
blowing us northward. The mill has been going to-day, and though the
real sun did not come to the festival, our saloon sun lighted up our
table both at dinner and supper. Great face-washing in honor of the
day. The way we are laying on flesh is getting serious. Several of
us are like prize pigs, and the bulge of cook Juell's cheeks, not
to mention another part of his body, is quite alarming. I saw him in
profile to-day, and wondered how he would ever manage to carry such
a corporation over the ice if we should have to turn out one of these
fine days. Must begin to think of a course of short rations now.

"Wednesday, February 21st. The south wind continues. Took up the
bag-nets to-day which were put out the day before yesterday. In the
upper one, which hung near the surface, there were chiefly amphipoda;
in Murray's net, which hung at about 50 fathoms' depth, there was a
variety of small crustacea and other small animals shining with such a
strong phosphorescence that the contents of the net looked like glowing
embers as I emptied them out in the cook's galley by lamplight. To
my astonishment the net-line pointed northwest, though from the wind
there ought to be a good northerly drift. To clear this matter up I
let the net down in the afternoon, and as soon as it got a little way
under the ice the line pointed northwest again, and continued to do
so the whole afternoon. How is this phenomenon to be explained? Can
we, after all, be in a current moving northwest? Let us hope that the
future will prove such to be the case. We can reckon on two points of
variation in the compass, and in that case the current would make due
N.N.W. There seems to be strong movement in the ice. It has opened
and formed channels in several places.

"Thursday, February 22d. The net-line has pointed west all day till
now, afternoon, when it is pointing straight up and down, and we
are presumably lying still. The wind slackened to-day till it was
quite calm in the afternoon. Then there came a faint breeze from
the southwest and from the west, and this evening the long-dreaded
northwester has come at last. At 9 P.M. it is blowing pretty hard from
N.N.W. An observation of Capella taken in the afternoon would seem
to show that we are in any case not farther north than 80° 11' and
this after almost four days' south wind. Whatever can be the meaning
of this? Is there dead-water under the ice, keeping it from going
either forward or backward? The ice to starboard cracked yesterday,
away beyond the bear-trap. The thickness of the solid floe was 11 1/2
feet (3.45 metres), but, besides this, other ice was packed on to it
below. Where it was broken across, the floe showed a marked stratified
formation, recalling the stratification of a glacier. Even the darker
and dirtier strata were there, the color in this case produced by the
brownish-red organisms that inhabit the water, specimens of which I
found at an earlier date. In several places the strata were bent and
broken, exactly in the same manner as the geological strata forming the
earth's crust. This was evidently the result of the horizontal pressure
in the ice at the time of packing. It was especially noticeable at
one place, near a huge mound formed during the last pressure. Here
the strata looked very much as they are represented in the annexed
drawing. [46]

It was extraordinary too to see how this floe of over three yards in
thickness was bent into great waves without breaking. This was clearly
done by pressure, and was specially noticeable, more particularly
near the pressure-ridges, which had forced the floe down so that its
upper surface lay even with the water-line, while at other places it
was a good half-yard above it, in these last cases thrust up by ice
pressed in below. It all shows how extremely plastic these floes are,
in spite of the cold; the temperature of the ice near the surface
must have been from 4° Fahr. to 22° Fahr. below zero (-20° to -30°
C.) at the time of these pressures. In many places the bending had
been too violent, and the floe had cracked. The cracks were often
covered with loose ice, so that one could easily enough fall into them,
just as in crossing a dangerous glacier.

"Saturday, February 24th. Observations to-day show us to be in 79°
54' north latitude, 132° 57' east longitude. Strange that we should
have come so far south when the north or northwest wind only blew
for twenty-four hours.

"Sunday, February 25th. It looks as if the ice were drifting eastward
now. Oh! I see pictures of summer and green trees and rippling
streams. I am reading of valley and mountain life, and I grow sick
at heart and enervated. Why dwell on such things just now? It will
be many a long day before we can see all that again. We are going
at the miserable pace of a snail, but not so surely as it goes. We
carry our house with us; but what we do one day is undone the next.

"Monday, February 26th. We are drifting northeast. A tremendous
snow-storm is going on. The wind has at times a velocity of over 35
feet per second; it is howling in the rigging, whistling over the
ice, and the snow is drifting so badly that a man might be lost in
it quite near at hand. We are sitting here listening to the howling
in the chimney and in the ventilators, just as if we were sitting in
a house at home in Norway. The wings of the windmill have been going
round at such a rate that you could hardly distinguish them; but we
have had to stop the mill this evening because the accumulators are
full, and we fastened up the wings so that the wind might not destroy
them. We have had electric light for almost a week now.

"This is the strongest wind we have had the whole winter. If
anything can shake up the ice and drive us north, this must do
it. But the barometer is falling too fast; there will be north
wind again presently. Hope has been disappointed too often; it is
no longer elastic; and the gale makes no great impression on me. I
look forward to spring and summer, in suspense as to what change
they will bring. But the Arctic night, the dreaded Arctic night,
is over, and we have daylight once again. I must say that I see no
appearance of the sunken, wasted faces which this night ought to have
produced; in the clearest daylight and the brightest sunshine I can
only discover plump, comfortable-looking ones. It is curious enough,
though, about the light. We used to think it was like real day down
here when the incandescent lamps were burning; but now, coming down
from the daylight, though they may be all lit, it is like coming into a
cellar. When the arc lamp has been burning all day, as it has to-day,
and is then put out and its place supplied by the incandescent ones,
the effect is much the same.

"Tuesday, February 27th. Drifting E.S.E. My pessimism is justified. A
strong west wind has blown almost all day; the barometer is low,
but has begun to rise unsteadily. The temperature is the highest we
have had all winter; to-day's maximum is 15° Fahr. above zero (-9.7°
C.). At 8 P.M. the thermometer stood at 7° Fahr. below zero (-22°
C.). The temperature rises and falls almost exactly conversely with
the barometer. This afternoon's observation places us in about 80°
10' north latitude.

"Wednesday, February 28th. Beautiful weather to-day, almost still,
and temperature only about 15° Fahr. to 22° Fahr. below zero (-26° to
-30° 5' C.). There were clouds in the south, so that not much was to
be seen of the sun; but it is light wonderfully long already. Sverdrup
and I went snow-shoeing after dinner--the first time this year that we
have been able to do anything of the kind in the afternoon. We made
attempts to pump yesterday and to-day; there ought to be a little
water, but the pump would not suck, though we tried both warm water
and salt. Possibly there is water frozen round it, and possibly there
is no water at all. In the engine-room there has been no appearance
of water for more than a month, and none comes into the forehold,
especially now that the bow is raised up by the pack-ice; so if there
is any it can only be a little in the hold. This tightening may be
attributed chiefly to the frost.

"The wind has begun to blow again from the S.S.W. this evening, and
the barometer is falling, which ought to mean good wind coming; but
the barometer of hope does not rise above its normal height. I had
a bath this evening in a tin tub in the galley; trimmed and clean,
one feels more of a human being.

"Thursday, March 1st. We are lying almost still. Beautiful mild
weather, only 2 1/2° Fahr. below zero (-19° C.), sky overcast; light
fall of snow, and light wind. We made attempts to sound to-day, having
lengthened our hemp line with a single strand of steel. This broke
off with the lead. We put on a new lead and the whole line ran out,
about 2000 fathoms, without touching bottom, so far as we could make
out. In process of hauling in, the steel line broke again. So the
results are: no bottom, and two sounding-leads, each of 100 pounds'
weight, making their way down. Goodness knows if they have reached the
bottom yet. I declare I feel inclined to believe that Bentzen is right,
and that it is the hole at the earth's axis we are trying to sound.

"Friday, March 2d. The pups have lived until now in the chart-room,
and have done all the mischief there that they could, gnawing the
cases of Hansen's instruments, the log-books, etc. They were taken
out on deck yesterday for the first time, and to-day they have been
there all the morning. They are of an inquiring turn of mind, and
examine everything, being specially interested in the interiors of
all the kennels in this new, large town.

"Sunday, March 4th. The drift is still strong south. There is
northwesterly wind to-day again, but not quite so much of it. I
expected we had come a long way south, but yesterday's observation
still showed 79° 54' north latitude. We must have drifted a good way
north during the last days before this wind came. The weather yesterday
and to-day has been bitter, 35° Fahr. and 36 1/2° Fahr. below zero
(-37° and -38° C.), with sometimes as much as 35 feet of wind per
second, must be called cool. It is curious that now the northerly
winds bring cold, and the southerly warmth. Earlier in the winter it
was just the opposite.

"Monday, March 5th. Sverdrup and I have been a long way northeast
on snow-shoes. The ice was in good condition for it; the wind has
tossed about the snow finely, covering over the pressure-ridge as
far as the scanty supply of material has permitted.

"Tuesday, March 6th. No drift at all. It has been a bitter day to-day,
47° Fahr. to 50° Fahr. below zero (-44° to -46° C.), and wind up to
19 feet. This has been a good occasion for getting hands and face
frost-bitten, and one or two have taken advantage of it. Steady
northwest wind. I am beginning to get indifferent and stolid as
far as the wind is concerned. I photographed Johansen to-day at the
anemometer, and during the process his nose was frost-bitten.

"There has been a general weighing this evening again. These weighings
are considered very interesting performances, and we stand watching in
suspense to see whether each man has gained or lost. Most of them have
lost a little this time. Can it be because we have stopped drinking
beer and begun lime-juice? But Juell goes on indefatigably--he has
gained nearly a pound this time. Our doctor generally does very well
in this line too, but to-day it is only 10 ounces. In other ways he is
badly off on board, poor fellow--not a soul will turn ill. In despair
he set up a headache yesterday himself, but he could not make it last
over the night. Of late he has taken to studying the diseases of dogs;
perhaps he may find a more profitable practice in this department.

"Thursday, March 8th. Drifting south. Sverdrup and I had a good
snow-shoeing trip to-day, to the north and west. The snow was in
splendid condition after the winds; you fly along like thistledown
before a breeze, and can get about everywhere, even over the worst
pressure-mounds. The weather was beautiful, temperature only 38°
Fahr. below zero (-39° C.); but this evening it is quite bitter again,
55° Fahr. (-48.5° C.) and from 16 to 26 feet of wind. It is by no means
pleasant work standing up on the windmill, reefing or taking in the
sails; it means aching nails, and sometimes frost-bitten cheeks; but
it has to be done, and it is done. There is plenty of 'mill-wind' in
the daytime now--this is the third week we have had electric light--but
it is wretched that it should be always this north and northwest wind;
goodness only knows when it is going to stop. Can there be land north
of us? We are drifting badly south. It is hard to keep one's faith
alive. There is nothing for it but to wait and see what time will do.

"After a long rest the ship got a shake this afternoon. I went on
deck. Pressure was going on in an opening just in front of the bow. We
might almost have expected it just now, as it is new moon; only we
have got out of the way of thinking at all about the spring tides,
as they have had so little effect lately. They should of course be
specially strong just now, as the equinox is approaching.

"Friday, March 9th. The net-line pointed slightly southwest this
morning; but the line attached to a cheese which was only hanging
a few fathoms below the ice to thaw faster, seemed to point in the
opposite direction. Had we got a southerly current together with the
wind now? H'm! in that case something must come of it! Or was it,
perhaps, only the tide setting that way?

"Still the same northerly wind; we are steadily bearing south. This,
then, is the change I hoped the March equinox would bring! We have been
having northerly winds for more than a fortnight. I cannot conceal
from myself any longer that I am beginning to despond. Quietly
and slowly, but mercilessly, one hope after the other is being
crushed and ... have I not a right to be a little despondent? I long
unutterably after home, perhaps I am drifting away farther from it,
perhaps nearer; but anyhow it is not cheering to see the realization
of one's plans again and again delayed, if not annihilated altogether,
in this tedious and monotonously killing way. Nature goes her age-old
round impassively; summer changes into winter; spring vanishes away;
autumn comes, and finds us still a mere chaotic whirl of daring
projects and shattered hopes. As the wheel revolves, now the one
and now the other comes to the top--but memory betweenwhiles lightly
touches her ringing silver chords--now loud like a roaring waterfall,
now low and soft like far off sweet music. I stand and look out over
this desolate expanse of ice with its plains and heights and valleys,
formed by the pressure arising from the shifting tidal currents of
winter. The sun is now shining over them with his cheering beams. In
the middle lies the Fram, hemmed in immovably. When, my proud ship,
will you float free in the open water again?


            "'Ich schau dich an, und Wehmuth,
            Schleicht mir in's Herz hinein.'


Over these masses of ice, drifting by paths unknown, a human
pondered and brooded so long that he put a whole people in motion
to enable him to force his way in among them--a people who had
plenty of other claims upon their energies. For what purpose all
this to-do? If only the calculations were correct these ice-floes
would be glorious--nay, irresistible auxiliaries. But if there has
been an error in the calculation--well, in that case they are not
so pleasant to deal with. And how often does a calculation come out
correct? But were I now free? Why, I should do it all over again,
from the same starting-point. One must persevere till one learns to
calculate correctly.

"I laugh at the scurvy; no sanatorium better than ours.

"I laugh at the ice; we are living as it were in an impregnable castle.

"I laugh at the cold; it is nothing.

"But I do not laugh at the winds; they are everything; they bend to
no man's will.

"But why always worry about the future? Why distress yourself as to
whether you are drifting forward or backward? Why not carelessly let
the days glide by like a peacefully flowing river? every now and then
there will come a rapid that will quicken the lazy flow. Ah! what
a wondrous contrivance is life--one eternal hurrying forward, ever
forward--to what end? And then comes death and cuts all short before
the goal is reached.

"I went a long snow-shoe tour to-day. A little way to the north there
were a good many newly formed lanes and pressure-ridges which were
hard to cross, but patience overcomes everything, and I soon reached
a level plain where it was delightful going. It was, however, rather
cold, about 54° Fahr. below zero (-48° C.) and 16 feet of wind from
N.N.E., but I did not feel it much. It is wholesome and enjoyable
to be out in such weather. I wore only ordinary clothes, such as I
might wear at home, with a sealskin jacket and linen outside breeches,
and a half-mask to protect the forehead, nose, and cheeks.

"There has been a good deal of ice-pressure in different directions
to-day. Oddly enough, a meridian altitude of the sun gave 79° 45'. We
have therefore drifted only 8' southward during the four days since
March 4th. This slow drift is remarkable in spite of the high winds. If
there should be land to the north? I begin more and more to speculate
on this possibility. Land to the north would explain at once our not
progressing northward, and the slowness of our southward drift. But
it may also possibly arise from the fact of the ice being so closely
packed together, and frozen so thick and massive. It seems strange
to me that there is so much northwest wind, and hardly any from the
northeast, though the latter is what the rotation of the earth would
lead one to expect. As a matter of fact, the wind merely shifts
between northwest and southeast, instead of between southwest and
northeast, as it ought to do. Unless there is land I am at a loss to
find a satisfactory explanation, at all events, of this northwest
direction. Does Franz Josef Land jut out eastward or northward, or
does a continuous line of islands extend from Franz Josef Land in one
or other of those directions? It is by no means impossible. Directly
the Austrians got far enough to the north they met with prevailing
winds from the northeast, while we get northwesterly winds. Does the
central point of these masses of land lie to the north, midway between
our meridian and theirs? I can hardly believe that these remarkably
cold winds from the north are engendered by merely passing over an
ice-covered sea. If, indeed, there is land, and we get hold of it,
then all our troubles would be over. But no one can tell what the
future may bring forth, and it is better, perhaps, not to know.

"Saturday, March 10th. The line shows a drift northward; now, too,
in the afternoon, a slight southerly breeze has sprung up. As usual,
it has done me good to put my despondency on paper and get rid of
it. To-day I am in good spirits again, and can indulge in happy dreams
of a large and high land in the north with mountains and valleys,
where we can sit under the mountain wall, roast ourselves in the sun,
and see the spring come. And over its inland ice we can make our way
to the very Pole.

"Sunday, March 11th. A snow-shoe run northward. Temperature -50°
C. (58° Fahr. below zero), and 10 feet wind from N.N.E. We did not
feel the cold very much, though it was rather bad for the stomach
and thighs, as none of us had our wind trousers [47] on. We wore
our usual dress of a pair of ordinary trousers and woollen pants,
a shirt, and wolfskin cloak, or a common woollen suit with a light
sealskin jacket over it. For the first time in my life I felt my
thighs frozen, especially just over the knee, and on the kneecap; my
companions also suffered in the same way. This was after going a long
while against the wind. We rubbed our legs a little, and they soon
got warm again; but had we kept on much longer without noticing it we
should probably have been severely frost-bitten. In other respects we
did not suffer the least inconvenience from the cold--on the contrary,
found the temperature agreeable; and I am convinced that 10°, 20°,
or even 30° lower would not have been unendurable. It is strange how
one's sensations alter. When at home, I find it unpleasant if I only
go out-of-doors when there are some 20 degrees of cold, even in calm
weather. But here I don't find it any colder when I turn out in 50
degrees of cold, with a wind into the bargain. Sitting in a warm
room at home one gets exaggerated ideas about the terribleness of
the cold. It is really not in the least terrible; we all of us find
ourselves very well in it, though sometimes one or another of us does
not take quite so long a walk as usual when a strong wind is blowing,
and will even turn back for the cold; but that is when he is only
lightly clad and has no wind clothes on. This evening it is 51.2°
Fahr. below zero, and 14 1/2 feet N.N.E. wind. Brilliant northern
lights in the south. Already there is a very marked twilight even
at midnight.

"Monday, March 12th. Slowly drifting southward. Took a long snow-shoe
run alone, towards the north; to-day had on my wind breeches, but found
them almost too warm. This morning it was 51.6° Fahr. below zero, and
about 13 feet N. wind; at noon it was some degrees warmer. Ugh! this
north wind is freshening; the barometer has risen again, and I had
thought the wind would have changed, but it is and remains the same.

"This is what March brings us--the month on which my hopes relied. Now
I must wait for the summer. Soon the half-year will be past, it
will leave us about in the same place as when-it began. Ugh! I am
weary--so weary! Let me sleep, sleep! Come, sleep! noiselessly close
the door of the soul, stay the flowing stream of thought! Come dreams,
and let the sun beam over the snowless strand of Godthaab!

"Wednesday, March 14th. In the evening the dogs all at once began to
bark, as we supposed on account of bears. Sverdrup and I took our guns,
let 'Ulenka' and 'Pan' loose, and set off. There was twilight still,
and the moon, moreover, began to shine. No sooner were the dogs on
the ice than off they started westward like a couple of rockets,
we after them as quickly as we could. As I was jumping over a lane
I thrust one leg through the ice up to the knee. Oddly enough, I
did not get wet through to the skin, though I only had Finn shoes
and frieze gaiters on; but in this temperature, 38° Fahr. below
zero (-39° C.), the water freezes on the cold cloth before it can
penetrate it. I felt nothing of it afterwards; it became, as it were,
a plate of ice armor that almost helped to keep me warm. At a channel
some distance off we at last discovered that it was not a bear the
dogs had winded, but either a walrus or a seal. We saw holes in
several places on the fresh-formed ice where it had stuck its head
through. What a wonderfully keen nose those dogs must have: it was
quite two-thirds of a mile from the ship, and the creature had only
had just a little bit of its snout above the ice. We returned to the
ship to get a harpoon, but saw no more of the animal, though we went
several times up and down the channel. Meanwhile 'Pan,' in his zeal,
got too near the edge of the lane and fell into the water. The ice
was so high that he could not get up on it again without help, and
if I had not been there to haul him up I am afraid he would have been
drowned. He is now lying in the saloon, and making himself comfortable
and drying himself. But he, too, did not get wet through to the skin,
though he was a good time in the water: the inner hair of his close,
coarse coat is quite dry and warm. The dogs look on it as a high treat
to come in here, for they are not often allowed to do so. They go round
all the cabins and look out for a comfortable corner to lie down in.

"Lovely weather, almost calm, sparklingly bright, and moonshine:
in the north the faint flush of evening, and the aurora over the
southern sky, now like a row of flaming spears, then changing into
a silvery veil, undulating in wavy folds with the wind, every here
and there interspersed with red sprays. These wonderful night effects
are ever new, and never fail to captivate the soul."

"Thursday, March 15th. This morning 41.7°, and at 8 P.M. 40.7°
Fahr. below zero, while the daytime was rather warmer. At noon it
was 40.5° and at 4 P.M. 39° Fahr. below zero. It would almost seem
as if the sun began to have power.

"The dogs are strange creatures. This evening they are probably
sweltering in their kennels again, for four or five of them are
lying outside or on the roof. When there are 50 degrees of cold most
of them huddle together inside, and lie as close to one another as
possible. Then, too, they are very loath to go out for a walk; they
prefer to lie in the sun under the lee of the ship. But now they find
it so mild and such pleasant walking that to-day it was not difficult
to get them to follow.

"Friday, March 16th. Sverdrup has of late been occupied in making sails
for the ship's boats. To-day there was a light southwesterly breeze,
so we tried one of the sails on two hand-sledges lashed together. It
is first-rate sailing, and does not require much wind to make them
glide along. This would be a great assistance if we had to go home
over the ice.

"Wednesday, March 21st. At length a reaction has set in: the wind is
S.E. and there is a strong drift northward again. The equinox is past,
and we are not one degree farther north since the last equinox. I
wonder where the next will find us. Should it be more to the south,
then victory is uncertain; if more to the north, the battle is won,
though it may last long. I am looking forward to the summer; it must
bring a change with it. The open water we sailed in up here cannot
possibly be produced by the melting of the ice alone; it must be
also due to the winds and current. And if the ice in which we are now
drifts so far to the north as to make room for all this open water,
we shall have covered a good bit on our way. It would seem, indeed,
as if summer must bring northerly winds, with the cold Arctic Sea
in the north and warm Siberia in the south. This makes me somewhat
dubious; but, on the other hand, we have warm seas in the west:
they may be stronger; and the Jeannette, moreover, drifted northwest.

"It is strange that, notwithstanding these westerly winds, we do not
drift eastward. The last longitude was only 135° east longitude.

"Maundy Thursday, March 22d. A strong southeasterly wind still, and
a good drift northward. Our spirits are rising. The wind whistles
through the rigging overhead, and sounds like the sough of victory
through the air. In the forenoon one of the puppies had a severe
attack of convulsions; it foamed at the mouth and bit furiously at
everything round it. It ended with tetanus, and we carried it out
and laid it down on the ice. It hopped about like a toad, its legs
stiff and extended, neck and head pointing upward, while its back
was curved like a saddle. I was afraid it might be hydrophobia or
some other infectious sickness, and shot it on the spot. Perhaps I
was rather too hasty; we can scarcely have any infection among us
now. But what could it have been? Was it an epileptic attack? The
other day one of the other puppies alarmed me by running round and
round in the chart-house as if it were mad, hiding itself after
a time between a chest and the wall. Some of the others, too, had
seen it do the same thing; but after a while it got all right again,
and for the last few days there has been nothing amiss with it.

"Good Friday, March 23d. Noonday observation gives 80° north
latitude. In four days and nights we have drifted as far north as
we drifted southward in three weeks. It is a comfort, at all events,
to know that!

"It is remarkable how quickly the nights have grown light. Even stars
of the first magnitude can now barely manage to twinkle in the pale
sky at midnight.

"Saturday, March 24th. Easter Eve. To-day a notable event
has occurred. We have allowed the light of spring to enter the
saloon. During the whole of the winter the skylight was covered with
snow to keep the cold out, and the dogs' kennels, moreover, had been
placed round it. Now we have thrown out all the snow upon the ice, and
the panes of glass in the skylight have been duly cleared and cleaned.

"Monday, March 26th. We are lying motionless--no drift. How long will
this last? Last equinox how proud and triumphant I was! The whole
world looked bright; but now I am proud no longer.

"The sun mounts up and bathes the ice-plain with its radiance. Spring
is coming, but brings no joys with it. Here it is as lonely and cold
as ever. One's soul freezes. Seven more years of such life--or say
only four--how will the soul appear then? And she...? If I dared to
let my longings loose--to let my soul thaw. Ah! I long more than I
dare confess.

"I have not courage to think of the future.... And how will it be at
home, when year after year rolls by and no one comes?

"I know this is all a morbid mood; but still this inactive, lifeless
monotony, without any change, wrings one's very soul. No struggle,
no possibility of struggle! All is so still and dead, so stiff and
shrunken, under the mantle of ice. Ah! ... the very soul freezes. What
would I not give for a single day of struggle--for even a moment
of danger!

"Still I must wait, and watch the drift; but should it take a wrong
direction, then I will break all the bridges behind me, and stake
everything on a northward march over the ice. I know nothing better
to do. It will be a hazardous journey--a matter, maybe, of life or
death. But have I any other choice?

"It is unworthy of a man to set himself a task, and then give in when
the brunt of the battle is upon him. There is but one way, and that
is Fram--forward.

"Tuesday, March 27th. We are again drifting southward, and the wind is
northerly. The midday observation showed 80° 4' north latitude. But
why so dispirited? I am staring myself blind at one single point--am
thinking solely of reaching the Pole and forcing our way through to
the Atlantic Ocean. And all the time our real task is to explore
the unknown polar regions. Are we doing nothing in the service of
science? It will be a goodly collection of observations that we
shall take home with us from this region, with which we are now
rather too well acquainted. The rest is, and remains, a mere matter
of vanity. 'Love truth more, and victory less.'

"I look at Eilif Peterssen's picture, a Norwegian pine forest, and I
am there in spirit. How marvellously lovely it is there now, in the
spring, in the dim, melancholy stillness that reigns among the stately
stems! I can feel the damp moss in which my foot sinks softly and
noiselessly; the brook, released from the winter bondage, is murmuring
through the clefts and among the rocks, with its brownish-yellow water;
the air is full of the scent of moss and pine-needles; while overhead,
against the light-blue sky, the dark pine-tops rock to and fro in
the spring breeze, ever uttering their murmuring wail, and beneath
their shelter the soul fearlessly expands its wings and cools itself
in the forest dew.

"O solemn pine forest, the only confidant of my childhood, it was from
you I learned nature's deepest tones--its wildness, its melancholy! You
colored my soul for life.

"Alone--far in the forest--beside the glowing embers of my fire on
the shore of the silent, murky woodland tarn, with the gloom of night
overhead, how happy I used to be in the enjoyment of nature's harmony!

"Thursday, March 29th. It is wonderful what a change it makes to have
daylight once more in the saloon. On turning out for breakfast and
seeing the light gleaming in, one feels that it really is morning.

"We are busy on board. Sails are being made for the boats and
hand-sledges. The windmill, too, is to have fresh sails, so that it can
go in any kind of weather. Ah, if we could but give the Fram wings as
well! Knives are being forged, bear-spears which we never have any use
for, bear-traps in which we never catch a bear, axes, and many other
things of like usefulness. For the moment there is a great manufacture
of wooden shoes going on, and a newly started nail-making industry. The
only shareholders in this company are Sverdrup and Smith Lars, called
'Storm King,' because he always comes upon us like hard weather. The
output is excellent and is in active demand, as all our small nails
for the hand-sledge fittings have been used. Moreover, we are very busy
putting German-silver plates under the runners of the hand-sledges, and
providing appliances for lashing sledges together. There is, moreover,
a workshop for snow-shoe fastenings, and a tinsmith's shop, busied
for the moment with repairs to the lamps. Our doctor, too, for lack
of patients, has set up a bookbinding establishment which is greatly
patronized by the Fram's library, whereof several books that are in
constant circulation, such as Gjest Baardsens Liv og Levnet, etc.,
are in a very bad state. We have also a saddlers' and sail-makers'
workshop, a photographic studio, etc. The manufacture of diaries,
however, is the most extensive--every man on board works at that. In
fine, there is nothing between heaven and earth that we cannot turn
out--excepting constant fair winds.

"Our workshops can be highly recommended; they turn out good solid
work. We have lately had a notable addition to our industries, the firm
'Nansen & Amundsen' having established a music-factory. The cardboard
plates of the organ had suffered greatly from wear and damp, so that
we had been deplorably short of music during the winter. But yesterday
I set to work in earnest to manufacture a plate of zinc. It answers
admirably, and now we shall go ahead with music sacred and profane,
especially waltzes, and these halls shall once more resound with the
pealing tones of the organ, to our great comfort and edification. When
a waltz is struck up it breathes fresh life into many of the inmates
of the Fram.

"I complain of the wearing monotony of our surroundings; but in reality
I am unjust. The last few days, dazzling sunshine over the snow-hills;
to-day, snow-storm and wind, the Fram enveloped in a whirl of foaming
white snow. Soon the sun appears again, and the waste around gleams
as before.

"Here, too, there is sentiment in nature. How often, when least
thinking of it, do I find myself pause, spell-bound by the marvellous
hues which evening wears. The ice-hills steeped in bluish-violet
shadows, against the orange-tinted sky, illumined by the glow of
the setting sun, form as it were a strange color-poem, imprinting an
ineffaceable picture on the soul. And these bright, dream-like nights,
how many associations they have for us Northmen! One pictures to one's
self those mornings in spring when one went out into the forest after
blackcock, under the dim stars, and with the pale crescent moon peering
over the tree-tops. Dawn, with its glowing hues up here in the north,
is the breaking of a spring day over the forest wilds at home; the
hazy blue vapor beneath the morning glow turns to the fresh early
mist over the marshes; the dark low clouds on a background of dim
red seem like distant ranges of hills.

"Daylight here, with its rigid, lifeless whiteness, has no attractions;
but the evening and night thaw the heart of this world of ice;
it dreams mournful dreams, and you seem to hear in the hues of the
evening sounds of its smothered wail. Soon these will cease, and the
sun will circle round the everlasting light-blue expanse of heaven,
imparting one uniform color to day and night alike.

"Friday, April 6th. A remarkable event was to take place to-day which,
naturally, we all looked forward to with lively interest. It was an
eclipse of the sun. During the night Hansen had made a calculation that
the eclipse would begin at 12.56 o'clock. It was important for us to be
able to get a good observation, as we should thus be able to regulate
our chronometers to a nicety. In order to make everything sure, we
set up our instruments a couple of hours beforehand, and commenced to
observe. We used the large telescope and our large theodolite. Hansen,
Johansen, and myself took it by turns to sit for five minutes each at
the instruments, watching the rim of the sun, as we expected a shadow
would become visible on its lower western edge, while another stood
by with the watch. We remained thus full two hours without anything
occurring. The exciting moment was now at hand, when, according to
calculation, the shadow should first be apparent. Hansen was sitting
by the large telescope when he thought he could discern a quivering
in the sun's rim; 33 seconds afterwards he cried out, 'Now!' as did
Johansen simultaneously. The watch was then at 12 hrs. 56 min. 7.5
sec. A dark body advanced over the border of the sun 7 1/2 seconds
later than we had calculated on. It was an immense satisfaction for us
all, especially for Hansen, for it proved our chronometers to be in
excellent order. Little by little the sunlight sensibly faded away,
while we went below to dinner. At 2 o'clock the eclipse was at its
height, and we could notice even down in the saloon how the daylight
had diminished. After dinner we observed the moment when the eclipse
ended, and the moon's dark disk cleared the rim of the sun.

"Sunday, April 8th. I was lying awake yesterday morning thinking about
getting up, when all at once I heard the hurried footsteps of some one
running over the half-deck above me, and then another followed. There
was something in those footsteps that involuntarily made me think of
bears, and I had a hazy sort of an idea that I ought to jump up out
of bed, but I lay still, listening for the report of a gun. I heard
nothing, however, and soon fell a-dreaming again. Presently Johansen
came tearing down into the saloon, crying out that a couple of bears
were lying half or quite dead on the large ice hummock astern of the
ship. He and Mogstad had shot at them, but they had no more cartridges
left. Several of the men seized hold of their guns and hurried up. I
threw on my clothes and came up a little after, when I gathered
that the bears had taken to flight, as I could see the other fellows
following them over the ice. As I was putting on my snow-shoes they
returned, and said that the bears had made off. However, I started
after them as fast as my snow-shoes would take me across the floes
and the pressure-ridges. I soon got on their tracks, which at first
were a little blood-stained. It was a she-bear, with her cub, and,
as I believed, hard hit--the she-bear had fallen down several times
after Johansen's first bullet. I thought, therefore, it would be
no difficult matter to overtake them. Several of the dogs were on
ahead of me on their tracks. They had taken a northwesterly course,
and I toiled on, perspiring profusely in the sun, while the ship sank
deeper and deeper down below the horizon. The surface of the snow,
sparkling with its eternal whiteness all around me, tried my eyes
severely, and I seemed to get no nearer the bears. My prospects of
coming up with them were ruined by the dogs, who were keen enough to
frighten the bears, but not so keen as to press on and bring them to
bay. I would not, however, give up. Presently a fog came on and hid
everything from view except the bear-tracks, which steadily pointed
forward; then it lifted, and the sun shone out again clear and bright
as before. The Fram's masts had long since disappeared over the edge
of the ice, but still I kept on. Presently, however, I began to feel
faint and hungry, for in my hurry I had not even had my breakfast,
and at last had to bite the sour apple and turn back without any bears.

"On my way I came across a remarkable hummock. It was over 20 feet
in height (I could not manage to measure it quite to the top); the
middle part had fallen in, probably from pressure of the ice, while
the remaining part formed a magnificent triumphal arch of the whitest
marble, on which the sun glittered with all its brilliancy. Was it
erected to celebrate my defeat? I got up on it to look out for the
Fram, but had to go some distance yet before I could see her rigging
over the horizon. It was not till half-past five in the afternoon that
I found myself on board again, worn out and famished from this sudden
and unexpected excursion. After a day's fasting I heartily relished a
good meal. During my absence some of the others had started after me
with a sledge to draw home the dead bears that I had shot; but they
had barely reached the spot where the encounter had taken place, when
Johansen and Blessing, who were in advance of the others, saw two fresh
bears spring up from behind a hummock a little way off. But before they
could get their guns in readiness the bears were out of range; so a new
hunt began. Johansen tore after them in his snow-shoes, but several
of the dogs got in front of him and kept the bears going, so that he
could not get within range, and his chase ended as fruitlessly as mine.

"Has good-luck abandoned us? I had plumed myself on our never having
shot at a single bear without bagging it; but to-day...! Odd that
we should get a visit from four bears on one day, after having seen
nothing of them for three months! Does it signify something? Have we
got near the land in the northwest which I have so long expected? There
seems to be change in the air. An observation the day before yesterday
gave 80° 15' north latitude, the most northerly we have had yet.

"Sunday, April 15th. So we are in the middle of April! What a ring of
joy in that word, a well-spring of happiness! Visions of spring rise
up in the soul at its very mention--a time when doors and windows are
thrown wide open to the spring air and sun, and the dust of winter
is blown away; a time when one can no longer sit still, but must
perforce go out-of-doors to inhale the perfume of wood and field
and fresh-dug earth, and behold the fjord, free from ice, sparkling
in the sunlight. What an inexhaustible fund of the awakening joys of
nature does that word April contain! But here--here that is not to be
found. True, the sun shines long and bright, but its beams fall not on
forest or mountain or meadow, but only on the dazzling whiteness of the
fresh-fallen snow. Scarcely does it entice one out from one's winter
retreat. This is not the time of revolutions here. If they come at all,
they will come much later. The days roll on uniformly and monotonously;
here I sit, and feel no touch of the restless longings of the spring,
and shut myself up in the snail-shell of my studies. Day after day
I dive down into the world of the microscope, forgetful of time and
surroundings. Now and then, indeed, I may make a little excursion
from darkness to light--the daylight beams around me, and my soul
opens a tiny loophole for light and courage to enter in--and then
down, down into the darkness, and to work once more. Before turning
in for the night I must go on deck. A little while ago the daylight
would by this time have vanished, a few solitary stars would have
been faintly twinkling, while the pale moon shone over the ice. But
now even this has come to an end. The sun no longer sinks beneath
the icy horizon; it is continual day. I gaze into the far distance,
far over the barren plain of snow, a boundless, silent, and lifeless
mass of ice in imperceptible motion. No sound can be heard save the
faint murmur of the air through the rigging, or perhaps far away the
low rumble of packing ice. In the midst of this empty waste of white
there is but one little dark spot, and that is the Fram.

"But beneath this crust, hundreds of fathoms down, there teems a
world of checkered life in all its changing forms, a world of the
same composition as ours, with the same instincts, the same sorrows,
and also, no doubt, the same joys; everywhere the same struggle for
existence. So it ever is. If we penetrate within even the hardest shell
we come upon the pulsations of life, however thick the crust may be.

"I seem to be sitting here in solitude listening to the music of
one of Nature's mighty harp-strings. Her grand symphonies peal forth
through the endless ages of the universe, now in the tumultuous whirl
of busy life, now in the stiffening coldness of death, as in Chopin's
Funeral March; and we--we are the minute, invisible vibrations of
the strings in this mighty music of the universe, ever changing,
yet ever the same. Its notes are worlds; one vibrates for a longer,
another for a shorter period, and all in turn give way to new ones....

"The world that shall be!... Again and again this thought comes back
to my mind. I gaze far on through the ages....

"Slowly and imperceptibly the heat of the sun declines, and the
temperature of the earth sinks by equally slow degrees. Thousands,
hundreds of thousands, millions of years pass away, glacial epochs
come and go, but the heat still grows ever less; little by little
these drifting masses of ice extend far and wide, ever towards more
southern shores, and no one notices it; but at last all the seas of
earth become one unbroken mass of ice. Life has vanished from its
surface, and is to be found in the ocean depths alone.

"But the temperature continues to fall, the ice grows thicker and ever
thicker; life's domain vanishes. Millions of years roll on, and the
ice reaches the bottom. The last trace of life has disappeared; the
earth is covered with snow. All that we lived for is no longer; the
fruit of all our toil and sufferings has been blotted out millions and
millions of years ago, buried beneath a pall of snow. A stiffened,
lifeless mass of ice, this earth rolls on in her path through
eternity. Like a faintly growing disk the sun crosses the sky; the
moon shines no more, and is scarcely visible. Yet still, perhaps,
the northern lights flicker over the desert, icy plain, and still the
stars twinkle in silence, peacefully as of yore. Some have burnt out,
but new ones usurp their place; and round them revolve new spheres,
teeming with new life, new sufferings, without any aim. Such is the
infinite cycle of eternity; such are nature's everlasting rhythms.

"Monday, April 30th. Drifting northward. Yesterday observations
gave 80° 42', and to-day 80° 44 1/2'. The wind steady from the south
and southeast.

"It is lovely spring weather. One feels that spring-time must have
come, though the thermometer denies it. 'Spring cleaning' has begun
on board; the snow and ice along the Fram's sides are cleared away,
and she stands out like the crags from their winter covering decked
with the flowers of spring. The snow lying on the deck is little by
little shovelled overboard; her rigging rises up against the clear
sky clean and dark, and the gilt trucks at her mastheads sparkle
in the sun. We go and bathe ourselves in the broiling sun along her
warm sides, where the thermometer is actually above freezing-point,
smoke a peaceful pipe, gazing at the white spring clouds that lightly
fleet across the blue expanse. Some of us perhaps think of spring-time
yonder at home, when the birch-trees are bursting into leaf."



CHAPTER VII

THE SPRING AND SUMMER OF 1894


So came the season which we at home call spring, the season of
joy and budding life, when Nature awakens after her long winter
sleep. But there it brought no change; day after day we had to
gaze over the same white lifeless mass, the same white boundless
ice-plains. Still we wavered between despondency, idle longing, and
eager energy, shifting with the winds as we drift forward to our goal
or are driven back from it. As before, I continued to brood upon the
possibilities of the future and of our drift. One day I would think
that everything was going on as we hoped and anticipated. Thus on
April 17th I was convinced that there must be a current through the
unknown polar basin, as we were unmistakably drifting northward. The
midday observation gave 80° 20' northeast; that is, 9' since the day
before yesterday. Strange! A north wind of four whole days took us
to the south, while twenty-four hours of this scanty wind drifts
us 9' northward. This is remarkable; it looks as if we were done
with drifting southward. And when, in addition to this, I take into
consideration the striking warmth of the water deep down, it seems
to me that things are really looking brighter. The reasoning runs as
follows: The temperature of the water in the East Greenland current,
even on the surface, is nowhere over zero (the mean temperature for
the year), and appears generally to be -1° C. (30.2° Fahr.), even in
70° north latitude. In this latitude the temperature steadily falls
as you get below the surface; nowhere at a greater depth than 100
fathoms is it above -1° C., and generally from -1.5° (29.3° Fahr.) to
-1.7° C. (28.94° Fahr.) right to the bottom. Moreover, the bottom
temperature of the whole sea north of the 60th degree of latitude is
under -1° C., a strip along the Norwegian coast and between Norway and
Spitzbergen alone excepted, but here the temperature is over -1° C.,
from 86 fathoms (160 metres) downward, and 135 fathoms (250 metres)
the temperature is already +0.55° C. (32.99° Fahr.), and that, too,
be it remarked, north of the 80th degree of latitude, and in a sea
surrounding the pole of maximum cold.

This warm water can hardly come from the Arctic Sea itself, while the
current issuing thence towards the south has a general temperature
of about -1.5° C. It can hardly be anything other than the Gulf
Stream that finds its way hither, and replaces the water which in its
upper layers flows towards the north, forming the sources of the East
Greenland polar current. All this seems to chime in with my previous
assumptions, and supports the theory on which this expedition was
planned. And when, in addition to this, one bears in mind that the
winds seem, as anticipated, to be as a rule southeasterly, as was,
moreover, the case at the international station at Sagastyr (by the
Lena mouth), our prospects do not appear to be unfavorable.

Frequently, moreover, I thought I could detect unmistakable symptoms
of a steadily flowing northwesterly current under the ice, and then, of
course, my spirits rose; but at other times, when the drift again bore
southward--and that was often--my doubts would return, and it seemed
as if there was no prospect of getting through within any reasonable
time. Truly such drifting in the ice is extremely trying to the mind;
but there is one virtue it fosters, and that is patience. The whole
expedition was in reality one long course of training in this useful
virtue.

Our progress as the spring advanced grew somewhat better than it
had been during the winter, but on the whole it was always the same
sort of crab-like locomotion; for each time we made a long stretch
to the north, a longer period of reaction was sure to follow. It was,
in the opinion of one of our number, who was somewhat of a politician,
a constant struggle between the Left and Right, between Progressionists
and Recessionists. After a period of Left wind and a glorious drift
northward, as a matter of course the "Radical Right" took the helm,
and we remained lying in dead-water or drifted backward, thereby
putting Amundsen into a very bad temper. It was a remarkable fact
that during the whole time the Fram's bow turned towards the south,
generally S. 1/4 W., and shifted but very little during the whole
drift. As I say on May 14th: "She went backward towards her goal in
the north, with her nose ever turned to the south. It is as though she
shrank from increasing her distance from the world; as though she were
longing for southern shores, while some invisible power is drawing
her on towards the unknown. Can it be an ill omen, this backward
advance towards the interior of the Polar Sea? I cannot think it;
even the crab ultimately reaches its goal."

A statement of our latitude and longitude on different days will best
indicate the general course of our drift:

May 1st, 80° 46' N. lat.; May 4th, 80° 50'; May 6th, 80° 49'; May
8th, 80° 55' N. lat., 129° 58' E. long.; May 12th, 80° 52' N. lat.;
May 15th, 129° 20' E. long.; May 21st, 81° 20' N. lat., 125° 45'
E. long.; May 23d, 81° 26' N. lat.; May 27th, 81° 31'; June 2d, 81°
31' N. lat., 121° 47' E. long.; June 13th, 81° 46'; June 18th, 81°
52'. Up to this we had made fairly satisfactory progress towards
the north, but now came the reaction: June 24th, 81° 42'; July 1st,
81° 33'; July 10th, 81° 20'; July 14th, 81° 32'; July 18th, 81° 26';
July 31st, 81° 2' N. lat., 126° 5' 5'' E. long.; August 8th, 81° 8';
August 14th, 81° 5' N. lat., 127° 38' E. long.; August 26th, 81° 1';
September 5th, 81° 14' N. lat., 123° 36' E. long.

After this we began once more to drift northward, but not very fast.

As before, we were constantly on the look-out for land, and were
inclined, first from one thing, then from another, to think we saw
signs of its proximity; but they always turned out to be imaginary,
and the great depth of the sea, moreover, showed that, at all events,
land could not be near.

Later on--August 7th--when I had found over 2085 fathoms (3850 metres)
depth, I say in my diary: "I do not think we shall talk any more about
the shallow Polar Sea, where land may be expected anywhere. We may
very possibly drift out into the Atlantic Ocean without having seen
a single mountain-top. An eventful series of years to look forward to!"

The plan already alluded to of travelling over the ice with
dogs and sledges occupied me a good deal, and during my daily
expeditions--partly on snow-shoes, partly with dogs--my attention
was constantly given to the condition of the ice and our prospects
of being able to make our way over it. During April it was specially
well adapted for using dogs. The surface was good, as the sun's power
had made it smoother than the heavy drift-snow earlier in the winter;
besides, the wind had covered the pressure-ridges pretty evenly,
and there were not many crevasses or channels in the ice, so that
one could proceed for miles without much trouble from them. In May,
however, a change set in. So early as May 8th the wind had broken up
the ice a good deal, and now there were lanes in all directions, which
proved a great obstacle when I went out driving with the dogs. The
temperature, however, was still so low that the channels were quickly
frozen over again and became passable; but later on in the month the
temperature rose, so that ice was no longer so readily formed on the
water, and the channels became ever more and more numerous.

On May 20th I write: "Went out on snow-shoes in the forenoon. The
ice has been very much broken up in various directions, owing to
the continual winds during the last week. The lanes are difficult
to cross over, as they are full of small pieces of ice, that lie
dispersed about, and are partly covered with drift-snow. This is very
deceptive, for one may seem to have firm ice under one at places where,
on sticking one's staff in, it goes right down without any sign of
ice." On many occasions I nearly got into trouble in crossing over
snow like this on snow-shoes. I would suddenly find that the snow
was giving way under me, and would manage with no little difficulty
to get safely back on to the firm ice.

On June 5th the ice and the snow surface were about as before. I
write: "Have just been out on a snow-shoe excursion with Sverdrup
in a southerly direction, the first for a long while. The condition
of the ice has altered, but not for the better; the surface, indeed,
is hard and good, but the pressure-ridges are very awkward, and there
are crevasses and hummocks in all directions. A sledge expedition
would make poor enough progress on such ice as this."

Hitherto, however, progress had always been possible, but now the
snow began to melt, and placed almost insuperable difficulties in the
way. On June 13th I write: "The ice gets softer and softer every day,
and large pools of water are formed on the floes all around us. In
short, the surface is abominable. The snow-shoes break through into the
water everywhere. Truly one would not be able to get far in a day now
should one be obliged to set off towards the south or west. It is as if
every outlet were blocked, and here we stick--we stick. Sometimes it
strikes me as rather remarkable that none of our fellows have become
alarmed, even when we are bearing farther and farther northward,
farther and farther into the unknown; but there is no sign of fear in
any one of them. All look gloomy when we are bearing south or too much
to the west, and all are beaming with joy when we are drifting to the
northward, the farther the better. Yet none of them can be blind to the
fact that it is a matter of life and death if anything of what nearly
every one prophesied should now occur. Should the ship be crushed in
this ice and go to the bottom, like the Jeannette, without our being
able to save sufficient supplies to continue our drift on the ice, we
should have to turn our course to the south, and then there would be
little doubt as to our fate. The Jeannette people fared badly enough,
but their ship went down in 77° north latitude, while the nearest land
to us is many times more than double the distance it was in their
case, to say nothing of the nearest inhabited land. We are now more
than 70 miles from Cape Chelyuskin, while from there to any inhabited
region we are a long way farther. But the Fram will not be crushed,
and nobody believes in the possibility of such an event. We are like
the kayak-rower, who knows well enough that one faulty stroke of his
paddle is enough to capsize him and send him into eternity; but none
the less he goes on his way serenely, for he knows that he will not
make a faulty stroke. This is absolutely the most comfortable way
of undertaking a polar expedition; what possible journey, indeed,
could be more comfortable? Not even a railway journey, for then you
have the bother of changing carriages. Still a change now and then
would be no bad thing."

Later on--in July--the surface was even worse. The floes were
everywhere covered with slush, with water underneath, and on the
pressure-ridges and between the hummocks where the snow-drifts were
deep one would often sink in up to the middle, not even the snow-shoes
bearing one up in this soft snow. Later on in July matters improved,
the snow having gradually melted away, so that there was a firmer
surface of ice to go on.

But large pools of water now formed on the ice-floes. Already on
the 8th and 9th of June such a pool had begun to appear round the
ship, so that she lay in a little lake of fresh water, and we were
obliged to make use of a bridge in order to reach a dry spot on the
ice. Some of these fresh-water pools were of respectable dimensions
and depth. There was one of these on the starboard side of the ship,
so large that in the middle of July we could row and sail on it with
the boats. This was a favorite evening amusement with some of us,
and the boat was fully officered with captain, mate; and second mate,
but had no common sailors. They thought it an excellent opportunity
of practising sailing with a square sail; while the rest of our
fellows, standing on the icy shore, found it still more diverting
to bombard the navigators with snowballs and lumps of ice. It was
in this same pool that we tried one day if one of our boats could
carry all thirteen of us at once. When the dogs saw us all leave the
ship to go to the pool, they followed us in utter bewilderment as to
what this unusual movement could mean; but when we got into the boat
they, all of them, set to work and howled in wild despair; thinking,
probably, that they would never see us again. Some of them swam after
us, while two cunning ones, "Pan" and "Kvik," conceived the brilliant
idea of galloping round the pool to the opposite side to meet us. A
few days afterwards I was dismayed to find the pool dried up; a hole
had been worn through the ice at the bottom, and all the fresh water
had drained out into the sea. So that amusement came to an end.

In the summer, when we wanted to make an excursion over the ice, in
addition to such pools we met with lanes in the ice in all directions;
but as a rule could easily cross them by jumping from one loose floe
to another, or leaping right across at narrow places.

These lanes never attained any great width, and there was consequently
no question of getting the Fram afloat in any of them; and even could
we have done so, it would have been of very little avail, as none of
them was large enough to have taken her more than a few cable-lengths
farther north. Sometimes there were indications in the sky that there
must be large stretches of open water in our vicinity, and we could
now and then see from the crow's-nest large spaces of clear water in
the horizon; but they could not have been large enough to be of much
use when it came to a question of pushing forward with a ship.

Sanguine folk on board, however, attached more importance to such
open stretches. June 15th I wrote in my diary: "There are several
lanes visible in different directions, but none of them is wide or
of any great extent. The mate, however, is always insisting that we
shall certainly get open water before autumn, and be able to creep
along northward, while with the rest, Sverdrup excepted, it seems
to be a generally accepted belief. Where they are to get their open
water from I do not know. For the rest, this is the first ice-bound
expedition that has not spent the summer spying after open water, and
sighing and longing for the ice to disperse. I only wish it may keep
together, and hurry up and drift northward. Everything in this life
depends on what one has made up one's mind to. One person sets forth
to sail in open water, perhaps to the very Pole, but gets stuck in
the ice and laments; another is prepared to get stuck in the ice, but
will not grumble even should he find open water. It is ever the safest
plan to expect the least of life, for then one often gets the most."

The open spaces, the lanes, and the rifts in the ice are, of course,
produced, like the pressure and packing, by the shifting winds and
the tidal currents that set the ice drifting first in one direction,
then in another. And they best prove, perhaps, how the surface of
the Polar Sea must be considered as one continuous mass of ice-floes
in constant motion, now frozen together, now torn apart, or crushed
against each other.

During the whole of our drift I paid great attention to this ice,
not only with respect to its motion, but to its formation and growth
as well. In the Introduction of this book I have pointed out that,
even should the ice pass year after year in the cold Polar Sea, it
could not by mere freezing attain more than a certain thickness. From
measurements that were constantly being made, it appeared that the ice
which was formed during the autumn in October or November continued
to increase in size during the whole of the winter and out into the
spring, but more slowly the thicker it became. On April 10th it was
about 2.31 metres; April 21st, 2.41 metres; May 5th, 2.45 metres;
May 31st, 2.52 metres; June 9th, 2.58 metres. It was thus continually
increasing in bulk, notwithstanding that the snow now melted quickly
on the surface, and large pools of fresh water were formed on the
floes. On June 20th the thickness was the same, although the melting on
the surface had now increased considerably. On July 4th the thickness
was 2.57 metres. On July 10th I was amazed to find that the ice had
increased to 2.76 metres, notwithstanding that it would now diminish
several centimetres daily from surface melting. I bored in many places,
but found it everywhere the same--a thin, somewhat loose ice mass lay
under the old floe. I first thought it was a thin ice-floe that had
got pushed under, but subsequently discovered that it was actually
a new formation of fresh-water ice on the lower side of the old ice,
due to the layer of fresh water of about 9 feet 9 inches (3 metres)
in depth, formed by the melting of the snow on the ice. Owing to
its lightness this warm fresh water floated on the salt sea-water,
which was at a temperature of about -1.5° C. on its surface. Thus
by contact with the colder sea-water the fresh water became cooler,
and so a thick crust of ice was formed on the fresh water, where it
came in contact with the salt water lying underneath it. It was this
ice crust, then, that augmented the thickness of the ice on its under
side. Later on in the summer, however, the ice diminished somewhat,
owing to melting on the surface. On July 23d the old ice was only
2.33 metres, and with the newly formed layer 2.49 metres. On August
10th the thickness of the old ice had decreased to 1.94 metres,
and together the aggregate thickness to 3.17 metres. On August
22d the old ice was 1.86 metres, and the aggregate thickness 3.06
metres. On September 3d the aggregate thickness was 2.02 metres,
and on September 30th 1.98 metres. On October 3d it was the same;
the thickness of the old ice was then 1.75 metres. On October 12th
the aggregate thickness was 2.08 metres, while the old ice was 1.8
metres. On November 10th it was still about the same, with only a
slight tendency to increase. Further on, in November and in December,
it increased quite slowly. On December 11th the aggregate thickness
reached 2.11 metres. On January 3d, 1895, 2.32 metres; January 10th,
2.48 metres; February 6th, 2.59 metres. Hence it will be seen that
the ice does not attain any enormous thickness by direct freezing. The
packing caused by pressure can, however, produce blocks and floes of
a very different size. It often happens that the floes get shoved in
under each other in several layers, and are frozen together so as to
appear like one originally continuous mass of ice. Thus the Fram had
got a good bed under her.

Juell and Peter had often disputed together during the winter as to the
thickness of ice the Fram had under her. Peter, who had seen a good
deal of the ice before, maintained that it must at least be 20 feet
thick, while Juell would not believe it, and betted 20 kroner that it
was not as thick as that. On April 19th this dispute again broke out,
and I say of it in my diary: "Juell has undertaken to make a bore, but
unfortunately our borer reaches no farther than 16 feet down. Peter,
however, has undertaken to cut away the 4 feet that are lacking. There
has been a lot of talk about this wager during the whole winter,
but they could never agree about it. Peter says that Juell should
begin to bore, while Juell maintains that Peter ought to cut the
4 feet first. This evening it ended in Juell incautiously offering
10 kroner to any one who would bore. Bentzen took him at his word,
and immediately set to work at it with Amundsen; he thought one did
not always have the chance of earning 10 kroner so easily. Amundsen
offered him a kroner an hour, or else payment per foot; and time
payment was finally agreed to. They worked till late on into the night,
and when they had got down 12 feet the borer slipped a little way, and
water rose in the hole, but this did not come to much, and presently
the borer struck on ice again. They went on for some time, but now
the borer would reach no farther, and Peter had to be called up to
cut his four feet. He and Amundsen worked away at cutting till they
were dripping with perspiration. Amundsen, as usual, was very eager,
and vowed he would not give in till he had got through it, even if it
were 30 feet thick. Meanwhile Bentzen had turned in, but a message was
sent to him to say that the hole was cut, and that boring could now
begin again. When it was only an inch or an inch and a half short of
20 feet the borer slipped through, and the water spurted up and filled
the hole. They now sank a lead-line down it, and at 30 feet it again
brought up against ice. Now they were obliged to give it up. A fine
lump of ice we are lying on! Not taking into account a large, loose
ice-floe that is lying packed up on the ice, it is 16 inches above
the water; and adding to this the 2 feet which the Fram is raised up
above the ice, there is no small distance between her and the water."

The temperature on the ice in summer is about thawing-point, but
gradually as the winter cold comes on, it, of course, falls rapidly
on the surface, whence the cold slowly penetrates deeper and deeper
down towards the lower surface, where it naturally keeps at an even
temperature with the underlying water. Observations of the temperature
of the ice in its different layers were constantly taken in order to
ascertain how quickly this cooling-down process of the ice took place
during the winter, and also how the temperature rose again towards
spring. The lowest temperature of the ice occurred in March and the
beginning of April, when at 1.2 metres it was about 3.2° Fahr. (-16°
C), and at 0.8 metre about 22° Fahr. below zero (-30° C). After the
beginning of April it began to rise slowly.

At these low temperatures the ice became very hard and brittle, and was
readily cracked or broken up by a blow or by packing. In the summer,
on the other hand, when its temperature was near melting-point, the
ice became tough and plastic, and was not so readily broken up under
packing. This difference between the condition of the ice in summer
and winter was apparent also to the ear, as the ice-packing in winter
was always accompanied by the frequently mentioned loud noises,
while the packing of the tough summer ice was almost noiseless,
so that the most violent convulsions might take place close to us
without our noticing them.

In the immediate vicinity of the Fram the ice remained perfectly at
rest the whole year through, and she was not at this time exposed to
any great amount of pressure; she lay safe and secure on the ice-floe
to which she was firmly frozen; and gradually, as the surface of the
ice thawed under the summer sun, she rose up higher and higher. In
the autumn she again began to sink a little, either because the ice
gave way under her weight, or because it melted somewhat on the under
surface, so that it no longer had so much buoyancy as before.

Meanwhile, life on board went on in its usual way. Now that we had
daylight, there was of course more work of various descriptions on the
ice than had been the case during the winter. I have already alluded
more than once to our unsuccessful endeavors to reach the bottom by
sounding. Unfortunately we were not prepared for such great depths,
and had not brought any deep-sea sounding apparatus with us. We
had, therefore, to do the best we could under the circumstances,
and that was to sacrifice one of the ship's steel cables in order
to make a lead-line. It was not difficult to find sufficient space
on the ice for a rope-walk, and although a temperature of from 22°
Fahr. below zero (-30° C.) to 40° Fahr. below zero (-40° C.) is not
the pleasantest in which to manipulate such things as steel wire,
yet for all that the work went on well. The cable was unlaid into
its separate strands, and a fresh, pliant lead-line manufactured by
twisting two of these strands together. In this way we made a line of
between 4000 and 5000 metres (2150 to 2700 fathoms) long, and could
now at last reach the bottom. The depth proved to range between 3300
and 3900 metres (1800 to 2100 fathoms).

This was a remarkable discovery, for, as I have frequently mentioned,
the unknown polar basin has always been supposed to be shallow,
with numerous unknown lands and islands. I, too, had assumed it to be
shallow when I sketched out my plan (see page 24), and had thought it
was traversed by a deep channel which might possibly be a continuation
of the deep channel in the North Atlantic (see page 28).

From this assumption of a shallow Polar Sea it was concluded
that the regions about the Pole had formerly been covered with an
extensive tract of land, of which the existing islands are simply the
remains. This extensive tract of polar land was furthermore assumed to
have been the nursery of many of our animal and plant forms, whence
they had found their way to lower latitudes. These conjectures now
appear to rest on a somewhat infirm basis.

This great depth indicates that here, at all events, there has not
been land in any very recent geological period; and this depth is,
no doubt, as old as the depth of the Atlantic Ocean, of which it is
almost certainly a part.

Another task to which I attached great importance, and to which I have
frequently alluded, was the observation of the temperature of the
sea at different depths, from the surface down to the bottom. These
observations we took as often as time permitted, and, as already
mentioned, they gave some surprising results, showing the existence
of warmer water below the cold surface stratum. This is not the place
to give the results of the different measurements, but as they are
all very similar I will instance one of them in order that an idea
may be formed how the temperature is distributed.

This series of temperatures, of which an extract is given here,
was taken from the 13th to the 17th of August.


    TABLE OF TEMPERATURES

           Depths                       Temperature
                                          Degrees
    Metres       Fathoms       Centigrade           Fahrenheit

    Surface          ...            +1.02               33.83
    2                  1            -1.32               29.62
    20                10            -1.33               29.61
    40                21            -1.50               29.3
    60                32            -1.50               29.3
    80                43            -1.50               29.3
    100               54            -1.40               29.48
    120               65            -1.24               29.77
    140               76            -0.97               30.254
    160               87            -0.58               30.96
    180               98            -0.31               31.44
    200              109            -0.03               31.95
    220              120            +0.19               32.34
    240              131            +0.20               32.36
    260              142            +0.34               32.61
    280              153            +0.42               32.76
    300              164            +0.34               32.61
    350              191            +0.44               32.79
    400              218            +0.35               32.63
    450              273            +0.34               32.61
    600              328            +0.26               32.47
    700              382            +0.14               32.25
    800              437            +0.07               32.126
    900              492            -0.04               31.928
    1000             546            -0.10               31.82
    1200             656            -0.28               31.496
    1400             765            -0.34               31.39
    1600             874            -0.46               31.17
    1800             984            -0.60               30.92
    2000            1093            -0.66               30.81
    2600            1421            -0.74               30.67
    2900            1585            -0.76               30.63
    3000            1640            -0.73               30.76
    3700            2023            -0.65               30.83
    3800            2077            -0.64               30.85
    325              177            +0.49               32.88
                                    +0.85               33.53
                                    +0.76               33.37
                                    +0.78               33.40
                                    +0.62               33.12


These temperatures of the water are in many respects remarkable. In
the first place, the temperature falls, as will be seen, from the
surface downward to a depth of 80 metres, after which it rises to 280
metres, falls again at 300 metres, then rises again at 326 metres,
where it was +0.49°; then falls to rise again at 450 metres, then
falls steadily down to 2000 metres, to rise once more slowly at the
bottom. Similar risings and fallings were to be found in almost all
the series of temperatures taken, and the variations from one month
to another were so small that at the respective depths they often
merely amounted to the two-hundredth part of a degree. Occasionally
the temperature of the warm strata mounted even higher than mentioned
here. Thus on October 17th at 300 metres it was +0.85°, at 350 metres
+0.76°, at 400 metres +0.78°, and at 500 metres +0.62°, after which
it sank evenly, until, towards the bottom, it again rose as before.

We had not expected to meet with much bird life in these desolate
regions. Our surprise, therefore, was not small when on Whitsunday,
May 13th, a gull paid us a visit. After that date we regularly saw
birds of different kinds in our vicinity till at last it became a
daily occurrence, to which we did not pay any particular attention. For
the most part they were ice mews (Larus eburneus), kittiwakes (Rissa
tridactyla), fulmars (Procellaria glacialis), and now and then a
blue gull (L. glaucus), a herring gull (L. argentatus?), or a black
guillemot (Uria grylle); once or twice we also saw a skua (probably
Lestris parasitica)--for instance, on July 14th. On July 21st we had
a visit from a snow-bunting.

On August 3d a remarkable occurrence took place: we were visited by the
Arctic rose gull (Rhodostethia rosea). I wrote as follows about it in
my diary: "To-day my longing has at last been satisfied. I have shot
Ross's gull," [48] three specimens in one day. This rare and mysterious
inhabitant of the unknown north, which is only occasionally seen,
and of which no one knows whence it cometh or whither it goeth, which
belongs exclusively to the world to which the imagination aspires,
is what, from the first moment I saw these tracts, I had always hoped
to discover, as my eyes roamed over the lonely plains of ice. And
now it came when I was least thinking of it. I was out for a little
walk on the ice by the ship, and as I was sitting down by a hummock
my eyes wandered northward and lit on a bird hovering over the great
pressure-mound away to the northwest. At first I took it to be a
kittiwake, but soon discovered it rather resembled the skua by its
swift flight, sharp wings, and pointed tail. When I had got my gun,
there were two of them together flying round and round the ship. I
now got a closer view of them, and discovered that they were too
light colored to be skuas. They were by no means shy, but continued
flying about close to the ship. On going after them on the ice I soon
shot one of them, and was not a little surprised, on picking it up,
to find it was a little bird about the size of a snipe; the mottled
back, too, reminded me also of that bird. Soon after this I shot the
other. Later in the day there came another, which was also shot. On
picking this one up I found it was not quite dead, and it vomited up
a couple of large shrimps, which it must have caught in some channel
or other. All three were young birds, about 12 inches in length,
with dark mottled gray plumage on the back and wings; the breast and
under side white, with a scarcely perceptible tinge of orange-red,
and round the neck a dark ring sprinkled with gray." At a somewhat
later age this mottled plumage disappears; they then become blue on
the back, with a black ring round the neck, while the breast assumes
a delicate pink hue. Some few days afterwards (August 6th and 8th)
some more of these birds were shot, making eight specimens in all.

While time was passing on, the plan I had been revolving in my mind
during the winter was ever uppermost in my thoughts--the plan, that
is to say, of exploring the unknown sea apart from the track in which
the Fram was drifting. I kept an anxious eye upon the dogs, for fear
anything should happen to them, and also to see that they continued
in good condition, for all my hopes centred in them. Several of them,
indeed, had been bitten to death, and two had been killed by bears;
but there were still twenty-six remaining, and as a set-off against
our losses we had the puppies, eight of which had been permitted
to live. As spring advanced they were allowed to roam the deck,
but on May 5th their world was considerably extended. I wrote thus:
"In the afternoon we let the puppies loose on the ice, and 'Kvik'
at once took long expeditions with them to familiarize them with
their surroundings. First she introduced them to our meteorological
apparatus, then to the bear-trap, and after that to different
pressure-mounds. They were very cautious at first, staring timidly
all around, and venturing out very slowly, a step at a time, from
the ship's side; but soon they began to run riot in their newly
discovered world.

"'Kvik' was very proud to conduct her litter out into the world,
and roamed about in the highest of spirits, though she had only
just returned from a long driving expedition, in which, as usual,
she had done good work in harness. In the afternoon one of the black
and white puppies had an attack of madness. It ran round the ship,
barking furiously; the others set on it, and it bit at everything
that came in its way. At last we got it shut in on the deck forward,
where it was furious for a while, then quieted down, and now seems
to be all right again. This makes the fourth that has had a similar
attack. What can it possibly be? It cannot be hydrophobia, or it
would have appeared among the grown-up dogs. Can it be toothache, or
hereditary epilepsy--or some other infernal thing?" Unfortunately,
several of them died from these strange attacks. The puppies were
such fine, nice animals, that we were all very sorry when a thing
like this occurred.

On June 3d I write: "Another of the puppies died in the forenoon
from one of those mysterious attacks, and I cannot conceal from
myself that I take it greatly to heart, and feel low-spirited
about it, I have been so used to these small polar creatures living
their sorrowless life on deck, romping and playing around us from
morning to evening, and a little of the night as well. I can watch
them with pleasure by the hour together, or play with them as with
little children--have a game at hide-and-seek with them round the
skylight, the while they are beside themselves with glee. It is the
largest and strongest of the lot that has just died, a handsome dog;
I called him 'Löva' (Lion). He was such a confiding, gentle animal,
and so affectionate. Only yesterday he was jumping and playing about
and rubbing himself against me, and to-day he is dead. Our ranks are
thinning, and the worst of it is we try in vain to make out what it is
that ails them. This one was apparently quite in his normal condition
and as cheerful as ever until his breakfast was given him; then he
began to cry and tear round, yelping and barking as if distracted,
just as the others had done. After this convulsions set in, and the
froth poured from his mouth. One of these convulsions no doubt carried
him off. Blessing and I held a post mortem upon him in the afternoon,
but we could discover no signs of anything unusual. It does not seem
to be an infectious ailment. I cannot understand it.

"'Ulenka,' too, the handsomest dog in the whole pack, our consolation
and our hope, suddenly became ill the other day. It was the morning
of May 24th that we found it paralyzed and quite helpless, lying
in its cask on deck. It kept trying to get up, but couldn't, and
immediately fell down again--just like a man who has had a stroke
and has lost all power over his limbs. It was at once put to bed in
a box and nursed most carefully; except for being unable to walk,
it is apparently quite well." It must have been a kind of apoplectic
seizure that attacked the spinal cord in some spot or other, and
paralyzed one side of the body. The dog recovered slowly, but never
got the complete use of its legs again. It accompanied us, however,
on our subsequent sledge expedition.

The dogs did not seem to like the summer, it was so wet on the ice,
and so warm. On June 11th I write: "To-day the pools on the ice all
round us have increased wonderfully in size, and it is by no means
agreeable to go off the ship with shoes that are not water-tight; it
is wetter and wetter for the dogs in the daytime, and they sweat more
and more from the heat, though it as yet only rarely rises above zero
(C.). A few days ago they were shifted on to the ice, where two long
kennels were set up for them." [49] They were made out of boxes, and
really consist of only a wall and a roof. Here they spend the greater
part of the twenty-four hours, and we are now rid of all uncleanliness
on board, except for the four puppies which still remain, and lead a
glorious life of it up there between sleep and play. "Ulenka" is still
on deck, and is slowly recovering. There is the same daily routine
for the dogs as in the winter. We let them loose in the morning about
half-past eight, and as the time for their release draws near they
begin to get very impatient. Every time any one shows himself on deck
a wild chorus of howls issues from twenty-six throats, clamoring for
food and freedom.

After being let loose they get their breakfast, consisting of half
a dried fish or three biscuits apiece. The rest of the forenoon is
spent in rooting round among all the refuse heaps they can find; and
they gnaw and lick all the empty tin cases which they have ransacked
hundreds of times before. If the cook sends a fresh tin dancing along
the ice a battle immediately rages around the prize. It often happens
that one or another of them, trying to get at a tempting piece of fat
at the bottom of a deep, narrow tin, sticks his head so far down into
it that the tin sits fast, and he cannot release himself again; so with
this extinguisher on his head he sprawls about blindly over the ice,
indulging in the most wonderful antics in the effort to get rid of it,
to the great amusement of us the spectators. When tired of their work
at the rubbish heaps they stretch out their round, sausage-like bodies,
panting in the sun, if there is any, and if it is too warm they get
into the shade. They are tied up again before dinner; but "Pan," and
others like-minded, sneak away a little before that time, and hide up
behind a hummock, so that one can only see a head or an ear sticking
up here and there. Should any one go to fetch him in he will probably
growl, show his teeth, or even snap; after which he will lie flat down,
and allow himself to be dragged off to prison. The remainder of the
twenty-four hours they spend sleeping, puffing and panting in the
excessive heat, which, by-the-way, is two degrees of cold. Every now
and then they set up a chorus of howls that certainly must be heard
in Siberia, and quarrel among themselves till the fur flies in all
directions. This removal of the dogs on to the ice has imposed upon
the watch the arduous duty of remaining on deck at nights, which was
not the practice before. But a bear having once been on board and taken
off two of our precious animals, we don't want any more such visitors.

"On July 31st 'Kvik' again increased our population by bringing eleven
puppies into the world, one of which was deformed, and was at once
killed; two others died later, but most of them grew up and became
fine, handsome animals. They are still living.

"Few or no incidents occurred during this time, except, naturally,
the different red-letter days were celebrated with great ceremony."

May 17th [50] we observed with special pomp, the following description
of which I find in my journal:

"Friday, May 18th. May 17th was celebrated yesterday with all possible
festivity. In the morning we were awakened with organ music--the
enlivening strains of the 'College Hornpipe.' After this a splendid
breakfast off smoked salmon, ox tongues, etc., etc. The whole ship's
company wore bows of ribbon in honor of the day--even old 'Suggen' had
one round his tail. The wind whistled, and the Norwegian flag floated
on high, fluttering bravely at the mast-head. About 11 o'clock the
company assembled with their banners on the ice on the port side of
the ship, and the procession arranged itself in order. First of all
came the leader of the expedition with the 'pure' Norwegian flag;
[51] after him Sverdrup with the Fram's pennant, which, with its
'FRAM' on a red ground, 3 fathoms long, looked splendid. Next came a
dog-sledge, with the band (Johansen with the accordion), and Mogstad,
as coach-man; after them came the mate with rifles and harpoons,
Henriksen carrying a long harpoon; then Amundsen and Nordahl,
with a red banner. The doctor followed, with a demonstration flag
in favor of a normal working-day. It consisted of a woollen jersey,
with the letters 'N. A.' [52] embroidered on the breast, and at the
top of a very long pole it looked most impressive. After him followed
our chef, Juell, with 'peik's' [53] saucepan on his back; and then
came the meteorologists, with a curious apparatus, consisting of a
large tin scutcheon, across which was fastened a red band, with the
letters 'Al. St.,' signifying 'almindelig stemmeret,' or 'universal
suffrage.' [54]

"At last the procession began to move on. The dogs marched demurely,
as if they had never done anything else in all their lives than walk
in procession, and the band played a magnificent festive march,
not composed for the occasion. The stately cortège marched twice
round the Fram, after which with great solemnity it moved off in the
direction of the large hummock, and was photographed on the way by
the photographer of the expedition. At the hummock a hearty cheer was
given for the Fram, which had brought us hither so well, and which
would, doubtless, take us equally well home again. After this the
procession turned back, cutting across the Fram's bow. At the port
gangway a halt was called, and the photographer, mounting the bridge,
made a speech in honor of the day. This was succeeded by a thundering
salute, consisting of six shots, the result of which was that five
or six of the dogs rushed off over hummocks and pressure-ridges,
and hid themselves for several hours. Meanwhile we went down into the
cozy cabin, decorated with flags for the occasion in a right festive
manner, where we partook of a splendid dinner, preluded by a lovely
waltz. The menu was as follows: Minced fish with curried lobster,
melted butter, and potatoes; music; pork cutlets, with green pease,
potatoes, mango chutney, and Worcester sauce; music; apricots and
custard, with cream; much music. After this a siesta; then coffee,
currants, figs, cakes; and the photographer stood cigars. Great
enthusiasm, then more siesta. After supper the violinist, Mogstad,
gave a recital, when refreshments were served in the shape of figs,
sweetmeats, apricots, and gingerbread (honey cakes). On the whole, a
charming and very successful Seventeenth of May, especially considering
that we had passed the 81st degree of latitude.

"Monday, May 28th. Ugh! I am tired of these endless, white
plains--cannot even be bothered snow-shoeing over them, not to mention
that the lanes stop one on every hand. Day and night I pace up and
down the deck, along the ice by the ship's sides, revolving the most
elaborate scientific problems. For the past few days it is especially
the shifting of the Pole that has fascinated me. I am beset by the
idea that the tidal wave, along with the unequal distribution of
land and sea, must have a disturbing effect on the situation of the
earth's axis. When such an idea gets into one's head, it is no easy
matter to get it out again. After pondering over it for several days,
I have finally discovered that the influence of the moon on the sea
must be sufficient to cause a shifting of the Pole to the extent of one
minute in 800,000 years. In order to account for the European Glacial
Age, which was my main object, I must shift the Pole at least ten or
twenty degrees. This leaves an uncomfortably wide interval of time
since that period, and shows that the human race must have attained
a respectable age. Of course, it is all nonsense. But while I am
indefatigably tramping the deck in a brown study, imagining myself
no end of a great thinker, I suddenly discover that my thoughts
are at home, where all is summer and loveliness, and those I have
left are busy building castles in the air for the day when I shall
return. Yes, yes. I spend rather too much time on this sort of thing;
but the drift goes as slowly as ever, and the wind, the all-powerful
wind, is still the same. The first thing my eyes look for when I set
foot on deck in the morning is the weathercock on the mizzen-top,
to see how the wind lies; thither they are forever straying during
the whole day, and there again they rest the last thing before I turn
in. But it ever points in the same direction, west and southwest,
and we drift now quicker, now more slowly westward, and only a little
to the north. I have no doubt now about the success of the expedition,
and my miscalculation was not so great, after all; but I scarcely think
we shall drift higher than 85°, even if we do that. It will depend on
how far Franz Josef Land extends to the north. In that case it will
be hard to give up reaching the Pole; it is in reality a mere matter
of vanity, merely child's play, in comparison with what we are doing
and hoping to do; and yet I must confess that I am foolish enough to
want to take in the Pole while I am about it, and shall probably have
a try at it if we get into its neighborhood within any reasonable time.

"This is a mild May; the temperature has been about zero several times
of late, and one can walk up and down and almost imagine one's self
at home. There is seldom more than a few degrees of cold; but the
summer fogs are beginning, with occasional hoar-frost. As a rule,
however, the sky, with its light, fleeting clouds, is almost like a
spring sky in the south.

"We notice, too, that it has become milder on board; we no longer need
to light a fire in the stove to make ourselves warm and cozy; though,
indeed, we have never indulged in much luxury in this respect. In the
store-room the rime frost and ice that had settled on the ceiling
and walls are beginning to melt; and in the compartments astern of
the saloon, and in the hold, we have been obliged to set about a
grand cleaning-up, scraping off and sweeping away the ice and rime,
to save our provisions from taking harm, through the damp penetrating
the wrappings and rusting holes in the tin cases. We have, moreover,
for a long time kept the hatchways in the hold open, so that there
has been a thorough draught through it, and a good deal of the rime
has evaporated. It is remarkable how little damp we have on board. No
doubt this is due to the Fram's solid construction, and to the deck
over the hold being panelled on the under side. I am getting fonder
and fonder of this ship.

"Saturday, June 9th. Our politician, Amundsen, is celebrating the
day with a white shirt and collar. [55] To-day I have moved with my
work up into the deck-house again, where I can sit and look out of
the window in the daytime, and feel that I am living in the world
and not in a cavern, where one must have lamplight night and day. I
intend remaining here as long as possible out into the winter: it is
so cozy and quiet, and the monotonous surroundings are not constantly
forcing themselves in upon me.

"I really have the feeling that summer has come. I can pace up and
down the deck by the hour together with the sun, or stand still and
roast myself in it, while I smoke a pipe, and my eyes glide over
the confused masses of snow and ice. The snow is everywhere wet now,
and pools are beginning to form every here and there. The ice too is
getting more and more permeated with salt-water; if one bores ever so
small a hole in it, it is at once filled with water. The reason, of
course, is that, owing to the rise in the temperature, the particles
of salt contained in the ice begin to melt their surroundings, and
more and more water is formed with a good admixture of salt in it,
so that its freezing-point is lower than the temperature of the ice
around it. This, too, had risen materially; at about 4 feet depth it
is only 25.2° Fahr. (-3.8° C), at 5 feet it is somewhat warmer again,
26.5° Fahr. (-3.1° C).

"Sunday, June 10th. Oddly enough we have had no cases of snow-blindness
on board, with the exception of the doctor, who, a couple of days
ago, after we had been playing at ball, got a touch of it in the
evening. The tears poured from his eyes for some time, but he soon
recovered. Rather a humiliating trick of fate that he should be the
first to suffer from this ailment." Subsequently we had a few isolated
cases of slight snow-blindness, so that one or two of our men had to go
about with dark spectacles; but it was of little importance and was due
to their not thinking it worth while to take the necessary precautions.

"Monday, June 11th. To-day I made a joyful discovery. I thought I
had begun my last bundle of cigars, and calculated that by smoking
one a day they would last a month, but found quite unexpectedly
a whole box in my locker. Great rejoicing! it will help to while
away a few more months, and where shall we be then? Poor fellow,
you are really at a low ebb! 'To while away time'--that is an idea
that has scarcely ever entered your head before. It has always been
your great trouble that time flew away so fast, and now it cannot
go fast enough to please you. And then so addicted to tobacco--you
wrap yourself in clouds of smoke to indulge in your everlasting
day dreams. Hark to the south wind, how it whistles in the rigging;
it is quite inspiriting to listen to it. On Midsummer-eve we ought,
of course, to have had a bonfire as usual, but from my diary it does
not seem to have been the sort of weather for it.

"Saturday, June 23, 1894.


        "'Mid the shady vales and the leafy trees,
        How sweet the approach of the summer breeze!
        When the mountain slopes in the sunlight gleam,
        And the eve of St. John comes in like a dream.


The north wind continues with sleet. Gloomy weather. Drifting
south. 81° 43' north latitude; that is, 9' southward since Monday.

"I have seen many Midsummer-eves under different skies, but never
such a one as this. So far, far from all that one associates with this
evening. I think of the merriment round the bonfires at home, hear the
scraping of the fiddle, the peals of laughter, and the salvoes of the
guns, with the echoes answering from the purple-tinted heights. And
then I look out over this boundless, white expanse into the fog
and sleet and the driving wind. Here is truly no trace of midsummer
merriment. It is a gloomy lookout altogether! Midsummer is past--and
now the days are shortening again, and the long night of winter
approaching, which, maybe, will find us as far advanced as it left us.

"I was busily engaged with my examination of the salinity of the
sea-water this afternoon when Mogstad stuck his head in at the door
and said that a bear must be prowling about in the neighborhood. On
returning after dinner to their work at the great hummock, where they
were busy making an ice-cellar for fresh meat, [56] the men found
bear-tracks which were not there before. I put on my snow-shoes
and went after it. But what terrible going it had been the last
few days! Soft slush, in which the snow-shoes sink helplessly. The
bear had come from the west right up to the Fram, had stopped and
inspected the work that was going on, had then retreated a little,
made a considerable detour, and set off eastward at its easy, shambling
gait, without deigning to pay any further attention to such a trifle
as a ship. It had rummaged about in every hole and corner where there
seemed to be any chance of finding food, and had rooted in the snow
after anything the dogs had left, or whatever else it might be. It
had then gone to the lanes in the ice, and skirted them carefully,
no doubt in the hope of finding a seal or two, and after that it had
gone off between the hummocks and over floes, with a surface of nothing
but slush and water. Had the surface been good I should no doubt have
overtaken Master Bruin, but he had too long a start in the slushy snow.

"A dismal, dispiriting landscape--nothing but white and gray,
No shadows--merely half-obliterated forms melting into the fog and
slush. Everything is in a state of disintegration, and one's foothold
gives way at every step. It is hard work for the poor snow-shoer who
stamps along through the slush and fog after bear-tracks that wind in
and out among the hummocks, or over them. The snow-shoes sink deep in,
and the water often reaches up to the ankles, so that it is hard work
to get them up or to force them forward; but without them one would
be still worse off.

"Every here and there this monotonous grayish whiteness is broken
by the coal-black water, which winds, in narrower or broader lanes,
in between the high hummocks. White, snow-laden floes and lumps of
ice float on the dark surface, looking like white marble on a black
ground. Occasionally there is a larger dark-colored pool, where the
wind gets a hold of the water and forms small waves that ripple and
plash against the edge of the ice, the only signs of life in this
desert tract. It is like an old friend, the sound of these playful
wave-lets. And here, too, they eat away the floes and hollow out
their edges. One could almost imagine one's self in more southern
latitudes. But all around is wreathed with ice, towering aloft in
its ever-varying fantastic forms, in striking contrast to the dark
water on which a moment before the eye had rested. Everlastingly is
this shifting ice modelling, as it were, in pure, gray marble, and,
with nature's lavish prodigality, strewing around the most glorious
statuary, which perishes without any eye having seen it. Wherefore? To
what end all this shifting pageant of loveliness? It is governed by
the mere caprices of nature, following out those everlasting laws
that pay no heed to what we regard as aims and objects.

"In front of me towers one pressure-ridge after another, with lane
after lane between. It was in June the Jeannette was crushed and sank;
what if the Fram were to meet her fate here? No, the ice will not
get the better of her. Yet, if it should, in spite of everything! As
I stood gazing around me I remembered it was Midsummer-eve. Far
away yonder her masts pointed aloft, half lost to view in the snowy
haze. They must, indeed, have stout hearts, those fellows on board
that craft. Stout hearts, or else blind faith in a man's word.

"It is all very well that he who has hatched a plan, be it never so
wild, should go with it to carry it out; he naturally does his best
for the child to which his thoughts have given birth. But they--they
had no child to tend, and could, without feeling any yearning balked,
have refrained from taking part in an expedition like this. Why should
any human being renounce life to be wiped out here?

"Sunday, June 24th. The anniversary of our departure from
home. Northerly wind; still drifting south. Observations to-day gave
81° 41' 7'' north latitude, so we are not going at a breakneck speed.

"It has been a long year--a great deal has been gone through in
it--though we are quite as far advanced as I had anticipated. I
am sitting, and look out of the window at the snow whirling
round in eddies as it is swept along by the north wind. A strange
Midsummer-day! One might think we had had enough of snow and ice; I
am not, however, exactly pining after green fields--at all events,
not always. On the contrary, I find myself sitting by the hour
laying plans for other voyages into the ice after our return from
this one.... Yes, I know what I have attained, and, more or less,
what awaits me. It is all very well for me to sketch plans for the
future. But those at home.... No, I am not in a humor for writing
this evening; I will turn in.

"Wednesday, July 11th. Lat. 81° 18' 8''. At last the southerly wind
has returned, so there is an end of drifting south for the present.

"Now I am almost longing for the polar night, for the everlasting
wonderland of the stars with the spectral northern lights, and the
moon sailing through the profound silence. It is like a dream, like a
glimpse into the realms of fantasy. There are no forms, no cumbrous
reality--only a vision woven of silver and violet ether, rising up
from earth and floating out into infinity.... But this eternal day,
with its oppressive actuality, interests me no longer--does not entice
me out of my lair. Life is one incessant hurrying from one task to
another; everything must be done and nothing neglected, day after day,
week after week; and the working-day is long, seldom ending till far
over midnight. But through it all runs the same sensation of longing
and emptiness, which must not be noted. Ah, but at times there is no
holding it aloof, and the hands sink down without will or strength--so
weary, so unutterably weary.

"Ah! life's peace is said to be found by holy men in the desert. Here,
indeed, there is desert enough; but peace--of that I know nothing. I
suppose it is the holiness that is lacking.

"Wednesday, July 18th. Went on excursion with Blessing in the forenoon
to collect specimens of the brown snow and ice, and gather seaweed
and diatoms in the water. The upper surface of the floes is nearly
everywhere of a dirty brown color, or, at least, this sort of ice
preponderates, while pure white floes, without any traces of a dirty
brown on their surface, are rare. I imagined this brown color must
be due to the organisms I found in the newly-frozen, brownish-red
ice last autumn (October); but the specimens I took to-day consist,
for the most part, of mineral dust mingled with diatoms and other
ingredients of organic origin. [57]

"Blessing collected several specimens on the upper surface of the ice
earlier in the summer, and came to the same conclusions. I must look
further into this, in order to see whether all this brown dust is of
a mineral nature, and consequently originates from the land. [58] We
found in the lanes quantities of algæ like those we had often found
previously. There were large accumulations of them in nearly every
little channel. We could also see that a brown surface layer spread
itself on the sides of the floes far down into the water. This is due
to an alga that grows on the ice. There were also floating in the water
a number of small viscid lumps, some white, some of a yellowish red
color; and of these I collected several. Under the microscope they
all appeared to consist of accumulations of diatoms, among which,
moreover, were a number of larger cellular organisms of a very
characteristic appearance. [59] All of these diatomous accumulations
kept at a certain depth, about a yard below the surface of the water;
in some of the small lanes they appeared in large masses. At the same
depth the above-named alga seemed especially to flourish, while parts
of it rose up to the surface. It was evident that these accumulations
of diatoms and alga remained floating exactly at the depth where the
upper stratum of fresh water rests on the sea-water. The water on
the surface was entirely fresh, and the masses of diatoms sank in it,
but floated on reaching the salt-water below.

"Thursday, July 19th. It is as I expected. I am beginning to know
the ways of the wind up here pretty well now. After having blown a
'windmill breeze' to-day it falls calm in the evening, and to-morrow
we shall probably have wind from the west or northwest.

"Yesterday evening the last cigar out of the old box! And now I have
smoked the first out of the last box I have got. We were to have got
so far by the time that box was finished; but are scarcely any farther
advanced than when I began it, and goodness knows if we shall be that
when this, too, has disappeared. But enough of that. Smoke away.

"Sunday, July 22d. The northwest wind did not come quite up to
time; on Friday we had northeast instead, and during the night it
gradually went round to N.N.E., and yesterday forenoon it blew due
north. To-day it has ended in the west, the old well-known quarter,
of which we have had more than enough. This evening the line [60]
shows about N.W. to N., and it is strong, so we are moving south again.

"I pass the day at the microscope. I am now busied with the diatoms
and algæ of all kinds that grow on the ice in the uppermost fresh
stratum of the sea. These are undeniably most interesting things,
a whole new world of organisms that are carried off by the ice from
known shores across the unknown Polar Sea, there to awaken every
summer and develop into life and bloom. Yes, it is very interesting
work, but yet there is not that same burning interest as of old,
although the scent of oil of cloves, Canada balsam, and wood-oil
awakens many dear reminiscences of that quiet laboratory at home,
and every morning as I come in here the microscope and glasses and
colors on the table invite me to work. But though I work indefatigably
day after day till late in the night, it is mostly duty work, and I am
not sorry when it is finished, to go and lie for some few hours in my
berth reading a novel and smoking a cigar. With what exultation would
I not throw the whole aside, spring up, and lay hold of real life,
fighting my way over ice and sea with sledges, boats, or kayaks! It
is more than true that it is 'easy to live a life of battle'; but
here there is neither storm nor battle, and I thirst after them. I
long to enlist titanic forces and fight my way forward--that would be
living! But what pleasure is there in strength when there is nothing
for it to do? Here we drift forward, and here we drift back, and now
we have been two months on the same spot.

"Everything, however, is being got ready for a possible expedition,
or for the contingency of its becoming necessary to abandon the
ship. All the hand-sledges are lashed together, and the iron fittings
carefully seen to. Six dog-sledges are also being made, and to-morrow
we shall begin building kayaks ready for the men. They are easy to
draw on hand-sledges in case of a retreat over the ice without the
ship. For a beginning we are making kayaks to hold two men each. I
intend to have them about 12 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 18 inches
in depth. Six of these are to be made. They are to be covered with
sealskin or sail-cloth, and to be decked all over, except for two
holes--one for each man.

"I feel that we have, or rather shall have, everything needful for
a brilliant retreat. Sometimes I seem almost to be longing for a
defeat--a decisive one--so that we might have a chance of showing
what is in us, and putting an end to this irksome inactivity.

"Monday, July 30th. Westerly wind, with northwesterly by way of a
pleasant variety; such is our daily fare week after week. On coming
up in the morning I no longer care to look at the weathercock on the
masthead, or at the line in the water; for I know beforehand that
the former points east or southeast, and the line in the contrary
direction, and that we are ever bearing to the southeast. Yesterday
it was 81° 7' north latitude, the day before 81° 11', and last Monday,
July 25th, 81° 26'.

"But it occupies my thoughts no longer. I know well enough there
will be a change some time or other, and the way to the stars
leads through adversity. I have found a new world; and that is
the world of animal and plant life that exists in almost every
fresh-water pool on the ice-floes. From morning till evening and
till late in the night I am absorbed with the microscope, and see
nothing around me. I live with these tiny beings in their separate
universe, where they are born and die, generation after generation;
where they pursue each other in the struggle for life, and carry on
their love affairs with the same feelings, the same sufferings, and
the same joys that permeate every living being from these microscopic
animalcules up to man--self-preservation and propagation--that is the
whole story. Fiercely as we human beings struggle to push our way
on through the labyrinth of life, their struggles are assuredly no
less fierce than ours--one incessant, restless hurrying to and fro,
pushing all others aside, to burrow out for themselves what is needful
to them. And as to love, only mark with what passion they seek each
other out. With all our brain-cells, we do not feel more strongly than
they, never live so entirely for a sensation. But what is life? What
matters the individual's suffering so long as the struggle goes on?

"And these are small, one-celled lumps of viscous matter, teeming in
thousands and millions, on nearly every single floe over the whole
of this boundless sea, which we are apt to regard as the realm
of death. Mother Nature has a remarkable power of producing life
everywhere--even this ice is a fruitful soil for her.

"In the evening a little variety occurred in our uneventful existence,
Johansen having discovered a bear to the southeast of the ship, but
out of range. It had, no doubt, been prowling about for some time
while we were below at supper, and had been quite near us; but, being
alarmed by some sound or other, had gone off eastward. Sverdrup and I
set out after it, but to no purpose; the lanes hindered us too much,
and, moreover, a fog came on, so that we had to return after having
gone a good distance."

The world of organisms I above alluded to was the subject of special
research through the short summer, and in many respects was quite
remarkable. When the sun's rays had gained power on the surface of
the ice and melted the snow, so that pools were formed, there was
soon to be seen at the bottom of these pools small yellowish-brown
spots, so small that at first one hardly noticed them. Day by day
they increased in size, and absorbing, like all dark substances, the
heat of the sun's rays, they gradually melted the underlying ice and
formed round cavities, often several inches deep. These brown spots
were the above-mentioned algæ and diatoms. They developed speedily
in the summer light, and would fill the bottoms of the cavities
with a thick layer. But there were not plants only, the water also
teemed with swarms of animalcules, mostly infusoria and flagellata,
which subsisted on the plants. I actually found bacteria--even these
regions are not free from them!

But I could not always remain chained by the microscope. Sometimes,
when the fine weather tempted me irresistibly, I had to go out and
bake myself in the sun, and imagine myself in Norway.

"Saturday, August 4th. Lovely weather yesterday and to-day. Light,
fleecy clouds sailing high aloft through the sparkling azure
sky--filling one's soul with longings to soar as high and as free as
they. I have just been out on deck this evening; one could almost
imagine one's self at home by the fjord. Saturday evening's peace
seemed to rest on the scene and on one's soul.

"Our sailmakers, Sverdrup and Amundsen, have to-day finished
covering the first double kayak with sail-cloth. Fully equipped,
it weighs 30.5 kilos. (60 lbs.). I think it will prove a first-rate
contrivance. Sverdrup and I tried it on a pool. It carried us
splendidly, and was so stiff that even sitting on the deck we could
handle it quite comfortably. It will easily carry two men with full
equipment for 100 days. A handier or more practical craft for regions
like this I cannot well imagine.

"Sunday, August 5th. 81° 7' north latitude.


            "'I can't forget the sparkling fjord
            When the church boat rows in the morning.'


"Brilliant summer weather. I bathe in the sun and dream I am at home
either on the high mountains or--heaven knows why--on the fjords of
the west coast. The same white fleecy clouds in the clear blue summer
sky; heaven arches itself overhead like a perfect dome, there is
nothing to bar one's way, and the soul rises up unfettered beneath
it. What matters it that the world below is different--the ice no
longer single glittering glaciers, but spread out on every hand? Is
it not these same fleecy clouds far away in the blue expanse that
the eye looks for at home on a bright summer day? Sailing on these,
fancy steers its course to the land of wistful longing. And it is
just at these glittering glaciers in the distance that we direct our
longing gaze. Why should not a summer day be as lovely here? Ah,
yes! it is lovely, pure as a dream, without desire, without sin;
a poem of clear white sunbeams refracted in the cool crystal blue of
the ice. How unutterably delightful does not this world appear to us
on some stifling summer day at home?

"Have rested and 'kept Sunday.' I could not remain in the whole day,
so took a trip over the ice. Progress is easy except for the lanes.

"Hansen practised kayak-paddling this afternoon on the pool around
the ship, from which several channels diverge over the ice; but he
was not content with paddling round in them, but must, of course,
make an experiment in capsizing and recovering himself as the Eskimos
do. It ended by his not coming up again, losing his paddle, remaining
head downward in the water, and beating about with his hands till the
kayak filled, and he got a cold bath from top to toe. Nordahl, who
was standing by on the ice to help him, at last found it necessary
to go in after him and raise him up on an even keel again, to the
great amusement of us others.

"One can notice that it is summer. This evening a game of cards is
being played on deck, with 'Peik's' [61] big pot for a card-table. One
could almost think it was an August evening at home; only the toddy
is wanting, but the pipes and cigars we have.

"Sunday, August 12th. We had a shooting competition in the forenoon.

"A glorious evening. I took a stroll over the ice among the lanes
and hummocks. It was so wonderfully calm and still. Not a sound to be
heard but the drip, drip of water from a block of ice, and the dull
sound of a snow-slip from some hummock in the distance. The sun is
low down in the north, and overhead is the pale blue dome of heaven,
with gold-edged clouds. The profound peace of the Arctic solitudes. My
thoughts fly free and far. If one could only give utterance to all that
stirs one's soul on such an evening as this! What an incomprehensible
power one's surroundings have over one!

"Why is it that at times I complain of the loneliness? With Nature
around one, with one's books and studies, one can never be quite alone.

"Thursday, August 16th. Yesterday evening, as I was lying in my berth
reading, and all except the watch had turned in, I heard the report of
a gun on deck over my head. Thinking it was a bear, I hurriedly put
on my sea-boots and sprang on deck. There I saw Johansen bareheaded,
rifle in hand. 'Was it you that fired the shot?' 'Yes. I shot at
the big hummock yonder--I thought something was stirring there, and
I wanted to see what it was, but it seems to have been nothing.' I
went to the railings and looked out. 'I fancied it was a bear that
was after our meat--but it was nothing.' As we stood there one of the
dogs came jogging along from the big hummock. 'There, you see what you
have shot at,' I said, laughing. 'I'm bothered if it wasn't a dog!' he
replied. 'Ice-bear' it was, true enough, for so we called this dog. It
had seemed so large in the fog, scratching at the meat hummock. 'Did
you aim at the dog and miss? That was a lucky chance!' 'No! I simply
fired at random in that direction, for I wanted to see what it
was.' I went below and turned in again. At breakfast to-day he had,
of course, to run the gantlet of some sarcastic questions about his
'harmless thunderbolt,' but he parried them adroitly enough.

"Tuesday, August 21st. North latitude, 81° 4.2'. Strange how little
alteration there is: we drift a little to the north, then a little to
the south, and keep almost to the same spot. But I believe, as I have
believed all along, since before we even set out, that we should be
away three years, or rather three winters and four summers, neither
more nor less, and that in about two years' time from this present
autumn we shall reach home. [62] The approaching winter will drift
us farther, however slowly, and it begins already to announce itself,
for there were four degrees of cold last night.

"Sunday, August 26th. It seems almost as if winter had come; the
cold has kept on an average between 24.8° Fahr. (-4° C.) and 21.2°
Fahr. (-6° C.) since Thursday. There are only slight variations in
the temperature up here, so we may expect it to fall regularly from
this time forth, though it is rather early for winter to set in. All
the pools and lanes are covered with ice, thick enough to bear a man
even without snow-shoes.

"I went out on my snow-shoes both morning and afternoon. The
surface was beautiful everywhere. Some of the lanes had opened out
or been compressed a little, so that the new ice was thin and bent
unpleasantly under the snow-shoes; but it bore me, though two of the
dogs fell through. A good deal of snow had fallen, so there was fine,
soft new snow to travel over. If it keeps on as it is now, there will
be excellent snow-shoeing in the winter; for it is fresh water that
now freezes on the surface, so that there is no salt that the wind
can carry from the new ice to spoil the snow all around, as was the
case last winter. Such snow with salt in it makes as heavy a surface
as sand.

"Monday, August 27th. Just as Blessing was going below after his
watch to-night, and was standing by the rail looking out, he saw
a white form that lay rolling in the snow a little way off to
the southeast. Afterwards it remained for a while lying quite
still. Johansen, who was to relieve Blessing, now joined him,
and they both stood watching the animal intently. Presently it got
up, so there was no longer any doubt as to what it was. Each got
hold of a rifle and crept stealthily towards the forecastle, where
they waited quietly while the bear cautiously approached the ship,
making long tacks against the wind. A fresh breeze was blowing, and
the windmill going round at full speed; but this did not alarm him
at all; very likely it was this very thing he wanted to examine. At
last he reached the lane in front, when they both fired and he fell
down dead on the spot. It was nice to get fresh meat again. This was
the first bear we had shot this year, and of course we had roast bear
for dinner to-day. Regular winter with snow-storms.

"Wednesday, August 29th. A fresh wind; it rattles and pipes in the
rigging aloft. An enlivening change and no mistake! The snow drifts
as if it were midwinter. Fine August weather! But we are bearing north
again, and we have need to! Yesterday our latitude was 80° 53.5'. This
evening I was standing in the hold at work on my new bamboo kayak,
which will be the very acme of lightness. Pettersen happened to come
down, and gave me a hand with some lashings that I was busy with. We
chatted a little about things in general; and he was of opinion
'that we had a good crib of it on board the Fram, because here we
had everything we wanted, and she was a devil of a ship--and any
other ship would have been crushed flat long ago.' But for all that
he would not be afraid, he said, to leave her, when he saw all the
contrivances, such as these new kayaks, we had been getting ready. He
was sure no former expedition had ever had such contrivances, or been
so equipped against all possible emergencies as we. But, after all,
he would prefer to return home on the Fram." Then we talked about
what we should do when we did get home.

"'Oh, for your part, no doubt you'll be off to the South Pole,'
he said.

"'And you?' I replied. 'Will you tuck up your sleeves and begin again
at the old work?'

"'Oh, very likely! but on my word I ought to have a week's holiday
first. After such a trip I should want it, before buckling to at the
sledge-hammer again.'"



CHAPTER VIII

SECOND AUTUMN IN THE ICE


So summer was over, and our second autumn and winter was beginning. But
we were now more inured to the trials of patience attendant on this
life, and time passed quickly. Besides, I myself was now taken up with
new plans and preparations. Allusion has several times been made to
the fact that we had, during the course of the summer, got everything
into readiness for the possibility of having to make our way home
across the ice. Six double kayaks had been built, the hand-sledges
were in good order, and careful calculation had been made of the
amount of food, clothing, fuel, etc., that it would be necessary
to carry. But I had also quietly begun to make preparations for my
own meditated expedition north. In August, as already mentioned, I
had begun to work at a single kayak, the framework made of bamboo. I
had said nothing about my plan yet, except a few words to Sverdrup;
it was impossible to tell how far north the drift would take us,
and so many things might happen before spring.

In the meantime life on board went on as usual. There were the
regular observations and all sorts of occupations, and I myself
was not so absorbed in my plans that I did not find time for other
things too. Thus I see from my diary that in the end of August and in
September I must have been very proud of a new invention that I made
for the galley. All last year we had cooked on a particular kind of
copper range, heated by petroleum lamps. It was quite satisfactory,
except that it burned several quarts of petroleum a day. I could not
help fearing sometimes that our lighting supply might run short, if
the expedition lasted longer than was expected, and always wondered
if it would not be possible to construct an apparatus that would
burn coal-oil--"black-oil," as we call it on board--of which we
had 20 tons, originally intended for the engine. And I succeeded
in making such an apparatus. On August 30th I write: "Have tried my
newly invented coal-oil apparatus for heating the range, and it is
beyond expectation successful. It is splendid that we shall be able
to burn coal-oil in the galley. Now there is no fear of our having
to cry ourselves blind for lack of light by-and-by. This adds more
than 4000 gallons to our stock of oil; and we can keep all our fine
petroleum now for lighting purposes, and have lamps for many a year,
even if we are a little extravagant. The 20 tons of coal-oil ought
to keep the range going for 4 years, I think.

"The contrivance is as simple as possible. From a reservoir of oil
a pipe leads down and into the fireplace; the oil drips down from
the end of this pipe into an iron bowl, and is here sucked up by
a sheet of asbestos, or by coal ashes. The flow of oil from the
pipe is regulated by a fine valve cock. To insure a good draught,
I bring a ventilating pipe from outside right by the range door. Air
is pressed through this by a large wind-sail on deck, and blows
straight on to the iron bowl, where the oil burns briskly with a
clear, white flame. Whoever lights the fire in the morning has only
to go on deck and see that the wind-sail is set to the wind, to open
the ventilator, to turn the cock so that the oil runs properly, and
then set it burning with a scrap of paper. It looks after itself, and
the water is boiling in twenty minutes or half an hour. One could not
have anything much easier than this, it seems to me. But of course in
our, as in other communities, it is difficult to introduce reforms;
everything new is looked upon with suspicion."

Somewhat later I write of the same apparatus: "We are now using the
galley again, with the coal-oil fire; the moving down took place the
day before yesterday, [63] and the fire was used yesterday. It works
capitally; a three-foot wind is enough to give a splendid draught. The
day before yesterday, when I was sitting with some of the others in
the saloon in the afternoon, I heard a dull report out in the galley,
and said at once that it sounded like an explosion. Presently Pettersen
[64] stuck a head in at the door as black as a sweep's, great lumps
of soot all over it, and said that the stove had exploded right
into his face; he was only going to look if it was burning rightly,
and the whole fiendish thing flew out at him. A stream of words not
unmingled with oaths flowed like peas out of a sack, while the rest
of us yelled with laughter. In the galley it was easy to see that
something had happened; the walls were covered with soot in lumps
and stripes pointing towards the fireplace. The explanation of the
accident was simple enough. The draught had been insufficient, and
a quantity of gas had formed which had not been able to burn until
air was let in by Pettersen opening the door.

"This is a good beginning. I told Pettersen in the evening that I
would do the cooking myself next day, when the real trial was to be
made. But he would not hear of such a thing; he said 'I was not to
think that he minded a trifle like that; I might trust to its being
all right'--and it was all right. From that day I heard nothing but
praise of the new apparatus, and it was used until the Fram was out
in the open sea again.

"Thursday, September 6th. 81° 13.7' north latitude. Have I been married
five years to-day? Last year this was a day of victory--when the
ice-fetters burst at Taimur Island--but there is no thought of victory
now; we are not so far north as I had expected; the northwest wind has
come again, and we are drifting south. And yet the future does not seem
to me so long and so dark as it sometimes has done. Next September 6th
... can it be possible that then every fetter will have burst, and we
shall be sitting together talking of this time in the far north and
of all the longing, as of something that once was and that will never
be again? The long, long night is past; the morning is just breaking,
and a glorious new day lies before us. And what is there against this
happening next year? Why should not this winter carry the Fram west
to some place north of Franz Josef Land?... and then my time has come,
and off I go with dogs and sledges--to the north. My heart beats with
joy at the very thought of it. The winter shall be spent in making
every preparation for that expedition, and it will pass quickly.

"I have already spent much time on these preparations. I think
of everything that must be taken, and how it is to be arranged,
and the more I look at the thing from all points of view, the more
firmly convinced do I become that the attempt will be successful,
if only the Fram can get north in reasonable time, not too late in
the spring. If she could just reach 84° or 85°, then I should be off
in the end of February or the first days of March, as soon as the
daylight comes, after the long winter night, and the whole would go
like a dance. Only four or five months, and the time for action will
have come again. What joy! When I look out over the ice now it is
as if my muscles quivered with longing to be striding off over it in
real earnest--fatigue and privation will then be a delight. It may seem
foolish that I should be determined to go off on this expedition, when,
perhaps, I might do more important work quietly here on board. But
the daily observations will be carried on exactly the same.

"I have celebrated the day by arranging my workroom for the winter. I
have put in a petroleum stove, and expect that this will make it
warm enough even in the coldest weather, with the snowballs that I
intend to build round the outside of it, and a good roof-covering
of snow. At least, double the amount of work will be done if this
cabin can be used in winter, and I can sit up here instead of in the
midst of the racket below. I have such comfortable times of it now,
in peace and quietness, letting my thoughts take their way unchecked.

"Sunday, September 9th. 81° 4' north latitude. The midnight sun
disappeared some days ago, and already the sun sets in the northwest;
it is gone by 10 o'clock in the evening, and there is once more a
glow over the eternal white. Winter is coming fast.

"Another peaceful Sunday, with rest from work, and a little
reading. Out snow-shoeing to-day I crossed several frozen-over lanes,
and very slight packing has begun here and there. I was stopped
at last by a broad open lane lying pretty nearly north and south;
at places it was 400 to 500 yards across, and I saw no end to it
either north or south. The surface was good; one got along quickly,
with no exertion at all when it was in the direction of the wind.

"This is undeniably a monotonous life. Sometimes it feels to me
like a long dark night, my life's 'Ragnarok,' [65] dividing it into
two.... 'The sun is darkened, the summers with it, all weather is
weighty with woe'; snow covers the earth, the wind whistles over the
endless plains, and for three years this winter lasts, till comes
the time for the great battle, and 'men tramp Hel's way.' There is a
hard struggle between life and death; but after that comes the reign
of peace. The earth rises from the sea again, and decks itself anew
with verdure. 'Torrents roar, eagles hover over them, watching for
fish among the rocks,' and then 'Valhalla,' fairer than the sun,
and long length of happy days.

"Pettersen, who is cook this week, came in here this evening, as usual,
to get the bill of fare for next day. When his business was done, he
stood for a minute, and then said that he had had such a strange dream
last night; he had wanted to be taken as cook with a new expedition,
but Dr. Nansen wouldn't have him.

"'And why not?'

"'Well, this was how it was: I dreamed that Dr. Nansen was going off
across the ice to the Pole with four men, and I asked to be taken,
but you said that you didn't need a cook on this expedition, and
I thought that was queer enough, for you would surely want food on
this trip as well. It seemed to me that you had ordered the ship to
meet you at some other place; anyhow, you were not coming back here,
but to some other land. It's strange that one can lie and rake up
such a lot of nonsense in one's sleep.'

"'That was perhaps not such very great nonsense, Pettersen; it is
quite possible that we might have to make such an expedition; but if
we did, we should certainly not come back to the Fram.'

"'Well, if that happened, I would ask to go, sure enough; for it's
just what I should like. I'm no great snow-shoer, but I would manage
to keep up somehow.'

"'That's all very well; but there's a great deal of weary hard work
on a journey like that; you needn't think it's all pleasure.'

"'No, no one would expect that; but it would be all right if I might
only go.'

"'But there might be worse than hardships, Pettersen. It would more
than likely mean risking your life.'

"'I don't care for that either. A man has got to die sometime.'

"'Yes, but you don't want to shorten your life.'

"'Oh, I would take my chance of that. You can lose your life at home,
too, though, perhaps, not quite so easily as here. But if a man was
always to be thinking about that he would never do anything.'

"'That's true. Anyhow, he would not need to come on an expedition
like this. But remember that a journey northward over the ice would
be no child's play.'

"'No, I know that well enough, but if it was with you I shouldn't be
afraid. It would never do if we had to manage alone. We'd be sure to
go wrong; but it's quite a different thing, you see, when there is
one to lead that you know has been through it all before.'

"It is extraordinary the blind faith such men have in their leader! I
believe they would set off without a moment's reflection if they were
asked to join in an expedition to the Pole now, with black winter at
the door. It is grand as long as the faith lasts, but God be merciful
to him on the day that it fails!

"Saturday, September 15th. This evening we have seen the moon again
for the first time--beautiful full moon--and a few stars were also
visible in the night sky, which is still quite light.

"Notices were posted up to-day in several places. They ran as follows:


    "'As fire here on board might be followed by the most terrible
    consequences, too great precaution cannot be taken. For this
    reason every man is requested to observe the following rules
    most conscientiously:

        1. No one is to carry matches.
        2. The only places where matches may be kept are--
            (1) The galley, where the cook for the time being is
                responsible for them.
            (2) The four single cabins, where the inmate of each is
                responsible for his box.
            (3) The work-cabin, when work is going on.
            (4) On the mast in the saloon, from which neither box nor
                single matches must be taken away under any
                circumstances.
        3. Matches must not be struck anywhere except in the places
           above named.
        4. The one exception to the above rules is made when the
           forge has to be lighted.
        5. All the ship's holds are to be inspected every evening at
           8 o'clock by the fire-inspector, who will give in his
           report to the undersigned. After that time no one may,
           without special permission, take a light into the holds
           or into the engine-room.
        6. Smoking is only allowed in the living-rooms and on
           deck. Lighted pipes or cigars must on no account be seen
           elsewhere.


    Fridtjof Nansen.

    Fram, September 15th, 1894.'


"Some of these regulations may seem to infringe on the principle of
equality which I have been so anxious to maintain; but these seem to
me the best arrangements I can make to insure the good of all--and
that must come before everything else.

"Friday, September 21st. We have had tremendously strong wind from
the northwest and north for some days, with a velocity at times of
39 and 42 feet. During this time we must have drifted a good way
south. 'The Radical Right' had got hold of the helm, said Amundsen;
but their time in power was short; for it fell calm yesterday, and
now we are going north again, and it looks as if the 'Left' were to
have a spell at the helm, to repair the wrongs done by the 'Right.'

"Kennels for the dogs have been built this week--a row of splendid
ice-houses along the port side of the ship; four dogs in each house;
good warm winter quarters. In the meantime our eight little pups
are thriving on board; they have a grand world to wander round--the
whole fore-deck, with an awning over it. You can hear their little
barks and yelps as they rush about among shavings, hand-sledges,
the steam-winch, mill-axle, and other odds and ends. They play a
little and they fight a little, and forward under the forecastle
they have their bed among the shavings--a very cozy corner, where
'Kvik' lies stretched out like a lioness in all her majesty. There
they tumble over each other in a heap round her, sleep, yawn, eat,
and pull each other's tails. It is a picture of home and peace here
near the Pole which one could watch by the hour.

"Life goes its regular, even, uneventful way, quiet as the ice itself;
and yet it is wonderful how quickly the time passes. The equinox has
come, the nights are beginning to turn dark, and at noon the sun is
only 9 degrees above the horizon. I pass the day busily here in the
work cabin, and often feel as if I were sitting in my study at home,
with all the comforts of civilization round me. If it were not for
the separation, one could be as well off here as there. Sometimes I
forget where I am. Not infrequently in the evening, when I have been
sitting absorbed in work, I have jumped up to listen when the dogs
barked, thinking to myself, who can be coming? Then I remember that
I am not at home, but drifting out in the middle of the frozen Polar
Sea, at the commencement of the second long Arctic night.

"The temperature has been down to 1.4° Fahr. below zero (-17°
C.) to-day; winter is coming on fast. There is little drift just now,
and yet we are in good spirits. It was the same last autumn equinox;
but how many disappointments we have had since then! How terrible
it was in the later autumn when every calculation seemed to fail,
as we drifted farther and farther south! Not one bright spot on our
horizon! But such a time will never come again. There may still be
great relapses; there may be slow progress for a time; but there
is no doubt as to the future; we see it dawning bright in the west,
beyond the Arctic night.

"Sunday, September 23d. It was a year yesterday since we made fast
for the first time to the great hummock in the ice. Hansen improved
the occasion by making a chart of our drift for the year. It does not
look so very bad, though the distance is not great; the direction is
almost exactly what I had expected. But more of this to-morrow; it
is so late that I cannot write about it now. The nights are turning
darker and darker; winter is settling down upon us.

"Tuesday, September 25th. I have been looking more carefully at the
calculation of our last year's drift. If we reckon from the place where
we were shut in on the 22d of September last year to our position
on the 22d of September this year, the distance we have drifted is
189 miles, equal to 3° 9' latitude. Reckoning from the same place,
but to the farthest north point we reached in summer (July 16th),
makes the drift 225 miles, or 3° 46'. But if we reckon from our
most southern point in the autumn of last year (November 7th) to our
most northern point this summer, then the drift is 305 miles, or 5°
5'. We got fully 4° north, from 77° 43' to 81° 53'. To give the course
of the drift is a difficult task in these latitudes, as there is a
perceptible deviation of the compass with every degree of longitude
as one passes east or west; the change, of course, given in degrees
will be almost exactly the same as the number of degrees of longitude
that have been passed. Our average course will be about N. 36° W. The
direction of our drift is consequently a much more northerly one than
the Jeannette's was, and this is just what we expected; ours cuts hers
at an angle of 59°. The line of this year's drift continued will cut
the northeast island of Spitzbergen, and take us as far north as 84°
7', in 75° east longitude, somewhere N.N.E. of Franz Josef Land. The
distance by this course to the Northeast Island is 827 miles. Should
we continue to progress only at the rate of 189 miles a year it would
take us 4.4 years to do this distance. But assuming our progress to
be at the rate of 305 miles a year, we shall do it in 2.7 years. That
we should drift at least as quickly as this seems probable, because
we can hardly now be driven back as we were in October last year,
when we had the open water to the south and the great mass of ice to
the north of us.

"The past summer seems to me to have proved that while the ice is
very unwilling to go back south, it is most ready to go northwest as
soon as there is ever so little easterly, not to mention southerly,
wind. I therefore believe, as I always have believed, that the drift
will become faster as we get farther northwest, and the probability
is that the Fram will reach Norway in two years, the expedition
having lasted its full three years, as I somehow had a feeling that
it would. As our drift is 59° more northerly than the Jeannette's,
and as Franz Josef Land must force the ice north (taking for granted
that all that comes from this great basin goes round to the north of
Franz Josef Land), it is probable that our course will become more
northerly the farther on we go, until we are past Franz Josef Land,
and that we shall consequently reach a higher latitude than our drift
so far would indicate. I hope 85° at least. Everything has come right
so far; the direction of our drift is exactly parallel with the course
which I conjectured to have been taken by the floe with the Jeannette
relics, and which I pricked out on the chart prepared for my London
Address. [66] This course touched about 87 1/2° north latitude. I
have no right to expect a more northerly drift than parallel to this,
and have no right to be anything but happy if I get as far. Our aim,
as I have so often tried to make clear, is not so much to reach the
point in which the earth's axis terminates, as to traverse and explore
the unknown Polar Sea; and yet I should like to get to the Pole, too,
and hope that it will be possible to do so, if only we can reach 84°
or 85° by March. And why should we not?

"Thursday, September 27th. Have determined that, beginning from
to-morrow, every man is to go out snow-shoeing two hours daily, from
11 to 1, so long as the daylight lasts. It is necessary. If anything
happened that obliged us to make our way home over the ice, I am afraid
some of the company would be a terrible hinderance to us, unpractised
as they are now. Several of them are first-rate snow-shoers, but
five or six of them would soon be feeling the pleasures of learning;
if they had to go out on a long course, and without snow-shoes,
it would be all over with us.

"After this we used to go out regularly in a body. Besides being good
exercise, it was also a great pleasure; every one seemed to thrive on
it, and they all became accustomed to the use of the shoes on this
ground, even though they often got them broken in the unevennesses
of the pressure-ridges; we just patched and riveted them together to
break them again.

"Monday, October 1st. We tried a hand-sledge to-day with a load of
250 pounds. It went along easily, and yet was hard to draw, because
the snow-shoes were apt to slip to the side on the sort of surface we
had. I almost believe that Indian snow-shoes would be better on this
ground, where there are so many knobs and smooth hillocks to draw the
sledges over. When Amundsen first began to pull the sledge he thought
it was nothing at all; but when he had gone on for a time he fell into
a fit of deep and evidently sad thought, and went silently home. When
he got on board he confided to the others that if a man had to draw a
load like that he might just as well lie down at once--it would come
to the same thing in the end. That is how practice is apt to go. In
the afternoon I yoked three dogs to the same little sledge with the
250-pound load, and they drew it along as if it were nothing at all.

"Tuesday October 2d. Beautiful weather, but coldish; 49° Fahr. of
frost (-27° C.) during the night, which is a good deal for October,
surely. It will be a cold winter if it goes on at the same rate. But
what do we care whether there are 90° of frost or 120°? A good
snow-shoeing excursion to-day. They are all becoming most expert now;
but darkness will be on us presently, and then there will be no more
of it. It is a pity; this exercise is so good for us--we must think
of something to take its place.

"I have a feeling now as if this were to be my last winter on
board. Will it really come to my going off north in spring? The
experiment in drawing a loaded hand-sledge over this ice was certainly
anything but promising; and if the dogs should not hold out, or should
be of less use than we expect; and if we should come to worse ice
instead of better--well, we should only have ourselves to trust to. But
if we can just get so far on with the Fram that the distance left to
be covered is at all a reasonable one, I believe that it is my duty
to make the venture, and I cannot imagine any difficulty that will not
be overcome when our choice lies between death--and onward and home!

"Thursday, October 4th. The ice is rather impassable in places,
but there are particular lanes or tracts; taking it altogether,
it is in good condition for sledging and snow-shoeing, though the
surface is rather soft, so that the dogs sink in a little. This is
probably chiefly owing to there having been no strong winds of late,
so that the snow has not been well packed together.

"Life goes on in the regular routine; there is always some little
piece of work turning up to be done. Yesterday the breaking in of
the young dogs began. [67] It was just the three--'Barbara,' 'Freia,'
and 'Susine.' 'Gulabrand' is such a miserable, thin wretch that he is
escaping for the present. They were unmanageable at first, and rushed
about in all directions; but in a little while they drew like old dogs,
and were altogether better than we expected. 'Kvik,' of course, set
them a noble example. It fell to Mogstad's lot to begin the training,
as it was his week for looking after the dogs. This duty is taken in
turns now, each man has his week of attending to them both morning
and afternoon.

"It seems to me that a very satisfactory state of feeling prevails
on board at present, when we are just entering on our second Arctic
night, which we hope is to be a longer, and probably also a colder,
one than any people before us have experienced. There is appreciably
less light every day; soon there will be none; but the good spirits
do not wane with the light. It seems to me that we are more uniformly
cheerful than we have ever been. What the reason of this is I cannot
tell; perhaps just custom. But certainly, too, we are well off--in
clover, as the saying is. We are drifting gently, but it is to be
hoped surely, on through the dark unknown Nivlheim, where terrified
fancy has pictured all possible horrors. Yet we are living a life of
luxury and plenty, surrounded by all the comforts of civilization. I
think we shall be better off this winter than last.

"The firing apparatus in the galley is working splendidly, and the cook
himself is now of opinion that it is an invention which approaches
perfection. So we shall burn nothing but coal-oil there now; it
warms the place well, and a good deal of the heat comes up here
into the work-room, where I sometimes sit and perspire until I have
to take off one garment after another, although the window is open,
and there are 30 odd degrees of cold outside. I have calculated that
the petroleum which this enables us to keep for lighting purposes
only will last at least 10 years, though we burn it freely 300 days
in the year. At present we are not using petroleum lamps at the
rate assumed in my calculation, because we frequently have electric
light; and then even here summer comes once a year, or, at any rate,
something which we must call summer. Even allowing for accidents,
such as the possibility of a tank springing a leak and the oil running
out, there is still no reason whatever for being sparing of light,
and every man can have as much as he wants. What this means can best
be appreciated by one who for a whole year has felt the stings of
conscience every time he went to work or read alone in his cabin,
and burned a lamp that was not absolutely necessary, because he could
have used the general one in the saloon.

"As yet the coals are not being touched, except for the stove in the
saloon, where they are to be allowed to burn as much as they like this
winter. The quantity thus consumed will be a trifle in comparison
with our store of about 100 tons, for which we cannot well have any
other use until the Fram once more forces her way out of the ice on
the other side. Another thing that is of no little help in keeping
us warm and comfortable is the awning that is now stretched over the
ship. [68] The only part I have left open is the stern, abaft the
bridge, so as to be able to see round over the ice from there.

"Personally, I must say that things are going well with me; much
better than I could have expected. Time is a good teacher; that
devouring longing does not gnaw so hard as it did. Is it apathy
beginning? Shall I feel nothing at all by the time ten years have
passed? Oh! sometimes it comes on with all its old strength, as
if it would tear me in pieces! But this is a splendid school of
patience. Much good it does to sit wondering whether they are alive
or dead at home; it only almost drives one mad.

"All the same, I never grow quite reconciled to this life. It is really
neither life nor death, but a state between the two. It means never
being at rest about anything or in any place--a constant waiting for
what is coming; a waiting in which, perhaps, the best years of one's
manhood will pass. It is like what a young boy sometimes feels when
he goes on his first voyage. The life on board is hateful to him;
he suffers cruelly from all the torments of sea-sickness; and being
shut in within the narrow walls of the ship is worse than prison;
but it is something that has to be gone through. Beyond it all lies
the south, the land of his youthful dreams, tempting with its sunny
smile. In time he arises, half dead. Does he find his south? How
often it is but a barren desert he is cast ashore on!

"Sunday, October 7th. It has cleared up this evening, and there is
a starry sky and aurora borealis. It is a little change from the
constant cloudy weather, with frequent snow-showers, which we have
had these last days.

"Thoughts come and thoughts go. I cannot forget, and I cannot
sleep. Everything is still; all are asleep. I only hear the quiet step
of the watch on deck; the wind rustling in the rigging and the canvas,
and the clock gently hacking the time in pieces there on the wall. If
I go on deck there is black night, stars sparkling high overhead,
and faint aurora flickering across the gloomy vault, and out in the
darkness I can see the glimmer of the great monotonous plain of the
ice: it is all so inexpressibly forlorn, so far, far removed from
the noise and unrest of men and all their striving. What is life
thus isolated? A strange, aimless process; and man a machine which
eats, sleeps, awakes; eats and sleeps again, dreams dreams, but never
lives. Or is life really nothing else? And is it just one more phase
of the eternal martyrdom, a new mistake of the erring human soul, this
banishing of one's self to the hopeless wilderness, only to long there
for what one has left behind? Am I a coward? Am I afraid of death? Oh,
no! but in these nights such longing can come over one for all beauty,
for that which is contained in a single word, and the soul flees from
this interminable and rigid world of ice. When one thinks how short
life is, and that one came away from it all of one's own free will,
and remembers, too, that another is suffering the pain of constant
anxiety--'true, true till death.' 'O mankind, thy ways are passing
strange! We are but as flakes of foam, helplessly driven over the
tossing sea.'

"Wednesday, October 10th. Exactly 33 years old, then. There is nothing
to be said to that, except that life is moving on, and will never turn
back. They have all been touchingly nice to me to-day, and we have held
fête. They surprised me in the morning by having the saloon ornamented
with flags. They had hung the 'Union' above Sverdrup's place. [69]
We accused Amundsen of having done this, but he would not confess to
it. Above my door and on over Hansen's they had the pennant with Fram
in big letters. It looked most festive when I came into the saloon,
and they all stood up and wished me 'Many happy returns.' When I went
on deck the flag was waving from the mizzenmast-head.

"We took a snow-shoeing excursion south in the morning. It was windy,
bitter weather; I have not felt so cold for long. The thermometer
is down to 24° Fahr. below zero (-31° C.) this evening; this is
certainly the coldest birthday I have had yet. A sumptuous dinner:
1. Fish-pudding. 2. Sausages and tongue, with potatoes, haricot
beans, and pease. 3. Preserved strawberries, with rice and cream;
Crown extract of malt. Then, to every one's surprise, our doctor
began to take out of the pocket of the overcoat he always wears
remarkable-looking little glasses--medicine-glasses, measuring-glasses,
test-glasses--one for each man, and lastly a whole bottle of Lysholmer
liqueur--real native Lysholmer--which awakened general enthusiasm. Two
drams of that per man was not so bad, besides a quarter of a bottle
of extract of malt. Coffee after dinner, with a surprise in the shape
of apple-cake, baked by our excellent cook, Pettersen, formerly smith
and engineer. Then I had to produce my cigars, which were also much
enjoyed; and of course we kept holiday all the afternoon. At supper
there was another surprise--a large birthday cake from the same baker,
with the inscription 'T. L. M. D.' (Til lykke med dagen, the Norwegian
equivalent for 'Wishing a happy birthday'), '10.10.94.' In the evening
came pineapples, figs, and sweets. Many a worse birthday might be
spent in lower latitudes than 81°. The evening is passing with all
kinds of merriment; every one is in good spirits; the saloon resounds
with laughter--how many a merry meeting it has been the scene of!

"But when one has said good-night and sits here alone, sadness comes;
and if one goes on deck there are the stars high overhead in the clear
sky. In the south is a smouldering aurora arch, which from time to
time sends up streamers; a constant, restless flickering.

"We have been talking a little about this expedition, Sverdrup and
I. When we were out on the ice in the afternoon he suddenly said,
'Yes, next October you will, perhaps, not be on board the Fram.' To
which I had to answer that, unless the winter turned out badly, I
probably should not. But still I cannot believe in this rightly myself.

"Every night I am at home in my dreams, but when the morning breaks
I must again, like Helge, gallop back on the pale horse by the way
of the reddening dawn, not to the joys of Valhalla, but to the realm
of eternal ice.


                    "'For thee alone Sigrun,
                    Of the Sæva Mountain,
                    Must Helge swim
                    In the dew of sorrow.'


"Friday, October 12th. A regular storm has been blowing from the
E.S.E. since yesterday evening. Last night the mill went to bits;
the teeth broke off one of the toothed wheels, which has been
considerably worn by a year's use. The velocity of the wind was over
40 feet this morning, and it is long since I have heard it blow as
it is doing this evening. We must be making good progress north just
now. Perhaps October is not to be such a bad month as I expected from
our experiences of last year. Was out snow-shoeing before dinner. The
snow was whistling about my ears. I had not much trouble in getting
back; the wind saw to that. A tremendous snow squall is blowing just
now. The moon stands low in the southern sky, sending a dull glow
through the driving masses. One has to hold on to one's cap. This
is a real dismal polar night, such as one imagines it to one's self
sitting at home far away in the south. But it makes me cheerful to
come on deck, for I feel that we are moving onward.

"Saturday, October 13th. Same wind to-day; velocity up to 39 feet
and higher, but Hansen has taken an observation this evening in spite
of it. He is, as always, a fine, indefatigable fellow. We are going
northwest (81° 32' 8'' north latitude, 118° 28' east longitude).

"Sunday, October 14th. Still the same storm going on. I am reading
of the continual sufferings which the earlier Arctic explorers had
to contend with for every degree, even for every minute, of their
northward course. It gives me almost a feeling of contempt for us,
lying here on sofas, warm and comfortable, passing the time reading
and writing and smoking and dreaming, while the storm is tugging
and tearing at the rigging above us and the whole sea is one mass of
driving snow, through which we are carried degree by degree northward
to the goal our predecessors struggled towards, spending their strength
in vain. And yet....


            "'Now sinks the sun, now comes the night.'


"Monday, October 15th. Went snow-shoeing eastward this morning, still
against the same wind and the same snowfall. You have to pay careful
attention to your course these days, as the ship is not visible any
great distance, and if you did not find your way back, well--But
the tracks remain pretty distinct, as the snow-crust is blown bare
in most places, and the drifting snow does not fasten upon it. We
are moving northward, and meanwhile the Arctic night is making its
slow and majestic entrance. The sun was low to-day; I did not see it
because of banks of cloud in the south; but it still sent its light
up over the pale sky. There the full moon is now reigning, bathing
the great ice plain and the drifting snow in its bright light. How a
night such as this raises one's thoughts! It does not matter if one
has seen the like a thousand times before; it makes the same solemn
impression when it comes again; one cannot free one's mind from its
power. It is like entering a still, holy temple, where the spirit of
nature hovers through the place on glittering silver beams, and the
soul must fall down and adore--adore the infinity of the universe.

"Wednesday, October 17th. We are employed in taking deep-water
temperatures. It is a doubtful pleasure at this time of year. Sometimes
the water-lifter gets coated with ice, so that it will not close down
below in the water, and has, therefore, to hang for ever so long each
time; and sometimes it freezes tight during the observation after
it is brought up, so that the water will not run out of it into the
sample bottles, not to mention all the bother there is getting the
apparatus ready to lower. We are lucky if we do not require to take
the whole thing into the galley every time to thaw it. It is slow work;
the temperatures have sometimes to be read by lantern light. The water
samples are not so reliable, because they freeze in the lifter. But
the thing can be done, and we must just go on doing it. The same
easterly wind is blowing, and we are drifting onward. Our latitude
this evening is about 81° 47' N.

"Thursday, October 18th. I continue taking the temperatures of the
water, rather a cool amusement with the thermometer down to -29°
C. (20.2° Fahr. below zero) and a wind blowing. Your fingers are apt
to get a little stiff and numb when you have to manipulate the wet
or ice-covered metal screws with bare hands and have to read off the
thermometer with a magnifying-glass in order to insure accuracy to
the hundredth part of a degree, and then to bottle the samples of
water, which you have to keep close against your breast, to prevent
the water from freezing. It is a nice business!

"There was a lovely aurora borealis at 8 o'clock this evening. It wound
itself like a fiery serpent in a double coil across the sky. The tail
was about 10° above the horizon in the north. Thence it turned off
with many windings in an easterly direction, then round again, and
westward in the form of an arch from 30° to 40° above the horizon,
sinking down again to the west and rolling itself up into a ball,
from which several branches spread out over the sky. The arches were
in active motion, while pencils of streamers shot out swiftly from
the west towards the east, and the whole serpent kept incessantly
undulating into fresh curves. Gradually it mounted up over the sky
nearly to the zenith, while at the same time the uppermost bend or
arch separated into several fainter undulations, the ball in the
northeast glowed intensely, and brilliant streamers shot upwards to
the zenith from several places in the arches, especially from the ball
and from the bend farthest away in the northeast. The illumination
was now at its highest, the color being principally a strong yellow,
though at some spots it verged towards a yellowish red, while at
other places it was a greenish white. When the upper wave reached the
zenith the phenomenon lost something of its brilliancy, dispersing
little by little, leaving merely a faint indication of an aurora in
the southern sky. On coming up again on deck later in the evening,
I found nearly the whole of the aurora collected in the southern
half of the sky. A low arch, 5° in height, could be seen far down in
the south over the dark segment of the horizon. Between this and the
zenith were four other vague, wavy arches, the topmost of which passed
right across it; here and there vivid streamers shot flaming upward,
especially from the undermost arch in the south. No arch was to be
seen in the northern part of the sky, only streamers every here and
there. To-night, as usual, there are traces of aurora to be seen over
the whole sky; light mists or streamers are often plainly visible,
and the sky seems to be constantly covered with a luminous veil,
[70] in which every here and there are dark holes.

"There is scarcely any night, or rather I may safely say there is
no night, on which no trace of aurora can be discerned as soon as
the sky becomes clear, or even when there is simply a rift in the
clouds large enough for it to be seen; and as a rule we have strong
light phenomena dancing in ceaseless unrest over the firmament. They
mainly appear, however, in the southern part of the sky.

"Friday, October 19th. A fresh breeze from E.S.E. Drifting northward
at a good pace. Soon we shall probably have passed the long-looked-for
82°, and that will not be far from 82° 27', when the Fram will be
the vessel that will have penetrated farthest to the north on this
globe. But the barometer is falling; the wind probably will not remain
in that quarter long, but will shift round to the west. I only hope
for this once the barometer may prove a false prophet. I have become
rather sanguine; things have been going pretty well for so long;
and October, a month which last year's experience had made me dread,
has been a month of marked advance, if only it doesn't end badly.

"The wind to-day, however, was to cost a life. The mill, which had
been repaired after the mishap to the cog-wheel the other day, was set
going again. In the afternoon a couple of the puppies began fighting
over a bone, when one of them fell underneath one of the cog-wheels on
the axle of the mill, and was dragged in between it and the deck. Its
poor little body nearly made the whole thing come to a standstill;
and, unfortunately, no one was on the spot to stop it in time. I
heard the noise, and rushed on deck; the puppy had just been drawn
out nearly dead; the whole of its stomach was torn open. It gave
a faint whine, and was at once put out of its misery. Poor little
frolicsome creature! Only a little while ago you were gambolling
around, enjoying an innocent romp with your brothers and sisters;
then came the thigh-bone of a bear trundling along the deck from the
galley; you and the others made a headlong rush for it, and now there
you lie, cruelly lacerated and dead as a herring. Fate is inexorable!

"Sunday, October 31st. North latitude 82° 0.2'; east longitude 114°
9'. It is late in the evening, and my head is bewildered, as if I
had been indulging in a regular debauch, but it was a debauch of a
very innocent nature.

"A grand banquet to-day to celebrate the eighty-second degree of
latitude. The observation gave 82° 0.2' last night, and we have now
certainly drifted a little farther north. Honey-cakes (gingerbread)
were baked for the occasion first-class honey-cakes, too, you may
take my word for it; and then, after a refreshing snow-shoe run,
came a festal banquet. Notices were stuck up in the saloon requesting
the guests to be punctual at dinner-time, for the cook had exerted
himself to the utmost of his power. The following deeply felt lines
by an anonymous poet also appeared on a placard:


        "'When dinner is punctually served at the time,
        No fear that the milk soup will surely be prime;
        But the viands are spoiled if you come to it late,
        The fish-pudding will lie on your chest a dead weight;
        What's preserved in tin cases, there can be no doubt,
        If you wait long enough will force its way out.
        Even meat of the ox, of the sheep, or of swine,
        Very different in this from the juice of the vine!
        Ramornie, and Armour, and Thorne, and Herr Thüs,
        Good meats have preserved, and they taste not amiss;
        So I'll just add a word, friends, of warning to you:
        If you want a good dinner, come at one, not at two.'


The lyric melancholy which here finds utterance must have been the
outcome of many bitter disappointments, and furnishes a valuable
internal evidence as to the anonymous author's profession. Meanwhile
the guests assembled with tolerable punctuality, the only exception
being your humble servant, who was obliged to take some photographs
in the rapidly waning daylight. The menu was splendid: 1. Ox-tail
soup. 2. Fish-pudding, with melted butter and potatoes. 3. Turtle, with
marrowfat pease, etc., etc. 4. Rice, with multer (cloudberries) and
cream; Crown malt extract. After dinner, coffee and honey-cakes. After
supper, which also was excellent, there was a call for music, which was
liberally supplied throughout the whole evening by various accomplished
performers on the organ, among whom Bentzen specially distinguished
himself, his late experiences on the ice with the crank-handle [71]
having put him in first-rate training. Every now and then the music
dragged a bit, as though it were being hauled up from an abyss some
1000 or 1500 fathoms deep; then it would quicken and get more lively,
as it came nearer to the surface. At last the excitement rose to such
a pitch that Pettersen and I had to get up and have a dance, a waltz
and a polka or two; and we really executed some very tasteful pas de
deux on the limited floor of the saloon. Then Amundsen also was swept
into the mazes of the dance, while the others played cards. Meanwhile
refreshments were served in the form of preserved peaches, dried
bananas, figs, honey-cakes, etc., etc. In short, we made a jovial
evening of it, and why should we not? We are progressing merrily
towards our goal, we are already half-way between the New Siberian
Islands and Franz Josef Land, and there is not a soul on board who
doubts that we shall accomplish what we came out to do; so long
live merriment!

"But the endless stillness of the polar night holds its sway aloft; the
moon, half full, shines over the ice, and the stars sparkle brilliantly
overhead; there are no restless northern lights, and the south wind
sighs mournfully through the rigging. A deep, peaceful stillness
prevails everywhere. It is the infinite loveliness of death--Nirvana.

"Monday, October 22d. It is beginning to be cold now; the thermometer
was -34.6° C. (30.2° Fahr. below zero) last night, and this evening
it is -36° C. (32.8 Fahr. below zero).

"A lovely aurora this evening (11.30). A brilliant corona encircled
the zenith with a wreath of streamers in several layers, one outside
the other; then larger and smaller sheaves of streamers spread over the
sky, especially low down towards S.W. and E.S.E. All of them, however,
tended upward towards the corona, which shone like a halo. I stood
watching it a long while. Every now and then I could discern a dark
patch in its middle, at the point where all the rays converged. It
lay a little south of the Pole-star, and approached Cassiopeia in the
position it then occupied. But the halo kept smouldering and shifting
just as if a gale in the upper strata of the atmosphere were playing
the bellows to it. Presently fresh streamers shot out of the darkness
outside the inner halo, followed by other bright shafts of light in
a still wider circle, and meanwhile the dark space in the middle was
clearly visible; at other times it was entirely covered with masses of
light. Then it appeared as if the storm abated, and the whole turned
pale, and glowed with a faint whitish hue for a little while, only to
shoot wildly up once more and to begin the same dance over again. Then
the entire mass of light around the corona began to rock to and fro in
large waves over the zenith and the dark central point, whereupon the
gale seemed to increase and whirl the streamers into an inextricable
tangle, till they merged into a luminous vapor, that enveloped the
corona and drowned it in a deluge of light, so that neither it,
nor the streamers, nor the dark centre could be seen--nothing, in
fact, but a chaos of shining mist. Again it became paler, and I went
below. At midnight there was hardly anything of the aurora to be seen.

"Friday, October 26th. Yesterday evening we were in 82° 3' north
latitude. To-day the Fram is two years old. The sky has been overcast
during the last two days, and it has been so dark at midday that I
thought we should soon have to stop our snow-shoe expeditions. But
this morning brought us clear still weather, and I went out on a
delightful trip to the westward, where there had been a good deal
of fresh packing, but nothing of any importance. In honor of the
occasion we had a particularly good dinner, with fried halibut,
turtle, pork chops, with haricot beans and green pease, plum-pudding
(real burning plum-pudding for the first time) with custard sauce,
and wound up with strawberries. As usual, the beverages consisted
of wine (that is to say, lime-juice, with water and sugar) and Crown
malt extract. I fear there was a general overtaxing of the digestive
apparatus. After dinner, coffee and honey-cakes, with which Nordahl
stood cigarettes. General holiday.

"This evening it has begun to blow from the north, but probably this
does not mean much; I must hope so, at all events, and trust that we
shall soon get a south wind again. But it is not the mild zephyr we
yearn for, not the breath of the blushing dawn. No, a cold, biting
south wind, roaring with all the force of the Polar Sea, so that
the Fram, the two-year-old Fram, may be buried in the snow-storm,
and all around her be but a reeking frost--it is this we are waiting
for, this that will drift us onward to our goal. To-day, then, Fram,
thou art two years old. I said at the dinner-table that if a year
ago we were unanimous in believing that the Fram was a good ship,
we had much better grounds for that belief to-day, for safely and
surely she is carrying us onward, even if the speed be not excessive,
and so we drank the Fram's good health and good progress. I did not
say too much. Had I said all that was in my heart, my words would not
have been so measured; for, to say the truth, we all of us dearly love
the ship, as much as it is possible to love any impersonal thing. And
why should we not love her? No mother can give her young more warmth
and safety under her wings than she affords to us. She is indeed
like a home to us. We all rejoice to return to her from out on the
icy plains, and when I have been far away and have seen her masts
rising over the everlasting mantle of snow, how often has my heart
glowed with warmth towards her! To the builder of this home grateful
thoughts often travel during the still nights. He, I feel certain,
sits yonder at home often thinking of us; but he knows not where
his thought can seek the Fram in the great white tract around the
Pole. But he knows his child; and though all else lose faith in her,
he will believe that she will hold out. Yes, Colin Archer, could you
see us now, you would know that your faith in her is not misplaced.

"I am sitting alone in my berth, and my thoughts glide back over the
two years that have passed. What demon is it that weaves the threads
of our lives, that makes us deceive ourselves, and ever sends us forth
on paths we have not ourselves laid out--paths on which we have no
desire to walk? Was it a mere feeling of duty that impelled me? Oh
no! I was simply a child yearning for a great adventure out in the
unknown, who had dreamed of it so long that at last I believed it
really awaited me. And it has, indeed, fallen to my lot, the great
adventure of the ice, deep and pure as infinity; the silent, starlit
polar night; nature itself in its profundity; the mystery of life;
the ceaseless circling of the universe; the feast of death--without
suffering, without regret--eternal in itself. Here in the great night
thou standest in all thy naked pettiness, face to face with nature;
and thou sittest devoutly at the feet of eternity, intently listening;
and thou knowest God the all-ruling, the centre of the universe. All
the riddles of life seem to grow clear to thee, and thou laughest
at thyself that thou couldst be consumed by brooding, it is all so
little, so unutterably little.... 'Whoso sees Jehovah dies.'

"Sunday, November 4th. At noon I had gone out on a snow-shoe
expedition, and had taken some of the dogs with me. Presently I noticed
that those that had been left behind at the ship began to bark. Those
with me pricked up their ears, and several of them started off back,
with 'Ulenka' at their head. Most of them soon stopped, listening and
looking behind them to see if I were following. I wondered for a little
while whether it could be a bear, and then continued on my way; but
at length I could stand it no longer, and set off homeward, with the
dogs dashing wildly on in front. On approaching the ship I saw some of
the men setting off with guns; they were Sverdrup, Johansen, Mogstad,
and Henriksen. They had got a good start of me in the direction in
which the dogs were barking before I, too, got hold of a gun and set
off after them. All at once I saw through the darkness the flash of
a volley from those in front, followed by another shot; then several
more, until at last it sounded like regular platoon firing. What the
deuce could it be? They were standing on the same spot, and kept firing
incessantly. Why on earth did they not advance nearer? I hurried on,
thinking it was high time I came up with my snow-shoes to follow the
game, which must evidently be in full flight. Meanwhile they advanced
a little, and then there was another flash to be seen through the
darkness, and so they went on two or three times. One of the number
at last dashed forward over the ice and fired straight down in front
of him, while another knelt down and fired towards the east. Were they
trying their guns? But surely it was a strange time for doing so, and
there were so many shots. Meanwhile the dogs tore around over the ice,
and gathered in clumps, barking furiously. At length I overtook them,
and saw three bears scattered over the ice, a she-bear and two cubs,
while the dogs lay over them, worrying them like mad and tearing
away at paws, throat, and tail. 'Ulenka' especially was beside
herself. She had gripped one of the cubs by the throat, and worried
it like a mad thing, so that it was difficult to get her away. The
bears had gone very leisurely away from the dogs, which dared not
come to sufficiently close quarters to use their teeth till the old
she-bear had been wounded and had fallen down. The bears, indeed, had
acted in a very suspicious manner. It seemed just as if the she-bear
had some deep design, some evil intent, in her mind, if she could
only have lured the dogs near enough to her. Suddenly she halted,
let the cubs go on in front, sniffed a little, and then came back
to meet the dogs, who at the same time, as if at a word of command,
all turned tail and set off towards the west. It was then that the
first shot was fired, and the old bear tottered and fell headlong,
when immediately some of the dogs set to and tackled her. One of the
cubs then got its quietus, while the other one was fired at and made
off over the ice with three dogs after it. They soon overtook it and
pulled it down, so that when Mogstad came up he was obliged first of
all to get the dogs off before he could venture to shoot. It was a
glorious slaughter, and by no means unwelcome, for we had that very
day eaten the last remains of our last bear in the shape of meat-cakes
for dinner. The two cubs made lovely Christmas pork.

"In all probability these were the same bears whose tracks we had
seen before. Sverdrup and I had followed on the tracks of three such
animals on the last day of October, and had lost them to N.N.W. of
the ship. Apparently they had come from that quarter now.

"When they wanted to shoot, Peter's gun, as usual, would not go off;
it had again been drenched with vaseline, and he kept calling out:
'Shoot! shoot! Mine won't go off.' Afterwards, on examining the gun
I had taken with me to the fray, I found there were no cartridges in
it. A nice account I should have given of myself had I come on the
bears alone with that weapon!

"Monday, November 5th. As I was sitting at work last night I heard a
dog on the deck howling fearfully. I sprang up, and found it was one
of the puppies that had touched an iron bolt with its tongue and was
frozen fast to it. There the poor beast was, straining to get free,
with its tongue stretched out so far that it looked like a thin rope
proceeding out of its throat; and it was howling piteously. Bentzen,
whose watch it was, had come up, but scarcely knew what to do. He
took hold of it, however, by the neck, and held it close to the
bolt, so that its tongue was less extended. After having warmed the
bolt somewhat with his hand, he managed to get the tongue free. The
poor little puppy seemed overjoyed at its release, and, to show its
gratitude, licked Bentzen's hand with its bloody tongue, and seemed
as if it could not be grateful enough to its deliverer. It is to
be hoped that it will be some time before this puppy, at any rate,
gets fast again in this way; but such things happen every now and then.

"Sunday, November 11th. I am pursuing my studies as usual day after
day; and they lure me, too, deeper and deeper into the insoluble
mystery that lies behind all these inquiries. Nay! why keep revolving
in this fruitless circuit of thought? Better go out into the winter
night. The moon is up, great and yellow and placid; the stars are
twinkling overhead through the drifting snow-dust.... Why not rock
yourself into a winter night's dream filled with memories of summer?

"Ugh, no! The wind is howling too shrilly over the barren ice-plains;
there are 33 degrees of cold, and summer, with its flowers, is far,
far away. I would give a year of my life to hold them in my embrace;
they loom so far off in the distance, as if I should never come back
to them.

"But the northern lights, with their eternally shifting loveliness,
flame over the heavens each day and each night. Look at them; drink
oblivion and drink hope from them: they are even as the aspiring
soul of man. Restless as it, they will wreathe the whole vault of
heaven with their glittering, fleeting light, surpassing all else
in their wild loveliness, fairer than even the blush of dawn; but,
whirling idly through empty space, they bear no message of a coming
day. The sailor steers his course by a star. Could you but concentrate
yourselves, you too, O northern lights, might lend your aid to guide
the wildered wanderer! But dance on, and let me enjoy you; stretch
a bridge across the gulf between the present and the time to come,
and let me dream far, far ahead into the future.

"O thou mysterious radiance! what art thou, and whence comest thou? Yet
why ask? Is it not enough to admire thy beauty and pause there? Can we
at best get beyond the outward show of things? What would it profit
even if we could say that it is an electric discharge or currents of
electricity through the upper regions of the air, and were able to
describe in minutest detail how it all came to be? It would be mere
words. We know no more what an electric current really is than what
the aurora borealis is. Happy is the child.... We, with all our views
and theories, are not in the last analysis a hair's-breadth nearer
the truth than it.

"Tuesday, November 13th. Thermometer -38° C. (-36.4° Fahr.). The ice
is packing in several quarters during the day, and the roar is pretty
loud, now that the ice has become colder. It can be heard from afar--a
strange roar, which would sound uncanny to any one who did not know
what it was.

"A delightful snow-shoe run in the light of the full moon. Is life a
vale of tears? Is it such a deplorable fate to dash off like the wind,
with all the dogs skipping around one, over the boundless expanse of
ice, through a night like this, in the fresh, crackling frost, while
the snow-shoes glide over the smooth surface, so that you scarcely
know you are touching the earth, and the stars hang high in the blue
vault above? This is more, indeed, than one has any right to expect
of life; it is a fairy tale from another world, from a life to come.

"And then to return home to one's cozy study-cabin, kindle the stove,
light the lamp, fill a pipe, stretch one's self on the sofa, and send
dreams out into the world with the curling clouds of smoke--is that a
dire infliction? Thus I catch myself sitting staring at the fire for
hours together, dreaming myself away--a useful way of employing the
time. But at least it makes it slip unnoticed by, until the dreams
are swept away in an ice-blast of reality, and I sit here in the
midst of desolation, and nervously set to work again.

"Wednesday, November 14th. How marvellous are these snow-shoe runs
through this silent nature! The ice-fields stretch all around, bathed
in the silver moonlight; here and there dark cold shadows project from
the hummocks, whose sides faintly reflect the twilight. Far, far out
a dark line marks the horizon, formed by the packed-up ice, over it
a shimmer of silvery vapor, and above all the boundless deep-blue,
starry sky, where the full moon sails through the ether. But in the
south is a faint glimmer of day low down of a dark, glowing red hue,
and higher up a clear yellow and pale-green arch, that loses itself
in the blue above. The whole melts into a pure harmony, one and
indescribable. At times one longs to be able to translate such scenes
into music. What mighty chords one would require to interpret them!

"Silent, oh, so silent! You can hear the vibrations of your own
nerves. I seem as if I were gliding over and over these plains into
infinite space. Is this not an image of what is to come? Eternity and
peace are here. Nirvana must be cold and bright as such an eternal
star-night. What are all our research and understanding in the midst
of this infinity?

"Friday, November 16th. In the forenoon I went out with Sverdrup on
snow-shoes in the moonlight, and we talked seriously of the prospects
of our drift and of the proposed expedition northward over the ice in
the spring. In the evening we went into the matter more thoroughly in
his cabin. I stated my views, in which he entirely coincided. I have
of late been meditating a great deal on what is the proper course
to pursue, supposing the drift does not take us so far north by the
month of March as I had anticipated. But the more I think of it, the
more firmly am I persuaded that it is the thing to do. For if it be
right to set out at 85°, it must be no less right to set out at 82°
or 83°. In either case we should penetrate into more northerly regions
than we should otherwise reach, and this becomes all the more desirable
if the Fram herself does not get so far north as we had hoped. If we
cannot actually reach the Pole, why, we must turn back before reaching
it. The main consideration, as I must constantly repeat, is not to
reach that exact mathematical point, but to explore the unknown parts
of the Polar Sea, whether these be near to or more remote from the
Pole. I said this before setting out, and I must keep it continually
in mind. Certainly there are many important observations to be made on
board during the further drift of the ship, many which I would dearly
like to carry on myself; but all the more important of these will be
made equally well here, even though two of our number leave the ship;
and there can scarcely be any doubt that the observations we shall
make farther north will not many times outweigh in value those I
could have made during the remainder of the time on board. So far,
then, it is absolutely desirable that we set out.

"Then comes the question: What is the best time to start? That the
spring--March, at the latest--is the only season for such a venture
there can be no doubt at all. But shall it be next spring? Suppose,
at the worst, we have not advanced farther than to 83° north latitude
and 110° east longitude; then something might be said for waiting till
the spring of 1896; but I cannot but think that we should thus in all
probability let slip the propitious moment. The drifting could not be
so wearingly slow but that after another year had elapsed we should
be far beyond the point from which the sledge expedition ought to set
out. If I measure the distance we have drifted from November of last
year with the compasses, and mark off the same distance ahead, by next
November we should be north of Franz Josef Land, and a little beyond
it. It is conceivable, of course, that we were no farther advanced in
February, 1896, either; but it is more likely, from all I can make
out, that the drift will increase rather than diminish as we work
westward, and, consequently, in February, 1896, we should have got
too far; while, even if one could imagine a better starting-point
than that which the Fram will possibly offer us by March 1, 1895,
it will, at all events, be a possible one. It must, consequently,
be the safest plan not to wait for another spring.

"Such, then, are the prospects before us of pushing through. The
distance from this proposed starting-point to Cape Fligely,
which is the nearest known land, I set down at about 370 miles,
[72] consequently not much more than the distance we covered in
Greenland; and that would be easy work enough over this ice, even if
it did become somewhat bad towards land. If once a coast is reached,
any reasonable being can surely manage to subsist by hunting, whether
large or small game, whether bears or sandhoppers. Thus we can always
make for Cape Fligely or Petermann's Land, which lies north of it,
if our situation becomes untenable. The distance will, of course, be
increased the farther we advance northward, but at no point whatever
between here and the Pole is it greater than we can and will manage,
with the help of our dogs. 'A line of retreat' is therefore secured,
though there are those doubtless who hold that a barren coast, where
you must first scrape your food together before you can eat it,
is a poor retreat for hungry men; but that is really an advantage,
for such a retreat would not be too alluring. A wretched invention,
forsooth, for people who wish to push on is a 'line of retreat'--an
everlasting inducement to look behind, when they should have enough
to do in looking ahead.

"But now for the expedition itself. It will consist of 28 dogs,
two men, and 2100 pounds of provisions and equipments. The distance
to the Pole from 83° is 483 miles. Is it too much to calculate that
we may be able to accomplish that distance in 50 days? I do not of
course know what the staying powers of the dogs may be; but that,
with two men to help, they should be able to do 9 1/2 miles a day
with 75 pounds each for the first few days, sounds sufficiently
reasonable, even if they are not very good ones. This, then, can
scarcely be called a wild calculation, always, of course, supposing
the ice to be as it is here, and there is no reason why it should
not be. Indeed, it steadily improves the farther north we get; and
it also improves with the approach of spring. In 50 days, then, we
should reach the Pole (in 65 days we went 345 miles over the inland
ice of Greenland at an elevation of more than 8000 feet, without
dogs and with defective provisions, and could certainly have gone
considerably farther). In 50 days we shall have consumed a pound of
pemmican a day for each dog [73]--that is, 1400 pounds altogether;
and 2 pounds of provisions for each man daily is 200 pounds. As
some fuel also will have been consumed during this time, the freight
on the sledges will have diminished to less than 500 pounds; but a
burden like this is nothing for 28 dogs to draw, so that they ought
to go ahead like a gale of wind during the latter part of the time,
and thus do it in less than the 50 days. However, let us suppose
that it takes this time. If all has gone well, we shall now direct
our course for the Seven Islands, north of Spitzbergen. That is 9°,
or 620 miles. But if we are not in first-rate condition it will be
safer to make for Cape Fligely or the land to the north of it. Let us
suppose we decide on this route. We set out from the Fram on March
1st (if circumstances are favorable, we should start sooner), and
therefore arrive at the Pole April 30th. We shall have 500 pounds of
our provisions left, enough for another 50 days; but we can spare none
for the dogs. We must, therefore, begin killing some of them, either
for food for the others or for ourselves, giving our provisions to
them. Even if my figures are somewhat too low, I may assume that by
the time twenty-three dogs have been killed we shall have travelled
41 days, and still have five dogs left. How far south shall we have
advanced in this time? The weight of baggage was, to begin with, less
than 500 pounds--that is to say, less than 18 pounds for each dog
to draw. After 41 days this will at least have been reduced to 280
pounds (by the consumption of provisions and fuel and by dispensing
with sundry articles of our equipment, such as sleeping-bags, tent,
etc., etc., which will have become superfluous). There remain, then,
56 pounds for each of the five dogs, if we draw nothing ourselves;
and should it be desirable, our equipment might be still further
diminished. With a burden of from 18 to 56 pounds apiece (the latter
would only be towards the end), the dogs would on an average be able to
do 13-4/5 miles a day, even if the snow-surface should become somewhat
more difficult. That is to say, we shall have gone 565 miles to the
south, or we shall be 18 1/2 miles past Cape Fligely, on June 1st,
with five dogs and nine days' provisions left. But it is probable,
in the first place, that we shall long before this have reached land;
and, secondly, so early as the first half of April the Austrians found
open water by Cape Fligely and abundance of birds. Consequently,
in May and June we should have no difficulty as regards food, not
to mention that it would be strange indeed if we had not before that
time met with a bear or a seal or some stray birds.

"That we should now be pretty safe I consider as certain, and we can
choose whichever route we please: either along the northwest coast
of Franz Josef Land, by Gillis Land towards Northeast Island and
Spitzbergen (and, should circumstances prove favorable, this would
decidedly be my choice), or we can go south through Austria Sound
towards the south coast of Franz Josef Land, and thence to Novaya
Zemlya or Spitzbergen, the latter by preference. We may, of course,
find Englishmen on Franz Josef Land, but that we must not reckon on.

"Such, then, is my calculation. Have I made it recklessly? No, I think
not. The only thing would be if during the latter part of the journey,
in May, we should find the surface like what we had here last spring,
at the end of May, and should be considerably delayed by it. But
this would only be towards the very end of our time, and at worst it
could not be entirely impassable. Besides, it would be strange if we
could not manage to average 11 1/2 miles a day during the whole of the
journey, with an average load for each dog of from 30 to 40 pounds--it
would not be more. However, if our calculations should prove faulty,
we can always, as aforesaid, turn back at any moment.


    "What unforeseen obstacles may confront us?

        "1. The ice may be more impracticable than was supposed.
        "2. We may meet with land.
        "3. The dogs may fail us, may sicken, or freeze to death.
        "4. We ourselves may suffer from scurvy.


"1 and 2. That the ice may be more impracticable farther north is
certainly possible, but hardly probable. I can see no reason why
it should be, unless we have unknown lands to the north. But should
this be so--very well, we must take what chance we find. The ice can
scarcely be altogether impassable. Even Markham was able to advance
with his scurvy-smitten people. And the coasts of this land may
possibly be advantageous for an advance; it simply depends on their
direction and extent. It is difficult to say anything beforehand,
except that I think the depth of water we have here and the drift
of the ice render it improbable that we can have land of any extent
at all close at hand. In any case, there must, somewhere or other,
be a passage for the ice, and at the worst we can follow that passage.

"3. There is always a possibility that the dogs may fail us, but,
as may be seen, I have not laid out any scheme of excessive work
for them. And even if one or two of them should prove failures, that
could not be the case with all. With the food they have hitherto had
they have got through the winter and the cold without mishap, and the
food they will get on the journey will be better. In my calculations,
moreover, I have taken no account of what we shall draw ourselves. And,
even supposing all the dogs to fail us, we could manage to get along
by ourselves pretty well.

"4. The worst event would undeniably be that we ourselves should
be attacked by scurvy; and, notwithstanding our excellent health,
such a contingency is quite conceivable when it is borne in mind how
in the English North Pole Expedition all the men, with the exception
of the officers, suffered from scurvy when the spring and the sledge
journeys began, although as long as they were on board ship they had
not the remotest suspicion that anything of the kind was lying in
wait for them. As far, however, as we are concerned, I consider this
contingency very remote. In the first place, the English expedition
was remarkably unfortunate, and hardly any others can show a similar
experience, although they may have undertaken sledge journeys of
equal lengths--for example, M'Clintock's. During the retreat of the
Jeannette party, so far as is known, no one was attacked with scurvy;
Peary and Astrup did not suffer from scurvy either. Moreover, our
supply of provisions has been more carefully selected, and offers
greater variety than has been the case in former expeditions, not
one of which has enjoyed such perfect health as ours. I scarcely
think, therefore, that we should take with us from the Fram any
germs of scurvy; and as regards the provisions for the sledge journey
itself, I have taken care that they shall consist of good all-round,
nutritious articles of food, so that I can scarcely believe that they
would be the means of developing an attack of this disease. Of course,
one must run some risk; but in my opinion all possible precautions
have been taken, and, when that is done, it is one's duty to go ahead.

"There is yet another question that must be taken into
consideration. Have I the right to deprive the ship and those who
remain behind of the resources such an expedition entails? The fact
that there will be two men less is of little importance, for the
Fram can be handled quite as well with eleven men. A more important
point is that we shall have to take with us all the dogs except the
seven puppies; but they are amply supplied with sledge provisions and
first-class sledge equipments on board, and it is inconceivable that
in case anything happened to the Fram they should be unable to reach
Franz Josef Land or Spitzbergen. It is scarcely likely that in case
they had to abandon her it would be farther north than 85°; probably
not even so far north. But suppose they were obliged to abandon her
at 85°, it would probably be about north of Franz Josef Land, when
they would be 207 miles from Cape Fligely; or if farther to the east
it would be some 276 miles from the Seven Islands, and it is hard
to believe that they could not manage a distance like that with our
equipments. Now, as before, I am of opinion that the Fram will in
all probability drift right across the polar basin and out on the
other side without being stopped, and without being destroyed; but
even if any accident should occur, I do not see why the crew should
not be able to make their way home in safety, provided due measures
of precaution are observed. Consequently, I think there is no reason
why a sledge expedition should not leave the Fram, and I feel that
as it promises such good results it ought certainly to be attempted."



                             END OF VOL. I



NOTES


[1] Frost-giants.

[2] First Crossing of Greenland, Vol. I., p. 30.

[3] Mr. Lytzen, of Julianehaab, afterwards contributed an article to
the Geografisk Tidsskrift (8th Vol., 1885-86, pp. 49-51, Copenhagen),
in which he expressed himself, so far at least as I understand
him, in the same sense, and, remarkably enough, suggested that this
circumstance might possibly be found to have an important bearing on
Arctic exploration. He says: "It will therefore be seen that polar
explorers who seek to advance towards the Pole from the Siberian
Sea will probably at one place or another be hemmed in by the ice,
but these masses of ice will be carried by the current along the
Greenland coast. It is not, therefore, altogether impossible that,
if the ship of such an expedition is able to survive the pressure
of the masses of ice for any length of time, it will arrive safely
at South Greenland; but in that case it must be prepared to spend
several years on the way."

[4] See on this point Dr. Y. Nielsen, in Forhandlinger i
Videnskabsselskabet i Christiania. Meeting held June 11, 1886.

[5] Since writing the above I have tried to make such a calculation,
and have come to the conclusion that the aggregate rainfall is not
so large as I had at first supposed. See my paper in The Norwegian
Geographical Society's Annual, III., 1891-92, p. 95; and The
Geographical Journal, London, 1893, p. 5.

[6] The discovery during our expedition of a great depth in the polar
basin renders it highly probable that this assumption is correct.

[7] The experience of our expedition, however, does not point to any
such eastward-flowing current along the Siberian coast.

[8] I first thought of choosing the route through Bering Strait,
because I imagined that I could reach the New Siberian Islands safer
and earlier in the year from that side. On further investigation
I found that this was doubtful, and I decided on the shorter route
through the Kara Sea and north of Cape Cheliuskin.

[9] As subsequently stated in my lecture in London (Geographical
Society's Journal, p. 18), I purposed to go north along the west coast
of the New Siberian Islands, as I thought that the warm water coming
from the Lena would keep the sea open here.

[10] See the Society's Annual, III., 1892, p. 91.

[11] Both my lecture and the discussion are printed in The Geographical
Journal, London, 1893, Vol. I., pp. 1-32.

[12] After our return home, Admiral Nares, in the most chivalrous
fashion, sent me a letter of congratulation, in which he said that
the Fram's remarkable voyage over the Polar Sea proved that my theory
was correct and his scepticism unfounded.

[13] With reference to his statement that Leigh-Smith had observed
such icebergs on the northwest coast of Franz Josef Land, it may be
remarked that no human being has ever been there.

[14] Nearly £25,000.

[15] This oil, by means of a specially constructed steam-jet apparatus,
was injected into the furnaces in the form of a fine spray, where
it burned in a very economical and saving manner, giving forth a
great amount of heat. The apparatus was one which has been applied to
locomotives in England, whence it was procured. It appeared, however,
that it tended to overheat the boiler at one particular point, where
it made a dent, so that we soon abandoned this method of firing.

[16] I had thought of procuring dogs from the Eskimo of Greenland
and Hudson Bay, but there proved to be insuperable difficulties in
the way of getting them conveyed from there.

[17] These depots were arranged most carefully, and every precaution so
well taken that we certainly should not have suffered from famine had
we gone there. In the northernmost depot at Stan Durnova on the west
coast of Kotelnoi, at 75° 37' N. L., we should have found provisions
for a week; with these we could easily have made our way 65 miles
southward along the coast to the second depot at Urassalach, where,
in a house built by Baron Von Toll in 1886, we should have found
provisions for a whole month. Lastly, a third depot in a house on the
south side of Little Liakhoff Island, with provisions for two months,
would have enabled us to reach the mainland with ease.

[18] Both Hovland, who piloted us from Christiania to Bergen, and Johan
Hågensen, who took us from Bergen to Vardö, were most kindly placed
at the disposal of the expedition by the Nordenfjeldske Steamship
Company, of Trondhjem.

[19] English in the original.

[20] English in the original.

[21] The ordinary male dog is liable to get inflammation of the
scrotum from the friction of the trace.

[22] Yassak is a tax paid in fur by the Siberians.

[23] This disease is probably anthrax, or something of the same nature

[24] By this he probably means our organ. Our other musical instruments
were as follows: An accordion, belonging to the ship, and a flute,
violin, and several Jew's-harps, belonging to one of the ship's
company.

[25] It will be observed that there is some slip of memory here--it
was the evening before.

[26] It was, in fact, the day after.

[27] I do not believe that Christofersen ever in his life had anything
to do with a London newspaper.

[28] There is a white reflection from white ice, so that the sky above
fields of ice has a light or whitish appearance; wherever there is
open water it is blue or dark. In this way the Arctic navigator can
judge by the appearance of the sky what is the state of the sea at
a considerable distance.

[29] It is true that in his account of the voyage he expressly states
that the continued very thick fog "prevented us from doing more than
mapping out most vaguely the islands among and past which the Vega
sought her way."

[30] Later, when I had investigated the state of matters outside
Nordenskiöld's Taimur Island, it seemed to me that the same remark
applied here with even better reason, as no sledge expedition could
go round the coast of this island without seeing Almquist's Islands,
which lie so near, for instance, to Cape Lapteff, that they ought
to be seen even in very thick weather. It would be less excusable
to omit marking these islands, which are much larger, than to omit
the small ones lying off the coast of the large island (or as I now
consider it, group of large islands) we were at present skirting.

[31] In his account of his voyage Nordenskiöld writes as follows of
the condition of this channel: "We were met by only small quantities
of that sort of ice which has a layer of fresh-water ice on the top
of the salt, and we noticed that it was all melting fjord or river
ice. I hardly think that we came all day on a single piece of ice
big enough to have cut up a seal upon."

[32] Peter Henriksen.

[33] This silk bag-net is intended to be dragged after a boat or ship
to catch the living animals or plant organisms at various depths. We
used them constantly during our drifting, sinking them to different
depths under the ice, and they often brought up rich spoils.

[34] This phosphorescence is principally due to small luminous
crustacea (Copepoda).

[35] Markham's account gives us to understand that on the north side
of Grinnell Land he came across hummocks which measured 43 feet. I
do not feel at all certain that these were not in reality icebergs;
but it is no doubt possible that such hummocks might be formed by
violent pressure against land or something resembling it. After our
experience, however, I cannot believe in the possibility of their
occurring in open sea.

[36] On a later occasion they bored down 30 feet without reaching
the lower surface of the ice.

[37] When we had fire in the stoves later, especially during the
following winter, there was not a sign of damp anywhere--neither
in saloon nor small cabins. It was, if anything, rather too dry,
for the panels of the walls and roof dried and shrank considerably.

[38] Apparently modelled on the title of the well-known magazine,
Kringsjaa, which means "A Look Around" or "Survey." Framsjaa might
be translated "The Fram's Lookout."

[39] The name Peter Henriksen generally went by on board.

[40] Refers to the fact that Amundsen hated card-playing more than
anything else in the world. He called cards "the devil's playbooks."

[41] Nickname of our meteorologist, Johansen, Professor Mohn being
a distinguished Norwegian meteorologist.

[42] This signature proved to be forged, and gave rise to a lawsuit
so long and intricate that space does not permit an account of it to
be given.

[43] He says "ei borsja" for "a gun" instead of "en bosse."

[44] This was the nickname of the starboard four-berth cabin.

[45] A Norwegian newspaper.

[46] In spite of this bending of the strata, the surface of the ice
and snow remained even.

[47] So we called some light trousers of thin close cotton, which we
used as a protection against the wind and snow.

[48] This gull is often called by this name, after its first
discoverer. It has acquired its other name, "rose gull," from its
pink color.

[49] Up to now they had their kennels on deck.

[50] The anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution.

[51] Without the mark of the "union" with Sweden.

[52] "Normal arbeidsdage" = normal working-day.

[53] The pet name of the cooking-range in the galley.

[54] Up to this day I am not quite clear as to what these emblems were
intended to signify. That the doctor, from want of practice, would
have been glad of a normal day's work ("normal Arbeidsdag") can readily
be explained, but why the meteorologists should cry out for universal
suffrage passes my comprehension. Did they want to overthrow despotism?

[55] With reference to the resolution of the Storthing, on June
9, 1880.

[56] It was seal, walrus, and bear's flesh from last autumn, which was
used for the dogs. During the winter it had been hung up in the ship,
and was still quite fresh. But henceforth it was stored on the ice
until, before autumn set in, it was consumed. It is remarkable how
well meat keeps in these regions. On June 28th we had reindeer-steak
for dinner that we had killed on the Siberian coast in September of
the previous year.

[57] The same kind of dust that I found on the ice on the east coast of
Greenland, which is mentioned in the Introduction to this book, p. 39.

[58] This dust, which is to be seen in summer on the upper surface
of almost all polar ice of any age, is no doubt, for the most part,
dust that hovers in the earth's atmosphere. It probably descends with
the falling snow, and gradually accumulates into a surface layer as
the snow melts during the summer. Larger quantities of mud, however,
are also often to be found on the ice, which strongly resemble this
dust in color, but are doubtless more directly connected with land,
being formed on floes that have originally lain in close proximity
to it. (Compare Wissensch. Ergebnisse von Dr. F. Nansens Durchquerung
von Grönland. Ergänzungsheft No. 105 zu Petermanns Mittheilungen.)

[59] I have not yet had time to examine them closely.

[60] We always had a line, with a net at the end, hanging out, in
order to see the direction we were drifting, or to ascertain whether
there was any perceptible current in the water.

[61] The name given to the cooking-stove.

[62] It was two years later to a day that the Fram put in at Skjervö,
on the coast of Norway.

[63] During the summer we had made a kitchen of the chart-room on
deck, because of the good daylight there; and, besides, the galley
proper was to be cleaned and painted.

[64] Pettersen had been advanced from smith to cook, and he and Juell
took turns of a fortnight each in the galley.

[65] "Twilight of the gods."

[66] See Geographical Journal, London, 1893. See also the map in
Naturen, 1890, and the Norwegian Geographical Society's Year Book,
I., 1890.

[67] These were the puppies born on December 13, 1893; only four of
them were now alive.

[68] We had no covering over the ship the first winter, as we thought
it would make it so dark, and make it difficult to find one's way
about on deck. But when we put in on the second winter we found that
it was an improvement.

[69] An allusion, no doubt, to his political opinions (Trans.).

[70] This luminous veil, which was always spread over the sky, was less
distinct on the firmament immediately overhead, but became more and
more conspicuous near the horizon, though it never actually reached
down to it; indeed, in the north and south it generally terminated
in a low, faintly outlined arch over a kind of dark segment. The
luminosity of this veil was so strong that through it I could never
with any certainty distinguish the Milky Way.

[71] Used in hoisting up the lead-line.

[72] There must be an error here, as the distance to Cape Fligely from
the point proposed, 83° north latitude and 110° east longitude, is
quite 460 miles. I had probably taken the longitude as 100° instead
of 110°.

[73] During the actual expedition the dogs had to be content with
a much smaller daily ration, on an average scarcely more than 9 or
10 ounces.





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