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Title: Fridtjof Nansen - A book for the young
Author: Bull, Jacob B., 1853-1930
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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                            FRIDTJOF NANSEN
                          A Book for the Young

                                   By
                             JACOB B. BULL

                               Translated
                                 By the
                        Rev. Mordaunt R. Barnard

                      Vicar of Margaretting, Essex
        One of the translators of Dr. Nansen's "Farthest North"



                             Boston, U.S.A.
                     D. C. Heath & Co., Publishers
                                  1903



CONTENTS.


    Chapter                                                   Page

    I.      Nansen's Boyhood--Education and Character             1
    II.     Youthful Adventures                                  14
    III.    Mountain-climbing in Winter                          29
    IV.     Preparing for the Greenland Expedition               35
    V.      Sledging across Greenland                            51
    VI.     Nansen's Marriage--A Strange Wedding-trip            73
    VII.    The Fram--Setting out for the Pole                   82
    VIII.   The Ice Pressure--Hunting the White Bear             94
    IX.     Farthest North                                      109
    X.      Nansen Meeting Dr. Jackson in Franz Joseph Land     123



ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                                               Page

            Map of Nansen's Polar Route                Frontispiece
            Store Fröen, Nansen's Birthplace                      3
            Nansen at Nineteen                                   21
            Otto Sverdrup                                        43
            Camp on the Drift Ice                                47
            East Greenland Esquimaux                             56
            Sledging Across Greenland                            64
            On the Way To Godthaab                               68
            Crew of the Fram                                     85
            The Fram in an Ice Pressure                          95
            Nansen and Johansen Leaving the Fram                110
            Meeting of Nansen and Jackson                       125



FRIDTJOF NANSEN.



CHAPTER I.

    Nansen's Birthplace and Childhood Home.--Burgomaster Nansen,
    his Ancestor.--His Boyhood and Education.--Early Love of Sport
    and Independent Research.


In West Aker, a short distance from Christiania, there is an old
manor-house called Store Fröen. It is surrounded by a large courtyard,
in the middle of which is a dovecot. The house itself, as well as the
out-houses, is built in the old-fashioned style. The garden, with its
green and white painted fence, is filled with fruit-trees, both old and
young, whose pink and snow-white blossoms myriads of bumblebees delight
to visit in springtime, while in autumn their boughs are so laden with
fruit that they are bent down under a weight they can scarcely support.

Close by the garden runs the Frogner River. Here and there in its
course are deep pools, while in other places it runs swiftly along,
and is so shallow that it can readily be forded. All around are to be
seen in winter snow-covered heights, while far away in the background
a dense pine forest extends beyond Frogner Sæter, [1] beyond which
again lies Nordmarken, with its hidden lakes, secret brooklets, and
devious paths, like a fairy-tale. And yet close by the hum of a busy
city life with all its varied sounds may be heard.

It was in this house that, on Oct. 10, 1861, a baby boy, Fridtjof
Nansen, was born.

Many years before this, on Oct. 9, 1660, two of Denmark's most powerful
men were standing on the castle bridge at Copenhagen eyeing each other
with looks of hatred and defiance. One of these, named Otto Krag, was
glancing angrily at Blaataarn (the Blue Tower) with its dungeons. "Know
you that?" he inquired of his companion, the chief burgomaster of the
city. Nodding assent, and directing his looks toward the church tower
of "Our Lady," in which were hung the alarm bells, the latter replied,
"And know you what hangs within yonder tower?"

Four days later the burghers of Copenhagen, with the burgomaster at
their head, overthrew the arrogant Danish nobles, and made Frederick
III absolute monarch over Denmark and Norway.

It needed unyielding strength and indomitable courage to carry out such
an undertaking, but these were qualifications which the burgomaster
possessed, and had at an early age learned to employ. When but sixteen
he had set out from Flensborg on an expedition to the White Sea in a
vessel belonging to his uncle, and had then alone traversed a great
portion of Russia. Four years later he commanded an expedition to
the Arctic Ocean, and subsequently entered the service of the Iceland
Company as captain of one of their ships.

When forty years of age he was made an alderman of Copenhagen, and
in 1654 became its chief burgomaster. During the siege of that city
in the war with Charles the Tenth (Gustavus), he was one of its most
resolute and intrepid defenders; and so when the power of the Danish
nobility was to be overthrown, it was he who took the chief part in
the movement.

This man, who was neither cowed by the inherited tyranny of the nobles,
nor daunted by the terrors of war or the mighty forces of nature,
was named Hans Nansen; and it is from him, on his father's side,
that Fridtjof Nansen descended.



Our hero's mother is a niece of Count Wedel Jarlsberg, the Statholder
[2] of Norway,--the man who in 1814 risked life and fortune to provide
Norway with grain from Denmark, and who did his share toward procuring
a free and equable union with Sweden.

Fridtjof Nansen grew up at Store Fröen, and it was not long before
the strongly marked features of his race became apparent in the fair,
shock-haired lad with the large, dark-blue, dreamy eyes.

Whatever was worthy of note, he must thoroughly master; whatever
was impossible for others, he must do himself. He would bathe in
the Frogner River in spring and autumn in the coldest pools; fish
bare-legged with self-made tackle in the swiftest foss; [3] contrive
and improve on everything pertaining to tools and implements, and
examine and take to pieces all the mechanical contrivances that came
in his way; often succeeding, frequently failing, but never giving in.

Once, when only three years old, he was nearly burned to death. He had
been meddling with the copper fire in the brewhouse, and was standing
in the courtyard busied with a little wheelbarrow. All at once his
clothes were on fire, for a spark, it seems, had lighted on them,
and from exposure to the air, burst out into flames. Out rushed the
housekeeper to the rescue. Meanwhile Fridtjof stood hammering away
at his barrow, utterly indifferent to the danger he was in, while the
housekeeper was extinguishing the fire. "It was quite enough for one
person to see to that sort of thing," he thought.

On one occasion he very nearly caused the drowning of his younger
brother in the icy river. His mother appeared on the scene as he was in
the act of dragging him up out of the water. She scolded him severely;
but the lad tried to comfort her by saying, that "once he himself
had nearly been drowned in the same river when he was quite alone."

Once or twice on his early fishing-excursions he managed to get the
fishhook caught in his lip, and his mother had to cut it out with
a razor, causing the lad a great deal of pain, but he bore it all
without a murmur.

The pleasures of the chase, too, were a great source of enjoyment to
him in his childish years. At first he would go out after sparrows and
squirrels with a bow and arrow like the Indian hunters. Naturally he
did not meet with much success. It then occurred to him that a cannon
would be an excellent weapon for shooting sparrows. Accordingly he
procured one, and after loading it up to the muzzle with gunpowder,
fired it off, with the result that the cannon burst into a hundred
pieces, and a large part of the charge was lodged in his face,
involving the interesting operation of having the grains of powder
picked out with a needle.

The system on which the Nansen boys were brought up at Store Fröen
was to inure them in both mind and body. Little weight was attached
to trivial matters. The mistakes they made they must correct for
themselves as far as possible; and if they brought suffering on
themselves they were taught to endure it. The principles of self-help
were thus inculcated at an early age--principles which they never
forgot in later days.

As Fridtjof grew up from the child into the boy, the two opposite
sides of his character became apparent,--inflexible determination,
and a dreamy love of adventure; and the older he grew, the more marked
did these become. He was, as the saying is, "a strange boy." Strong
as a young bear, he was ever foremost in fight with street boys,
whom he daily met between his home and school. When the humor took
him, especially if his younger brother was molested, he would fight
fiercely, though the odds were three or four to one against him. But
in general, he was of a quiet, thoughtful disposition.

Sometimes indeed he would sit buried in deep thought half an hour at a
time, and when dressing would every now and then remain sitting with
one stocking on and the other in his hand so long that his brother
had to call out to him to make haste. At table, too, he would every
now and then forget to eat his food, or else would devour anything
and everything that came in his way.

The craving to follow out his own thoughts and his own way thus
displayed itself in his early childhood, and he had not attained
a great age before his longing to achieve exploits and to test his
powers of endurance became apparent.

It began with a pair of ski [4] made by himself for use on the Frogner
hills, developed in the hazardous leaps on the Huseby [5] slopes,
and culminated in his becoming one of Norway's cleverest and most
enduring runners on ski. It began with fishing for troutlets in the
river, and ended with catching seals in the Arctic seas. It began
with shooting sparrows with cannons, and ended with shooting the
polar bear and walrus with tiny Krag-Jörgensen conical bullets. It
began with splashing about in the cold pools of the Frogner river,
and ended in having to swim for dear life amid the ice floes of the
frozen ocean. Persevering and precise, enduring and yet defiant,
step by step he progressed.

Nothing was ever skipped over--everything was thoroughly learned and
put into practice. Thus the boy produced the man!

There was a certain amount of pride in Fridtjof's nature that under
different circumstances might have proved injurious to him. He was
proud of his descent, and of his faith in his own powers. But the
strict and wise guidance of his parents directed this feeling into
one of loyalty--loyalty toward his friends, his work, his plans. His
innate pride thus became a conscientious feeling of honor in small
things as well as great--a mighty lever, forsooth, to be employed in
future exploits.

Meanness was a thing unknown to Fridtjof Nansen, nor did he ever
cherish rancorous feelings in his breast. A quarrel he was ever ready
to make up, and this done it was at once and for all forgotten.

The following instance of his school-days shows what his disposition
was:--

Fridtjof was in the second class of the primary school. One day a new
boy, named Karl, was admitted. Now Fridtjof was the strongest boy in
the class, but the newcomer was also a stout-built lad. It happened
that they fell out on some occasion or other. Karl was doing something
the other did not approve of, whereupon Fridtjof called out, "You've
no right to do that."--"Haven't I?" was the reply, and a battle at
once ensued. Blood began to flow freely, when the principal appeared
on the scene. Taking the two combatants, he locked them up in the
class-room. "Sit there, you naughty boys! you ought to be ashamed of
yourselves," he said, as he left them in durance vile.

On his return to the class-room a short time afterward, he found the
two lads sitting with their arms around each other's neck, reading
out of the same book. Henceforth they were bosom friends.

As a boy Nansen possessed singular powers of endurance and hardiness,
and could put up with cold, hunger, thirst, or pain to a far greater
degree than other boys of his age. But with all this he had a warm
heart, sympathizing in the troubles of others, and evincing sincere
interest in their welfare,--traits of character of childhood's days
that became so strongly developed in Nansen the leader. Side by side
with his yearning to achieve exploits there grew up within his breast,
under the strict surveillance of his father, the desire of performing
good, solid work.

Here may be mentioned another instance, well worthy of notice:--

Fridtjof and his brother went one day to the fair. There were
jugglers and cake-stalls and gingerbread, sweets, toys, etc., in
abundance. In fine, Christiania fair, coming as it does on the first
Tuesday in February, was a very child's paradise, with all its varied
attractions. Peasants from the country driving around in their quaint
costumes, the townspeople loafing and enjoying themselves, all looking
pleased as they made their purchases at the stalls in the marketplace,
added to the "fun of the fair."

Fridtjof and his brother Alexander went well furnished with money; for
their parents had given them a dime each, while aunt and grandmamma
gave them each a quarter apiece. Off the lads started, their faces
beaming with joy. On returning home, however, instead of bringing
with them sweets and toys, it was seen that they had spent their money
in buying tools. Their father was not a little moved at seeing this,
and the result was that more money was forthcoming for the lads. But
it all went the same way, and was spent in the purchase of tools,
with the exception of a nickel that was invested in rye cakes.

More than one boy has on such an occasion remembered his father's and
mother's advice not to throw money away on useless things, and has
set out with the magnanimous resolve of buying something useful. The
difference between them and the Nansen boys is this: the latter not
only made good resolutions, but carried them out. It is the act that
shows the spirit, and boys who do such things are generally to be
met with in later days holding high and responsible positions.

Fridtjof was a diligent boy at school, especially at first, and passed
his middle school examination [6] successfully. He worked hard at
the natural sciences, which had a special attraction for him. But
gradually, as he rose higher in the classes, it was the case with him
as it is with others who are destined to perform something exceptional
in the world; that is, he preferred to follow out his own ideas--ideas
that were not always in accordance with the school plan. His burning
thirst after knowledge impelled him to devote his attention to what
lay nearest, and thoroughly to investigate whatever was most worthy
of note, most wonderful, and most difficult. High aspirations soon
make themselves apparent.

The mighty hidden forces of nature had a great attraction for him. He
and his friend Karl (who after their fight were inseparable),
when Fridtjof was about fifteen, one day got hold of a lot of
fireworks. These they mixed up together in a mortar, adding to
the compound some "new kinds of fluid" they had bought for their
experiment. Nature, however, anticipated them, for a spark happening
to fall on the mixture, it burst into flames.

Our two experimentalists thereon seized hold of the mortar and threw
it out of the window. It fell on the stones and broke into a thousand
pieces, and thus they gained the new experience,--how a new chemical
substance should not be compounded. The humorous whim, however, seized
them to blacken their hands and faces, and to lie on the floor as if
they were dead. And when Alexander entered the room, they made him
believe that the explosion had been the cause of it all. Thus, though
the experiment had failed, they got some amusement out of its failure.

Although Fridtjof had so many interests outside his actual school
studies, he was very diligent in his school work. In 1880 he took
his real artium, [7] with twenty-one marks in twelve subjects. In
natural science, mathematics, and history he had the best marks,
and in the following examination in 1881 he gained the distinction
of passing laudabilis præ ceteris.

Though brought up at home very strictly, for his father was extremely
particular about the smallest matters, yet his life must have possessed
great charm for him, spent as it was in the peaceful quiet of his
home at Store Fröen. If on the one hand his father insisted that he
should never shirk his duty, but should strictly fulfil it, on the
other he never denied him anything that could afford him pleasure.

This is evident from a letter Fridtjof Nansen wrote home during one
of his first sojourns among strangers. On writing to his father
in 1883 he dwells on the Christmas at home, terms it the highest
ideal of happiness and blessedness, dwells on the bright peaceful
reminiscences of his childhood and ends with the following description
of a Christmas Eve:--

"At last the day dawned,--Christmas Eve. Now impatience was at
its height. It was impossible to sit still for one minute; it was
absolute necessary to be doing something to get the time to pass,
or to occupy one's thoughts either by peeping through the keyhole to
try and catch a glimpse of the Christmas-tree with its bags of raisins
and almonds, or by rushing out-of-doors and sliding down the hills on
a hand-sleigh; or if there were snow enough, we could go out on ski
till it was dark. Sometimes it would happen that Einar had to go on
an errand into the town, and it was so nice to sit on the saddle at
the back of the sleigh, while the sleigh-bells tinkled so merrily,
and the stars glittered in the dark sky overhead.

"The long-expected moment arrived at last,--father went in to
light up. How my heart thumped and throbbed! Ida was sitting in
an armchair in a corner, guessing what would fall to her share;
others of the party might be seen to smile in anticipation of some
surprise or other of which they had got an inkling--when all at once
the doors were thrown wide open, and the dazzling brilliancy of the
lights on the Christmas-tree well nigh blinded us. Oh, what a sight
it was! For the first few minutes we were literally dumb from joy,
could scarcely draw our breath--only a moment afterward to give free
vent to our pent-up feelings, like wild things.... Yes--yes--never
shall I forget them--never will those Christmas Eves fade from my
memory as long as I live."

Reminiscences of a good home, of a good and happy childhood, are
the very best things a man can take with him amid the storms and
struggles of life; and we may be sure of this,--that on many a day
that has been beset with almost insurmountable difficulties, when his
powers were almost exhausted, and his heart feeling faint within,
the recollection of those early years at Store Fröen has more than
once recurred to Nansen's mind.

The peace and comfort of the old home, with all its dear associations,
the beloved faces of its inmates--these have passed before his mind's
eye, cheering him on in the accomplishment of his last tremendous
undertaking.



CHAPTER II.

    Youthful Excursions.--Studies.--Goes on a Sealing Expedition to
    the Arctic Sea.--Hunts Ice-bear.


There is hardly a boy in Christiania or its neighborhood who is fond
of sport that does not know Nordmarken, and you may hear many and many
a one speak of its lakes, the deafening roar of its cascades, of the
mysterious silence of its endless forest tracts, and the refreshing
odor of the pine-trees. You may hear, too, how the speckled trout
have been lured out of some deep pool, the hare been hunted among the
purple mountain ridges, or the capercailzie approached with noiseless
footsteps when in early spring the cock bird is wooing his mate; or
again, of expeditions on ski over the boundless tracts of snow in the
crisp winter air beneath the feathery snowladen trees of the forest.

In the days of Nansen's boyhood it was very different from what it is
now. Then the spell of enchantment that ever lies over an unknown and
unexplored region brooded over it--a feeling engendered by Asbjörnsen's
[8] well-known tales.

It was as if old Asbjörnsen himself, the fairy-tale king, was trudging
along rod in hand by the side of some hidden stream--he who alone
knew how to find his way through the pathless forest to the dark
waters of some remote lake. And it was but once in a while that the
most venturesome lads, enticed by the tales he had devoured in that
favorite story-book, dared pry into the secrets of that enchanted
land. Only a few of the rising generation then had the courage and
the hardihood to penetrate into those wilds whence they returned with
faces beaming with joy, and with reinvigorated health and strength. But
now the whole Norwegian youth do the same thing.

Among the few who in those days ventured there were the Nansen
boys. They had the pluck, the hardiness, and yearning after adventure
that Nordmarken demanded. They were not afraid of lying out in the
forest during a pouring wet summer night, neither were they particular
as to whether they had to fast for a day or two.

Fridtjof Nansen was about eleven years old when, in company with his
brother Alexander, he paid his first independent visit to it. Two
of their friends were living in Sörkedal, [9] so they determined
to go and see them--for the forest looked so attractive that they
could not resist the temptation. For once they started off without
asking leave. They knew their way as far as Bogstad, [10] but after
that had to ask the road to Sörkedal. Arriving at their destination,
they passed the day in playing games, and in fishing in the river.

But it was not altogether an enjoyable visit, for conscience pricked,
and as they set out for home late in the evening, their hearts
sank. Their father was a strict disciplinarian, and a thrashing rose
up before them, and what was even worse than that, mother might be
grieved, and that was something they could not endure to think of.

On reaching home they found its inmates had not gone to bed, though
it was late in the night. Of course they had been searching for the
truants, and their hearts, which a moment before had been very low
down, now jumped up into their throats, for they could see mother
coming toward them.

"Is that you, boys?" she asked.

"Now for it," they thought.

"Where have you been?" asked their mother.

Yes, they had been to Sörkedal, and they looked up at her half afraid
of what would happen next. Then they saw that her eyes were filled
with tears.

"You are strange boys!" she murmured; and that was all she said. But
those words made the hearts of the young culprits turn cold and hot
by turns, and they there and then registered a vow that they would
never do anything again to cause mother pain, but would always try
to please her--a resolution they kept, as far as was possible, their
whole lives through.

Subsequently they had leave given them to go to Sörkedal, and wherever
else they wanted. But they had to go on their own responsibility, and
look out for themselves as best they could. But Fridtjof never forgot
the lesson he had learned on that first expedition to Nordmarken. Who
can tell whether his mother's tearful face, and her gentle words,
"You are strange boys!" have not appeared to him in wakeful hours,
and been the means of preventing many a venturesome deed being rashly
undertaken, many a headstrong idea from becoming defiant.

This at all events is certain,--Nansen when a man always knew how to
turn aside in a spirit of self-denial when the boundary line between
prudence and rashness had been reached. And for this it may be safely
said he had to thank his father and mother.



Those who are in the habit of going about in forests are pretty sure
to meet with some wonderful old fellow who knows where the best fish
lie in the river, and the favorite haunts of game in the woods. Such
a one was an old man named Ola Knub, whose acquaintance Nansen made
in the Nordmarken forest. His wife used to come to Store Fröen with
baskets of huckleberries, strawberries, cranberries, etc., and it was
through her Fridtjof got to know him. Often they would set off on an
expedition, rod in hand, and coffee kettle on their back, and be away
for days together. They would fish for trout from early morning till
late at night, sleeping on a plank bed in some wood-cutter's hut, after
partaking of a supper of trout broiled in the ashes, and black coffee.

Toward the end of May, when the birch and the oak began to bud, and
the timber floats had gone down the river, they would start on such
an expedition, taking with them a goodly supply of bread and butter,
and perhaps the stump of a sausage.

It took them generally quite five hours to reach their destination,
but once arrived there they would immediately set to work with rod
and line, and fish up to midnight, when they would crawl into some
charcoal-burner's hut for a few hours' sleep, or as was often the case,
sleep out in the open, resting their backs against a tree, and then
at daybreak would be off again, to the river. For time was precious,
and they had to make the best use they could of the hours between
Saturday evening and Monday morning, when they must be in school.

When autumn set in, and hare-hunting began, they would often be
on foot for twenty-four hours together without any food at all. As
the boys grew older, they would follow the chase in winter on ski,
often, indeed, almost to the detriment of their health. Once when
they had been hare-hunting for a whole fortnight, they found their
provision-bag was empty, and as they would not touch the hares they
had killed, they had to subsist as best they could on potatoes only.

In this way Fridtjof grew up to be exceptionally hardy. When, as
it often happened, his companions got worn out, he would suggest
their going to some spot a long distance off. It seemed to be a
special point of honor with him to bid defiance to fatigue. On
one occasion, after one of these winter excursions to Nordmarken,
he set off alone without any provisions in his knapsack to a place
twenty-five kilometres (fifteen and a half miles) distant, for none
of his companions dared accompany him. On arriving at the place where
he was bound, he almost ate its inmates out of house and home.

On another occasion, on a long expedition on ski with some of his
comrades, all of whom had brought a plentiful supply of food with them
in their knapsacks, Fridtjof had nothing. When they halted to take some
necessary refreshment, he unbuttoned his jacket and pulled out some
pancakes from his pocket, quite warm from the heat of his body. "Here,
you fellows," he said, "won't you have some pancakes?" But pancakes,
his friends thought, might be nice things in general, yet pancakes
kept hot in that way were not appetizing, and so they refused his
proffered hospitality.

"You are a lot of geese! there's jam on them too," he said, as he
eagerly devoured the lot.

Even as a boy Fridtjof was impressed with the idea that hardiness and
powers of endurance were qualifications absolutely essential for the
life he was bent on leading; so he made it his great aim to be able
to bear everything, and to require as little as was possible.

If there were things others found impracticable, he would at once
set to work and attempt them. And when once he had taken a matter
in hand, he would never rest till he had gone through with it, even
though his life might be at stake. For instance, he and his brother
once set out to climb the Svartdal's peak in Jotunheim. [11] People
usually made the ascent from the rear side of the mountain; but this
was not difficult enough for him. He would climb it from the front,
a route no one had ever attempted; and he did it.

Up under Svartdal's peak there was a glacier that they must cross,
bounded on its farther side by a precipice extending perpendicularly
down into the valley below. His brother relates, "I had turned giddy,
so Fridtjof let me have his staff. Then he set off over the ice; but
instead of going with the utmost caution, advancing foot by foot at a
time, as he now would do, off went my brother as hard as he could--his
foot slipped, and he commenced to slide down the glacier. I saw that
he turned pale, for in a few seconds more he would be hurled over the
abyss, and be crushed to pieces on the rocks below. He saw his danger,
however, just in the nick of time, and managed to arrest his progress
by digging his heels into the snow. Never shall I forget that moment;
neither shall I forget when we arrived at the tourist's cabin how
he borrowed a pair of trousers belonging to the club's corpulent
secretary--for they completely swallowed him up. His own garment,
be it stated, had lost an essential part by the excessive friction
caused by his slide down the glacier."

Such were the foolhardy exploits Fridtjof would indulge in as a boy;
but when he arrived at manhood he would never risk his life in any
undertaking that was not worth a life's venture.



When nineteen he entered the university, and in the following year
passed his second examination; [12] and now arose the question
what was he to be? As yet the idea of the future career which has
rendered his name famous had not occurred to his mind, so we see
him hesitating over which of the many roads that lay before him to
adopt. He applied to have his name put down for admission as cadet in
the military school, but quickly withdrew the application. Next he
began the study of medicine, after which all his time was devoted
to a special study of zoölogy. In 1882 he sought the advice of
Professor Collet as to the best method of following up this branch
of science, and the professor's reply was that he had better go on a
sealing-expedition to the Arctic seas. Nansen took a week to reflect
on this advice before finally deciding; and on March 11 we see him on
board the sealer Viking, steering out of Arendal harbor to the Arctic
ocean--the ocean that subsequently was to mark an epoch in his life,
and become the scene of his memorable exploit.

It was with wondrously mixed feelings that he turned his gaze toward
the north as he stood on the deck that March morning. Behind him lay
the beloved home of his childhood and youth. The first rays of the
rising sun were shining over the silent forests whither the woodcock
and other birds of passage would soon be journeying from southern
climes, and the capercailzie beginning his amorous manoeuvres on the
sombre pine tops, while the whole woodland would speedily be flooded
with the songs of its feathered denizens.

And there before him was the sea, the wondrous sea, where he would
behold wrecked vessels drifting along in the raging tempest, with
flocks of stormy petrels in attendance--and beyond, the Polar sea,
that fairy region, was pictured in his dreams. Yes, he could see it in
his spirit--could see the mighty icebergs, with their crests sparkling
in the sunlight in thousands of varied forms and hues, and between
these the boundless tracts of ice extending as far as the eye could
reach in one level unbroken plain. When this dream became reality,
how did he meet it?

Flat, drifting floes of ice, rocked up and down in the blue-green
sea, alike in sunshine and in fog, in storm and calm. One monotonous
infinity of ice to struggle through, floe after floe rising up like
white-clad ghosts from the murky sea, gliding by with a soughing,
rippling murmur to vanish from sight, or to dash against the ship's
sides till masts and hull quivered; and then when morning broke,
a faint, mysterious light, a hollow murmur in the air, like the roar
of distant surge, far away to the north.

This was the Arctic sea! this the drift ice! They were soon in the
midst of it. The sea-gulls circled about, and the snow-bunting whirled
around the floes of ice on which the new-fallen snow lay and glittered.

A gale set in; then it blew a hurricane; and the Viking groaned like
a wounded whale, quivering as if in the agonies of death from the
fierce blows on her sides. At last they approached the scene of their
exertions, and the excitement of the impending chase for seals drove
out every other feeling from the mind, and every one was wondering
"were there many seals this year? would the weather be propitious?"

One forenoon "a sail to leeward" was reported by the man in the
crow's-nest, and all hands were called up on deck, every stitch of
canvas spread, and all the available steam-power used to overtake
the stranger.

There were two ships; one of them being Nordenskjöld's famous Vega,
now converted into a sealer. Nansen took his hat off to her; and
it may well be that this strange encounter imbued his mind with a
yearning to accomplish some exploit of a similar perilous nature
and world-wide renown as that of the famed Vega expedition. It is a
significant fact that the Vega was the first ship Nansen met with in
the Arctic sea--a fact that forces itself upon the mind with all the
might of a historic moment, with all the fateful force of destiny. It
addresses us like one of those many accidental occurrences that seem
as if they had a purpose--occurrences that every man who is on the
alert and mindful of his future career will meet once at least if
not oftener on his journey through life. Such things are beyond our
finite comprehension. Some people may term them "the finger of God,"
others the new, higher, unknown laws of nature; it may be these names
signify but one and the same thing.

That year the Viking did not meet with great success among the seals,
for the season was rather too advanced by the time she reached the
sealing-grounds. But all the more did Nansen get to learn about the
Arctic sea; and of the immense waste of waters of that free, lonely
ocean, his inmost being drank in refreshing draughts.

On May 2, Spitzbergen was sighted, and on the 25th they were off the
coast of Iceland, where Nansen for a while planted his foot once more
on firm land. But their stay there was short, and soon they were off
to sea again, and in among the seals. And now the continual report
of guns sounded all around; the crew singing and shouting; flaying
seals and boiling the blubber--a life forsooth of busy activity.

Toward the end of June the Viking got frozen in off the East Greenland
coast, where she lay imprisoned a whole month, unfortunately during
the best of the sealing season; a loss, indeed, to the owners, but a
gain for Nansen, who now for the first time in his life got his full
enjoyment in the chase of the polar bear.

During all these days of their imprisonment in the ice there was
one incessant chase after bears,--looking out for bears from the
crow's-nest, racing after bears over the ice, resulting in loss of
life to a goodly number of those huge denizens of the Polar regions.

"Bear on the weather bow!" "Bear to leeward! all hands turn out!" were
the cries from morning till night; and many a time did Nansen jump up
from his berth but half dressed, and away over the ice to get a shot.

Toward evening one day in July Nansen was sitting up in the
crow's-nest, making a sketch of the Greenland coast. On deck one of
the crew, nicknamed Balloon, was keeping watch, and just as our artist
was engrossed with his pencil, he heard Balloon shouting at the top
of his voice, "Bear ahead!" In an instant Nansen sprang up, threw
his painting-materials down on the deck below, quickly following the
same himself down the rigging. But alas! by the time he had reached
the deck and seized his rifle, the bear had disappeared.

"A pretty sort of fellow to sit up in the crow's-nest and not see a
bear squatting just in front of the bows!" said the captain tauntingly.

But a day or two afterward Nansen fully retrieved his reputation. It
was his last bear-hunt on the expedition, and this is what occurred:--

He and the captain and one of the sailors set out after a monstrous
bear. The beast, however, was shy, and beat a speedy retreat. All three
sprang after it. But as Nansen was jumping over an open place in the
ice, he fell plump into the sea. His first thought on finding himself
in the water was his rifle, which he flung upon the ice. But it slipped
off again into the water, so Nansen had to dive after it. Next time he
managed to throw it some distance across the ice, and then clambered
up himself, of course wet through to the skin. But his cartridges,
which were water-tight ones, were all right, and soon he rejoined
his companions in pursuit, and outstripped them. In a little while
he saw the bear making for a hummock, and made straight for him; on
coming up to closer quarters the beast turned sharp round and dropped
into the water, but not before Nansen was able to put a bullet into
him. On reaching the edge of the ice, he could see no trace of the
animal. Yes--there was something white yonder, a little below the
surface, for the bear had dived. Presently he saw the animal pop its
head up just in front of him, and a moment after its paws were on the
edge of the floe, on which, with a fierce and angry growl, the huge
beast managed to drag himself up. Nansen now fired again, and had
the satisfaction of seeing the bear drop back dead into the water,
where he had to hold it by the ears to prevent it sinking, till his
companions came up, when they were able to haul it up on the ice.

The captain now bade Nansen return to the ship as quickly as he could
to change his clothes; but on his road thither he met with some others
of the crew in pursuit of a couple of bears. The temptation was too
strong for him, so he joined them. He was fortunate enough to shoot one
of the bears that they had wounded, and then started after bear number
two, which was leisurely devouring the carcass of a seal some little
distance off. On coming up with it he fired. The bear reeled and fell
backwards into the water, but speedily coming up again, made off for
a large hummock, under cover of which it hoped to be able to sneak off.

But Nansen was not far behind. It was an exciting chase. First over a
wide space of open water, then across some firm ice; the bear dashed
along for dear life, and now the iron muscles, hardened by his exploits
on the Huseby hills and his Nordmarken experiences, stood his pursuer
in good stead. Following on the blood-stained track, he ran as fast
as his legs could carry him. Now the bear, now Nansen, seemed to be
getting the advantage. Whenever a broad opening in the ice or a pool
of clear water came in their way, they swam across it; bear first,
Nansen a good second--and so it went on mile after mile. Presently,
however, Nansen thought his competitor in the race began to slacken
speed, and to turn and twist in his course, as if seeking for some
friendly shelter; and coming up within a reasonable distance he gave
him two bullets, one lodging in the chest, the other behind the ear,
when to his great joy the bear lay dead at his feet. Nansen at once set
to work to skin the brute with a penknife--rather a tedious operation
with such an instrument. Presently one of the sailors came up, and
off they started for the ship with the skin, on their road meeting
a man whom the captain had thoughtfully despatched with a supply
of bread and meat, without which, indeed, as is well known, a hero,
especially when ravenously hungry, is a nobody.

In all, nineteen bears were bagged during this time.

Soon after this bear-hunt the Viking set out for home, and great was
the joy of all on board when the coast of "old Norway," with its lofty
mountain ridges, was seen towering up over the sea. This expedition
of the Viking was termed by the sailors, "Nansen's cruise,"--an
exceptional reminiscence, a monolith in the midst of the ice!

"Ay, he was a chap after bears!" said one of the sailors afterward;
"just as much under the water as over it, when he was after bears. I
told him that he was going to injure his health that way; but he
only laughed, and pointing to his woollen jersey said, 'I do not
feel cold.'"

To Fridtjof Nansen this Arctic expedition became the turning-point
of his life. The dream of the mighty ocean never left him; it was
ever before his eyes with all its inexplicable riddles.

Here was something to do--something that people called impossible. He
would test it. Some years, however, must elapse before that dream
should become reality. Nansen must first be a man. Everything
that tended to retard his progress must be removed or shattered to
pieces--all that would promote it, improved upon and set in order.



CHAPTER III.

    Fridtjof Nansen Accepts a Position in the Bergen Museum.--Crosses
    the Mountains in the Winter.--Prepares Himself for the Doctor's
    Degree.


The very same day that Nansen set foot on land after his return from
this expedition he was offered the Conservatorship of the Bergen [13]
Museum by Professor Collett. Old Danielsen, the chief physician, a
man of iron capacity for work, and who had attained great renown in
his profession, wanted to place a new man in charge. Nansen promptly
accepted the offer, but asked first to be allowed to visit a sister
in Denmark. But a telegram from Danielsen, "Nansen must come at
once," compelled him, though with no little regret, to give up his
projected visit.

The meeting of these two men was as if two clouds heavily laden with
electricity had come in contact, producing a spark that blazed over the
northern sky. That spark resulted in the famous Greenland expedition.

Danielsen was one of those who held that a youth possessed of health,
strength, and good abilities should be able to unravel almost anything
and everything in this world, and in Fridtjof Nansen he found such
an one. So these two worked together assiduously; for both were alike
enthusiastic in the cause of science, both possessed the same strong
faith in its advancement. And Danielsen, the clear-headed scientist,
after being associated with his colleague for some few years,
entertained such firm confidence in his powers and capabilities,
that a short time before the expedition to the North Pole set out,
he wrote in a letter:--

"Fridtjof Nansen will as surely return crowned with success from
the North Pole as it is I who am writing these lines--such is an old
man's prophecy!"

The old scientist, who felt his end was drawing near, sent him before
his death an anticipatory letter of greeting when the expedition
should happily be over.

Nansen devoted himself to the study of science with the same
indomitable energy that characterized all of his achievements.

Hour by hour he would sit over his microscope, month after month devote
himself to the pursuit of knowledge. Yet every now and then, when he
felt he must go out to get some fresh air, he would buckle on his ski,
and dash along over the mountain or through the forest till the snow
spurted up in clouds behind him. Thus he spent several years in Bergen.

But one fine day, chancing to read in the papers that Nordenskjöld
had returned from his expedition to Greenland, and had said that
the interior of the country was a boundless plain of ice and snow,
it flashed on his mind that here was a field of work for him. Yes--he
would cross Greenland on ski! and he at once set to work to prepare
a plan for the expedition. But such an adventurous task, in which
life would be at stake, must not be undertaken till he himself had
become a proficient in that branch of science which he had selected
as his special study. So he remains yet some more years in Bergen,
after which he spends twelve months in Naples, working hard at the
subjects in which he subsequently took his doctor's degree in 1888.

Those years of expectation in Bergen were busy years. Every now and
then he would become homesick. In winter time he would go by the
railway from Bergen to Voss, [14] thence on ski over the mountains
to Christiania, down the Stalheim road,1 with its sinuous twists and
bends, on through Nærödal, noted for its earth slips, on by the swift
Lerdals river fretting and fuming on one side, and a perpendicular
mountain wall on the other. And here he would sit to rest in that
narrow gorge where avalanches are of constant occurrence. Let them
come! he must rest awhile and eat. A solitary wayfarer hurries by
on his sleigh as fast as his horse will go. "Take care!" shouts
the traveller as he passes by; and Nansen looks up, gathers his
things together, and proceeds on his journey through the valley. It
was Sauekilen, the most dangerous spot in Lerdals, where he was
resting. Then the night falls, the moon shines brightly overhead,
and the creaking sound of his footsteps follows him over the desert
waste, and his dark-blue shadow stays close beside him. And he, the
man possessed of ineffable pride and indomitable resolution, feels how
utterly insignificant he is in that lonely wilderness of snow--naught
but an insect under the powerful microscope of the starlit sky, for
the far-seeing eye of the Almighty is piercing through his inmost
soul. Here it avails not to seek to hide aught from that gaze. So
he pours out his thoughts to Him who alone has the right to search
them. That midnight pilgrimage over the snowy waste was like a divine
service on ski; and it was as an invigorated man, weary though he was
in body, that he knocked at the door of a peasant's cabin, while its
astonished inmates looked out in amazement, and the old housewife cried
out, "Nay! in Jesus' name, are there folk on the fjeld [15] so late in
the night? Nay! is it you? Suppose you are always so late on the road!"

Even still more arduous was the return journey that same winter. The
people in the last house on the eastern side of the mountain, in
bidding him "God speed," entreat him to go cautiously, for the road
over the fjeld is well nigh impassable in winter, they say. Not a man
in the whole district would follow him, they add. Nansen promises them
to be very careful, as he sets off in the moonlight at three o'clock in
the morning. Soon he reaches the wild desert, and the glittering snow
blushes like a golden sea in the beams of the rising sun. Presently
he reaches Myrstölen. [16] The houseman is away from home, and the
women-folk moan and weep on learning the road he means to take. On
resuming his journey he shortly comes to a cross-road. Shall it be
Aurland or Vosse skavlen? [17] He chooses the latter route across
the snow plateau, for it is the path the wild reindeer follow. On he
skims over the crisp surface enveloped in the cloud of snow-dust his
ski stir up, for the wind is behind him. But now he loses his way,
falls down among the clefts and fissures, toils along step by step,
and at last has to turn back and retrace his steps. There ought
to be a sæter [18] somewhere about there, but it seems as if it
had been spirited away. A pitchy darkness sets in; for the stars
have disappeared one by one, and the night is of a coal-black hue,
and Fridtjof has to make his bed on the snow-covered plateau, under
the protecting shelter of a bowlder, his faithful dog by his side,
his knapsack for a pillow, while the night wind howls over the waste.

Again, at three in the morning, he resumes his journey, only again to
lose his way, and burying himself in the snow, determines to wait for
daybreak. Dawn came over the mountain-tops in a sea of rosy light,
while the dark shadows of night fled to their hiding-places in the
deep valleys below--a proclamation of eternity, where nature was the
preacher and nature the listener, the voice of God speaking to himself.

At broad daylight he sees Vosse skavlen close at hand, and thither
he drags his weary, stiffened limbs; but on reaching the summit he
drinks "skaal [19] to the fjeld," a frozen orange, the last he has,
being his beverage. Before the sun sets again, Fridtjof has crossed
that mountain height, as King Sverre [20] did of yore--an achievement
performed by those two alone!



Fridtjof Nansen's father died in 1885, and it was largely consideration
for his aged parent's failing health during the last few years that
delayed Nansen's setting out on his Greenland expedition. The letters
that passed between father and son during this period strikingly
evince the tender relationship existing between them. On receipt of
the tidings of his father's last illness he hurried off at a moment's
notice, never resting on his long homeward journey, inexpressibly
grieved at arriving too late to see him alive.

Then, after a year's sojourn in Naples, where he met the genial and
energetic Professor Dohrn, the founder of the biological station
[21] in that city, having no further ties to hinder him, he enters
heart and soul into the tasks he has set himself to accomplish,--to
take his degree as doctor of philosophy, and to make preparation for
his expedition to Greenland, both of which tasks he accomplished in
the same year with credit. For he not only made himself a name as a
profound researcher in the realms of science, but at the same time
equipped an expedition that was soon destined to excite universal
attention, not in the north alone, but throughout the length and
breadth of Europe.



CHAPTER IV.

    Nansen Meets Nordenskjöld. [22]--Preparations for the Greenland
    Expedition.--Nansen's Followers on the Expedition.--Starting on
    the Expedition.--Drifting on an Ice-floe.--Landing on East Coast
    of Greenland.


Nansen had an arduous task before him in the spring of 1888, one that
demanded all his strength and energy, for he would take his doctor's
degree, and make preparations for his expedition to Greenland.

He had already, in the autumn of 1887, made up his mind to accomplish
both these things. In November of that year, accordingly, he went
to Stockholm to confer with Nordenskjöld. Professor Brögger, who
introduced him to that gentleman, gives the following account of
the interview:--

"On Thursday, Nov. 3, as I was sitting in my study in the Mineralogical
Institute, my messenger came in and said a Norwegian had been inquiring
for me. He had left no card, neither had he given his name. Doubtless,
I thought, it was some one who wanted help out of a difficulty.

"'What was he like?' I inquired.

"'Tall and fair,' replied the messenger.

"'Was he dressed decently?' I asked.

"'He hadn't an overcoat on.' This with a significant smile, as he
added, 'Looked for all the world like a seafaring man--or a tramp.'

"'Humph!' I muttered to myself; 'sailor with no overcoat! Very likely
thinks I'm going to give him one--yes, I think I understand.'

"Later on in the afternoon Wille [23] came in. 'Have you seen
Nansen?' he said.

"'Nansen?' I replied. 'Was that sailor fellow without an overcoat
Nansen?'

"'Without an overcoat! Why, he means to cross over the inland ice of
Greenland;' and out went Wille--he was in a hurry.

"Presently entered Professor Lecke with the same question, 'Have
you seen Nansen? Isn't he a fine fellow? such a lot of interesting
discoveries he told me of, and then his researches into the nervous
system--a grand fellow!' and off went Lecke.

"But before long the man himself entered the room. Tall, upright,
broad-shouldered, strongly built, though slim and very youthful
looking, with his shock of hair brushed off his well-developed
forehead. Coming toward me and holding out his hand, he introduced
himself by name, while a pleasing smile played over his face.

"'And you mean to cross over Greenland?' I asked.

"'Yes; I've been thinking of it,' was the reply.

"I looked him in the face, as he stood before me with an air
of conscious self-reliance about him. With every word he spoke he
seemed to grow on me; and this plan of his to cross over Greenland
on ski from the east coast, which but a moment ago I had looked on
as a madman's idea, during our conversation gradually grew on me,
till it seemed to be the most natural thing in the world; and all at
once it flashed on my mind, 'And he'll do it, too, as sure as ever
we are sitting here talking about it.'

"He, whose name but two hours ago I had not known, became in those
few minutes (and it all came about so naturally) as if he were an
old acquaintance, and I felt I should be proud and fortunate indeed
to have him for my friend my whole life through.

"'We will go and see Nordenskjöld at once,' I said, rising up. And
we went.

"With his strange attire,--he was dressed in a tight-fitting,
dark-blue blouse or coatee, a kind of knitted jacket,--he was, as
may be supposed, stared at in Drottning-gatan. Some people, indeed,
took him for an acrobat or tight-rope dancer."

Nordenskjöld, "old Nor" as he was often termed, was in his laboratory,
and looked up sharply as his two visitors entered the room, for he was,
as ever, "busy."

The professor saluted, and introduced his companion, "Conservator
Nansen from Bergen, who purposes to cross over the inland ice of
Greenland."

"The deuce he does!" muttered "old Nor," staring with all his eyes
at the fair-haired young viking.

"And would like to confer with you about it," continued the professor.

"Quite welcome; and so Herr Nansen thinks of crossing over Greenland?"

"Yes; such was his intention." Thereon, without further ado, he
sketched out his projected plan, to which "old Nor" listened with
great attention, shaking his head every now and then, as if rather
sceptical about it, but evidently getting more and more interested
as he proceeded.

As Nansen and Professor Brögger were sitting in the latter's house
that evening, a knock was heard at the door, and who should come in
but "old Nor" himself--a convincing proof to Brögger that the old
man entertained a favorable idea of the proposed plan. And many a
valuable hint did the young ice-bear get from the old one, as they
sat opposite each other--the man of the past and the coming man of
the present--quietly conversing together that evening.

Now Nansen sets off for home in order to prepare for the arduous task
of the ensuing spring. In December, 1887, he is in Bergen again, and
at the end of January he travels on ski from Hardanger to Kongsberg,
thence by rail to Christiania.

In March we see him once more in Bergen, giving lectures in order
to awaken public interest in Greenland; now sleeping out on the
top of Blaamand, [24] a mountain near Bergen, in a sleeping-bag, to
test its efficiency; now standing on the cathedra in the university
auditorium to claim his right to the degree of doctor of philosophy,
which on April 28 was honorably awarded him; and on May 2 he sets out
for Copenhagen, en route for Greenland. For unhappily it was the case
in Norway in 1888 that Norwegian exploits must be carried out with
Danish help. In vain had he sought for assistance from the regents
of the university. They recommended the matter to the government, but
the government had no 5,000 kroner [25] ($1,350) to throw away on such
an enterprise,--the enterprise of a madman, as most people termed it.

Yet when that enterprise had been carried to a successful issue, and
that same lunatic had become a great man and asked the government and
the storthing [26] for a grant of 200,000 kroner ($54,000) for his
second mad expedition, his request was promptly granted. A new Norway
had grown up meanwhile, a new national spirit had forced its way into
existence, a living testimony to the power of the Nansen expedition.

As stated above, Nansen had to go to Denmark for the 5,000 kroner;
and it was the wealthy merchant, Augustin Gamel, who placed that
amount at his disposal. Still, certain is it, had not that sum of
money been forthcoming as it was, Fridtjof Nansen would have plucked
himself bare to the last feather in order to carry out his undertaking.

But what was there to be gained from an expedition to Greenland worth
the risking of human life,--for a life-risk it unquestionably would
be,--to say nothing of the cost thereof? What was there to be learned
from the ice?

The question is soon answered.

The island of Greenland,--for it is now well ascertained that it
is an island, and that the largest in the world,--this Sahara of
the North, contains within its ice-plains the key to the history of
the human race. For it is the largest homogeneous relic we possess
of the glacial age. Such as Greenland now is, so large tracts of
the world have been; and, what is of more interest to us, so has
the whole of the north been. It is this mighty ice-realm that has
caused a large proportion of the earth's surface to assume its present
appearance. The lowlands of Mid-Germany and Denmark have been scoured
and transported thither from the rocks of Norway and Sweden. The
Swedish rock at Lützen in Saxony is Swedish granite that the ice
has carried with it. And the small glaciers still left in Norway,
such as the Folgefond, Jostedalsbræ, Svartis, [27] etc., are merely
"calves" of that ancient, stupendous mass of ice that time and heat
have transported, even though it once lay more than a thousand metres
in thickness over widely extended plains.

To investigate, therefore, the inland ice of Greenland is, in a word,
to investigate the great glacial age; and one may learn from such
a study many a lesson explanatory of our earth's appearance at the
present day, and ascertain what could exist, and what could not,
under such conditions.

We know now that, during the glacial age, human beings lived on this
earth, even close up to this gigantic glacier, that subsequently
destroyed all life on its course. It may be safely asserted that the
struggle with the ice, and with the variations of climate, have been
important factors in making the human race what it will eventually be,
the lords of nature.

The Esquimaux in their deerskin dress, the aborigines of Australia, the
pigmy tribes of Africa's primeval forests, are a living testimony of
the tenacious powers of the soul and body of mankind,--civilization's
trusty outposts. An Esquimau living on blubber under fifty degrees
of cold is just as much a man of achievement in this work-a-day world
as an Edison, who, with every comfort at his disposal, forces nature
to disclose her hidden marvels. But he who, born in the midst of
civilization, and who forces his way to an outpost farther advanced
than any mankind has yet attained, is greater, perhaps, than either,
especially when in his struggle for existence he wrests from nature
her inmost secrets.

This was the kernel of Nansen's exploits--his first and his last.



Nansen was fully alive to the fact that his enterprise would involve
human life; and he formed his plans in such wise that he would
either attain his object or perish in the attempt. He would make the
dangerous, uninhabited coast of East Greenland his starting-point as
one which presented no enticement for retracing his steps. He would
force his way onward. The instinct of self-preservation should impel
him toward the west--the greater his advance in that direction the
greater his hopes. Behind him naught but death; before him, life!

But he must have followers! Where were men to be found to risk their
lives on such a venture? to form one of a madman's retinue? And not
only that, he must have men with him who, like himself, were well
versed in all manly sports, especially in running on ski; men hard as
iron, as he was; men who, like himself, were unencumbered with family
ties. Where were such to be found? He sought long and diligently,
and he found them.

There was a man named Sverdrup--Otto Sverdrup. Yes, we all of us
know him now! But then he was an unknown Nordland youth, inured to
hardship on sea and land, an excellent sailor, a skilful ski-runner,
firm of purpose; one to whom fatigue was a stranger, physically strong
and able in emergency, unyielding as a rod of iron, firm as a rock. A
man chary of words in fine weather, but eloquent in storm: possessed,
too, of a courage that lay so deep that it needed almost a peril
involving life to arouse it. Yet, when the pinch came Sverdrup was
in his element. Then would his light blue eyes assume a darker hue,
and a smile creep over his hard-set features; then he would resemble
a hawk that sits on a perch with ruffled feathers, bidding defiance
to every one who approaches it, but which, when danger draws nigh,
flaps its pinions, and soars aloft in ever widening circles, increasing
with the force of the tempest, borne along by the storm.

This man accompanied him.

Number two was Lieutenant, now Captain, Olaf Dietrichson. He, too,
hailed from the north. A man who loved a life in the open air, a master
in all manly exploits, elastic as a steel spring, a proficient on ski,
and a sportsman in heart and soul. And added to this, a man possessed
of great knowledge in those matters especially that were needed in
an expedition like the present. He, too, was enrolled among the number.

Number three was also from Nordland, from Sverdrup's neighborhood,
who recommended him. His name was Kristian Kristiansen Trana--a handy
and reliable youth.

These three were all Nordlanders. But Nansen had a great desire to
have a couple of Fjeld-Finns with him, for he considered that, inured
as they were to ice and snow, their presence would be of great service
to him. They came from Karasjok. [28] The one a fine young fellow, more
Qvæn [29] than Lapp; the other a little squalid-looking, dark-haired,
pink-eyed Fjeld-Finn. The name of the first was Balto; of the other,
Ravna. These two children of the mountains came to Christiania looking
dreadfully perplexed, with little of the heroic about them. For they
had agreed to accompany the expedition principally for the sake of the
good pay, and now learned for the first time that their lives might be
endangered. Nansen, however, managed to instil a little confidence into
them, and as was subsequently proved, they turned out to be useful and
reliable members of the expedition. Old Ravna, who was forty-five, was
a married man,--a fact Nansen did not know when he engaged him,--and
was possessed of great physical strength and powers of endurance.

Nansen now had the lives of five persons beside his own on his
conscience. He would, therefore, make his equipment in such manner that
he should have nothing to reproach himself with in case anything went
wrong, a work that he conscientiously and carefully carried out. There
was not a single article or implement that was not scientifically and
practically discussed and tested, measured and weighed, before they
set out. Hand-sleighs and ski, boats and tent, cooking-utensils,
sleeping-bags, shoes and clothes, food and drink, all were of the
best kind; plenty of everything, but nothing superfluous--light,
yet strong, nourishing and strengthening. Everything, in fact, was
well thought over, and as was subsequently proved, the mistakes that
did occur were few and trifling.

Nansen made most of the implements with his own hands, and nothing
came to pieces during the whole expedition saving a boat plank that
was crushed by the ice.

But one thing Nansen omitted to take with him, and that was a supply
of spirituous liquor. It did not exist in his dictionary of sport. For
he had long entertained the opinion--an opinion very generally held
by the youth of Norway at the present day--that strong drink is a
foe to manly exploit, sapping and undermining man's physical and
mental powers. In former days, indeed, in Norway, as elsewhere, it
was considered manly to drink, but now the drinker is looked down on
with a pity akin to contempt.

Thus equipped, these six venturesome men set out on their way;
first by steamer to Iceland, thence by the Jason, a sealer, Captain
Jacobsen its commander, who, as opportunity should offer, was to set
them ashore on the east coast of Greenland. And here, after struggling
for a month with the ice, they finally arrived, on July 19, so near
to the Sermilik Fjord that Nansen determined to leave the Jason and
make his way across the ice to land. The whole ship's crew were on
deck to bid them farewell. Nansen was in command of one of the two
boats, and when he gave the word "set off," they shot off from the
ship's side, while the Jason's two guns and a spontaneous hurrah from
sixty-four stalwart sailors' throats resounded far and wide over the
sea. As the boats worked their way into the ice, the Jason changed her
course, and ere long our six travellers watched the Norwegian flag,
waving like a distant tongue of fire, gradually fade from sight and
disappear among the mist and fog.

These six men set out on their arduous journey with all the
indomitable fearlessness and disregard of danger that youth
inspires,--qualifications that would speedily be called into
requisition.

Before many hours of toiling in the ice, the rain came down in
torrents, and the current drove them with irresistible force away from
the land, while ice-floes kept striking against their boats' sides,
threatening to crush or capsize them. A plank, indeed, in Nansen's
boat was broken by the concussion, and had to be instantly repaired,
the rain meanwhile pouring down a perfect deluge. They determined,
therefore, to drag the boats upon an ice-floe, and to pitch their tent
on it; and having done this they got into their sleeping-bags, the
deafening war of the raging storm in their ears. The two Fjeld-Lapps,
however, thinking their end was drawing near, sat with a dejected
air gazing in silence out over the sea.

Far away in the distance the roar of the surge dashing against the
edge of the ice could be heard, while the steadily increasing swell
portended an approaching tempest.

Next morning, July 20, Nansen was awakened by a violent concussion. The
ice-floe on which they were was rent asunder, and the current was
rapidly drifting them out toward the open sea. The roar of the surge
increased; the waves broke over the ice-floe on all sides. Balto and
Ravna lay crouching beneath a tarpaulin reading the New Testament
in Lappish, while the tears trickled down their cheeks; but out
on the floe Dietrichson and Kristiansen were making jokes as every
fresh wave dashed over them. Sverdrup was standing with hands folded
behind his back, chewing his quid, his eyes directed towards the sea,
as if in expectation.

They are but a few hundred metres distant from the open sea, and soon
will have to take to the boats, or be washed off the floe. The swell
is so heavy that the floe ducks up and down like a boat in the trough
of the sea. So the order is given, "All hands turn in," for all their
strength will be needed, in the fierce struggle they will shortly
have to encounter. So they sleep on the very brink of death, the
roar of the storm their lullaby--Ravna and Balto in one of the boats,
Nansen and the others in the tent, where the water pours in and out.

But there is one outside, on the floe. It is his watch. Hour by hour he
walks up and down, his hands behind his back. It is Sverdrup. Every now
and then he stands still, turns his sharp, thin face with the sea-blue
eyes towards the breakers, and then once more resumes his walk.

The storm is raging outside, and the surge is dashing over the ice. He
goes to the boat where Ravna and Balto lie sleeping, and lays hold
of it, lest it should be swept away by the backwash. Then he goes
to the tent, undoes a hook, and again stands gazing over the sea;
then turns round, and resumes his walk as before.

Their floe is now at the extreme edge of the ice, close to the open
sea. A huge crag of ice rises up like some white-clad threatening
monster, and the surf dashes furiously over the floe. Again the
man on the watch arrests his steps; he undoes another hook in the
tent. Matters are at their worst! He must arouse his comrades! He
is about to do so when he turns once more and gazes seaward. He
becomes aware of a new and strange motion in the floe beneath
him. Its course is suddenly changed; it is speeding swiftly away
from the open sea--inward, ever inward toward calm water, toward
life, toward safety. And as that bronze-faced man stands there,
a strange and serious look passes over his features. For that has
occurred,--that wondrous thing that he and many another sailor has
often experienced,--salvation from death without the mediation of human
agency. That moment was for him what the stormy night on the Hardanger
waste was to Nansen. It was like divine service! It was as if some
invisible hand had steered the floe, he said afterwards to Nansen. So
he rolled his quid round into the other cheek, stuck his hands in his
pockets; and hour after hour, till late in the morning, the steps of
that iron-hearted man on the watch might be heard pacing to and fro.

When Nansen awoke, the floe was in safe shelter.

Still for another week they kept drifting southward, the glaciers
and mountain ridges one after another disappearing from view--a
weary, comfortless time. Then, toward midnight on July 28, when it
was Sverdrup's watch again, he thought he could hear the sound of
breakers in the west. What it was he could not rightly make out;
he thought, perhaps, his senses deceived him; for, at other times,
the sound had always come from the east where the sea was. But next
morning, when it was Ravna's watch, Nansen was awakened by seeing
the Finn's grimy face peering at him through an opening in the tent.

"Now, Ravna, what is it? can you see land?" he asked at a venture.

"Yes--yes--land too close!" croaked Ravna, as he drew his head back.

Nansen sprang out of the tent. Yes, there was the land, but a short
distance off; and the ice was loose so that a way could easily be
forced through it. In a twinkling all hands were busy; and a few
hours later Nansen planted his foot on the firm land of Greenland.



CHAPTER V.

    Journey across Greenland.--Meeting Esquimaux.--Reaching the West
    Coast.--Return to Civilization and Home.


When Nansen and his companions, after their perilous adventures
in the drift-ice, landed with flags flying on their boats on the
east waste of Greenland, the first thing they did was to give vent
to their feelings in a ringing hurrah--a sound which those wild and
barren crags had never re-echoed before. Their joy, indeed, on feeling
firm ground beneath their feet once more baffles description. In a
word, they conducted themselves like a pack of schoolboys, singing,
laughing, and playing all manner of pranks. The Lapps, however, did
not partake in the general merriment, but took themselves off up the
mountain-side, where they remained several hours.

But when their first ebullition of joy had somewhat subsided, Nansen
himself followed the example of the Lapps, and clambered up the slope
in order to get a good view over the landscape, leaving the others
to prepare the banquet they determined to indulge in that evening on
the sea-beach. And here he remained some little while, entranced with
the wondrous beauty of the scene. The sea and the ice stretched far
away to the east, shining like a belt of silver beneath him, while on
the west the mountain-tops were bathed in a flood of hazy sunshine,
and the inland ice, the "Sahara of the North," extended in a level
unbroken plain for miles and miles into the interior.

A snow bunting perched on a stone close by him, and chirped a welcome;
a mosquito came humming through the air to greet the stranger, and
settled on his hand. He would not disturb it; it was a welcome from
home. It wanted his blood, and he let it take its fill. To the south
the grand outline of Cape Tordenskjold rose up in the horizon, its
name and form recalling his country to his mind; and there arose in
his breast an earnest desire, a deep longing, to sacrifice anything
and everything for his beloved "Old Norway."

On rejoining his comrades, the feast was ready. It consisted of oatmeal
biscuits, Gruyère cheese, whortleberry jam, and chocolate; and there
is little doubt that these six adventurers "ate as one eats in the
springtime of youth." For it had been unanimously resolved that,
for this one day at least, they would enjoy themselves to the full;
on the morrow their daily fare would be, to eat little, sleep little,
and work as hard as possible. To-day, then, should be the first and
the last of such indulgence. Time was precious!

On the next day, therefore, they resumed their northward journey,
along the east coast, fighting their way day and night, inch by inch,
foot by foot, through the drift-ice; at times in peril, at others
in safety; past Cape Adelaer, past Cape Garde, ever forward in one
incessant, monotonous struggle. And now they approached the ill-omened
Puisortok, of which Esquimaux and European seafarers had many an evil
tale to tell. There, it was said, masses of ice would either shoot up
suddenly from beneath the surface of the water, and crush any vessel
that ventured near, or would fall down from the overhanging height,
and overwhelm it. There not a word must be spoken! there must be no
laughing, no eating, no smoking, if one would pass it in safety! Above
all, the fatal name of Puisortok must not pass the lips, else the
glacier would be angry, and certain destruction ensue.

Nansen, however, it may be said, did not observe these regulations,
and yet managed to pass it in safety. In his opinion there was nothing
very remarkable or terrible about it.

But something else took place at Puisortok that surprised him and
his companions.

On July 30, as they were preparing their midday meal, Nansen heard,
amid the shrill cries of the seabirds, a strange weird sound. What
it could be he could not conceive. It resembled the cry of a loon
more than anything else, and kept coming nearer and nearer. Through
his telescope, however, he discerned two dark specks among the
ice-floes, now close together, now a little apart, making straight
for them. They were human beings evidently--human beings in the midst
of that desert region of ice, which they had thought to be a barren,
uninhabited waste. Balto, too, watched their approach attentively,
with a half astonished, half uneasy look, for he believed them to be
supernatural beings.

On came the strangers, one of them bending forward in his kayak [30]
as if bowing in salutation; and, on coming alongside the rock, they
crawled out of their kayaks and stood before Nansen and his companions
with bare heads, dressed in jackets and trousers of seal-skin, smiling,
and making all manner of friendly gestures. They were Esquimaux, and
had glass beads in their jet-black hair. Their skin was of a chestnut
hue, and their movements, if not altogether graceful, were attractive.

On coming up to our travellers they began to ask questions in a strange
language, which, needless to say, was perfectly unintelligible. Nansen,
indeed, tried to talk to them in Esquimau from a conversation book
in that tongue he had with him, but it was perfectly useless. And
it was not till both parties had recourse to the language of signs
that Nansen was able to ascertain that they belonged to an Esquimau
encampment to the north of Puisortok.

These two Esquimaux were good-natured looking little beings; and
now they began to examine the equipments of the travellers, and
taste their food, with which they seemed beyond measure pleased,
expressing their admiration at all they saw by a long-drawn kind
of bovine bellow. Finally they took leave, and set off northward in
their kayaks which they managed with wonderful dexterity, and soon
disappeared from sight.

At six the same evening our travellers followed in the same
direction, and in a short time reached the Esquimau encampment at
Cape Bille. Long, however, before their eyes could detect any signs
of tents or of human beings, their sense of smell became aware of a
rank odor of train-oil, accompanied by a sound of voices; and they
presently saw numbers of Esquimaux standing on the sea-beach, and on
the rocks, earnestly watching the approach of the strangers.

It was a picturesque sight that presented itself to the eyes of
our travellers.

"All about the ledges of the rocks," writes Nansen, "stood long rows of
strangely wild, shaggy looking creatures, men, women and children--all
dressed in much the same scanty attire, staring and pointing at us,
and uttering the same cowlike sound we had heard in the forenoon. It
was just as if a whole herd of cows were lowing one against another,
as when the cowhouse door is opened in the morning to admit the
expected fodder."

They were all smiling,--a smile indeed, is the only welcoming salute of
the Esquimaux,--all eager to help Nansen and his companions ashore,
chattering away incessantly in their own tongue, like a saucepan
boiling and bubbling over with words, not one of which, alas, could
Nansen or his companions understand.

Presently Nansen was invited to enter one of their tents, in which
was an odor of such a remarkable nature, such a blending of several
ingredients, that a description thereof is impossible. It was the
smell, as it were, of a mixture of train-oil, human exhalations,
and the effluvium of fetid liquids all intimately mixed up together;
while men and women, lying on the floor round the fire, children
rolling about everywhere, dogs sniffing all around, helped to make
up a scene that was decidedly unique.

All of the occupants were of a brownish-greyish hue, due mostly
to the non-application of soap and water, and were swarming with
vermin. All of them were shiny with train-oil, plump, laughing,
chattering creatures--in a word, presenting a picture of primitive
social life, in all its original blessedness.

Nansen does not consider the Esquimaux, crosseyed and flat-featured
though they be, as by any means repulsive looking. The nose he
describes, in the case of children, "as a depression in the middle
of the face," the reverse ideal, indeed, of a European nose.

On the whole he considers their plump, rounded forms to have a genial
appearance about them, and that the seal is the Esquimau prototype.

The hospitality of these children of nature was boundless. They would
give away all they possessed, even to the shirt on their backs,
had they possessed such an article; and certainly showed extreme
gratitude when their liberality was reciprocated, evidently placing
a high value on empty biscuit-tins, for each time any of them got
one presented to him he would at once bellow forth his joy at the gift.

But what especially seemed to attract their interest was when Nansen
and his companions began to undress, before turning in for the night
into their sleeping-bags; while to watch them creep out of the same
the next morning afforded them no less interest. They entertained,
however, a great dread of the camera, for every time Nansen turned
its dark glass eye upon them, a regular stampede would take place.

Next day Nansen and the Esquimaux parted company, some of the latter
proceeding on their way to the south, others accompanying him on his
journey northward. The leavetaking between the Esquimaux was peculiar,
being celebrated by cramming their nostrils full of snuff from each
other's snuff-horns. Snuff indeed is the only benefit, or the reverse,
it seems the Esquimaux have derived from European civilization up
to date; and is such a favorite, one might say necessary, article
with them that they will go on a shopping expedition to the south to
procure it, a journey that often takes them four years to accomplish!



The journey northward was an extremely fatiguing one, for they
encountered such stormy weather that their boats more than once
narrowly escaped being nipped in the ice. As a set-off, however, to
this, the scenery proved to be magnificent,--the floating mountains of
ice resembling enchanted castles, and all nature was on a stupendous
scale. Finally they reached a harbor on Griffenfeldt's Island,
where they enjoyed the first hot meal they had had on their coasting
expedition, consisting of caraway soup. This meal of soup was a great
comfort to the weary and worn-out travellers. Here a striking but
silent testimony of that severe and pitiless climate presented itself
in the form of a number of skulls and human bones lying blanched and
scattered among the rocks, evidently the remains of Esquimaux who in
times long gone by had perished from starvation.

After an incredible amount of toil, Nansen arrived at a small island
in the entrance of the Inugsuazmuit Fjord, and thence proceeded to
Skjoldungen where the water was more open. Here they encamped, and
were almost eaten up by mosquitoes.

On Aug. 6 they again set out on their way northward, meeting with
another encampment of Esquimaux, who were, however, so terrified at
the approach of the strangers, that they one and all bolted off to
the mountain, and it was not till Nansen presented them with an empty
tin box and some needles that they became reassured, after which they
accompanied the expedition for some little distance, and on parting
gave Nansen a quantity of dried seal's flesh.

The farther our travellers proceeded on their journey, the more
dissatisfied and uneasy did Balto and Ravna become. Accordingly one
day Nansen took the opportunity of giving Balto a good scolding,
who with tears and sobs gave vent to his complaints, "They had not
had food enough--coffee only three times during the whole journey;
and they had to work harder than any beast the whole livelong day,
and he would gladly give many thousands of kroner to be safe at home
once more."

There was indeed something in what Balto said. The fare had
unquestionably been somewhat scanty, and the work severe; and it was
evident that these children of nature, hardy though they were, could
not vie with civilized people when it became a question of endurance
for any length of time, and of risking life and taxing one's ability
to the utmost.

Finally, on Aug. 10, the expedition reached Umivik in a dense fog,
after a very difficult journey through the ice, and encamped for the
last time on the east coast of Greenland. Here they boiled coffee,
shot a kind of snipe, and lived like gentlemen, so that even Balto
and Ravna were quite satisfied. The former, indeed, began intoning
some prayers, as he had heard the priest in Finmarken do, in a very
masterly manner,--a pastime, by the way, he never indulged in except
he felt his life to be quite safe.

The next day, Aug. 11, rose gloriously bright. Far away among the
distant glaciers a rumbling sound as of cannon could be heard, while
snow-covered mountains towered high, overhead, on the other side
of which lay boundless tracts of inland ice. Nansen and Sverdrup
now made a reconnoitring expedition, and did not return till five
o'clock the next morning. It still required some days to overhaul
and get everything in complete order for their journey inland; and
it was not till nine o'clock in the evening of Aug. 16, after first
dragging up on land the boats, in which a few necessary articles of
food were stored, together with a brief account of the progress of
the expedition carefully packed in a tin box, that they commenced
their journey across the inland ice.

Nansen and Sverdrup led the way with the large sleigh, while the
others, each dragging a smaller one, followed in their wake. Thus these
six men, confident of solving the problem before them, with the firm
earth beneath their feet, commenced the ascent of the mountain-slope
which Nansen christened "Nordenskjöld's Nunatak." [31]

Their work had now begun in real earnest--a work so severe and arduous
that it would require all the strength and powers of endurance they
possessed to accomplish it. The ice was full of fissures, and these
had either to be circumvented or crossed, a very difficult matter
with heavily laden sleighs. A covering of ice often lay over these
fissures, so that great caution was required. Hence their progress was
often very slow, each man being roped to his fellow; so that if one of
them should happen to disappear into one of these fathomless abysses,
his companion could haul him up. Such an occurrence happened more than
once; for Nansen as well as the others would every now and then fall
plump in up to the arms, dangling with his legs over empty space. But
it always turned out well; for powerful hands took hold of the rope,
and the practised gymnasts knew how to extricate themselves.

At first the ascent was very hard work, and it will readily be
understood that the six tired men were not sorry on the first night
of their journey to crawl into their sleeping-bags, after first
refreshing the inner man with cup after cup of hot tea.

Yet, notwithstanding all the fatigue they had undergone, there was so
much strength left in them that Dietrichson volunteered to go back and
fetch a piece of Gruyère cheese they had left behind when halting for
their midday meal. "It would be a nice little morning walk," he said,
"before turning in!" And he actually went--all for the sake of a
precious bit of cheese!

Next day there was a pouring rain that wet them through. The work
of hauling the sleighs, however, kept them warm. But later in the
evening, it came down in such torrents that Nansen deemed it advisable
to pitch the tent, and here they remained, weather-bound, for three
whole days. And long days they were! But our travellers followed
the example of bruin in winter; that is, they lay under shelter the
greater part of the time, Nansen taking care that they should also
imitate bruin in another respect,--who sleeps sucking his paw,--by
giving them rations once a day only. "He who does no work shall have
little food," was his motto.

On the forenoon of the twentieth, however, the weather improved;
and our travellers again set out on their journey, having first
indulged in a good warm meal by way of recompense for their three
days' fasting. The ice at first was very difficult, so much so that
they had to retrace their steps, and, sitting on their sleighs,
slide down the mountain slope. But the going improved, as also did
the weather. "If it would only freeze a little," sighed Nansen. But
he was to get enough of frost before long.

On they tramped, under a broiling sun, over the slushy snow. As there
was no drinking-water to be had, they filled their flasks with snow,
carrying them in their breast-pockets for the heat of their bodies
to melt it.

On Aug. 22 there was a night frost; the snow was hard and in good
condition, but the surface so rough and full of lumps and frozen waves
of slush, that the ropes with which they dragged the sleighs cut and
chafed their shoulders. "It was just as if our shoulders were being
burnt," Balto said.

They now travelled mostly by night, for it was better going then, and
there was no sun to broil them; while the aurora borealis, bathing as
it were the whole of the frozen plain in a flood of silvery light,
inspired them with fresh courage. The surface of the ice over which
they travelled was as smooth and even as a lake newly frozen over. Even
Balto on such occasions would indulge in a few oaths, a thing he never
allowed himself except when he felt "master of the situation." He was
a Finn, you see, and perhaps had no other way of giving expression
to his feelings!

As they got into higher altitudes the cold at night became more
intense. Occasionally they were overtaken by a snowstorm, when they
had to encamp in order to avoid being frozen to death; while at times,
again, the going would become so heavy in the fine drifting snow that
they had to drag their sleighs one by one, three or four men at a time
to each sleigh, an operation involving such tremendous exertion that
Kristiansen, a man of few words, on one such occasion said to Nansen,
"What fools people must be to let themselves in for work like this!"

To give some idea of the intense cold they had to encounter it may
be stated that, at the highest altitude they reached,--9,272 feet
above the sea,--the temperature fell to below -49° Fahrenheit, and
this, too, in the tent at night, the thermometer being under Nansen's
pillow. And all this toil and labor, be it remembered, went on from
Aug. 16 to the end of September, with sleighs weighing on an average
about two hundred and twenty pounds each, in drifting snow-dust,
worse than even the sandstorms of Sahara.

In order to lighten their labor, Nansen resolved to use sails on the
sleighs--a proceeding which Balto highly disapproved of: "Such mad
people he had never seen before, to want to sail over the snow! He
was a Lapp, he was, and there was nothing they could teach him on
land. It was the greatest nonsense he had ever heard of!"

Sails, however, were forthcoming, notwithstanding Balto's objections;
and they sat and stitched them with frozen fingers in the midst of
the snow. But it was astonishing what a help they proved to be; and
so they proceeded on their way, after slightly altering their course
in the direction of Godthaab. [32]

Thus, then, we see these solitary beings, looking like dark spots
moving on an infinite expanse of snow, wending their way ever onward,
Nansen and Sverdrup side by side, ski-staff and ice-axe in hand,
in front, earnestly gazing ahead as they dragged the heavy sleigh,
while close behind followed Dietrichson and Kristiansen, Balto and
Ravna bringing up the rear, each dragging a smaller sleigh. So it
went on for weeks; and though it tried their strength, and put their
powers of endurance to a most severe test, yet, if ever the thought
of "giving it up" arose in their minds, it was at once scouted by all
the party, the two Lapps excepted. One day Balto complained loudly to
Nansen. "When you asked us," he said, "in Christiania, what weight we
could drag, we told you we could manage one hundredweight each, but
now we have double that weight, and all I can say is, that, if we can
drag these loads over to the west coast, we are stronger than horses."

Onward, however, they went, in spite of the cold, which at times was
so intense that their beards froze fast to their jerseys, facing
blinding snowstorms that well-nigh made old Ravna desperate. The
only bright moments they enjoyed were when sleeping or at their
meals. The sleeping-bags, indeed, were a paradise; their meals,
ideals of perfect bliss.

Unfortunately, Nansen had not taken a sufficient supply of fatty
food with him, and to such an extent did the craving for fat go,
that Sverdrup one day seriously suggested that they should eat
boot-grease--a compound of boiled grease and old linseed oil! Their
great luxury was to eat raw butter, and smoke a pipe after it. First
they would smoke the fragrant weed pure and simple; when that was
done, the tobacco ash, followed by the oil as long as it would burn;
and when this was all exhausted, they would smoke tarred yarn,
or anything else that was a bit tasty! Nansen, who neither smoked
nor chewed, would content himself with a chip of wood, or a sliver
off one of the "truger" (snowshoes). "It tasted good," he said,
"and kept his mouth moist."

Finally, on Sept. 14, they had reached their highest altitude, and
now began to descend toward the coast, keeping a sharp lookout for
"land ahead." But none was yet to be seen, and one day Ravna's patience
completely gave way. With sobs and moans he said to Nansen,--

"I'm an old Fjeld-Lapp, and a silly old fool! I'm sure we shall never
get to the coast!"

"Yes," was the curt answer, "it's quite true! Ravna is a silly
old fool!"

One day, however, shortly afterward, while they were at dinner,
they heard the twittering of a bird close by. It was a snow-bunting,
bringing them a greeting from the west coast, and their hearts grew
warm within them at the welcome sound.

On the next day, with sails set, they proceeded onward down the
sloping ground, but with only partial success. Nansen was standing
behind the large sleigh to steady it, while Sverdrup steered from
the front. Merrily flew the bark; but, unfortunately, Nansen stumbled
and fell, and had hard work to regain his legs, and harder work still
to gather up sundry articles that had fallen off the sleigh, such as
boxes of pemmican, fur jackets, and ice-axes. Meanwhile Sverdrup and
the ship had almost disappeared from view, and all that Nansen could
see of it was a dark, square speck, far ahead across the ice. Sverdrup
had been sitting all the while in front, thinking what an admirable
passage they were making, and was not a little astonished, on looking
behind, to find that he was the only passenger on board. Matters,
however, went on better after this; and in the afternoon, as they were
sailing their best and fastest, the joyful cry of "Land ahead!" rang
through the air. The west coast was in sight! After several days'
hard work across fissures and over uneven ice, the coast itself was
finally reached. But Godthaab was a long, long way off still, and to
reach it by land was sheer impossibility.

The joy of our travellers on once more feeling firm ground beneath
their feet, and of getting real water to drink, was indescribable. They
swallowed quart after quart, till they could drink no more. The Lapps,
as usual took themselves off to the fjeld to testify their joy.

That evening was the most delightful one they had experienced for
weeks, one never to be forgotten in after years, when, with their
tent pitched, and a blazing fire of wood, they sat beside it, Sverdrup
smoking a pipe of moss in lieu of tobacco, and Nansen lying on his back
on the grass, which shed a strange and delightful perfume all around.

But how was Godthaab to be reached? By land it was
impossible! Therefore the journey must be made by sea! But there was
no boat! A boat, then, must be built. And Sverdrup and Nansen were the
men to solve the problem. They set to work, and by evening the boat
was finished. Its dimensions were eight feet five inches in length,
four feet eight inches in breadth, and it was made of willows and
sail-cloth. The oars were of bamboo and willow branches, across the
blades of which canvas was stretched. The thwarts were made from
bamboo, and the foot of one of their scientific instruments which,
by the way, chafed them terribly, and were very uncomfortable seats.

All preparations being now made, Nansen and Sverdrup set off on
their adventurous journey. The first day it was terribly hard work,
for the water was too shallow to admit of rowing. On the second day,
however, they put out to sea. Here they had at times to encounter
severe weather, fearing every moment lest their frail bark should be
swamped or capsized. At night they would sleep on the naked shore
beneath the open sky. From morning till night struggling away with
their oars, living on hot soup and the sea-birds they shot, which were
ravenously devoured without much labor being devoted to cooking the
same. Finally they reached their destination, meeting with a hearty
welcome, accompanied by a salute from cannon fired off in their honor,
when once it was ascertained who the new arrivals were.

Nansen's first inquiry was about a ship for Denmark, and he learned,
to his great disappointment, that the last vessel for the season had
sailed from Godthaab two months before, and that the nearest ship,
the Fox, was lying at Ivitgut, three hundred miles off.

It was a terrible blow in the midst of their joy. Home had, as it
were, at one stroke receded many hundreds of miles away; and here
they would have to pass a whole winter and spring, while dear ones at
home would think they had perished, and would be mourning for their
supposed loss all those weary months.

But this must never be! The Fox must be got at, and friends at home
must at all events get letters by her.

After a great deal of trouble Nansen at length found an Esquimau who
agreed to set off in his kayak bearing two letters. One was from
Nansen to Gamel, who had equipped the expedition; the other from
Sverdrup to his father.

This having been arranged, and boats having been sent off to fetch
their comrades from Ameralikfjord, Nansen and Sverdrup plunged into
all the joys and delights of civilized life to which they had so long
been strangers. Now they were able to indulge in the luxury of soap
and water for the first time since the commencement of their journey
across the ice. To change their clothes, to sleep in proper beds,
to eat civilized food with knives and forks on earthenware plates,
to smoke, to converse with educated beings, was to them the summum
bonum of enjoyment, and they felt themselves to be in clover.

Notwithstanding all these, Nansen did not seem altogether
himself. He was in a dreamy state, thinking perhaps of nights spent
in sleeping-bags up on the inland ice, or dreaming of that memorable
evening in the Ameralikfjord, of the hard struggles they had undergone
on the boundless plains of snow. These things flashed across him,
excluding from his mind the conviction that he had rendered his
name famous.

At last, on Oct. 12, the other members of the expedition joined
them, and these six men, who had risked their lives in that perilous
adventure, were once more assembled together.

His object had been attained, and the name of Fridtjof Nansen would
soon be known the whole world over!

That same autumn the Fox brought to Norway tidings of the success
of the expedition, and a few hours after her arrival the telegraph
announced throughout the length and breadth of the civilized world,
in few but significant words, "Fridtjof Nansen has crossed over the
inland ice of Greenland."

And the Norwegian nation, which had refused to grant the venturesome
young man 5,000 kroner ($1,350), now raised her head, and called
Fridtjof Nansen one of her best sons. And when one day in April,
after having spent a long winter in Greenland, he went on board the
Hvidbjörn [33] on his homeward journey, preparations were being made
in the capital for a festival such as a king receives when he visits
his subjects.

It was May 30: the spring sun was shining with all its brilliancy
over Norway. The Christiania fjord was teeming with yachts and small
sailing-boats. A light breeze played over the ruffled surface of the
water, while the perfume of the budding trees on its banks shed a
sweet fragrance all around. As for the town, it literally swarmed with
human beings. The quays, the fortress, the very roofs of the houses,
were densely packed with eager crowds, all of them intently gazing
seaward. Presently a shout of welcome heard faintly in the distance
announced his approach, gradually increasing in volume as he came
nearer, till it merged into one continuous roar, while thousands of
flags were waving overhead.

Eagerly the crowds pressed forward to catch the first glimpse of his
form, and when they did recognize him, their hurrahs burst forth like
a storm, and were caught up in the streets, answered from the windows,
from the tops of houses; and when they ceased for a moment from the
sheer exhaustion of those who uttered them, they were soon renewed
with redoubled vigor. And when finally Nansen had disembarked and
had entered a carriage, the police could no longer keep the people
under control. As if with one accord they dashed forward, and taking
out the horses, harnessed themselves in their place, and dragged him
through the streets of the city in triumph.

Yes, the Norwegian people had taken possession of Fridtjof Nansen!

But up at a window there stood the old housekeeper from Store Fröen,
waving her white apron, while tears of joy trickled down her face. She
it was who had bound up his bleeding head when years ago he had fallen
and cut it on the ice; she it was to whom he had often gone when in
some childish scrape. He remembered her in his hour of triumph. And
as she was laughing and crying by turns, and waving her apron, he
dashed up the steps and gave her a loving embrace.

For was she not part and parcel of his home?



CHAPTER VI.

    Engagement and Marriage.--Home-Life.--Planning the Polar
    Expedition.


Two months after Nansen had returned home from his Greenland expedition
he became engaged to Eva Sars, daughter of the late Professor Sars,
and was married to her the same autumn. Her mother was the sister of
the poet Welhaven.

The following story of his engagement is related:--

"On the night of Aug. 12 a shower of gravel and small pebbles rattled
against the panes of a window in the house where Fridtjof Nansen's
half-sister lived. He was very fond of her, and of her husband also,
who had indeed initiated him in the use of gun and rod, and who had
taken him with him, when a mere lad, on many a sporting excursion
to Nordmarken.

"On hearing this unusual noise at the dead of night, his brother-in-law
jumped out of bed in no very amiable frame of mind, and opening the
window, called out, 'What is it?'

"'I want to come in!' said a tall figure dressed in gray, from the
street below.

"A volley of expletives greeted the nocturnal visitor, who kept on
saying, 'I want to come in.'

"Before long Fridtjof Nansen was standing in his sister's bedroom at
two o'clock in the morning.

"Raising herself up in the bed, she said, 'But, Fridtjof, whatever
is it?'

"'I'm engaged to be married--that's all!' was the laconic reply.

"'Engaged! But with whom?'

"'Why, with Eva, of course!'

"Then he said he felt very hungry, and his brother-in-law had to take
a journey into the larder and fetch out some cold meat, and then down
into the cellar after a bottle of champagne. His sister's bed served
for a table, and a new chapter in 'Fridtjof's saga' was inaugurated
at this nocturnal banquet."

The story goes, Nansen first met his future wife in a snowdrift. One
day, it appears, when up in the Frogner woods, he espied two little
boots sticking up out of the snow. Curiosity prompted him to go and see
to whom the said boots belonged, and as he approached for that purpose,
a little snow be-sprinkled head peered up at him. It was Eva Sars!

What gives this anecdote interest is that it was out of the snow and
the cold to which he was to dedicate his life, she, who became dearer
to him than life itself, first appeared.

Another circumstance connected therewith worthy of note is that
Eva Sars was a person of rather a cold and repellent nature, and
gave one the impression that there was a good deal of snow in her
disposition. Hence the reason perhaps why she kept aloof rather
than attracted those who would know her. Fridtjof Nansen, however,
was not the man to be deterred by coldness. He was determined to win
her, even if he should have to cross the inland ice of Greenland for
that purpose.

But when she became his wife all the reserve and coldness of her nature
disappeared. She took the warmest interest in his plans, participated
in his work, making every sacrifice a woman can make to promote his
purpose. In all his excursions in the open air she accompanied him; and
when she knew that he was making preparations for another expedition,
one involving life itself, not a murmur escaped her lips. And when
the hour of parting came at last, and a long, lonely time of waiting
lay before her, she broke out into song. For in those dreary years of
hope deferred she developed into an accomplished songstress; and when
the fame of Nansen's exploit resounded throughout the whole north,
the echo of her song answered in joyful acclaim. The maidens of
Norway listening to her spirited strains, and beholding this brave
little woman with her proudly uplifted head, learnt from Eva Nansen
that such was the way in which a woman should meet a sorrow--such
the way in which she should undergo a time of trial.

The following story, in Nansen's own words, will serve to give an
idea of the sort of woman she was:

"It was New Year's Eve, 1890. Eva and I had gone on a little trip to
Kröderen, [34] and we determined to get to the top of Norefjeld. "We
slept at Olberg, and, feeling rather lazy next morning, did not
set out till nearly noon. We took it very easily, moreover! Even in
summer-time it is a stiff day's work to clamber up Norefjeld; but
in winter, when the days are short, one has to look pretty sharp to
reach the top while it is light. Moreover, the route we chose, though
perhaps the most direct, was not by any means the shortest. The snow
lay very deep; and soon it became impossible to go on ski, the ascent
being so steep, that we had to take them off and carry them. However,
we had made up our minds to reach the top; for it would never do to
turn back after having gone half-way, difficult though the ascent
might be. The last part of our journey was the most trying of all;
I had to cut out steps with my ski-staff to get a foothold in the
frozen snow. I went in front, and Eva followed close behind me. It
really seemed that we slipped two steps backward for every one we took
forward. At last we reached the top; it was pitch dark, and we had been
going from ten A.M. to five P.M., without food. But, thank goodness,
we had some cheese and pemmican with us, so we sat down on the snow,
and ate it.

"Yes! there were we two alone on the top of Norefjeld, five thousand
feet above the sea, with a biting wind blowing that made our cheeks
tingle, and the darkness growing thicker and thicker every moment. Far
away in the west there was a faint glimmer of daylight,--of the
last day of the old year,--just enough to guide us by. The next
thing to be done was to get down to Eggedal. From where we were it
was a distance of about six and one-half miles, a matter of little
consequence in broad daylight, but in the present instance no joke,
I can assure you! However, it had to be done. So off we started,
I leading the way, Eva following.

"We went like the wind down the slope, but had to be very careful. When
one has been out in the dark some little time, it is just as if the
snow gives out a faint light--though light it cannot really be termed,
but a feeble kind of shimmer. Goodness only knows how we managed to
get down, but get down we did! As it was too steep to go on ski, there
was nothing for it but to squat and slide down--a kind of locomotion
detrimental, perhaps, to one's breeches, but under the circumstances
unquestionably the safest mode of proceeding in the dark!

"When we had got half-way down my hat blew off. So I had to 'put the
brake on,' and get up on my legs, and go after it. Far away above
me I got a glimpse of a dark object on the snow, crawled after it,
got up to it, and grasped it, to find it was only a stone! My hat,
then, must be further up. Surely that was it--again I got hold of a
stone! The snow seemed to be alive with stones. Hat after hat, hat
after hat, but whenever I tried to put it on my head, it turned out
to be a stone. A stone for bread is bad enough, and stones for hats
are not a bit better! So I had to give it up, and go hatless.

"Eva had been sitting waiting for me all this while. 'Eva,' I shouted,
and a faint answer came back from below.

"Those miles seemed to be uncommonly long ones. Every now and then
we could use our ski, and then it would become so steep again that
we had to carry them. At last we came to a standstill. There was
a chasm right in front of us,--how deep it was it was too dark to
ascertain. However, we bundled over it somehow or other, and happily
the snow was very deep. It is quite incredible how one can manage to
get over a difficulty!

"As regards our direction, we had lost it completely; all we knew was
that we must get down into the valley. Again we came to a standstill,
and Eva had to wait while I went on, groping in the dark, trying to
find a way. I was absent on this errand some little time. Presently
it occurred to me, 'What if she should have fallen asleep!'

"'Eva!' I shouted, 'Eva!' Yes, she answered; but she must be a long
way above where I was. If she had been asleep it would have been a
difficult matter to have found her. But I groped my way up-hill to
her, with the consolation that I had found the bed of a stream. Now
the bed of a stream is not very well adapted for ski, especially when
it is pitch dark, and the stomach is empty, and conscience pricks
you,--for really I ought not to have ventured on such an expedition
with her. However, 'all's well that ends well,' and we got through
all right.

"We had now got down to the birch scrub, and at last found our road.

"After some little time we passed a cabin. I thought it wouldn't
be a bad place to take refuge in, but Eva said it was so horribly
dirty! She was full of spirits now, and voted for going on. So
on we went, and in due time reached the parish clerk's house in
Eggedal. Of course the inmates were in bed, so we had to arouse
them. The clerk was horrified when I told him we had just come from
the top of Norefjeld. This time Eva was not so nice about lodgings,
for no sooner had she sat down on a chair, than she fell asleep. It
was midnight, mind you, and she had been in harness fourteen hours.

"'He's a bit tired, poor lad!' said the clerk. For Eva had on a
ski-dress with a very small skirt, trousers, and a Lapp fur cloak.

"'That's my wife,' I replied, whereupon he burst out into a
laugh. 'Nay, nay! to drag his wife with him over the top of Norefjeld
on New Year's Eve!' he said.

"Presently he brought in something to eat, for we were famished;
and when Eva smelt it wasn't cheese and pemmican, she woke up.

"We rested here three days. Yes, it had been a New Year's Eve trip. A
very agreeable one in my opinion, but I'm not so sure Eva altogether
agreed with me!

"Two days later I and the 'poor little lad' drove through Numedal to
Kongsberg in nine degrees below zero (Fahrenheit), which nearly froze
the little fellow. But it is not a bad thing occasionally to have to
put up with some inconveniences--you appreciate comforts afterward
so much the more. He who has never experienced what cold is, does
not really know the meaning of warmth!"



The day after the wedding the newly married pair set out for
Newcastle, where there was to be a meeting of the Geographical Society,
travelling via Gothenburg, Hamburg, and London. After this they went
to Stockholm, and here Nansen was presented with the "Vega" medal by
His Majesty. This was a distinguished honor, the more so as it had
hitherto only been awarded to five persons, among whom were Stanley
and Nordenskjöld. Nansen subsequently was presented with several
medals in foreign countries, and was made a Knight of the Order of
St. Olaf and Danebrog.

On their return from Stockholm to Norway, Nansen and his wife took
apartments at Marte Larsen's, the old housekeeper at Store Fröen, and
stayed there two months, after which they took a house on the Drammen
road. But they did not enjoy themselves there, and Nansen determined
to build a house, for which purpose he bought a site at Svartebugta,
near Lysaker. [35] It was here that, as a boy, he had often watched for
wild ducks. It was a charming spot, moreover, and within easy distance
of the town. The house was finished in the spring of 1890. During
the whole of the winter, while building operations were going on,
they lived in an icy cold pavillion near Lysaker railway station.

"It was here he weaned me from freezing," says Eva Nansen.

In this wretched habitation, where the water froze in the bedroom at
night, Nansen would sit and work at his book on Greenland, and when
he had time would superintend the building of the new house. It was
called "Godthaab"--a name given it by Björnstjerne Björnson.

In the autumn of this year Nansen set out on a lengthened lecturing
tour, accompanied by his wife. He lectured in Copenhagen, London,
Berlin, and Dresden, about his Greenland experiences, and also about
the projected expedition to the North Pole. Everywhere people were
attracted by his captivating individuality; but most thought this
new expedition too venturesome. Even the most experienced Arctic
explorers shook their heads, for they thought that, from such a
daring enterprise, not a single member of the expedition would ever
return alive.

But Nansen adhered to his own opinions, and we see him in the
intervening years occupied with the equipment required for an
expedition to the polar regions--a work so stupendous that the
preparations for the Greenland expedition were but child's play
in comparison.



CHAPTER VII.

    Preparations for the Polar Expedition.--Starting from
    Norway.--Journey along the Siberian Coast.


Nansen's theory as regards the expedition to the North Pole was
as simple as it was daring. He believed that he had discovered the
existence of a current passing over the pole, and of this he would
avail himself. His idea, in fact, was to work his way into the ice
among the New Siberian Islands, let his vessel be fast frozen into
the drift-ice, and be carried by the current over the Pole to the
east coast of Greenland. There articles had been found on ice-floes
that had unquestionably belonged to former Arctic expeditions, a fact
that convinced him of the existence of such a current.

It might take some years for a vessel to drift all that way; he must,
therefore, make his preparations accordingly. Such at all events
was Nansen's theory--a theory which, it must be said, few shared
with him. For none of the world's noted explorers of those regions
believed in the existence of such a current, and people generally
termed the scheme, "a madman's idea!"

Nansen, therefore, stood almost alone in this, and yet not altogether
alone, either. For the Norwegian people who would not sacrifice $1,350
for the Greenland expedition gave him now in a lump sum 280,000 kroner
($75,600). They were convinced of his gigantic powers, and when the
Norwegians are fully convinced of a thing, they are willing to make
any sacrifice to carry it out. They believed in him now!

Nansen then set to work in earnest at his gigantic undertaking.

First of all a vessel must be designed,--one that would be able to
defy the ice. Availing himself, therefore, of the services of the
famous shipbuilder, Colin Archer, he had the Fram [36] built--a name
suggestive of noble achievements to the youth of Norway.

On Oct. 26, 1892, she was launched at Laurvig. During the previous
night the temperature had been fourteen degrees above zero, and a
slight sprinkling of snow had covered valley and height with a thin
veil of white. The morning sun peered through the mist with that
peculiar hazy light that foretells a bright winter day.

At the station at Laurvig, Nansen waited to receive his guests. A
whaler, with a crow's-nest on her foretop, was lying in the harbor, to
convey the visitors to the spot where the Fram was lying on the stocks.

In the bay at Reykjavik the huge hull of a vessel may be seen raised up
on the beach, with her stern toward the sea. It is Fridtjof Nansen's
new ship that is now to be launched. She is a high vessel, of great
beam, painted black below and white above. Three stout masts of
American pitch-pine are lying by her side on the quay, while three
flagstaffs, two of them only with flags flying, rear themselves up
aloft on her deck. The flag which is to be run up the bare staff is
to bear the vessel's name--unknown as yet. Everybody is wondering
what that name will be, and conjectures whether it will be Eva, Leif,
Norway, Northpole, are rife.

Crowds of spectators are assembled at the wharf, while as many have
clambered upon the adjacent rocks. But around the huge ship, which
lies on the slips firmly secured with iron chains, are standing groups
of stalwart, weather-beaten men in working attire. They are whalers,
who for years have frequented the polar seas and braved its dangers,
and are now attentively examining and criticising the new ship's
construction. A goodly number, too, of workmen are there,--the men
who built the ship; and they are looking at their work with feelings
of pride. And yonder is the vessel's architect,--that stately,
earnest-looking man with the long, flowing white beard,--Colin Archer.

And now, accompanied by his wife, Nansen ascends the platform that has
been erected in the ship's bow. Mrs. Nansen steps forward, breaks a
bottle of champagne on the prow, and in clear, ringing tones declares,
"Fram is her name." At the same moment a flag on which the vessel's
name can be read in white letters on a red ground, is run up to the
top of the bare flagstaff.

The last bands and chains are quickly removed, and the ponderous mass
glides, stern first, slowly down the incline, but with ever-increasing
velocity, toward the water. For a moment some anxiety is felt lest
she should sink or get wedged; but as soon as her bows touch the
water the stern rises up, and the Fram floats proudly on the sea,
and is then at once moored fast with warps to the quay.

Meanwhile Nansen stood beside his wife, and all eyes turned toward
them. But not a trace of anxiety or doubt could be discerned on his
frank and open countenance; for he possessed that faith in his project
that is able to remove mountains.

The next matter of importance was to select the crew. There was
ample material to choose from, for hundreds of volunteers from
abroad offered themselves, besides Norwegians. But it was a Norwegian
expedition--her crew, then, must be exclusively a national crew! And so
Otto Sverdrup, who had earned his laurels in the Greenland expedition;
Sigurd Scott-Hansen, first lieutenant in the royal navy; Henrik Greve
Blessing, surgeon; Theodor Claudius Jacobsen and Adolf Juell of the
mercantile marine; Anton Amundsen and Lars Petterson, engineers;
Frederik Hjalmar Johansen, lieutenant of the royal army reserve,
Peter Leonard Henriksen, harpooner; Bernt Nordahl, electrician; Ivar
Otto Irgens Mogstad, head keeper at the lunatic asylum; and Bernt
Berntsen, common sailor,--were selected. Most of them were married
and had children.

Sverdrup was to be the Fram's commander, for Nansen knew that the
ship would be safer in his hands than in his own.

Finally, after an incredible deal of hard work in getting everything
in order, the day of their departure arrived.

It was midsummer--a dull, gloomy day. The Fram, heavily laden, is
lying at Pipperviken Quay, waiting for Nansen. The appointed hour is
past, and yet there are no signs of him. Members of the storthing,
who had assembled there to bid him farewell, can wait no longer,
and the crowds of people that line the quay are one and all anxiously
gazing over the fjord.

But presently a quick-sailing little petroleum boat heaves in sight. It
swings round Dyna, [37] and quickly lies alongside the Fram; and
Nansen goes on board his ship at once, and gives the order to "go
ahead." Every eye is fixed on him. He is as calm as ever, firm as a
rock, but his face is pale.

The anchor is weighed; and after making the tour of the little creek,
the Fram steams down the fjord. "Full speed" is the command issued
from the bridge; and as she proceeds on her way, Nansen turns round to
take a farewell look over Svartebugta where Godthaab lies. He discerns
a glimpse of a woman's form dressed in white by the bench under the
fir-tree, and then turns his face away; it was there he had bidden her
farewell. Little Liv, his only child, had been carried by her mother,
crowing and smiling, to bid father good-by, and he had taken her in
his arms.

"Yes, you smile, little one!" he said; "but I"--and he sobbed.

This had taken place but an hour before. And now he was standing on
the bridge alone, leaving all he held dear behind.

The twelve men who accompanied him,--they, too, had made
sacrifices,--each had his own sorrow to meet at this hour; but at
the word of command, one and all went about their duty as if nothing
was amiss.

For the first few days it was fine weather, but on getting out as far
as Lindesnæs [38] it became very stormy. The ship rolled like a log,
and seas broke over the rails on both sides. Great fear was entertained
lest the deck cargo should be carried overboard, a contingency, indeed,
that soon occurred; for twenty-five empty paraffin casks broke loose
from their lashings, and a quantity of reserve timber balks followed.

"It was an anxious time," says Nansen. "Seasick I stood on the bridge,
alternately offering libations to the gods of the sea, and trembling
for the safety of the boats and of the men who were trying to make
snug what they could on deck. Now a green sea poured over us, and
knocked one fellow off his legs so that he was deluged; now the
lads were jumping over hurtling spars to avoid getting their feet
crushed. There was not a dry thread on them. Juell was lying asleep
in the 'Grand Hotel,' as we called one of the long boats, and awoke
to find the sea roaring under him. I met him at the cabin door as he
came running down. Once the Fram buried her bows and shipped a sea
over the forecastle. One fellow was clinging to the anchor davits
over the foaming water; it was poor Juell again."

Then all the casks, besides a quantity of timber, had to be thrown
overboard. It was, indeed, an anxious time.

But fine weather came at last, and Bergen turned out to meet them
in brilliant sunshine. Then on again, along the wonderful coast of
Norway, while the people on shore stood gazing after them, marvelling
as they passed.

At Beian [39] Sverdrup joined the ship, and Berntsen, the thirteenth
member of the crew, at Tromsö. [40]

Still onward toward the north, till finally the last glimpse of
their native country faded from their sight in the hazy horizon,
and a dense fog coming on enveloped them in its shroud. They were to
have met the Urania, laden with coal, in Jugor straits; but as that
vessel had not arrived, and time was precious, the Fram proceeded on
her course, after having shipped a number of Esquimau dogs which a
Russian, named Trontheim, had been commissioned to procure for the
expedition. It was here that Nansen took leave of his secretary,
Cristophersen, who was to return by the Urania; and the last tie that
united them with Norway was severed.

The Fram now heads out from the Jugor straits into the dreaded Kara
sea, which many had prophesied would be her destruction. But they
worked their way through storm and ice, at times satisfactorily, at
others encountering slight mishaps; but the Fram proved herself to be
a reliable iceworthy vessel, and Nansen felt more and more convinced
that, when the ice-pressure began in real earnest, she would acquit
herself well.

"It was a royal pleasure," he writes, "to take her into difficult
ice. She twists and turns like a ball on a plate--and so strong! If
she runs into a floe at full speed, she scarcely utters a sound,
only quivers a little, perhaps."

When, as was often the case, they had to anchor on account of bad
weather, Nansen and his companions would go ashore, either for the
purpose of taking observations or for sport. One day they shot two
bears and sundry reindeer; but, when they started to row back to
the Fram in the evening, they had a severe task before them. For
a strong breeze was blowing, and the current was dead against
them. "We rowed as if our finger-tips would burst," says Nansen,
"but could hardly make any headway. So we had to go in under land
again to get out of the current. But no sooner did we set out for
the Fram again than we got into it once more, and then the whole
manoeuvre had to be repeated, with the same result. Presently a buoy
was lowered from the ship: if we could only reach it, all would be
right. But no such luck was in store for us yet. We would make one
more desperate effort, and we rowed with a will, every muscle of our
bodies strained to the utmost. But to our vexation we now saw the
buoy being hauled up. We rowed a little to the windward of the Fram,
and then tried again to sheer over. This time we got nearer her than
we had been before, but still no buoy was thrown over--not even a
man was to be seen on deck. We roared like madmen," writes Nansen,
"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. We put our last strength into our oars. There were
only a few boat-lengths to cover, and the lads bent flat over the
thwarts. Now only three boat-lengths. Another desperate spurt! Now
only two and a half boat-lengths--presently two--then only one! A few
more frantic pulls, and there was a little less. 'Now, my lads, one
or two more hard pulls--keep to it!--Now another--don't give in--one
more--there we have it!' And a joyful sigh of relief passed round the
boat. 'Keep her going, or the rope will break--row, my lads!' And row
we did, and soon they had hauled us alongside the Fram. Not till we
were lying there, getting our bearskins and flesh hauled on board,
did we realize what we had had to fight against. The current was
running along the side of the ship like a millstream. At last we were
on board. It was evening by this time, and it was a comfort to get some
hot food, and then stretch one's limbs in a comfortable, dry berth."

The Fram proceeded on her course the next day, passing a number
of unknown islands, to which Nansen gave names. Among these were
Scott-Hansen's Islands, Ringnes, Mohns, etc.

On Sept. 6, the anniversary of Nansen's wedding, they passed Taimar
Island, and after a prosperous passage through open water reached
Cape Tscheljuskin on Sept. 9.

Nansen was sitting in the crow's nest that evening. The weather was
perfectly still, and the sky lay in a dream of gold and yellow. A
solitary star was visible; it stood directly over Cape Tscheljuskin,
twinkling brightly, though sadly, in the pale sky overhead. As the
vessel proceeded on her course it seemed to follow them. There was
something about that star that attracted Nansen's attention, and
brought him peace. It was as it were his star, and he felt that she who
was at home was sending him a message by it. Meanwhile the Fram toiled
on through the gloomy melancholy of the night out into the unknown.

In the morning, when the sun rose up, a salute was fired, and high
festival held on board.

A few days later a herd of walrus was sighted. It was a lovely
morning, and perfectly calm, so that they could distinctly hear their
bellowings over the clear surface of the water, as they lay in a
heap on an ice-floe, the blue mountains glittering in the sunlight
in the background.

"My goodness, what a lot of meat!" ejaculated Juell, the cook. And at
once Nansen, Juell, and Henriksen set out after them, Juell rowing,
Nansen armed with a gun, and Henriksen with a harpoon. On getting to
close quarters Henriksen threw the harpoon at the nearest walrus,
but it struck too high, and glanced off the tough hide, and went
skipping over the rounded backs of the others. Now all was stir
and life. Ten or a dozen of the bulky animals waddled with upraised
heads to the extreme edge of the floe, whereupon Nansen took aim at
the largest, and fired. The brute staggered, and fell headlong into
the water. Another bullet into a second walrus was attended with
the same result, and the rest of the herd plunged into the water,
so that it boiled and seethed. Soon, however, they were up again,
all around the boat, standing upright in the water, bellowing and
roaring till the air shook. Every now and then they would make a dash
toward the boat, then dive, and come up again. The sea boiled like
a cauldron, and every moment they seemed about to dash their tusks
through the side of the boat, and capsize it. Fortunately, however,
this did not occur. Walrus after walrus was shot by Nansen, while
Henriksen was busy with his harpoon to prevent them sinking.

At last, after a favorable journey through open water, the Fram finally
reached firm ice on Sept. 25, and allowed herself to be frozen in;
for winter was fast approaching, and it was no longer possible to
drive her through the ice.



CHAPTER VIII.

    Drifting Through the Ice.--Christmas.--Daily Life on the
    Fram.--Bear-Hunt and Ice-Pressure.


From Sept. 26 the Fram lay frozen in in the drift-ice, and many a
long day would pass ere she would be loose again. Nansen's theory of
a current over the North Pole would now be proved to be correct or
the reverse.

It was a monotonous time that was approaching for the men on board. At
first they drifted but very little northward, each succeeding day
bringing but little alteration; but they kept a good heart, for they
had not to suffer from lack of anything that could conduce to their
comfort. They had a good ship, excellently equipped, and so passed
the days as best they could,--now occupying themselves with seeing
to the dogs or taking observations, etc.; while reading, playing
cards, chess, halma, and making all kinds of implements, filled up
the remainder of their time. Every now and then the monotony of their
existence would undergo variation, when the ice-pressure set in. Then
there was plenty of life and stir on board, and all hands would turn
out to do battle with the foe.

It was on Monday, Oct. 9, that the Fram underwent her first experience
of a regular ice-pressure. Nansen and the others were sitting after
dinner, as usual, chatting about one thing and another, when all at
once a deafening sound was heard, and the ship quivered from stem to
stern. Up they rushed on deck; for now the Fram was to be put to the
test--and gloriously she passed through it! When the ice nipped she
lifted herself up, as if raised by invisible hands, and pushed the
floes down below her.

An ice-pressure is a most wonderful thing. Let us hear what Nansen
says of it:--

"It begins with a gentle crack and moan along the ship's sides,
gradually sounding louder in every conceivable 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. Steadily the noise increases till it is like all the
pipes of an organ; the ship trembles and shakes, and rises by fits and
starts, or is gently lifted up. But presently the uproar slackens, and
the ship sinks down into her old position again, as if in a safe bed."

But woe to them who have not such a ship to resort to under a pressure
like this; for when once it begins in real earnest, it is as if there
could not be a spot on the earth's surface that would not tremble
and shake.

"First," says Nansen, "you hear a sound like the thundering rumble
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 in heaps. There are howlings and thunderings around you;
you feel the ice trembling, and hear it rumbling under your feet. In
the semi-darkness you can see it piling and tossing itself up into
high ridges,--floes ten, twelve, fifteen feet thick, broken and flung
up on the top of each other,--you jump away to save your life. But the
ice splits in front of you; a black gulf opens, and the 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 toward you. You try
another direction, but there it is just the same. All around 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 ice-blocks to get to the
other side of the pack. But little by little the disturbance calms down
again, and the noise passes on and is lost by degrees in the distance."

Another thing brought life and stir into the camp, viz., "bears." And
many a time the cry of "bears" was heard in those icy plains.

In Farthest North, Nansen describes a number of amusing incidents
with these animals. We must, however, content ourselves with giving
only a brief sketch of some of the most interesting of these.

Nansen and Sverdrup, and indeed several of the others, had shot polar
bears before; but some of their number were novices in the sport,
among whom were Blessing, Johansen and Scott-Hansen. One day, when
the latter were taking observations a short distance from the ship, a
bear was seen but a little way off--in fact, just in front of the Fram.

"Hush! don't make a noise, or we shall frighten him," said Hansen;
and they all crouched down to watch him.

"I think I'd better slip off on board and tell them about it," said
Blessing. And off he started on tiptoe, so as not to alarm the bear.

The beast meanwhile came sniffing and shambling along toward where
they were, so that evidently he had not been frightened.

Catching sight of Blessing, who was slinking off to the ship, the
brute made straight for him.

Blessing, seeing that the bear was by no means alarmed, now made his
way back to his companions as quickly as he could, closely followed
by the bear. Matters began to look rather serious, and they each
snatched up their weapons. Hansen, an ice-staff, Johansen, an axe,
and Blessing nothing at all, shouting at the top of their voices,
"Bear! bear!" after which they all took to their heels as fast as
ever they could for the ship. The bear, however, held on his course
toward the tent, which he examined very closely before following on
their tracks. The animal was subsequently shot on approaching the
Fram. Nansen was not a little surprised on finding in its stomach
a piece of paper stamped, "Lutken & Mohn, Christiania," which he
recognized as belonging to the ship.

On another occasion, toward the end of 1893, Hendriksen, whose
business it was to see to the dogs that were tethered on an ice-floe,
came tearing into the ship, and shouting, "Come with a gun! Come
with a gun!" The bear, it seems, had bitten him on his side. Nansen
immediately caught up his gun, as also did Hendriksen, and off they
set after the bear. There was a confused sound of human voices on
the starboard side of the ship, while on the ice below the gangway
the dogs were making a tremendous uproar.

Nansen put his gun up to his shoulder, but it wouldn't go off. There
was a plug of tow in the barrel. And Hendriksen kept crying out,
"Shoot, shoot! mine won't go off!" There he stood clicking and
clicking, for his gun was stuffed up with vaseline. Meanwhile the
bear was lying close under the ship, worrying one of the dogs. The
mate, too, was fumbling away at his gun, which was also plugged,
while Mogstad, the fourth man, was brandishing an empty rifle, for
he had shot all his cartridges away, crying out, "Shoot him! shoot
him!" The fifth man, Scott-Hansen, was lying in the passage leading
into the chart-room, groping after cartridges through a narrow chink
in the door; for Kvik's kennel stood against it, so that he could not
get it wide open. At last, however, Johansen came, and fired right
into the bear's hide. This shot had the effect of making the brute
let go of the dog, which jumped up and ran away. Several shots were
now fired, which killed the bear.

Hendriksen tells this story about his being bitten:--

"You see," he said, "as I was going along with the lantern, I saw
some drops of blood by the gangway, but thought one of the dogs had
very likely cut its foot. On the ice, however, we saw bear-tracks,
and started off to the west, the whole pack of dogs with us running on
ahead. When we had got some little distance from the Fram, we heard a
terrible row in front, and presently saw a great brute coming straight
toward us, closely followed by the dogs. No sooner did we see what
it was than we set off for the ship as fast as we could. Mogstad
had his Lappish moccasons on, and knew the way better than I did,
so he got to the ship before me; for I couldn't go very fast with
these heavy wooden shoes, you see. I missed my way, I suppose, for I
found myself on the big hummock to the west of the ship's bows. There
I took a good look round, to see if the bear was after me. But I
could not see any signs of it, so I started off again, but fell down
flat on my back among the hummocks. Oh, yes, I was soon up again, and
got down to the level ice near the ship's side, when I saw something
coming at me on the right. At first I thought it was one of the dogs;
for it isn't so easy to see in the dark, you know. But I hadn't much
time for thinking, for the brute jumped right on me, and bit me here,
on the side. I had lifted my arm up like this, you see, and then he
bit me on the hip, growling and foaming at the mouth all the while."

"What did you think then, Peter?" asked Nansen.

"What did I think? Why, I thought it was all up with me. I hadn't
any weapon, you see; so I took my lantern and hit the beast as hard
as ever I could with it on the head, and the lantern broke, and the
pieces went skimming over the ice. On receiving the blow I gave him
he squatted down and had a good look at me; but no sooner did I set
off again than up he got too, whether to have another go at me, or
what for, I can't say. Anyhow, he caught sight of a dog coming along,
and set off after it, and so I got on board."

"Did you call out, Peter?"

"I should think I did! I holloaed as loud as ever I could!"

And no doubt he did, for he was quite hoarse.

"But where was Mogstad all the while?" asked Nansen.

"Why, you see, he had got to the ship long before me. It never
occurred to him, I suppose, to give the alarm; but he takes his gun
off the cabin wall, thinking he could manage by himself. But his gun
wouldn't go off, and the bear might have had plenty of time to eat
me up right under his very nose."

On leaving Peter, the bear, it seems, had set off after the dogs;
and it was in this way it came near the ship, where, after killing
one of the dogs, it was shot.

In the course of the winter Sverdrup set up a bear-trap of his own
invention, but it did not prove very successful. One evening, a bear
was seen approaching the trap; it was a bright moonlight night, much
to Sverdrup's delight. On reaching the trap, the bear reared itself
on its hind legs very cautiously, laid his right paw on the woodwork,
stared for a little while at the tempting bait, but didn't seem to
approve altogether of the ugly rows of teeth around it. Shaking his
head suspiciously, he lowered himself on all fours, and sniffed at the
steel wire fastened to the trap, and once more shook his head as if
to say, "Those cunning beggars have planned this very carefully for
me, no doubt." Then he got up again on his hind legs and had another
sniff, and down again on all fours, after which he came toward the
ship and was shot.

Autumn passed away and Christmas arrived while the Fram was drifting
between seventy-nine and eighty-one degrees north latitude. This
tedious drifting was a sore trial to Nansen. He often thought that
there must be some error in his calculations, often very nearly
lost heart. But then he thought of those at home who had made such
sacrifices for him, and of those on board who placed such implicit
faith in him; while overhead the star--his star--shone out brilliantly
in the wintry night, and inspired him with renewed courage.

The time was now drawing near when their first Christmas on board
should be kept. The polar night, with its prolonged darkness and biting
cold, brooded over the ship, and ice-pressures thundered all around.

Christmas Eve was ushered in with -35° Fahrenheit. The Fram lay in
seventy-nine degrees, eleven minutes, north latitude, two minutes
farther south than was the case a week before.

There was a peculiar feeling of solemnity on board. Every one was
thinking of home, and trying at the same time to keep his thoughts to
himself, and so there was more noise and laughter than usual. They
ate and they drank and made speeches, and the Christmas presents
were given out, and the Framsjaa, the Fram's newspaper, with an extra
illustrated Christmas number, appeared.

In the poem for the day it said:--


    "When the ship is hemmed in by ice fathom-thick,
      When we drift at the will of the stream,
    When the white veil of winter is spread all around,
      In our sleep of our dear home we dream.

    Let us wish them a right merry Christmas at home,
      Good luck may the coming year bring;
    We'll be patient and wait, for the Pole we will gain,
      Then hurrah for our home in the spring."


The menu for Christmas Eve was:--


    1. Oxtail Soup.
    2. Fish Pudding.
    3. Reindeer-steak and Green Peas. French Beans, Potatoes, and
       Huckleberry Jelly.
    4. Cloudberries and Cream.
    5. Cake and Marzipan.
    6. Beer.


The Nansen lads knew how to live. But this night they had no supper;
they simply could not manage it. Indeed, it was all they could do
to get through an extra dessert, consisting of pineapple preserve,
honey-cakes, vanilla biscuits, cocoa macaroons, figs, raisins,
almonds, etc.

The banquet was held in their cosey saloon, which was lighted with
electric lights; and in the evening they had organ recitals, songs,
and many other recreations. Yes, there was merriment galore on the
Fram, frozen in though she was in the Polar sea.

If it had not been for the noise of the ice-pressures they might indeed
have imagined themselves to be in the very middle of civilization. In
their inmost hearts they longed for a pressure,--a pressure of the hand
from dear ones at home. A long time must elapse before that could be.

Then came New Year's Eve, with a brilliant aurora shining overhead, and
still each one on board felt that irrepressible longing in his heart.

Nansen read out on this occasion the last salutation he had received
from Norway. It was a telegram from Professor Moltke Moe at Tromsö:--


    "Luck on the way,
    Sun on the sea,
    Sun in your minds,
    Help from the winds.
    Wide open floes
    Part and unclose
    Where the ship goes.
    Onward! Good cheer!
    Tho' ice in the rear
    Pack--it will clear.
    Food enough--strength enough--
    Means enough--clothes enough.
    Then will the Fram's crew
    Reach the Pole in months few.
Good luck on thy journey to thee and thy hand,
And a good welcome back to the dear Fatherland!"


These lines, needless to say, were received with great acclamation.

Meanwhile month after month passes without much change. The men on
the Fram live their lonely lives. They take observations in the biting
frost--Scott Hansen usually attends to this work. The others, who are
sitting down in the cabins, often hear a noise of feet on the deck,
as if some one were dancing a jig.

"Is it cold?" asks Nansen, when Hansen and his assistants come below.

"Cold? oh, no! not at all!--quite a pleasant temperature!" a piece
of information which is received with shouts of laughter.

"Don't you find it cold about the feet either?"

"No, can't say I do; but every now and then it's rather cool for
one's fingers!" He had just had two of his frostbitten.

One morning, indeed, when an observation had to be taken in a hurry,
Scott Hansen was seen on deck with nothing on but his shirt and
trousers when the thermometer registered -40° Fahrenheit.

Occasionally they would have to go out on the ice to take observations,
when they might be seen standing with their lanterns and tackle,
bending over their instruments, and then all at once tearing away
over the ice, swinging their arms like the sails of a windmill;
but it was always, "Oh! it's not at all cold! Nothing to speak of!"

On Friday, Feb. 2, the Fram reached eighty degrees north latitude,
an event that was duly celebrated on board. They were all, moreover,
in wonderful spirits, especially as the gloom of winter was beginning
to lighten at the approach of spring.

By March 23 they had again drifted to the south, and it was not till
April 17 that they reached 80° 20' north latitude. On May 21, it was
81° 20', one degree further north, and on June 18, 81° 52'. They were
progressing! But after this a back drift set in, and on Sept. 15,
1894, the Fram lay in 81° 14' north latitude.

The weather had been tolerably fine during the summer; but there
was little else for them to do except take observations, ascertain
the temperature of the water at different depths, etc., and collect
specimens of sea-weed, etc. And so another winter with its gloom and
darkness was approaching.

During this summer Nansen had often contemplated the idea of
leaving the Fram, and of going with one of his companions on a sleigh
expedition to the regions nearer the Pole; for he feared the Fram would
not drift much farther in a northerly direction, and was most unwilling
to return home without first having done his utmost to explore the
northern regions. Accordingly he occupied himself a good deal in
making sleigh excursions in order to get the dogs into training,
and in other preparations. He had mentioned his plan to Sverdrup,
who quite approved of it.

About the middle of September a rather strange thing
happened. Peterson, who was acting as cook that week, came one day to
Nansen, and said he had had a wonderful dream. He dreamt that Nansen
intended to go on an expedition to the Pole with four of the men,
but would not take him with them.

"You told me," he said, "you wouldn't want a cook on your expedition,
and that the ship was to meet you at some other place; anyhow, that
you would not return here, but would go to some other land. It's
strange what a lot of nonsense one can dream!"

Nansen replied that perhaps it was not such great nonsense, after all;
whereon Petersen said, "Well, if you do go, I would ask you to take me
with you; I should like it very much! I can't say I am a good hand on
ski, but I could manage to keep up with the rest." When Nansen remarked
that such an expedition would be attended with no little danger, one
involving even the risk of life; "Psha!" answered Petersen, "one can
but die once! If I were with you I shouldn't be a bit afraid!" And
that he would willingly have accompanied Nansen to the North Pole
in the middle of the dark winter, without the slightest hesitation,
is sure enough. And so, indeed, would all the others have done.

On Monday, Nov. 19, Nansen mentioned his scheme to Johansen, whom he
had selected to be his companion, and on the following day he took
the rest of the crew into his confidence. They evinced the greatest
interest in the proposed scheme, and, indeed, considered it highly
necessary that such an expedition should take place.

And now they all set to work in earnest about the necessary
preparations, such as making sleighs, kayaks, exercising the dogs,
and weighing out provisions, etc.

Meanwhile winter dragged on its weary way. Another Christmas came,
finding them in latitude, eighty-three degrees, and ice pressures were
increasing daily. The New Year of 1895 was ushered in with wind, and
was dark and dreary in the extreme. On Jan. 3, the famous ice-pressure
occurred, that exposed the Fram to the severest strain any ship ever
encountered, and lived.

At 8 A.M. on the morning of the 3d of January Nansen was awakened by
the familiar sound of an approaching pressure. On going up on deck he
was not a little surprised to see a huge pressure-ridge scarcely thirty
paces away from the Fram, with deep cracks reaching almost to the
ship itself. All loose articles were at once stowed away on board. At
noon the pressure began again, and the dreaded ridge came nearer and
nearer. In the afternoon preparations were made to abandon the ship,
the sleighs and kayaks being placed ready on deck. At supper-time it
began crunching again, and Nordahl came below to say that they had
better go up on deck at once. The dogs, too, had to be let loose,
for the water stood high in their kennels.

During the night the ice remained comparatively quiet, but next morning
the pressure began again. The huge ridge was now only a few feet from
the ship.

At 6.30 Jan. 5 Nansen was awakened by Sverdrup telling him that the
ridge had now reached the ship, and was level with the rails. All
hands at once rushed on deck; but nothing further occurred that day
till late in the evening, when the climax came. At eight P.M. the
crunching and thundering was worse than ever; masses of ice and snow
dashed over the tent and rails amidships. Every one set to work to
save what he could. Indeed, the crashing and thundering made them
think doomsday had come; and all the while the crew were rushing
about here and there, carrying sacks and bags, the dogs howling,
and masses of ice pouring in every moment. Yet they worked away with
a will till everything was put in a place of safety.

When the pressure finally was over, the Fram's port-side was completely
buried in the ice-mound; only the top of the tent being visible. But
she had stood the trial--passed through it gloriously; for she came
out of it all uninjured, without even a crack. There she lay as sound
as ever, but with a mound of ice over her, higher indeed than the
second ratline of her fore-shrouds, and six feet above the rails.



CHAPTER IX.

    Nansen and Johansen start on a Sleighing Expedition.--Reach
    Eighty-six Degrees, Fourteen Minutes, North Latitude.--Winter in
    Franz Joseph's Land.


March 17, 1895, was a memorable day in the Fram's history, for it was
on that date that Nansen and Johansen set out on the most adventurous
expedition ever undertaken in the polar sea. At the time of leaving
the ship, she was in eighty-four degrees north latitude.

On quitting her they fired a salute on board with all their guns as
a farewell; and, though the lads on the Fram kept their spirits up
bravely, every eye was full of tears, something quite uncommon with
them: and they watched their two adventurous comrades, with their
sleighs and dogs, as they set off toward the Pole, till they were
lost to sight among the hummocks.

The ice was terribly difficult, and they had a wearisome march over
it; and, to make matters worse, a southerly drift set in, driving
them nearly as far back as they advanced. However, they got on pretty
well till reaching eighty-five degrees north latitude, when another
back drift set in, lasting, indeed, without intermission during the
whole of the expedition. The dogs, too, got worn out, and had to
be killed one after the other; while, to add to their discomfort,
their clothes would get frozen so stiff during the day that they had
to thaw them in their sleeping-bags at night with the warmth of their
bodies. Very often they were so tired in the evening that they would
fall asleep with the food in their hands. Their expedition, too,
haunted them in their sleep; and often Nansen would be awakened by
hearing Johansen call out in the night, "Pan!" "Barabbas!" or "The
whole sleigh is going over!" or "Sass-sass," "Prr!" Lappish words to
make the dogs quicken their pace or to halt.

It was sorrowful work to have to kill these faithful animals when they
were worn out. Nansen himself says that he often felt the bitterest
self-reproaches, and confessed that this expedition seemed to destroy
all the better feelings of his nature. But forward they must go,
and forward they went, though their progress was very slow.

It was not long before Nansen became convinced that it would be an
utter impossibility to reach the Pole through such masses of pack-ice
and hummocks as they encountered. The question, therefore, was how
far they should venture toward it before turning their faces southward.

On Monday, April 8, they had reached eighty-six degrees, ten minutes,
north latitude (though it subsequently turned out to be eighty-six
degrees, fourteen minutes, north latitude, that renowned degree
of latitude that became historical when the news of the Nansen
expedition was flashed all over the world), and determined to go on
no farther. So, on the day following, they changed their course to
the south. The going improved a little as they travelled on. As far
as the eye could reach huge masses of ice towered aloft toward the
north, while toward the south the ice became each day more favorable,
a circumstance that cheered them up not a little.

On Sunday, May 5, they were in eighty-four degrees, thirty-one
minutes, north latitude, and on the 17th, in eighty-three degrees,
thirty minutes, north latitude.

They found it very hard work crossing the open channels in the ice; and
what made it harder was that the number of their dogs diminished daily,
one after another having to be killed as food for the survivors. It
was absolutely necessary, however, to reach a latitude where game
could be procured, before their stock of provisions gave out.

On May 19 they came on the tracks of a bear, but did not see the animal
itself. Tracks of foxes they had already seen when in eighty-five
degrees north latitude.

It seemed as if there was no end to these channels which must be
crossed, and of the young ice which made hauling the sleighs such
terribly hard work. Moreover, soon they would have no dogs left to
help them, and they would have to drag the sleighs themselves.

May passed and June set in, and still no end to the channels or
to their excessive hard work, and not a glimpse of land to be
seen yet. Every now and then a narwhal would be seen, or a seal,
heralds, doubtless, that they were approaching the regions of animated
nature. The ice, too, no longer hard and smooth, became regular slush,
so that it clogged on the under surface of their ski, and strained
to the utmost the poor dogs, who could hardly drag their loads after
them. Everything, indeed, seemed against them! Three months had elapsed
since quitting the Fram, and as yet they had met with no change for
the better.

On June 16 Kaifas, Haren, and Suggen were the sole survivors of the
pack, and Nansen and Johansen had to do dogs' work themselves in
dragging the sleighs.

But a turn for the better set in. On the 22d, as they were rowing
the kayaks over some open water, they were fortunate enough to shoot
a large seal. Its flesh lasted them a good while, and indeed proved a
great godsend, though they did set fire to the tent while frying blood
pancakes in blubber--a mere trifle, however, on such an expedition
as theirs! They soon mended it with one of the sleigh sails, and the
blood pancakes were voted to be delicious. On the 24th Nansen shot
another seal, an event duly celebrated with great festivity; viz.,
a supper of chocolate and blubber.

On June 30 Nansen discovered, to his great chagrin, that they had
advanced no farther south than they were a month ago, and it began
to dawn upon him that in all probability they would have to winter
up there--a pleasant prospect, forsooth! Their stock of provisions
was nearly exhausted, and only three dogs left.

On July 6 they shot three bears, so that all anxiety as regards food
was happily at end for the time; though the prospect of reaching home
that year, at least, was infinitesimally small.

On Tuesday, July 23, they finally broke up "Longing Camp," as they
termed their quarters, and devoted all their energies to their
journey homeward.

The next day they saw land for the first time. Through the telescope
its hazy outline could be discerned; but it took them a fortnight
to reach it, and when they did reach it, they were so exhausted that
they had to lie up several days.

During this time Johansen was nearly killed by a bear. Nansen tells
the story:--

"After some very hard work we at last reached an open channel in the
ice which we had to cross in our kayaks. I had just got mine ready,
and was holding it to prevent its sliding down into the water,
when I heard a scuffle going on behind me; and Johansen, who was
dragging his sleigh, called out, 'Get your gun!' I looked round, and
saw a huge bear dash at him, and knock him down on his back. I made
a grab at my gun, which was in its case on the foredeck; but at the
same moment my kayak unfortunately slipped down into the water. My
first impulse was to jump in after it, and shoot from the deck; but
it was too risky a venture to attempt, so I set to work to haul it
up on the ice again as quickly as I could. But it was so heavy that
I had to kneel down on one knee, pulling and hauling and struggling
to get hold of the gun, without even time to turn around and see what
was going on behind me. Presently I heard Johansen say very calmly,
'If you don't look sharp, it will be too late.' Look sharp! I should
think I did look sharp! At last I got hold of the butt-end of the
gun, drew it out of its case, whipped round in a sitting posture,
and cocked one of the barrels which was loaded with shot. Meanwhile
the bear stood there scarcely a yard away from me, and was on the
point of doing for Kaifas. I had no time to cock the other barrel,
so I gave it the whole charge of shot behind the ear, and the brute
fell dead between us.

"The bear must have followed on our tracks like a cat, and hiding
behind blocks of ice, have slunk after us while we were busy clearing
the loose ice away in the channel, with our backs turned toward it. We
could see by its tracks that it had wormed its way on its stomach over
a ridge in our rear, under cover of an ice-mound in close proximity
to Johansen's kayak.

"While Johansen, without of course suspecting anything, or even looking
behind him, was stooping down to lay hold of the hauling-rope, he got
a glimpse of some animal lying in a crouching posture at the stern of
the kayak. He thought at first it was only the dog Suggen; but before
he had time to notice how large it was, he received a blow over the
right ear that made him 'silly,' and over he went on his back. He now
tried to defend himself the best he could with his bare fists, and with
one hand gripped the brute by the throat, never once relaxing his hold.

"Just as the bear was about to bite him on the head, he uttered those
memorable words, 'Look sharp!' The bear kept watching me intently,
wondering no doubt what I was up to, when all at once it happily caught
sight of one of the dogs, and immediately turned toward it. Johansen
now let go his hold of the brute's throat, and wriggled himself away,
while the bear gave poor Suggen a smack with his paw that made him
howl as he used to do when he got a thrashing. Kaifas, too, got a
smack on the nose. Meanwhile Johansen had got on his feet, and just
as I fired had got hold of his gun, which was sticking up out of
the hole in the kayak. The only damage done was that the bear had
scraped a little of the grime and dirt off Johansen's right cheek,
so that he goes with a white stripe on it now, besides a scratch on
one hand. Kaifas, too, had his nose scratched."

On reaching land they had to shoot Kaifas and Suggen, the sole
survivors of their twenty-six faithful companions. It was a hard
task. Johansen took Nansen's dog Kaifas in a leash behind a hummock,
while Nansen did the same with Johansen's Suggen. Their two guns went
off simultaneously, and the two men stood friendless, alone in the
desert of ice. They did not say many words to each other on meeting.



Along the coast of the land they discovered there was open water,
of which they availed themselves, first lashing their kayaks together
so that they formed in fact a double kayak.

They rowed for several days, and were fortunate enough to shoot a
walrus; but they had no idea what land it was, or where they were.

One evening, however, the channel closed up, and no more open water was
to be found. But on Aug. 13 it opened up again, and they were able to
push on. After twenty-four hours it closed once more, and they had to
drag the kayaks on the sleigh overland. On the evening of Aug. 18 they
reached one of the islands they had been steering for, and for the
first time for two years had bare earth under their feet. Here they
revelled in "the joys of country life,"--now jumping over the rocks,
or gathering moss and specimens of the flora, etc.,--and hoisted the
Norwegian flag.

In its summer dress this northern land seemed to them to be a perfect
paradise; plenty of seals, sea-birds, flowers, and mud--and in front
the blue sea.

They were, therefore, loath to leave it, but onward they must proceed,
if they wished to reach home that autumn. But fate willed it otherwise.

They soon encountered ice again--nothing but ice--bare ice as far
as the eye could reach. After waiting a considerable time, they once
more had open water, of which they took advantage by hoisting a sail;
but at the end of twenty-four hours their course was again blocked--a
block that decided their future movements materially; for they were
compelled to winter there!

It may readily be supposed that this was not only a terrible
disappointment, but a severe trial to our two arctic navigators. After
all their labor and exertion, after reaching open water, and buoying
themselves up, with the hope that their struggles would soon be over,
to find that hope shattered, and their plans rendered abortive,
and that they must perforce be imprisoned in the ice for months,
was enough to make them lose heart altogether. But when once they
realized their position, they acted like men, and set to work to
build a stone hut, on the roof and floor of which they stretched
bear hides. They succeeded in shooting several walruses, the blubber
of which provided them with fuel, so that they might have been in a
worse plight than they were. Still, it was not altogether pleasant to
have to lie in a stone hut during a polar winter, with the thermometer
down to -40 Fahrenheit, without any other food than bears' flesh and
blubber. Indeed, it required the constitution of a giant to endure it,
and unyielding determination not to lose heart altogether.

By working for a week, they finished the walls of their abode, and
after getting the roof on, moved into it. They made a great heap of
blubber of the walruses they shot outside the hut, covering it over
with walrus hides. This was their fuel store. It served of course
to attract bears, which was an advantage; and many a one paid the
penalty of his appetite by being shot. At first they found it very
uncomfortable at night, so they both slept in one sleeping-bag, and
thus kept tolerably warm. But the climax of their joy was building in
the roof a chimney of ice to let out the smoke of their fire. They
had no other materials to make it out of. It answered capitally,
however, having only one drawback; viz., that it readily melted. But
there was no lack of ice for making another.

Their cuisine was simple in the extreme, and strangely enough they
never got tired of their food. Whatever came to hand, flesh or blubber,
they ate readily, and sometimes, when a longing for fatty food, as
was often the case, came over them, they would fish pieces of blubber
out of the lamps, and eat them with great relish. They called these
burnt pieces biscuits; and "if there had only been a little sugar
sprinkled on them, they would have tasted deliciously," they said.

During the course of this winter the foxes proved very
troublesome. They gnawed holes in the roof, stole instruments,
wire, harpoons, and a thermometer. Luckily they had a spare one,
so that the register of the temperature did not suffer. They were
principally white foxes that visited them; but occasionally they saw
the blue fox, and would dearly have liked to shoot some specimens of
that beautiful animal, only that they feared their ammunition would
not hold out. They shot their last bear on Oct. 21, after which they
saw no more till the following spring.

It was a long, tedious winter; the weather generally very boisterous,
with drifting snowstorms. But every now and then fine weather
would set in, when the stars would shine with great brilliancy, and
wondrously beautiful displays of the aurora borealis would lighten
up the whole scene.

Another Christmas Eve arrived, the third they had spent in the polar
regions; but this was the dreariest and gloomiest of them all. However,
they determined to celebrate it, which they did by reversing their
shirts. Then they ate fish-meal with train-oil instead of butter,
and for a second course toasted bread and blubber. On Christmas
morning they treated themselves to chocolate and bread.

On New Year's Day, 1896, there were -41° of cold (Fahrenheit),
and all Nansen's finger-tips were frost-bitten. Out there on that
dreary headland their thoughts wandered away to their home, where
they pictured to themselves all the Christmas joy and festivity that
would be taking place, the flakes of snow falling gently out-of-doors,
and the happy faces of their dear ones within.


        "The road to the stars is long and heavy!"


Nansen and Johansen slept during the greater part of that long
winter. Sometimes, like bears in their winter quarters, they would
sleep for twenty-four hours at a stretch, when there was nothing
particular to be done. Spring, however, returned at last, and the
birds began to reappear on their northerly flight. The polar bears,
too, revisited their hut, so they got plenty of fresh meat. The first
bear they killed acted very daringly. Johansen was on the point of
going out of the hut one day, when he started back, crying out,
"There's a bear just outside!" Snatching up his gun, he put his
head out of the door of the hut, but instantly withdrew it. "It
is close by, and means coming in." Then he put his gun out again,
and fired. The shot took effect, and the wounded beast made off for
some rocky ground. After a long pursuit Nansen came up with it,
and shot it in a snowdrift. It rolled over and over like a ball,
and fell dead close to his feet. Its flesh lasted them six weeks.

On May 19 they broke up their winter camp, and proceeded over the ice
in a southerly direction, meeting with long stretches of level young
ice, making also good use of their sail, and finally reached open
water on Friday, June 12. They now lashed the two kayaks together,
forming a double kayak, and set out to sea with a favorable breeze,
feeling not a little elated; and in the evening lay to at the edge
of the ice to rest, having first moored the kayaks with a rope, and
then got up on a hummock to reconnoitre. Presently Johansen was heard
to shout out, "The kayaks are adrift!" Down they both of them rushed
as fast as they could.

"Here, take my watch!" cried Nansen, handing it to Johansen, while
he divested himself of his outer garments, and jumped into the water.

Meanwhile the kayaks had drifted a considerable distance. It was
absolutely necessary to overtake them, for their loss meant--death.

But we will let Nansen tell the story:--

"When I got tired, I turned over on my back, and then I could see
Johansen walking incessantly to and fro on the ice. Poor fellow! he
could not stand still; he felt it was so dreadful to be unable to do
anything. Moreover, he did not entertain, he told me, much hope of my
being able to reach them. However, it would not have mended matters
had he jumped in after me. They were the worst minutes, he said,
he had ever passed in all his life.

"But when I turned over again and began swimming once more, I saw that
I was perceptibly gaining on the kayaks, and this made me redouble
my exertions. My limbs, however, were now becoming so numb and stiff
that I felt I couldn't go on much longer. But I wasn't far off the
kayaks now; if I could only manage to hold out a little longer, we
were saved--and on I went. My strokes kept getting shorter and feebler
every instant, but still I was gaining, and hoped to be able to come
up with them. At last I got hold of a ski that lay athwart the bows,
and clutched onto the kayaks. We were saved! but when I tried to get
aboard, my limbs were so cold and stiff that I couldn't manage it. For
a moment I feared it was too late after all, and that although I had
got thus far, I should never be able to get on board. So I waited a
moment to rest, and after a great deal of difficulty, succeeded in
getting one leg up on the edge of the sleigh that was lying on the
deck, and so got on board, but so exhausted that I found it hard work
to use the paddle."

When Nansen at last got the kayaks back to the edge of the ice,
he changed his wet clothes, and was put to bed on the ice, that is
to say, in the sleeping-bag, by Johansen, who threw a sail over him,
and made him some warm drink, which soon restored the circulation. But
when he told Johansen to go and fetch the two auks he had shot as he
was rowing the kayaks back, the latter burst out laughing, and said,
"I thought you had gone clean mad when you shot."

On Monday, June 15, Nansen's life was a second time in jeopardy. They
were rowing after walruses, when one of the creatures bobbed up close
by Nansen's kayak, and stuck its tusks through the side. Nansen hit
it over the head with the paddle, whereon the brute let go his hold
and disappeared.

But the kayak very nearly foundered, and was only hauled up on the
ice as it was on the point of sinking.

This was the last perilous adventure on this marvellous expedition.



CHAPTER X.

    Meeting with Jackson.--Return to Norway on the Windward.--Fram
    Returns to Norway.--Royal Welcome Home.


It was June 17, Henrik Wergeland's [41] birthday. Nansen had been
down to the edge of the ice to fetch some salt water, and had got up
on a hummock in order to have a good look about. A brisk breeze was
blowing off land, bearing with it the confused sound of bird-cries
from the distant rocks. As he stood listening to these sounds of life
in that wild desert, which he thought no human eye had ever seen,
or human foot trodden before, a noise like the bark of a dog fell on
his ear. He started with amazement.

Could there be dogs here? Impossible! He must have been mistaken. It
must have been the bird-cries! But no--there it was again! First a
single bark, then the full cry of a whole pack. There was a deep bark,
succeeded by a sharper one. There could be no doubt about it! Then he
remembered that only the day before he had heard a couple of reports
resembling gunshots, but had thought it was only the ice splitting
and cracking. He now called to Johansen, who was in the tent.

"I can hear dogs over yonder!" he said.

Johansen, who was lying asleep, jumped up and bundled out of the
tent. "Dogs?" No! he could not take that in; but all the same went up
and stood beside Nansen to listen. "It must be your imagination!" he
said. He certainly had on one or two occasions, he said, heard
sounds like the barking of a dog, but they had been so drowned in the
bird-cries that he did not think much of it. To which Nansen replied
that he might think what he liked, but that for his part he intended
to set out as soon as they had had breakfast.

So it was arranged that Johansen should stay there to see to the
kayaks, while Nansen set out on this expedition.

Before finally starting, Nansen once more got up on the hummock and
listened, but could hear nothing. However, off he started, though he
felt some doubts in his own mind. What if it were a delusion after all?

After proceeding some distance he came on the tracks of an animal. They
were too large to be those of a fox, and too small for a wolf. They
must be dog tracks, then! A distant bark at that moment fell on
his ear, more distinct than ever, and off he set at full speed in
the direction of the sound, so that the snow dust whirled up in
clouds behind him, every nerve and muscle of his body quivering
with excitement. He passed a great many tracks, with foxes' tracks
interspersed among them. A long time now elapsed during which he
could hear nothing, as he went zigzagging in among the hummocks, and
his heart began to sink at every step he took. Suddenly, however, he
thought he could hear the sound of a human voice--a strange voice--the
first for three years! His heart beat, the blood flew to his brain,
and springing up on the top of a hummock, he hallooed with all the
strength of his lungs. Behind that human voice in the midst of this
desert of ice stood home, and she who was waiting there!

An answering shout came back far, far off, dying away in the
distance, and before long he discerned some dark form among the
hummocks farther ahead. It was a dog! But behind it another form was
visible--a man's form!

Nansen remained where he was, rooted to the spot, straining eyes and
ears as the form gradually drew near, and then set off once more to
meet it, as if it were a matter of life and death.

They approached each other. Nansen waved his hat; the stranger did
the same.

They met.

That stranger was the English arctic traveller, Mr. Jackson.

They shook hands; and Jackson said,--

"I am delighted to meet you!"

N. "Thanks; so am I."

J. "Is your ship here?"

N. "No."

J. "How many are you?"

N. "I have a companion out yonder by the edge of the ice."

As they walked along together, Jackson, who had been eyeing Nansen
all the while intently, all at once halted, and staring his companion
full in the face said,--

"Are not you Nansen?"

"Yes, I am."

"By Jove! I am glad to meet you!"

And he shook Nansen by the hand so heartily as well nigh to dislocate
his wrist, his dark eyes beaming with delight. Endless questions and
answers took place between them till they reached Jackson's camp,
where some of the men were at once despatched to fetch Johansen.

Life with Jackson was for our two northmen a life of uninterrupted
comfort and delight. First of all they were photographed in their
"wild man's attire;" then they washed, put on fresh clothes, had their
hair cut, enjoyed the luxury of a shave; undergoing all the changes
from savage to civilized life--changes that to them were inexpressibly
delightful. Once more they ate civilized food, lay in civilized beds,
read books, newspapers, smoked, drank. What a change after fifteen
months of Esquimau fare of blubber and bears' flesh! And yet during
all that time they had experienced scarcely a single day's illness.

Jackson's ship, the Windward, was expected to arrive shortly, and it
was arranged that Nansen and Johansen should embark on her for Norway.

But our two travellers had to wait a longer time than they anticipated,
for it was not till July 26 that the Windward arrived. On Aug. 7,
however, they went on board the ship, and steered with a favorable
wind for Vardö, where they arrived early in the morning of Aug. 13.

The pilot who came on board did not know Nansen; but when the captain
mentioned his name, his old weather-beaten face brightened up, and
assumed an appearance of mingled joy and petrified amazement.

Seizing Nansen by the hand, he bade him a thousand
welcomes. "Everybody," he said, "had thought him long dead, as nothing
had been heard of the Fram."

Nansen assured him he felt no doubt of the safety of the ship, and that
he placed as much confidence in the Fram as he did in himself. Otto
Sverdrup was in command, and they would soon hear tidings of her.

No sooner had the Windward anchored in Vardö harbor than Nansen and
Johansen rowed ashore, and at once repaired to the telegraph office. No
one knew them as they entered it. Nansen, thereon, threw down a bundle
of telegrams--several hundred in number--on the counter, and begged
they might be despatched without delay. The telegraph official eyed
the visitors rather curiously as he took up the bundle. When his eye
lighted on the word "Nansen," which was on the one lying uppermost,
he changed color, and took the messages to the lady at the desk,
returning at once, his face beaming with delight, and bade him
welcome. "The telegrams should be despatched as quickly as possible,
but it would take several days to send them all." A minute later
the telegraph apparatus began to tick from Vardö, and thence round
the whole world, the announcement of the successful issue of the
expedition to the North Pole; and in a few hours' time Nansen's name
was on the lips of a hundred millions of people, whose hearts glowed
at the thought of his marvellous achievement.

But away yonder in Svartebugta there sat a woman, who would not on that
day have exchanged the anguish she had undergone, and the sacrifices
she had made, for all the kingdoms of the world.

By an extraordinary coincidence, Nansen met his friend Professor Mohn
in Vardö--the man who had all along placed implicit reliance on his
theory. On seeing him Mohn burst into tears, as he said, "Thank God,
you are alive."

By another equally extraordinary coincidence, Nansen met his English
friend and patron, Sir George Baden Powell, in Hammerfest, on his
yacht the Ontario, which he placed at Nansen's disposal, an offer
which was gratefully accepted. Sir Baden Powell had been very anxious
about Nansen, and was, in fact, on the point of setting out on an
expedition to search for him, when he thus met him.

That same evening Nansen's wife and his secretary, Christophersen,
arrived in Hammerfest, and the whole place was en fête to celebrate
the event. Telegrams kept pouring in from all quarters of the globe,
and invitations from every town on the coast of Norway to visit them
en route.

But the Fram? The only dark spot amid all their joy was that no tidings
had been heard of her; and in the homes of those brave fellows left
behind there was sadness and anxiety. Even Nansen himself, who had
felt so sure that all was well with her, began to feel anxious.

One morning, it was Aug. 20, Nansen was awakened by Sir Baden Powell
knocking at his door with the announcement that there was a man
outside who wanted to speak to him.

Nansen replied that he was not dressed, but would come presently.

"Come just as you are," answered Sir Baden.

Who could it be?

Hurriedly putting on his clothes, Nansen went down into the saloon. A
man was standing there, a telegram in his hand; it was the director
of the telegraph office.

He had a telegram, he said, which he thought would interest him,
and had brought it himself.

Interest him! There was only one thing in the world that could interest
Nansen now, and that was the Fram's fate.

With trembling fingers he tore open the paper, and read,--


    Fram arrived in good condition. All well on board. Am
    going to Tromsö. Welcome home.

        O. S.


Nansen felt as if he must fall on the floor; and all he could do was
to stammer out, "Fram--arrived!"

Sir Baden Powell, who was standing beside him, shouted aloud with
joy, while Johansen's face beamed like the sun, and Christophersen
kept walking to and fro; and to complete the tableau, the telegraph
director stood between them all, thoroughly enjoying the scene,
as he looked from one to the other of the party.

All Hammerfest was en fête, and universal joy was felt the whole world
through, when the tidings of the Fram's home-coming were made known.

The great work was ended--ended in the happiest manner, without the
loss of a single human life! The whole thing sounded indeed like a
miracle. And a miracle the Nansen lads thought it to be when they met
Nansen and Johansen in Tromsö; and when all the brave participators
in the expedition were once more assembled, theirs was a joy so
overwhelming that words fail to describe it.



Yes, the great work was ended!

The voyage along the coast began in sunshine and fête. At last,
on Sept. 9, the Fram steamed up the Christiania Fjord, which
literally teemed with vessels and boats of all sorts, sizes, and
descriptions. It was as if some old viking had returned home from
a successful enterprise abroad. The ships of war fired salutes, the
guns of the fortress thundered out their welcome; while the hurrahs
and shouts of thousands rent the air, flags and handkerchiefs waving
in a flood of joyful acclamation!

But when with bared head Nansen set foot on land, and the grand
old hymn--


        "VOR GUD HAN ER SAA FAST EN BORG" [42]


was sung in one mighty chorus by the assembled multitude, thousands
and thousands of men and women felt that the love of their fatherland
had grown in their hearts during those three long years,--from the
time when this man had set out to the icy deserts of the north, to
the moment when he once more planted his foot on his native soil,--a
feeling which the whole country shared with them.

To the youth of Norway Fridtjof Nansen's character and achievements
stand out as a bright model, a glorious pattern for imitation. For
he it is that has recalled to life the hero-life of the saga times
among us; he it is that has shown our youth the road to manhood.

That is his greatest achievement!



NOTES


[1] Frognersæteren, a forest-covered hill about six miles from
Christiania. Nordmarken, an extensive woodland stretching for miles
and miles to the north of Christiania.

[2] Statholder, vice-regent. In the early days of the union with Sweden
the king had the right of appointing a vice-regent for Norway. The
last time the king made use of this prerogative was in 1844, and the
right was abrogated in 1872.

[3] Foss, waterfall.

[4] Ski, Norwegian snowshoes; pronounced shee.

[5] Huseby, a farm near Christiania, where the annual ski-match was
formerly held.

[6] Middle school examination, passed on graduating from the grammar
school to the high school.

[7] Examen artium, the entrance examination to the university. For real
artium the chief topics of examination are sciences, mathematics, and
the English language. The best mark in any subject is 1 (excellent),
the poorest 6 (bad).

[8] P. C. Asbjörnsen (pron. Asbyurnsen) together with Jörgen
(pron. Yurgen) Moe collected the popular and fairy tales of Norway.

[9] Sörkedal, a valley about eight miles to the north of Christiania.

[10] Bogstad, a baronial manor about five miles north of Christiania.

[11] Jotunheim, the giant's world, a group of mountains in the centre
of southern Norway.

[12] Second examination, graduating as a bachelor of arts.

[13] Bergen, the metropolis of western Norway, the second largest
city in Norway.

[14] Voss, a country district of western Norway, connected with Bergen
by railway. Stalheim road, a piece of road winding in a slow decline
down a steep hill, famous for the beauty of its scenery and the
engineering skill with which it has been built. Nærödal and Lerdals
river must be passed on the way from Bergen to Christiania.

[15] Fjeld (pron. fyell), mountain.

[16] Myrstölen, the last house on the eastern side of the mountain
inhabited the whole year through.

[17] Aurland and Vosse skavlen, alternative routes across the mountains
from Christiania to Bergen.

[18] Sæter, mountain hut, used by graziers during the summer months.

[19] Skaal, your health.

[20] King Sverre, King of Norway 1177 to 1202.

[21] An institution where animal life is studied.

[22] Nordenskjöld (pron. Nordenshuld), famous Swedish explorer,
discoverer of the North-east Passage.

[23] Wille, another Norwegian, who at that time was professor at the
High School in Stockholm.

[24] Blaamand (pron. Blohmann).

[25] One krone (crown) equals twenty-seven cents.

[26] Storthing, the legislative assembly (congress) of Norway.

[27] Folgefond, Jostedalsbræ, Svartisen, glaciers in Norway.

[28] Karasjok (pron. Karashok), one of the northernmost districts of
Norway, chiefly inhabited by Lapps.

[29] Qvæn, the Norwegian name for a man of the race inhabiting the
grand duchy of Finland. The Lapps are in Norway called Finns.

[30] Kayak, small and light boat, chiefly made of sealskin, used by
the natives of Greenland.

[31] Peaks of rock projecting above the surface of the ice.

[32] Godthaab (pron. Gott-hob), the only city, and seat of the Danish
governor, on the west coast of Greenland.

[33] Hvidbjörn (pron. Vid-byurn), The White Bear, a trading-vessel.

[34] Kröderen, a lake about forty miles to the northwest of
Christiania. Norefjeld, a mountain on the west side of the
lake. Olberg, a farmhouse at the foot of the mountain.

[35] Lysaker, a railroad station about four miles west of Christiania.

[36] Fram means onward.

[37] Dyna, an islet with a lighthouse in Christiania harbor.

[38] Cape Lindesnæs, the southernmost point of Norway.

[39] Beian (pron. By-an), a village and stopping-place for the
coast-wise steamers in northern Norway, near Trondhjem.

[40] Tromsö, the chief city and bishop's see of the bishopric of same
name, the northernmost diocese in Norway.

[41] Henrik Wergeland, Norwegian poet and patriot, born 1808,
died 1845.

[42] "A mighty fortress is our God."





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