Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: True Tales of Arctic Heroism in the New World
Author: Greely, Adolphus W., 1844-1935
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "True Tales of Arctic Heroism in the New World" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



     TRUE TALES
     OF ARCTIC HEROISM



[Illustration: DR. KANE'S MEN HAULING THEIR BOAT OVER ROUGH ICE.

From a sketch by Dr. Kane.]



     TRUE TALES
     OF ARCTIC HEROISM
     IN THE NEW WORLD

     BY
     MAJOR-GENERAL A. W. GREELY, U. S. ARMY

     GOLD-MEDALLIST ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY AND OF SOCIÉTÉ DE
     GÉOGRAPHIE


     ILLUSTRATED


     NEW YORK
     CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS



     COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY
     CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

     Printed in the United States of America

[Illustration]



PREFACE


From the dawn of history great deeds and heroic actions have ever fed
the flame of noble thought. Horace tells us that

     By Homer taught the modern poet sings
     In epic strains of heroes, wars and kings.

The peace-aspiring twentieth century tends toward phases of heroism
apart from either wars or kings, and so the heroic strains of the "True
Tales" appear in the unwarlike environment of uncommercial explorations.

One object of this volume is to recall in part the geographic evolution
of North America and of its adjacent isles. The heroic-loving American
youth is not always familiar with the deeds of daring, the devotion to
duty, and the self-abnegation which have so often illumined the stirring
annals of exploration in arctic America.

Notable exemplars of heroic conduct have already been inscribed on the
polar scroll of immortals, among whom are Franklin and McClintock, of
England; Kane, of America; Rae, of Scotland; and Mylius-Erichsen, of
Denmark. Less known to the world are the names Brönlund, Egerton and
Rawson, Holm, Hegemann, Jarvis and Bertholf, Kalutunah, Parr, Petitot,
Pim, Richardson, Ross, Schwatka and Gilder, Sonntag, Staffe, Tyson and
Woon, whose deeds appear herein. As to the representative women, Lady
Jane Franklin is faintly associated in men's minds with arctic heroism,
while Merkut, the Inuit, has been only mentioned incidentally. Yet all
these minor actors have displayed similar qualities of courage and of
self-sacrifice which are scarcely less striking than those shown in the
lives of others who are recognized as arctic heroes.

The "True Tales" are neither figments of the fancy nor embellished
exaggerations of ordinary occurrences. They are exact accounts of
unusual episodes of arctic service, drawn from official relations and
other absolutely accurate sources. Some of these heroic actions involve
dramatic situations, which offer strong temptations for thrilling and
picturesque enlargements. The writer has sedulously avoided such
methods, preferring to follow the course quaintly and delightfully set
forth by the unsurpassed French essayist of the sixteenth century.

Montaigne says: "For I make others to relate (not after mine own
fantasy, but as it best falleth out) what I cannot so well express,
either through unskill of language or want of judgment. I number not my
borrowings, but I weigh them. And if I would have made their number to
prevail I would have had twice as many. They are all, or almost all, of
so famous and ancient names that methinks they sufficiently name
themselves without me."

The "Tale" of Merkut, the daughter of Shung-hu, is the only entirely
original sketch. The main incident therein has been drawn from an
unpublished arctic journal that has been in the writer's possession for
a quarter of a century. This character--a primitive woman, an unspoiled
child of the stone age--is not alone of human interest but of special
historic value. For her lovely heroic life indicates that the men and
women of ages many thousands of years remote were very like in character
and in nature to those of the present period.

             A. W. GREELY.

     WASHINGTON, D. C., _August_, 1912.



CONTENTS


                                                         PAGE

  THE LOYALTY OF PHILIP STAFFE TO HENRY HUDSON              1

  FRANKLIN'S CROSSING OF THE BARREN GROUNDS                13

  THE RETREAT OF ROSS FROM THE _VICTORY_                   37

  THE DISCOVERY OF THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE                   55

  THE TIMELY SLEDGE JOURNEY OF BEDFORD PIM                 71

  KANE'S RESCUE OF HIS FREEZING SHIPMATES                  91

  HOW WOON WON PROMOTION                                  105

  THE ANGEKOK KALUTUNAH AND THE STARVING WHITES           119

  DR. RAE AND THE FRANKLIN MYSTERY                        137

  SONNTAG'S FATAL SLEDGE JOURNEY                          155

  THE HEROIC DEVOTION OF LADY JANE FRANKLIN               169

  THE MARVELLOUS ICE-DRIFT OF CAPTAIN TYSON               187

  THE SAVING OF PETERSEN                                  213

  LIFE ON AN EAST GREENLAND ICE-PACK                      231

  PARR'S LONELY MARCH FROM THE GREAT FROZEN SEA           251

  RELIEF OF AMERICAN WHALERS AT POINT BARROW              269

  THE MISSIONARY'S ARCTIC TRAIL                           293

  SCHWATKA'S SUMMER SEARCH                                311

  THE INUIT SURVIVORS OF THE STONE AGE                    329

  THE FIDELITY OF ESKIMO BRÖNLUND                         347

  THE WIFELY HEROISM OF MERTUK, THE DAUGHTER OF SHUNG-HU  367



ILLUSTRATIONS


  DR. KANE'S MEN HAULING THEIR BOAT OVER ROUGH ICE     _Frontispiece_
      From a sketch by Dr. Kane.

                                                               FACING
                                                                 PAGE
  HENRY HUDSON'S LAST VOYAGE                                        4
      From the painting by the Hon. John Collier.

  "WE WERE NEARLY CARRIED OFF, BOAT AND ALL,
  MANY TIMES DURING THIS DREADFUL NIGHT"                          208
      From Tyson's Arctic Experiences.

  A GROUP OF THE ESKIMO INUITS                                    334



LIST OF MAPS


                                           PAGE
  THE ARCTIC REGIONS OF THE NEW WORLD         2

  HUDSON BAY AND HUDSON STRAIT                5

  BARREN GROUNDS OF NORTHWESTERN CANADA      16

  BOOTHIA PENINSULA AND NORTH SOMERSET       41

  FRANKLIN'S ROUTE ON NORTHWEST PASSAGE      58

  ROUTE OF PIM'S SLEDGE JOURNEY              75

  SMITH SOUND AND WEST GREENLAND             95

  BOOTHIA AND MELVILLE PENINSULAS           141

  KING WILLIAM LAND                         177

  ROBESON CHANNEL AND LADY FRANKLIN BAY     217

  SOUTHEASTERN GREENLAND                    235

  GREAT FROZEN SEA AND ROBESON CHANNEL      255

  NORTHWESTERN ALASKA                       273

  LIVERPOOL BAY REGION                      297

  AMDRUP AND HAZEN LANDS, GREENLAND         351



[Illustration]



THE LOYALTY OF PHILIP STAFFE TO HENRY HUDSON

     "You, Philip Staffe, the only one who chose
     Freely to share with us the shallop's fate,
     Rather than travel in the hell-bound ship--
     Too good an English sailor to desert
     Your crippled comrades."
           --VAN DYKE.


On the walls of the great Tate Gallery in London are many famous
pictures, but few draw more attention from the masses or excite a
livelier human interest among the travelled than does "The Last Voyage
of Henry Hudson." While the artist dwells most on the courage of Henry
Hudson, he recalls the loyalty of Philip Staffe and thus unites high
human qualities ever admired.

Consider that in barely four years Hudson made search for both the
northeast and northwest passages, laid the foundations for the
settlement of New York, opened up Hudson Bay, and in a north-polar
voyage reached the then farthest north--a world record that was
unsurpassed for nearly two centuries. Few explorers in career, in
success, and in world influence have equalled Hudson, and among those
few are Columbus, Magellan, Vasco da Gama, and Livingston.

Thus Hudson's life was not merely an adventurous tale to be told,
whether in the golden words of a great chronicle or in magic colors
through the brush of a great artist. It appeals to the imagination and
so impresses succeeding generations throughout the passing centuries.

For such reasons the materialistic twentieth century acclaimed loudly
the fame of this unknown man--mysterious in his humanity though great as
a navigator. So in 1909 the deeds and life of Henry Hudson were
commemorated by the most wonderful celebration of the western
hemisphere, whether judged by its two millions of spectators, its
unsurpassed electric displays with six hundred thousand lights, or its
parade of great war-ships from eight admiring nations.

Great were his deeds; but what was the manner of this man who won that
greatest love from Philip Staffe, who in stress lay down life for his
master? There was religious duty done, for Purchas tells that "Anno,
1607, April the nineteenth, at Saint Ethelburge, in Bishops-gate Street,
did communicate these persons, seamen, purposing to go to sea in four
days after, to discover a passage by the north pole to Japan and China.
First, Henry Hudson, master.... Twelfthly, John Hudson, a boy." Hence we
have faith that Hudson was sound and true.

[Illustration: HENRY HUDSON'S LAST VOYAGE.

From the painting by the Hon. John Collier.]

The "Last Voyage" was in the _Discovery_, fifty-five tons only, during
which Hudson, in search of the northwest passage, explored and wintered
in Hudson Bay. The journal of Abacuck Prickett, the fullest known, gives
a human touch to the voyage. He tells of a bear, "which from one
ice-floe to another came toward us, till she was ready to come aboard
the ship. But when she saw us look at her, she cast her head between her
hind legs, and then dived under the ice, and so from piece to piece,
till she was out of our reach."

[Illustration: Hudson Bay and Hudson Strait.]

Some strange-appearing Indian caches were found, of which he relates:
"We saw some round hills of stone, like to grass cocks, which at first
I took to be the work of some Christian. We went unto them, turned off
the uppermost stone, and found them hollow within, and full of fowls
hanged by their necks." Later he adds: "We were desirous to know how the
savages killed their fowl, which was thus: They take a long pole with a
snare or (noose) at the end, which they put about the fowl's neck, and
so pluck them down."

Hudson unwisely decided to remain in the bay through the winter and put
the _Discovery_ into quarters in James Bay, an unfortunate though
possibly inevitable anchorage. Knowing as we do the terrible cold of the
winters in the Hudson Bay region, it is certain that the illy provided
crew must have suffered excessively during the winter. Besides, the ship
was provisioned only for six months and must be absent nearly a year.
Sensible of the situation, Hudson encouraged systematic hunting and
promised a reward for every one who "killed either beast, or fish, or
fowl." The surrounding forests and barren hills were scoured for
reindeer-moss or any other vegetable matter that could be eaten, while
the activity of the hunters was such that in three winter months they
obtained more than twelve hundred ptarmigan. Nevertheless, they were in
straits for food despite efforts at sea and on land.

They had sailed a few days only on their homeward voyage when the
discontent and insubordination, engendered the preceding winter, had
swollen into mutiny. Alleging that there had been unfairness in the
distribution of food, Henry Greene, a dissipated youth who owed his
position to Hudson's kindness, incited his fellows to depose Hudson and
cast him adrift. That this was a mere suspicion is clear from the cruel
and inhuman treatment of their sick and helpless shipmates, who also
suffered Hudson's fate.

Prickett relates that Hudson was brought bound from his cabin, and "Then
was the shallop hauled up to the ship's side, and the poor, sick, and
lame men were called on to get them out of their cabins into the
shallop." Two of the seamen, Lodlo and Bute, railed at the mutineers and
were at once ordered into the boat.

Philip Staffe, the former carpenter, now mate, took a decided stand
against the mutineers, but they decided that he should remain on the
ship owing to his value as a skilled workman. He heroically refused to
share their lot, but would go with the master, saying, "As for himself,
he would not stay in the ship unless they would force him."

The private log of Prickett, though favoring always the mutineers with
whom he returned to England, clearly shows that Philip Staffe was a man
of parts although unable to either read or write. His high character and
unfailing loyalty appear from his decision. He was steadfast in
encouraging those inclined to despair, and also discouraged grumbling
discontent which was so prevalent in the ship. He was one of the men
sent to select the location of winter quarters on the desolate shores of
James Bay. Faithful to his sense of duty, he knew how and when to stand
for his dignity and rights. He displayed spirit and resolution when
Hudson, in untimely season and in an abusive manner, ordered him in a
fit of anger to build a house under unsuitable conditions ashore. Staffe
asserted his rights as a ship's carpenter, and declined to compromise
himself ashore.

His quick eye and prompt acts indicated his fitness for a ship's
officer. He first saw and gave warning, unheeded, of a ledge of rocks on
which the _Discovery_ grounded. Again in a crisis, by watchful care and
quick action, he saved the ship's cable by cutting it when the main
anchor was lost. But in critical matters he stood fast by the choleric
Hudson, who recognized his merit and fidelity by making him mate when
obliged to make a change. This caused feeling, as Prickett records. "For
that the master (Hudson) loved him and made him mate, whereat they (the
crew) did grudge, because he could neither read nor write."

Even in the last extremity Staffe kept his head, exerted his personal
influence with the mutineers for the good of the eight men who were to
be cast adrift with the master. Declining the proferred chance of
personal safety, he asked the mutineers to give means of prolonging life
in the wild. He thus secured his tools, pikes, a pot, some meal, a
musket with powder and shot. Then he quietly went down into the boat.
Wilson, a mutineer, testified that "Philip Staffe might have staid still
in the ship, but he would voluntarily go into the shallop for love of
the master (Hudson)."

Rather than cast in his life with mutineers, thus insuring present
comfort with prolonged life, this plain, illiterate English sailor stood
fast by his commander, and faced a lingering death while caring for his
sick and helpless comrades in a desolate, far-off land. Death with
unstained honor among his distressed shipmates was to Philip Staffe
preferable to a life of shame and dishonor among the mutineers of the
_Discovery_. Surely he belongs to those described by the Bishop of
Exeter:

     "Men who trample self beneath them,
     Men who make their country wreathe them."

The heroic loyalty of Philip Staffe was fittingly embalmed in quaint
historic prose by the incomparable English chronicler of the principal
voyages of famous navigators. Purchas, in "His Pilgrimage," relates:
"But see what sincerity can do in the most desperate trials. One Philip
Staffe, an Ipswich man, who, according to his name, had been a principal
staff and stay to the weaker and more enfeebled courages of his
companions in the whole action, lightening and unlightening their
drooping darkened spirits, with sparks from his own resolution; their
best purveyor, with his piece on shore, and both a skilful carpenter and
lusty mariner on board; when he could by no persuasions, seasoned with
tears, divert them from their devilish designs, notwithstanding they
entreated him to stay with them, yet chose rather to commit himself to
God's mercy in the forlorn shallop than with such villains to accept of
likelier hopes."

The mutineers, having deposed and marooned the great navigator Hudson,
looked forward to a homeward voyage of plenty and of comfort. But under
the rash and untrained directions of Henry Greene, William Wilson, and
Robert Juet, the wretched, luckless seamen were in turn harried by
hostile savages and distressed by deadly famine.

Prickett relates that a party landed near Cape Diggs, at the mouth of
Hudson Strait, to barter with the natives for provisions, and adds: "I
cast up my head, and saw a savage with a knife in his hands, who stroke
at my breast over my head: I cast up my right arm to save my breast, he
wounded my arm and stroke me in the body under the right pap. He stroke
a second blow, which I met with my left hand, and then he stroke me in
the right thigh, and had like to cut off my little finger of the left
hand. I sought for somewhat wherewith to strike him (not remembering my
dagger at my side), but looking down I saw it, and therewith stroke him
into the body and the throat.

"Whiles I was thus assaulted in the boat, our men were set upon on the
shore. John Thomas and William Wilson had their bowels cut, and Michael
Perse and Henry Greene, being mortally wounded, came tumbling into the
boat together....

"The savages betook them to their bows and arrows, which they sent
amongst us, wherewith Henry Greene was slain outright, and Michael Perse
received many wounds, and so did the rest. In turning the boat I
received a cruel wound in my back with an arrow. But there died there
that day William Wilson, swearing and cursing in most fearful manner.
Michael Perse lived two days and then died."

Of their final sufferings Prickett records: "Towards Ireland we now
stood, with prosperous winds for many days together. Then was all our
meal spent, and our fowl [birds from Hudson Bay] restie [rusty?] and
dry; but, being no remedy, we were content with salt broth for dinner
and the half-fowl for supper. Now went our candles to wrack, and Bennet,
our cook, made a mess of meat of the bones of the fowl, frying them with
candle grease. Our vinegar was shared, and to every man a pound of
candles delivered for a week, as a great dainty....

"Our men became so faint that they could not stand at the helm, but were
fain to sit. Then Robert Juet died for mere want, and all our men were
in despair, ... and our last fowl were in the steep tub.... Now in this
extremity it pleased God to give us sight of land."

As to Hudson, with loyal Staffe and their sick comrades, the record
runs: "They stood out of the ice, the shallop being fast to the stern,
and so they cut her head fast.... We saw not the shallop, or ever
after." Thus perished Henry Hudson, the man who laid the foundations of
the metropolis of the western hemisphere, who indirectly enriched the
world by hundreds of millions of dollars by giving to it the fisheries
of Spitzbergen and the fur trade of Hudson Bay. To the day of his death
he followed the noble rule of life set forth in his own words: "To
achieve what they have undertaken, or else to give reason wherefore it
will not be." In geography and in navigation, in history and in romance,
his name and his deeds stand forever recorded.

In the Homeric centuries Hudson might well have been deified, and even
in this age he has become in a manner mythological among the sea-rovers
as graphically depicted by Kipling:

     "And North amid the hummocks,
       A biscuit-toss below,
     We met the fearful shallop
       That frighted whalers know:
     For down a cruel ice-lane,
       That opened as he sped,
     We saw dead Henry Hudson
       Steer North by West his dead."



FRANKLIN'S CROSSING OF THE BARREN GROUNDS

     "One who never turned his back,
       But marched breast forward,
     Never doubted clouds would break."
           --BROWNING.


Strange as it may now seem, a century since the entire northern coasts
of North America were wholly unknown, save at two isolated and widely
separated points--the mouth of the Coppermine and the delta of the
Mackenzie. The mouth of the Coppermine was a seriously doubted
geographical point, as Hearne's discovery thereof in 1771 was made
without astronomical observations; though he did reach the sea we now
know that he placed the mouth of the Coppermine nearly two hundred and
fifty miles too far to the north. Mackenzie's journey to the delta of
the great river that bears his name was accepted as accurate.

In the renewed efforts of Great Britain to discover the northwest
passage and outline the continental coasts of North America, it was
deemed important to supplement the efforts being made by Parry at sea
with a land expedition. For this purpose it selected neither a civilian
nor a soldier, but a sailor known to the world in history as a famous
arctic explorer--Sir John Franklin--who was to attain enduring fame at
the price of his life.

Franklin had served as signal officer with Nelson at Trafalgar, was
wounded while engaged under Packenham at the battle of New Orleans, and
had commanded an arctic ship under Buchan in the Spitzbergen seas. The
vicissitudes of Franklin and his companions while on exploring duty in
Canada, especially while crossing the barren grounds, are told in this
tale.

[Illustration: Barren Grounds of Northwestern Canada.]

A dangerous voyage by ship through Hudson Straits brought Franklin and
his companions, Dr. Richardson, Midshipmen Hood and Back, and Seaman
Hepburn to York Factory, Hudson Bay, at the end of August, 1819.
Contrary to the advice of the local agents, he started northward, and
after a hazardous journey in the opening winter--involving a trip of
seven hundred miles of marches, canoeing, and portages--reached
Cumberland House.

With unreasonable ambition this indomitable man of iron pushed northward
in mid-winter with Back and Hepburn, on a journey to Fort Chipewyan,
Athabasca Lake, of eight hundred and fifty-seven miles, during which the
whole party barely failed of destruction. While dogs hauled the food and
camp gear, the men travelling on snow-shoes were pushed to keep up with
the dogs. Being _mangeurs de lard_ (novices or tenderfeet), they
suffered intolerable pain in their swollen feet, besides suffering
horribly from the blizzards and extreme cold, the temperature at times
failing to ninety degrees below the freezing-point.

The sledges were of the Hudson Bay pattern, differing from those used
elsewhere. They are made of two or three boards, the front curving
upward, fastened by transverse cleats above. They are so thin that a
heavily laden sledge undulates with the irregularities of the snow. Less
than two feet wide as a rule, they are about nine feet long, and have
around the edges a lacing by which the load is secured.

By a journey of fifteen hundred and twenty miles Franklin verified
Hearne's discovery of the Coppermine, though finding its latitude and
longitude very far out, and later he built and wintered at Fort
Enterprise. It is interesting to note that the only complaint that he
makes of his summer journey were the insect pests--the bull-dog fly that
carries off a bit of flesh at each attack, the irritating sand-fly, and
the mosquito. Of the latter he says: "They swarmed under our blankets,
goring us with their envenomed trunks and steeping our clothes in blood.
The wound is infinitely painful, and when multiplied an hundred-fold for
many successive days becomes an evil of such magnitude that cold,
famine, and every other concomitant of an inhospitable climate must
yield pre-eminence to it. The mosquito, irritating to madness, drives
the buffalo to the plains and the reindeer to the sea-shore."

In the summer of 1821 Franklin descended the Coppermine River, and in a
canoe voyage of five hundred and fifty miles to the eastward discovered
the waters and bordering lands of Bathurst Inlet, Coronation Gulf, and
as far as Dease Inlet. The very day that he was forced by failing food
to turn back, Captain Parry, R.N., in the _Fury_, sailed out of Repulse
Bay five hundred and forty miles to the east.

With the utmost reluctance Franklin saw the necessity for a speedy
return. It was now the 22d of August, the nights were fast lengthening,
the deer were already migrating, and the air was full of honking wild
geese flying in long lines to the south. Both canoes were badly damaged,
one having fifteen timbers broken. The other was so racked and warped
that repairs were impracticable, the birch bark being in danger of
separating from the gunwales at any severe shock.

One man had frozen his thighs, and the others, shaken in mind and worn
in body, unaccustomed to the sea, were in such a demoralized state that
two of them threw away deer meat, sadly needed, to lighten the boats.
Sudden cold set in with snow, a fierce blizzard blew up a high sea, and
the inland pools froze over. Return by sea was clearly impossible, and
the only chance of saving their lives was to ascend Hood River and reach
Fort Enterprise by a land journey across the barren grounds, so dreaded
and avoided by the Indians and the Eskimos.

With the subsiding gale they put to sea along the coast, and in three
days entered Hood River, though at times with utmost difficulty escaping
foundering, as says Franklin: "The waves were so high that the masthead
of our canoe was often hid from the other, though it was sailing within
hail."

Once landed on the river bank, the mercurial voyageurs, unmindful of the
difficult and dangerous march before them, were in most joyful mood.
They spent a gay evening before a large camp-fire, bursting into song,
reciting the novel perils of the sea now past, and exaggerating with
quaint humor every little incident.

With the vigor of famishing men they scoured the country for game, and
nets were skilfully set under cascade falls, which yielded the first
morning a dozen trout and white-fish. On these they made a delicious
meal, seasoned by abundant berries, for in this country there remain on
the bushes throughout the winter cranberries and red whortleberries.

The voyageurs were quite worn out poling their boats up the rapids of
Hood River. At times it was even needful to take out the loads and,
wading knee-deep in the ice-cold waters, drag the boats across the many
shoals. One day Franklin was dismayed, though the men were quite
indifferent, at coming to impassable rapids. They proved to be the lower
section of a series of wonderful cascades which could be passed neither
by traversing nor by portage. For the distance of a mile the river was
enclosed by solid, perpendicular walls of sandstone, shutting the stream
into a canyon that was in places only a few yards wide. In this single
mile the stream fell two hundred and fifty feet, forming two high falls
and a number of successive rapids. A survey of the upper river proved
its unnavigability even had a portage been possible. The crossing of the
barren grounds was thus lengthened far beyond Franklin's expectations.

Franklin, meantime, determining by astronomical observations the
location of his camp on Hood River, informed the men that they were only
one hundred and fifty miles from Point Lake, which was opposite Fort
Enterprise, their starting-point the previous spring. The voyageurs
received this news with great joy, thinking it to be a short journey, as
they had had no experience with the barren region. Franklin was not so
cheerful, as accounts of the desolation from various sources had made
him alive to the certain hardships and possible dangers of the march. He
decided to omit no precaution that would relieve or obviate the
hardships.

Besides the five Englishmen, there were fifteen voyageurs, of whom two
were Eskimo hunters, two interpreters, an Italian, an Iroquois Indian,
and nine Canadian half-breeds. All were men inured to hard service and
familiar with frontier life.

The large boats were taken apart, and from this material were built two
small portable canoes which were fit to carry three men across any
stream that might be discovered in this trackless and unexplored desert.
Such books, clothing, supplies, and equipment as were not absolutely
necessary for the journey were cached so as to reduce the loads to be
carried in the men's packs. The tanned skins that had been brought along
for the purpose of replacing worn-out moccasins were equally divided,
and strong extra foot-gear was made up with great care. Each one was
given two pairs of flannel socks and other warm clothing, for freezing
weather had come to stay. One tent was taken for the men and another for
the officers.

On the last day of August the party started in Indian file, each man
carrying ninety pounds, and the officers according to their strength.
The luggage consisted of their little stock of pemmican, tents,
ammunition, fishing-nets, hatchets, instruments, extra clothing,
sleeping and cooking gear. Each officer had a gun, his field journals,
instruments, etc., and two men were told off daily to carry the
cumbersome and hated canoe. They were so heavily laden that they made
only a mile an hour, including frequent rests. The voyageurs complained
from the first at taking two canoes, and were but half convinced when
the raging Hood River was speedily crossed by lashing the two canoes
together.

Their important vegetable food, berries, failed a few miles from the
river, and as very little game was seen they were obliged to eat the
last of their pemmican on September 4. As a blizzard sprang up the next
morning, the party was storm-bound for two days--passed without food or
fire, their usual fuel, moss, failing, as it was covered with snow and
ice. The temperature fell to twenty degrees and the wet tents and damp
blankets were frozen in solid masses. On breaking camp Franklin fainted
from exhaustion, cold, and hunger. Dr. Richardson revived him, against
his protest, with a bit of portable soup which, with a little arrow-root
for sickness, was the only remaining food.

The snow was now a foot deep and travel lay across swamps where the new,
thin ice constantly broke, plunging the wretched men up to their knees
in ice-cold water. To add to their misfortunes, Benoit, to Franklin's
distress, fell and broke the larger of the canoes into pieces; worst of
all, he was suspected of doing so maliciously, having threatened to
destroy the canoe whenever it should be his turn to carry it. Franklin
chose to ignore this mutinous conduct and resourcefully utilized the
accident. Halting the march and causing a fire to be made of the birch
bark and the timbers, he ordered the men to cook and distribute the last
of the portable soup and the arrow-root. Though a scanty meal, it
cheered them all up, being the first food after three days of fasting.

After a march of two days along the river bank, they struck across the
barren grounds, taking a direct compass course for Point Lake. The
country was already covered with snow and high winds also impeded their
progress. In many places the ground was found to have on its surface
numberless small, rolling stones, which often caused the heavily
burdened voyageurs to stumble and fall, so that much damage was done to
loads, especially to the frail canoe. As the only foot-gear consisted of
moccasins made of soft, pliant moose-skin, the men soon suffered great
pain from frequent stone-bruises, which delayed the march as the
cripples could only limp along.

The barren grounds soon justified their name, for, though an occasional
animal was seen and killed, the men more often went hungry. The deep
snow and the level country obliged Franklin to adopt special methods to
avoid wandering from the direct compass route, and the party travelled
in single file, Indian fashion. The voyageurs took turns breaking the
path through the snow, and to this leader was indicated a distant object
toward which he travelled as directly as possible. Midshipman Hood
followed far enough in the rear to be able to correct the course of the
trail-breaker, to whom were pointed out from time to time new objects.
This method of travel was followed during the whole journey, meeting
with great success.

In time they reached a hilly region, most barren to the eye but where
most fortunately were found on the large rocks edible lichens of the
genus _gyrophora_, which were locally known to the voyageurs as _tripe
de roche_ (rock-tripe). Ten partridges had been shot during the day's
march, half a bird to a man, and with the abundant lichens a palatable
mess was made over a fire of bits of the arctic willow dug up from
beneath the snow. Franklin that night, which was unusually cold, adopted
the plan, now common among arctic sledgemen, of sleeping with his wet
socks and moccasins under him, thus by the heat of the body drying them
in part, and above all preventing them from freezing hard.

Coming to a rapid-flowing river, they were obliged to follow it up to
find a possible crossing. They were fortunate to find a grove of small
willows, which enabled them to make a fire and thus apply gum to the
very much damaged canoe. Though the operation was a very ticklish one,
three of the voyageurs under Saint Germain, the interpreter, managed the
canoe with such dexterity as to ferry over one passenger at a time,
causing him to lie flat in the canoe, a most uncomfortable situation
owing to the cold water that steadily seeped into the boat.

Starvation meals on an occasional grouse, with the usual _tripe de
roche_, caused great rejoicing when, after long stalking, the hunters
killed a musk-cow. The ravenous condition of the voyageurs was evident
from Franklin's statement that "the contents of its stomach were
devoured on the spot and the raw intestines, which were next attacked,
were pronounced by the most delicate of us to be excellent. This was the
sixth day since we had had a good meal; the _tripe de roche_, even when
we got enough, only served to allay hunger a short time."

Suffering continual privations from hunger, they reached Rum Lake, where
the supper for twenty men was a single partridge with some excellent
berries. There was still _tripe de roche_ to be had, but "this
unpalatable weed was now quite nauseous to the whole party, and in
several cases it produced bowel complaints."

Franklin considered that the safety of the men could now be insured
through the lake fishing, as most of the voyageurs were experts with the
net from having long lived at points where they depended on fish for
their food. His consternation almost gave way to despair when he
discovered the fatal improvidence of the voyageurs, who, to lessen their
burdens by a few pounds, had thrown away the fishing-nets and burned the
floats. "They knew [says Franklin] we had brought them to procure
subsistence for the party, when the animals should fail, and we could
scarcely believe the fact of their having deprived themselves of this
resource," which eventually caused the death of the majority of the
party.

Franklin at once lightened the loads of his sadly weakened men by
abandoning everything save astronomical instruments, without which he
could not determine correctly their route. Under these disheartening
circumstances, the captain's heart was cheered beyond measure by an act
of heroic generosity on the part of one of his starving men. As they
were starting on the march Perrault came forward and gave to each
officer a bit of meat that he had saved from his own allowance. Franklin
says: "It was received with great thankfulness, and such an act of
self-denial and kindness, being entirely unexpected in a Canadian
voyageur, filled our eyes with tears."

A short time after, Credit, one of the hunters, came in with the
grateful news that he had killed a deer.

The same day there was a striking display of courage, skill, and
endurance on the part of one of the men indicative of the mettle of
these uncultured voyageurs. In crossing a river the first boat-load
consisted of Saint Germain, Solomon Belanger, and Franklin. Driven by a
strong current to the edge of a dangerous rapid, Belanger lost his
balance and upset the canoe in the rapid. All held fast to the frail
craft and were carried to a point where they touched a rock and gained
their footing, although up to their waists in the stream. Emptying the
canoe of water, Belanger held the boat steady whilst Saint Germain
placed Franklin in it and embarked himself in a dexterous manner. As it
was impossible to get Belanger in the boat, they started down the river
and after another submersion reached the opposite shore.

Belanger's position was one of extreme danger and his sufferings were
extreme. He was immersed to his waist in water near the freezing-point,
and, worse yet, his upper body, clothed with wet garments, was exposed
to a high wind of a temperature not much above zero. Two voyageurs tried
vainly in turn to reach him with the canoe, but the current was too
strong. A quick-witted voyageur caused the slings to be stripped from
the men's packs and sent out the line toward Belanger, but just as he
was about to catch it the line broke and the slings were carried away.
Fortunately there was at hand a small, strong cord attached to a
fishing-net. When Belanger's strength was about gone the canoe reached
him with this cord and he was dragged quite senseless to the shore. Dr.
Richardson had him stripped instantly, wrapped him up in dry blankets,
and two men taking off their clothes aided by their bodily heat in
bringing the sufferer to consciousness an hour or so later.

Meantime the distracted Franklin was watching this desperate struggle
from the farther bank, where with drenched and freezing clothes he was
without musket, blankets, hatchet, or any means of making a fire. If
this betossed canoe was lost the intrepid commander and all the men
would have perished. It is to be noted, as characteristic of the man,
that in his journal Franklin makes no mention of his sufferings, but
dwells on his anxiety for the safety of Belanger, while deploring also
the loss of his field journal and the scientific records.

The loss of all their pack-slings in rescuing Belanger somewhat delayed
their march, but with the skill and resourcefulness gained by life in
the wilds, the voyageurs made quite serviceable substitute slings from
their clothing and sleeping-gear.

Conditions grew harder from day to day, and soon the only endurable
situation was on the march, for then they were at least warm. The usual
joy of the trapper's life was gone--the evening camp with its hours of
quiet rest, its blazing fire, the full pipe, the good meal, and the
tales of personal prowess or adventure. Now, with either no supper or a
scanty bit of food, the camp was a place of gloom and discomfort. Of the
routine Franklin writes: "The first operation after camping was to thaw
out our frozen shoes, if a fire could be made, and put on dry ones. Each
wrote his daily notes and evening prayers were read. Supper if any was
eaten generally in the dark. Then to bed, where a cheerful conversation
was kept up until our blankets were thawed by the heat of our bodies and
we were warm enough to go to sleep. Many nights there was not enough
fire to dry our shoes; we durst not venture to pull them off lest they
should freeze so hard as to be unfit to put on in the morning."

Game so utterly failed that the hunters rarely brought in anything but a
partridge. Often they were days without food, and at times, faint and
exhausted, the men could scarcely stagger through the deep snow.
Midshipman Hood became so weak that Dr. Richardson had to replace him as
the second man in the marching file, who kept the path-breaking leader
straight on the compass course. The voyageurs were in such a state of
frenzy that they would have thrown away their packs and deserted
Franklin, but they were unable to decide on a course that would insure
their safe arrival at Fort Enterprise.

Now and then there were gleams of encouragement--a deer or a few
ptarmigan; and once they thought they had a treasure-trove in a large
plot of iceland moss. Though nutritious when boiled, it was so acrid and
bitter that only a few could eat more than a mouthful or two.

After six days of cloudy weather, Franklin got the sun and found by
observation that he was six miles south of the place where he was to
strike Point Lake, the error being due to their ignorance of the local
deviation of the compass by which they had laid out their route. When
the course was changed the suspicious voyageurs thought that they were
lost, and gave little credit to Franklin's assurances that they were
within sixty miles of Fort Enterprise. Dr. Richardson was now so weak
that he had to abandon his beloved plants and precious mineral
specimens.

Their misfortunes culminated when the remaining canoe was badly broken,
and the men, despite entreaties and commands, refused to carry it
farther. Franklin says: "My anguish was beyond my power to describe it.
The men seemed to have lost all hope, and all arguments failed to
stimulate them to the least exertion."

When Lieutenant Back and the Eskimo hunters started ahead to search for
game, the Canadians burst into a rage, alleged an intended desertion,
threw down their packs, and announced that it was now to be every one
for himself. Partly by entreaties and partly by threats, for the
officers were all armed (and in view of the fact that Franklin sent the
fleetest runner of the party to recall the hunters), the voyageurs
finally consented to hold together as a party.

Death by starvation appeared inevitable, but with his commanding
presence and heroic courage the captain was able to instil into the men
some of his own spirit of hope and effort. As they were now on the
summer pasturage grounds of large game, they were fortunate enough to
find here and there scattered horns and bones of reindeer--refuse
abandoned even by the wolves. These were eagerly gathered up, and after
being made friable by fire were ravenously devoured to prolong life, as
were scraps of leather and the remnants of their worn-out moose-skin
moccasins.

September 26 brought them, in the last stages of life, to the banks of
the Coppermine, within forty miles of their destination. The misguided
voyageurs then declared themselves safe, as for once they were warm and
full of food, for the hunters had killed five deer and they came across
a willow grove which gave them a glorious camp-fire. But the seeds of
disloyalty and selfishness now blossomed into demoralization. After
gorging on their own meat two of the voyageurs stole part of the meat
set aside for the officers.

The question of crossing the Coppermine, a broad stream full of rapids,
was now one of life or death. With remorse nearly bordering on
desperation, the Canadians now saw that the despised and abandoned canoe
was their real ark of safety. Following the banks for miles, no ford
could be found despite the closest search. Franklin fixed on two plans
for crossing, either by a raft of willows, which grew in quantities
near by, or by a canvas boat to be made by stretching over a willow
framework parts of tents still in hand. The voyageurs arrogantly scouted
both expedients, but after wasting three precious days wrangling they
built a willow raft. When done its buoyancy was so slight that only one
man could be supported by it. It was thought, however, that a crossing
could be made by getting a line across the river by which the raft could
be pulled to and fro. As an incitement to exertion, Franklin offered to
the voyageur who should take a line across the sum of three hundred
livres (sixty dollars), a large amount for any of these men. Two of the
strongest men failed in their efforts to work the raft across, the
stream being rapid and one hundred and thirty yards across. The single
paddle, brought by Richardson all these weary miles from the sea-shore,
was too feeble, and two tent-poles lashed together were not long enough
to reach bottom a short distance from the shore. Repeated failures
demoralized the voyageurs, who cried out with common accord that they
were lost.

Dr. Richardson now felt that the time had come to venture his life for
the safety of the party, and so offered to swim across the Coppermine
with a line by which the raft could be hauled over. As he stripped his
gaunt frame looked rather like a skeleton than a living man. At the
sight the Canadians all cried out at once, "Ah! que nous sommes
maigres!" ("Oh! how thin we are!"). As the doctor was entering the
river he stepped on a dagger which had been carelessly left on the
ground. It cut him to the bone, but he did not draw back for a second.
Pain was nothing to the lives of his comrades.

With the line fastened around his waist, he plunged into the stream.
Before he reached the middle of the river his arms were so benumbed by
the cold water, which was only six degrees above the freezing-point,
that he could no longer use them in swimming. Some of the men cried out
that he was gone, but the doctor was not at the end of his resources,
and turning on his back he swam on in that way. His comrades watched him
with renewed anxiety. Could he succeed or must he fail? Were they to be
saved or not? The swimmer's progress became slower and slower, but still
he moved on. When almost within reaching distance of the other bank his
legs failed also, and to the intense alarm of the Canadians he sank. The
voyageurs instantly hauled on the line, which brought him to the
surface, and he was drawn to the shore in an unconscious and almost
lifeless condition. He was rubbed dry, his limbs chafed, and, still
unconscious, was rolled up in blankets and placed before a very hot
fire. In their zeal the men nearly caused the death of the doctor, for
he was put so near the fire that the intense heat scorched his left side
so badly that it remained deprived of most sensation for several months.
Fortunately he regained consciousness in time to give some slight
directions about his proper treatment.

Apart from the failure of Richardson to cross the river, the spirits of
the party were more cast down by the loss of Junius, the best hunter of
the party. Taking the field as usual, the Eskimo failed to return, and
no traces could be found of him.

As a final resort they adopted a plan first advanced by Franklin, and
the ingenious interpreter, Saint Germain, offered to make a canvas boat
by stretching across a willow framework the painted, water-proof canvas
in which the bedding was wrapped. Meanwhile the general body of the
voyageurs was in such depths of indifference that they even preferred to
go without food rather than to make the least exertion, and they refused
to pick the _tripe de roche_ on which the party now existed. Franklin
records that "the sense of hunger was no longer felt by any of us, yet
we were scarcely able to converse on any other subject than the
pleasures of eating."

Finally the canoe was finished on October 4, and, proving water-tight,
the whole party was ferried safely across, one at a time. The week lost
by ignoring Franklin's orders proved the destruction of the party as a
whole.

This was not the view of the voyageurs, who were now as joyful that they
were within forty miles of the station as they had been downcast the day
before crossing, when one of them stole a partridge given Hood, whose
stomach refused the lichens. Of this mercurial change Franklin says:
"Their spirits immediately revived, each shook the officers by the hand,
declared the worst of their difficulties over, and did not doubt
reaching Fort Enterprise in a few days."

Franklin at once sent Back with three men ahead for assistance from Fort
Enterprise, as previous arrangements had been made with a Hudson Bay
agent to supply the station with provisions and to have Indians there as
hunters.

The rear guard following slowly found no food save lichens, and so began
to eat their shoes and bits of their bedding robes. On the third march
two voyageurs fell exhausted on the trail, and despite the encouraging
efforts of their comrades thus perished. To give aid to the failing men,
to relieve the packs from the weight of the tent, and to enable Franklin
to go ahead unencumbered by the weakest, Dr. Richardson asked that he be
left with Hood and Hepburn at such place as fuel and _tripe de roche_
were plentiful, which was done, relief to be sent to them from the
station as soon as possible. Of this Franklin says: "Distressed beyond
description at leaving them in such a dangerous situation, I long
combated their proposal, and reluctantly acceded when they strenuously
urged that this step afforded the only chance of safety for the party.
After we had united in thanksgiving and prayers to Almighty God, I
separated from my companions deeply afflicted. Dr. Richardson was
influenced in his resolution to remain by the desire which influenced
his character of devoting himself to the succor of the weak and Hepburn
by the zealous attachment toward his officers."

The nine other voyageurs given their choice went forward with Franklin,
but Michel Teroahaute, the Iroquois Indian, and two Canadians returned
next day to Richardson's camp.

On his arrival at Fort Enterprise on October 14, Franklin for the first
time lost heart, the station being unprovisioned and desolate. A note
from the indefatigable Back told that he was seeking aid from roving
Indians or at the nearest Hudson Bay post.

Franklin says: "It would be impossible to describe our sensations after
discovering how we had been neglected. The whole party shed tears, not
for our own fate, but for that of our friends in the rear, whose lives
depended entirely on our sending immediate relief."

On October 29 Richardson came in with the horrible news that two
voyageurs had died on the trail, that the Iroquois Indian, Michel, had
murdered Hood, and that in self-defence he had been obliged to shoot
Michel.

Pending the relief of the party, which was on November 7, the members
existed on Labrador tea (an infusion from a plant thus used by the
Indians), on lichens, and the refuse of deer killed the year before. The
deerskins gathered up in the neighborhood were singed of their hair and
then roasted, while the horns and bones were either roasted or used in
soup. Two of the Canadians died on this diet. Of a partridge shot and
divided into six portions Franklin says: "I and my companions ravenously
devoured our shares, as it was the first morsel of flesh any of us had
tasted for thirty-one days."

The praiseworthy conduct of Franklin and of his companions in
prosecuting the work of outlining the arctic coasts of North America is
not to be measured alone by the fortitude and courage shown in crossing
the barren grounds. An unusual sense of duty, akin to heroism, could
alone have inspired Franklin and Richardson to attempt the exploration
under the adverse conditions then prevailing in that country. A warfare,
practically of extermination, was then in progress between the Hudson
Bay Company and the Northwestern Company. This struggle, under the
instigation of misguided agents, aroused the worst passions of both
half-breeds and of Indians, who were demoralized by the distribution of
spirits. By diversions of hunters many people were starved, while others
were murdered outright. Franklin's sad experiences in the public service
at Fort Enterprise were duplicated by the starvation and deaths of
innocent people at other remote points through commercial cupidity or
rivalry.

Disastrous and lamentable as was the outcome of the journey across the
barren lands, it indicated in a striking manner the superior staying
powers of the English as pitted against the hardy voyageurs--Canadians,
Eskimos, Indians, and half-breeds. Five of the fifteen voyageurs
perished and one of the English. Doubtless the latter survived largely
through their powers of will, acts of energy and of heroic devotion to
the interests of the party--one and all.



THE RETREAT OF ROSS FROM THE _VICTORY_

     "For there is none of you so mean and base
      That hath not noble lustre in your eyes."
           --SHAKESPEARE.


Among the many notable voyages in search of the northwest passage,
although less spectacular in phases of adventurous exploration than some
others, there is none which deserves more careful examination than that
of Sir John Ross in the _Victory_. Not only did this voyage make most
important contributions to the various branches of science, but it was
unequalled for its duration and unsurpassed in variety of experiences.
It was fitted out as a private expedition, largely at the expense of
Felix Booth, sheriff of London, was absent from 1829 to 1833, and was
the first arctic expedition to use steam as a motive power.

Sailing in the small paddle-wheel steamer _Victory_, Ross passed through
Baffin Bay into Lancaster Sound, whence he shaped his course to the
south. Discovering the eastern shores of North Somerset and of Boothia,
he put his ship into winter quarters at Felix Harbor, which became his
base of operations. Rarely have such valuable explorations been made
without disaster or even serious hardships. Boothia was found to be the
most northerly apex of the continent of North America, while to its
west King William Land and other extended areas were discovered.

Of surpassing interest and importance was the magnetic work done by
James Clark Ross, a nephew of Sir John. Many persons do not realize that
the place to which constantly points the north end of the needle of the
magnetic compass is _not_ the north geographic pole. The locality to
which the compass turns is, in fact, nearly fourteen hundred miles to
the _south_ of the north pole. With this expedition in 1830, James Clark
Ross by his many observations proved that the _north magnetic pole_, to
which the needle of the compass points, was then very near Cape
Adelaide, in 70° 05´ north latitude, 96° 44´ west longitude.[1]

The adventures of the crew in their retreat from Boothia Land by boat
and sledge are recorded in this sketch.

       *       *       *       *       *

Captain Ross failing to free his ship from the ice the second summer, it
was clear to him that the _Victory_ must be abandoned the coming spring.
It was true salmon were so abundant in the lakes of Boothia that five
thousand were caught in one fishing trip, which netted six tons of
dressed fish, but bread and salt meat, the usual and favorite food of
the crew, were so short that it had become necessary to reduce the daily
issues. Fuel was so reduced that none remained save for cooking, and the
deck had to be strewn with a thick coating of gravel, for warmth,
before the usual covering of snow was spread over the ship. Creatures of
habit, the seamen now showed signs of depression bordering on discontent
if not of despair.

[Illustration: Boothia Peninsula and North Somerset.]

There were two routes of retreat open to Ross, one being toward the
south, attractive as being warmer and possibly more ice-free. He chose,
however, the way to the north, which, desolate as it might be, was known
to him both as to its food supplies and also as to the chances of
meeting a ship. Every year the daring Scotch whalers were fishing in
Lancaster Sound, and at Fury Beach, on the line by which he would
travel, were large quantities of food, boats, and other needful
articles--landed from the wreck of Parry's ship _Fury_ in 1825.

Ross did not plan his abandonment of the _Victory_ any too early, for in
January Seaman Dixon died and his mate Buck lost his eyesight from
epilepsy. Signs of the dreaded arctic horror, scurvy, were not lacking,
as the foolish seamen were averse to the antiscorbutic lime juice and
refused to take the fresh salmon-oil ordered by the doctor. Ross was
also affected, his old wounds breaking out afresh, reminders of the day
when as a lieutenant he had aided in cutting out a Spanish ship under
the batteries of Bilbao.

Knowing that the _Victory_ would be plundered by the natives after its
abandonment, Ross provided for a possible contingency of falling back on
her for another winter, and so constructed a cave inshore in which were
cached scientific instruments, ship's logs, accounts, ammunition, etc.
Sledge-building began in January, and the dismantling of the ship
proceeded as fast as the weakness of the crew permitted.

It was impossible to reach the open water of Prince Regent Inlet without
establishing advance depots of provisions and of boats, as the
conditions at Fury Beach were unknown. Floe-travel was so bad, and the
loads hauled by the enfeebled men so small, that it took the entire
month of April to move a distance of thirty miles two boats and food for
five weeks, while open water was not to be expected within three hundred
miles.

On May 29, 1832, the British colors were hoisted, nailed to the mast,
duly saluted, and the _Victory_ abandoned. With the true military spirit
Ross was the last to quit his ship, his first experience in forty-two
years' service in thirty-six ships.

The prospects were dismal enough, with heavily laden sledges moving less
than a mile an hour, while the party were encumbered by helpless men:
these were moved with comfort by rigging up overhead canvas canopies for
the sledge on which a man could be carried in his sleeping-bag.

The midsummer month of June opened with the sea ice stretching like
solid marble as far north as the eye could reach. The change from
forecastle to tent, from warm hammocks and hot meals to frozen blankets
and lukewarm food, told severely on the worn-out sledgemen whose thirst
even could be but rarely quenched until later the snow of the land began
to melt. Now and then a lucky hunter killed a hare, or later a duck,
still in its snowy winter coat, which gave an ounce or two of fresh meat
to flavor the canned-meat stew.

Six days out the seamen, demoralized at their slow progress, sent a
delegation asking the captain to abandon boats and food so that
travelling light they might the earlier reach the Fury Beach depot. Ross
with firmness reprimanded the spokesman and ordered the men to take up
the line of march. He knew that food could not be thus wasted without
imperilling the fate of the party, and that boats were absolutely
essential. While striving to the utmost with the crew, coming a week
later to a safe place he cached both boats, and taking all the food
sent his nephew ahead to learn whether the boats at Fury Beach were
serviceable. After a journey in which young Ross displayed his usual
heroic energy and ability, he brought the glad news that although a
violent gale had carried off the three boats and seriously damaged one,
yet he had secured all so that the boats of the _Victory_ could be left
behind.

July 1 brought the party to Fury Beach, where despite orders and
cautions some of the hungry seamen gorged themselves sick. But the ice
was still solid. Ross therefore built a house of canvas stretched over a
wooden frame, and named the habitation Somerset House, as it was on
North Somerset Land. Work was pushed on the boats, which were in bad
shape, and as they were of mahogany they were sure to lack the fine
flotation qualities of those left behind. Ross fitted his two boats with
mutton sails, while the nephew put in sprit-sails.

Fortunately the food at Fury Beach had escaped the ravages of arctic
animals, though the clever sharp-nosed foxes had scented the tallow
candles, gnawed holes through the boxes, and made way with them all.

Everything was arranged for a long sea trip, each boat being loaded with
food for sixty days and had assigned thereto an officer and seven
seamen. The ice opening suddenly and unexpectedly, they started north on
August 1, moving by oar-power, as the water lanes were too narrow and
irregular for the use of sails. On the water once more, the crew thought
their retreat secure. They had hardly gone eight miles before they were
driven to shore by the moving pack, and were barely able to draw up
their boats when the floes drove violently against the rocks, throwing
up great pressure-ridges of heavy ice and nearly destroying the boats.
The men had scarcely begun to congratulate themselves on their escape
from death in the pack when they realized that they were under
conditions of great peril. They found themselves on a rocky beach, only
a few yards in width, which was a talus of loose, rolling rocks at the
base of perpendicular cliffs nearly five hundred feet high. As the ice
which cemented the disintegrating upper cliffs melted, the least wind
loosened stones, which fell in numbers around them, one heavy rock
striking a boat's mast. Unable to escape by land, hemmed in by the
closely crowding pack, they passed nine days unable to protect
themselves, and fearing death at any moment from some of the falling
stones, which at times came in showers. They were tantalized by the
presence of numerous foxes and flocks of game birds, but they did not
dare to fire at them, fearing that the concussion from the firing would
increase the number of the falling rocks.

With barely room for their tents under the disintegrating precipice,
with decreasing food, in freezing weather, without fuel, and with the
short summer going day by day, they suffered agonies of mind and of
body. Fortunately the ice opened a trifle to the southward so that they
were able to launch the lightest boat, which went back to Fury Beach and
obtained food for three weeks. Driven ashore by the ice-pack on its
return, the crew from Fury Beach managed with difficulty to rejoin the
main party on foot. In this as in other instances they had very great
difficulty in hauling up their heavy mahogany boats, it being possible
to handle the heaviest only by tackle.

Through the opening ice they made very slow progress, being often driven
to shore. Most rarely did anything laughable occur, but one experience
gave rise to much fun. One morning the cook was up early to celebrate a
departure from their usually simple meal. The day before the hunters had
killed three hares, and the cook now intended to make a toothsome
sea-pie, for which he was celebrated among the men. Half-awake, he
groped around for his foot-gear, but could find only one boot. Rubbing
his eyes and looking around him, he was astonished to see a white fox
near the door of the tent calmly gnawing at the missing boot. Seizing
the nearest loose article, he threw it at the animal, expecting that he
would drop the boot. The half-famished fox had no mind to lose his
breakfast, and holding fast to the boot fled up the hill, to the disgust
of the cook and to the amusement of his comrades. To add to the fun they
named the place Boot Bight, though some said that there was more than
one bite in the lost boot.

A strong gale opening the sea, they improved the occasion by crossing
Batty Bay, when the heavy mahogany boat of Ross was nearly swamped. She
took in so much water that the crew were wet up to their knees, and it
required lively work and good seamanship to save her.

After more than seven weeks of such terrible struggles with the ice, the
three boats reached the junction of Prince Regent Inlet and Lancaster
Sound, only to find the sea covered with continuous, impenetrable
ice-floes. Ross cached his instruments, records, specimens, etc., for
the following year, so as to return light to Somerset House.

There were objections to returning south on the part of some of the
crew, who suggested that under the command of young Ross (and apparently
with his approval) the stronger members should "take a certain amount of
provisions from each boat and attempt to obtain a passage over the ice."
This meant not only the division of the party, but almost certainly
would have resulted in the death of all. For the crossing party, of the
strongest men, would have reached a barren land, while the sick and
helpless would have perished in trying to return alone to Somerset House
(Fury Beach). Ross wisely held fast to this opinion, and the return trip
began.

The delay caused by differences of opinion nearly proved fatal, owing to
the rapidly forming new ice through which the boats were only moved by
rolling them. The illy clad men now suffered terribly from the cold, as
the temperature was often at zero or below. It was so horrible to sleep
in the open, crowded boats that they sought the shore whenever possible.
Generally there was neither time nor was there fit snow to put up a
snow-hut, and then the men followed another plan to lessen their
terrible sufferings and sleepless nights. Each of the seamen had a
single blanket, which had been turned into a sack-shaped sleeping-bag so
that their feet should not become exposed and freeze while they were
asleep. Each of the three messes dug a trench, in a convenient
snow-drift, long enough and wide enough to hold the seven sleeping-bags
when arranged close together. Thrown over and covering the trench was a
canvas sail or tent, and the canvas was then overlaid with thick layers
of snow, which thus prevented any of the heat of the men from escaping.
Very carefully brushing off any particles of snow on their outer
garments, the men carefully wormed themselves into their sleeping-bags,
and by huddling together were generally able to gain such collective
heat as made it possible for them to drop off to sleep.

Whenever practicable they supplemented their now reduced rations by the
hunt, but got little except foxes and hares. The audacity of the white
arctic foxes was always striking and at times amusing. Once a thievish
fox crept slyly into a tent where the men were quietly awaiting the
return of a comrade for whose convenience a candle was kept lighted. The
candle smelt and looked good to Master Fox, who evidently had never seen
such a thing as fire before. Running up to the candle, he boldly snapped
at it, when his whiskers were so sorely singed that he departed in hot
haste. All laughed and thought that was the end of the affair. But a few
minutes later, discomfited but not discouraged, Master Fox, with his
scorched head-fur, appeared again in the tent. He had learned his
lesson, for avoiding the candle he snapped up the sou'wester of the
engineer and made off with it though a watching sailor threw a
candlestick at him.

The weather soon became most bitterly cold, and as they sailed or rowed
toward Fury Beach the sea-water often froze as it fell in driblets on
their garments. Food was reduced a third, as Ross knew that a return in
boats was now doubtful. A gale drove them to a wretched spot, a rocky
beach six feet wide beneath frowning cliffs many hundreds of feet high.
Their food was now cut off one-half, and the daily hunt brought
little--a few foxes and sea-gulls, with an occasional duck from the
southward-flying flocks.

Near Batty Bay they were caught in the ice-pack two miles from land and
their fate was for a time doubtful. Only by almost superhuman efforts
did they effect their release. The cargo was carried ashore by hand, and
by using the masts as rollers under the hulls of the boats--though often
discouraged by their breaking through the new, thin ice--they managed at
last to get the boats safe on shore. It might be thought that three
years of arctic service would have taught the men prudence, but here one
of the sailors in zero weather rolled a bread-cask along the shore with
bare hands, which caused him to lose the tips of his fingers and obliged
other men to do his duty.

It was now necessary to make the rest of the journey to Fury Beach
overland. Fortunately there were some empty bread-casks out of which the
carpenter made shift to build three sledges. The party left everything
behind for the journey of the next spring, taking only tentage, food,
needful tools, and instruments. The way lay along the base of
precipitous cliffs, with deep drifts of loose snow on the one hand, and
on the other rough ridges of heavy ice pushed up from the sea. Hard as
were the conditions of travel for the worn-out seamen, they were much
worse for the crippled mate, Taylor, who could not walk with his
crutches, and who suffered agony by frequent falls from the overturning
sled on which he had to be hauled. The first day broke one sledge, and
with zero temperatures the spirits of the men were most gloomy. Being
obliged to make double trips to carry their baggage, some of the sailors
complained when told off to return for the crippled mate. Ross shamed
them into quiet by telling them how much better was their case to be
able to haul a shipmate than was that of the wretched mate dependent on
others for life and comfort.

How closely the party was pressed by fate is shown by their eating the
last morsel of their food the day they reached Somerset House. As they
approached a white fox fled from the house, but though dirty, cold,
hungry, and exhausted, they were happy to reach this desolate spot which
they now called home.

Apart from the death of the carpenter, the winter passed without any
distressing events, though some of the men failed somewhat in strength.
It was a matter of rejoicing that in the early spring they obtained
fresh meat by killing two bears. The carcass of one of them was set up
as a decoy, and one of the seamen stuck a piece of iron hoop into it as
a tail. Soon frozen solid, it attracted another bear, who rushed at it
and after capsizing it was killed by a volley from sailors lying in
wait.

Careful plans were made for the summer campaign. Stoves were reduced to
one-fourth of their original weight and sledges were shod from ice-saws.
The three sledges were fitted with four uprights, with a canvas mat
hauled out to each corner. On this upper mat the sick and helpless men
were laid in their sleeping-bags, and thus could make with comparative
comfort any sledge journeys that might be necessary. It was deemed
advisable to provide for travel either by land or by sea.

The ice of Prince Regent Inlet held fast far into the summer, and at
times there stole into the minds of even the most hopeful and courageous
a fear lest it should not break up at all. Birds and game were fairly
plentiful, far more so than in the preceding year, but all hope, care,
and interest centred in the coming boat journey. No one could look
forward to the possibility of passing a fifth year in the arctic regions
without most dismal forebodings as to the sufferings and fatalities that
must result therefrom. The highest cliffs that commanded a view of the
inlet to the north were occupied by eager watchers of the ice horizon.
Day after day and week after week passed without the faintest signs of
water spots, which mark the disintegrating pack and give hopes of its
coming disruption. Would the pack ever break? Could that vast, unbroken
extent of ice ever waste away so that boats could pass? A thousand
times this or similar questions were asked, and no answer came.

Midsummer was far past when, by one of those sudden and almost
instantaneous changes of which the polar pack is possible, a favorable
wind and fortunate current dissipated the ice-covering of the inlet, and
alongshore, stretching far to the north, an ice-free channel appeared.

With the utmost haste the boats were loaded, the selected stores having
long been ready, and with hearts full of hope they started toward the
north. Ross and his officers fully realized that this was their sole and
final chance of life, and that failure to reach the whalers of Barrow
Strait or Baffin Bay meant ultimate death by starvation.

Amid the alternations during their voyage, of open water, of the
dangerous navigation of various ice streams, and of the tantalizing land
delays, when the violent insetting pack drove them to the cliff-bounded
beaches of North Somerset, even the feeblest worked with desperate
energy, for all knew that their lives depended on concerted, persistent,
intelligent action.

The ice conditions improved as they worked to the north end of Prince
Regent Inlet, and finally the pack was so disrupted and wasted that they
crossed to Baffin Land without difficulty.

Skirting the northern coast of that desolate land, they sailed to the
eastward, hoping almost against hope to see a friendly sail, for the
season was passing and the nights had begun to lengthen rapidly.

On the morning of August 25, 1833, their feelings were raised to an
intense pitch of excitement by the sight of a sail, which failed to
detect in turn the forlorn castaways. Though some fell into deep despair
as the ship stood away, the more rational men felt assured of their
final safety, since whalers were actually in the strait. A few hours
later they were fortunate enough to fall in with and to be picked up by
the whaler _Isabella_, a remarkable incident from the fact that she was
the arctic ship which Sir John Ross had commanded in his expedition of
1818 to Baffin Bay.

When Ross answered the hail from the astonished captain of the
_Isabella_, it was a unique and startling greeting that he received. For
when answering that he was Captain John Ross, the captain of the whaler
blurted out, "Why, Captain Ross has been dead two years," which was
indeed the general belief.

After investigating the affairs of the expedition, a committee of
Parliament reported "that a great public service had been performed
[with] deeds of daring enterprise and patient endurance of hardships."
They added that Captain John Ross "had the merit of maintaining both
health and discipline in a remarkable degree ... under circumstances the
most trying to which British seamen were perhaps ever subjected."

Through daily duty well done, by fidelity to work in hand, and
by unfailing courage in dire extremities, Sir John Ross and his
expeditionary force won their country's praise for heroic conduct.

FOOTNOTE:

[1] While the north magnetic pole constantly changes its position, yet
such movements are very slow, and while at present its exact situation
is not known, its locality is quite near this.



THE DISCOVERY OF THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE

     "He came not. Conjecture's cheek grew pale.
     Year after year, in no propitious gale
     His banner held its homeward way,
     And Science saddened at her martyr's stay."
           --ANON.


Few persons realize the accompaniments of the prolonged search by
England for the northwest passage, whether in its wealth of venturesome
daring, in its development of the greatest maritime nation of the world,
or in its material contributions to the wealth of the nations. Through
three and a half centuries the British Government never lost sight of
it, from the voyage of Sebastian Cabot, in 1498, to the completion of
the discovery by Franklin in 1846-7. It became a part of the maritime
life of England when Sir Martin Frobisher brought to bear on the search
"all the most eminent interests of England--political and aristocratic,
scientific and commercial." To the search are due the fur-trade of
Hudson Bay, the discovery of continental America, the cod-fishery of
Newfoundland, and the whale-fishery of Baffin Bay. For the discovery of
the northwest passage various parliaments offered a reward of twenty
thousand pounds sterling.

An enterprise that so vitally affected the maritime policy of England,
and in which the historic explorer, Henry Hudson, and the great
navigator, James Cook, met their deaths, involved many heroic
adventures, among which none has engaged more attention than the fateful
voyage of Sir John Franklin and his men, by which the problem was
solved.

[Illustration: Franklin's route on the northwest passage.]

       *       *       *       *       *

Among the many notable and interesting paintings in the Tate Gallery,
one of the famous collections of pictures in London, is one by Sir John
Millais, entitled "The Northwest Passage." A young girl is reading tales
of arctic travel and of bold adventure to her listening father, whose
tightly closed right hand she affectionately fondles as the thrilling
story reaches its climax. On the table is an outspread map of North
America, consulted often by the attentive readers, whereon blank spaces
denote regions as yet unknown to man. The tale done, the old, grizzled,
weather-beaten sailor, whose clinched hands and fixed eyes betray his
strong emotion, cries out: "It can be done, and England should do it!"
Few pictures, in title and in subject, have more forcibly portrayed that
pride of achievement which is the glory of Britain.

The tale of the northwest passage in its last phase of discovery cannot
anywhere be found in a distinct and connected form. As a record of man's
heroic endeavor and of successful accomplishment at the cost of life
itself, it should be retold from time to time. For it vividly
illustrates an eagerness for adventurous daring for honor's sake that
seems to be growing rarer and rarer under the influences of a luxurious
and materialistic century.

When in 1845 the British Government decided to send out an expedition
for the northwest passage, all thoughts turned to Franklin. Notable
among the naval giants of his day through deeds done at sea and on land,
in battle and on civic duty, he was an honored type of the brave and
able captains of the royal navy. Following the glorious day of Trafalgar
came six years of arctic service--whose arduous demands appear in the
sketch, "Crossing the Barren Grounds"--followed by seven years of duty
as governor of Tasmania. But these exacting duties had not tamed the
adventurous spirit of this heroic Englishman. Deeming it a high honor,
he would not ask for the command of this squadron, for the expedition
was a notable public enterprise whereon England should send its ablest
commander.

When tendered the command the public awaited eagerly for his reply.
He was in his sixtieth year, and through forty-one degrees of
longitude--from 107° W. to 148° W.--he had traced the coast of North
America, thus outlining far the greater extent of the passage. But his
arctic work had been done under such conditions of hardship and at such
eminent peril of life as would have deterred most men from ever again
accepting such hazardous duty save under imperative orders.

Franklin's manly character stood forth in his answer: "No service is
dearer to my heart than the completion of the survey of the northern
coast of North America and the accomplishment of the northwest passage."

Going with him on this dangerous duty were other heroic souls, officers
and men, old in polar service, defiantly familiar with its perils and
scornful of its hardships. Among these were Crozier and Gore, who, the
first in five and the last in two voyages, had sailed into both the
ice-packs of northern seas and among the wondrous ice islands of the
antarctic world.

Sailing May 26, 1845, with one hundred and twenty-nine souls in the
_Erebus_ and the _Terror_, Franklin's ships were last seen by Captain
Dennett, of the whaler _Prince of Wales_, on July 26, 1845. Then moored
to an iceberg, they awaited an opening in the middle pack through which
to cross Baffin Bay and enter Lancaster Sound.

Franklin's orders directed that from Cape Walker, Barrow Strait, he
should "endeavor to penetrate to the southward and to the westward, in a
course as direct to Bering Strait as the position and extent of the ice,
or the existence of the land at present unknown, may admit."

His progress to the west being barred by heavy ice, he sailed up the
open channel to the west of Cornwallis Land, reaching 77° N., the
nearest approach to the north pole in the western hemisphere that had
been reached in three centuries, and exceeded alone by Baffin in 1616,
who sailed forty-five miles nearer. Returning to the southward, the
squadron went into winter quarters at Beechey Island, 74° 42´ N., 91°
32´ W.

Knowing the virtue of labor, the captain set up an observatory on shore,
built a workshop for sledge-making and for repairs, and surely must have
tested the strength and spirit of his crews by journeys of exploration
to the north and to the east. It is more than probable that the energy
and experiences of this master of arctic exploration sent the flag of
England far to the north of Wellington Channel.

Affairs looked dark the next spring, for three of the men had died,
while the main floe of the straits was holding fast later than usual. As
summer came on care was given to the making of a little garden, while
the seaman's sense of order was seen in the decorative garden border
made of scores of empty meat-cans in lieu of more fitting material.

They had built a canvas-covered stone hut, made wind-proof by having its
cracks calked, sailor-fashion, by bunches of long, reddish mosses. This
was the sleeping or rest room of the magnetic and other scientific
observers, who cooked their simple meals in a stone fireplace built to
the leeward of the main hut. Here with hunter's skill were roasted and
served the sweet-meated arctic grouse savored with wild sorrel and
scurvy grass from the near-by ravines.[2]

Looking with eager eyes for all things new, as must those who sailed
with Franklin, they saw strange sights--unknown forms of nature
to non-arctic sailors. In the days of melting snow, during the
quick-coming, swift-flying polar spring, among all things white and
colorless, they must have been struck by the high colors of the many
little fresh-water pools whose vivid greens and brilliant reds catch and
please an eye wearied and dulled by the sombre arctic landscape. Around
the edge of these tiny ponds form thick coatings of bright-green,
thread-like algæ (fresh-water plants somewhat like kelp or sea-weed).
The stones at the bottom of the centre of the pools were incrusted by
the red snow plant whose rich colors gave a sense of life to the near-by
shallows.

In such haste Franklin put to sea that the customary rule was not
observed of building a cairn in a prominent place and of placing
therein a record of operations to date. Doubtless the sea opened
suddenly by one of those offshore winds which bring ice-free water as by
magic. But they must have left the land for the open sea with the free
joy of the sailor, not knowing that fate had been kinder to the three
comrades who rested under the arctic sky in the quiet island graves than
to those who with brave hearts and high hopes sailed ever onward and
onward.

Soon Franklin sighted Cape Walker, whence he should sail to the west and
south as conditions of the land and the ice might permit. From the
record recovered from the cairn at Point Victory, he seems to have been
forced to go south through Peel Sound into Franklin Strait, where we
know that both the flag-ship _Erebus_ and the _Terror_ were beset in the
floe-ice of the open sea and were frozen up in the winter pack twelve
miles north-northwest of King William Land. This besetment, on September
12, 1846, must have been a grievous blow to Franklin, who was now
practically assured of the existence of the northwest passage along the
continental coast of North America. He was directly to the north of and
only eighty-four miles distant from Cape Herschel, King William Land,
which in 1839 had been discovered and visited by that successful
explorer, Thomas Simpson, one of the most active of the many energetic
agents of the Hudson Bay Company.

The polar winter, tedious and dreary at any time, must have been of
fearful and almost unendurable length to those eager, ambitious men
who, helpless and idle in their ice-held ships, knew that they had
substantially finished the search which for two hundred and forty-nine
years had engaged the heart and hand of the best of the marine talent of
England. The winter passed, oh! how slowly, but it ended, and with the
welcome sun and warmer air of coming spring there was a cheerful sense
of thankfulness that death had passed by and left their circle unbroken
and that "all were well."[3]

A man of Franklin's type did not let the squadron remain idle, and it is
certain that the shores of Victoria and Boothia Peninsula were explored
and the magnetic pole visited and definitely relocated.

The only sledge-party of which there exists a record is that which left
the ships on May 24, 1847, consisting of Lieutenant Graham Gore, Mate
Des Voeux, and six men. Its small crew, led by a junior officer,
indicates that its objects were subordinate to those pursued by other
parties. Most probably it was a hunting-party in pursuit of the game of
King William Land, which now was a matter of grave urgency to Franklin.
The excessive number of empty meat-cans at Beechey Island is believed to
be due to the inferior character of the meat which led to much being
condemned. The large number of deaths which quite immediately followed
Gore's journey may well have been associated with the coming of scurvy
from malnutrition.

At all events, Gore reached Point Victory, King William Land, on May 28,
and there built a cairn and deposited the one of the two only records of
Franklin's squadron of any kind that have been found.[4] It set forth
Franklin's discoveries around Cornwallis Land, the wintering at Beechey
Island, and the besetment and wintering in the pack of the _Erebus_ and
_Terror_ in 70° 05´ N., 98° 23´ W. It ended with the encouraging
statement that all were well and Sir John Franklin in command.

From the Crozier record, to be mentioned later, it is known that evil
days followed immediately the favorable conditions set forth by Gore.
Sir John Franklin was spared the agony of watching his men and officers
perish one by one of exhaustion and starvation, for the record tells us
that he died on the ice-beset _Erebus_, June 11, 1847, fourteen days
after the erection of the Point Victory cairn. Death was now busy with
the squadron, and within the next eleven months seven officers,
including Gore, and twelve seamen perished, probably from scurvy.

Franklin's last days must have been made happy by the certainty that his
labors had not been in vain, since it was clearly evident that he had
practically finished the two labors dearest to his heart--"the
completion of the survey of the northern coasts of North America and
the accomplishment of the northwest passage." The drift of the ships to
the southwest with the main pack carried them to within sixty-five miles
of Cape Herschel, and the chart taken by Franklin showed a distance of
only fifty-five miles of unknown lands to connect the discoveries of
Ross with those of Dease and Simpson. Doubtless the evidence of the
drift had been supplemented by an exact survey of the coast by sledge.
It is incredible to assume that the energetic Franklin allowed his men
to remain inert for eight months within a score of miles of unknown
lands.

The ice holding the ships fast until the spring of 1848, it was
necessary for Captain F. R. M. Crozier, now in command, to abandon them,
as they were provisioned only until July. It was evident that the only
chance of life was to reach the Hudson Bay posts, via Back (Great Fish)
River, two hundred and fifty miles distant. While it would not be
possible to haul enough food for the whole party, they had good reasons
to believe that they could live in part on the country. Simpson had
reported large game as plentiful along the south coast of the island,
while Back spoke of thousands of fish at the river's mouth.

Arrangements for the retreat were made by landing on April 22, 1848, on
King William Land abundant supplies of bedding, tentage, provisions,
clothing, ammunition, etc., and a large camp was there established.
Sledges were strengthened and boats fitted thereon with which to ascend
Back River and if necessary to cross Simpson Strait. Great haste was
made, for they were ready to start south on April 25, 1848, on which
date the record of Gore was supplemented by another signed by Crozier
and his second in command, Captain James Fitzjames. It recorded that
Gore had returned to the _Erebus_ from his sledge journey in June, 1847,
and was now dead, as well as twenty others. It added: "Sir John Franklin
died on the 11th of June, 1847. The officers and crew, consisting of 105
souls, ... start on to-morrow, 26th, for Back's Fish River."[5]

Struggling south along the west coast of King William Land, their
progress was slow owing to illness, impaired strength, and their very
heavy, unsuitable field equipment. Doubtless some one fell out of the
sledge-traces daily, and doubtless, with the spirit of heroic Britons,
they acclaimed with cheers their final success when they had dragged
their heavy boat to the north side of Simpson Strait and thus actually
filled in the last gap in the northwest passage.

Their provisions ran low and Lieutenant John Irving went back to the
ship for other supplies, but his heroic zeal was superior to his
strength. He was buried on the beach in full uniform, encased in a
canvas shroud.[6] Of his party one at least reached the ship, and died
on board of the _Erebus_ or _Terror_, which, according to the reports of
the Eskimos, sank later off the west coast of Adelaide Peninsula. Two
others of this detachment evidently endeavored to rejoin the main part,
but died in an abandoned boat. With hope and patience they waited for
the coming of game that would save their lives, and alongside their
skeletons thirty years later were found, standing, their muskets loaded
and cocked for instant use.

Graves and skeletons, boats and tents, clothing and camp-gear silently
tell the tragic tale of that awful march, which has been traced from
Point Victory to Montreal Island through the heroic researches of Hobson
and McClintock, of Hall, Schwatka, and Gilder.

No weaklings were they, but as true men they strove with courage and
energy to the very end. At least one brave man died on the march, and
his skeleton lying on its face verified the truth of the terse tribute
of the Eskimo woman who said to McClintock: "They fell down and died as
they walked."

One boat's crew perished on the west coast of Adelaide Peninsula, and
another entered the mouth of Back River, to die one knows not how or
where. The skeleton found farthest to the south is, perchance, that of
the last survivor, possibly Surgeon Stanley of the _Erebus_, as "Mr
Stanley" was found carved on a stick found on Montreal Island in 1855.

Of the last survivor, MacGahan, in "Northern Lights," thus surmises:
"One sees this man all alone in that terrible world, gazing around him,
the sole living thing in that dark, frozen universe. There is no hope
for him--none. His clothing is covered with frozen snow, his face is
lean and haggard. He takes out his note-book and scrawls, a few lines,
as he has done every day. A drowsy torpor is crawling over his senses.
It will be sweet to sleep, untroubled by dreams of void and hunger.
Through a rift in the clouds glares a red flash of light, like an angry,
blood-shot eye. He turns and meets the sinister sunbeams with a steady
eye, in which a fiery gleam is reflected, as though bidding defiance. As
they glare at each other, this man and this spectre, the curtain is
drawn and all is dark."

This we know, that with loyalty and solidarity these heroic men kept
fast in their path of daily duty, facing unflinchingly cold and disease,
exhaustion and starvation, and, as has been truly said, they thus
"forged the last link of the northwest passage with their lives."

Rightly are the loftiest strains of the poet's songs invoked by
steadfast fortitude and by the spirit of high endeavor rather than by
physical acts of intrinsic value. So for more than a generation, as a
reminder of heroic worth, the students of Oxford University have year by
year turned into classic latin verse the memorial lines of the
poet-laureate. Avoiding mention of the northwest passage, Tennyson
raised to Franklin's "memory a monument more lasting than brass" when he
penned these enduring lines:

     "Not here, not here. The White North has thy bones,
       But thou, heroic sailor-soul,
     Art sailing on a happier voyage,
       Now toward no earthly pole."

FOOTNOTES:

[2] These details as to the life of the squadron are drawn from various
accounts of the hut, fireplace, pools, vegetation, bird-remains, and
other domestic refuse discovered by the officers and men under Ommaney
and Penny in August, 1850. Three graves with head-boards were found, but
no trace or scrap of record or journal of any kind. They were the first
traces discovered of Franklin's movements.

[3] The primary importance of concerted and co-operative action in
explorations covering such a broad field was strikingly illustrated by
the situation at this time. While Franklin and his men were facing
disaster and death in their ice-bound ships to the west of Boothia Felix
Land, that distinguished arctic traveller, John Rae, was exploring
Boothia Peninsula. On April 18, 1847, he was less than one hundred and
fifty miles from his sorely distressed countrymen.

[4] The full text of this record will be found in the sketch entitled
"The Devotion of Lady Jane Franklin."

[5] For full text, see sketch "The Heroic Devotion of Lady Jane
Franklin."

[6] Many of these details are from Gilder's "Schwatka's Search," a
remarkable expedition by these young Americans.



THE TIMELY SLEDGE JOURNEY OF BEDFORD PIM

     "Huddled on deck, one-half that hardy crew
       Lie shrunk and withered in the biting sky,
     With filmy stare and lips of livid hue,
       And sapless limbs that stiffen as they lie;
     While the dire pest-scourge of the frozen zone
     Rots through the vein and gnaws the knotted bone."
           --BULWER.


For more than three centuries England made frequent and fruitless
attempts by sea and by land to discover the northwest passage, and in
1818 the British Parliament offered a reward of twenty thousand pounds
sterling for its passage by explorers. Although it is now known that the
ill-fated expedition under Sir John Franklin first discovered the
passage in 1846-7, the first persons to make the journey over a new and
more northerly route, between 1849 and 1853, were the crew of her
Majesty's ship _Investigator_, commanded by Captain Robert Le Mesurier
M'Clure, R.N.

It is a curious and notable fact that the making of the passage was, as
one may say, a matter of luck or of accident. There occurred in
connection with this journey a series of adventures that had marvellous
results, not only in the saving of the lives of the crew of the
_Investigator_, but also in raising them to the pinnacle of fame and
some of them to a state of fortune. M'Clure's ship was not sent forth
on a voyage of geographic exploration, but on a mission of mercy for the
discovery and relief of the Franklin arctic squadron which had been
missing since 1845. The Pacific searching squadron for this purpose,
commanded by Captain Robert Collinson, R.N., consisted of the two ships
_Enterprise_ and _Investigator_, which parted company in Magellan Strait
under orders to meet at Cape Lisburne, Bering Strait. Captain M'Clure
arrived first, and after a very brief delay pushed on without waiting
for his commander. The two ships never met again.

Discovering Banks Land, which the Eskimo called "The Land of the White
Bear," M'Clure followed Prince of Wales Strait to its northern entrance,
where he anchored his ship to a floe and wintered in the open pack in
default of a harbor. Retracing his course to the south the following
summer, he circumnavigated Banks Land under marvellous ice conditions of
great danger, escaping as by miracle, the _Investigator_ being so near
the sheer, precipitous crags of the west coast that her yards could
touch the cliffs, while to the seaward she was cradled in crashing,
uprearing floes which close to her bows were higher than the foreyard.
After reaching Banks Strait the ship grounded one night and M'Clure
unfortunately decided to winter there, in Mercy Bay, where she was
frozen in and abandoned two years later.

This sketch sets forth the desperate extremities to which M'Clure and
his crew were reduced, and describes the timely heroism of Lieutenant
Bedford Pim R.N., in making the sledge journey which wrought such
marvellous changes in the fate and fortunes of the ice-imprisoned men.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Route of Pim's sledge journey.]

On September 23, 1851, the _Investigator_ was frozen in for the winter
in the ice of Mercy Bay, on the north coast of Banks Land. It was her
second arctic winter, and the hardships inseparable from prolonged polar
service were soon felt. The crew were at once placed on two-thirds
allowance, a restricted diet that kept them always hungry. Soon they
felt the shadowy presence of the twin arctic evils, famine and cold,
which came with the forming ice and the advancing winter. Through the
open hatchways the down-flowing polar cold turned into hoar-frost the
moisture of the relatively warm air of the cabins and of the bunks.
Water froze in the glasses and frost particles welded into stiffness the
blankets, bedding, and hammocks of the seamen. Later even the ink froze
in the wells, while the exposed head of every metal bolt or nail was
covered with a glistening coat of ice.

Shoreward the outlook was as desolate as conditions were gloomy on
shipboard. For at first the ice-bound shores of Mercy Bay seemed utterly
barren of life in any form. But one day came with joy and thankfulness
the report that a sharp-eyed boatswain had seen several deer skirting
the snowy hill-tops to the southwestward.

Now all was activity and bustle, since this phase of useful effort had
come to increase their chance of life. Should they fail to release the
ship the coming summer, death by famine sorely threatened. So they
pursued the chase daily with the utmost energy and for a time with
marked success. Not only did the hunters meet with the timid deer and
the stolid musk-ox--their main reliance for meat--but here and there
they found the snowy polar hare, the cunning arctic fox, and too often,
alas! the ravenous wolf--the dreaded pirate of the north.

Regular hunting-parties were told off, consisting of the best shots and
most active men. To save long journeys to and from the ice-beset ship,
tents were erected at convenient places and stored with food and
needful conveniences. Owing to the usual darkness, the safe, sane rule
was laid down that no hunter should venture alone out of sight of either
tent or ship, of some member of a field party, or of a prominent
landmark.

One day an eager seaman, rushing forward to get within gun-shot of a
fleeting musk-ox, when outdistanced by the animal found that he was out
of sight of his comrades and could find no familiar landmark by which to
guide him back to ship or tent. Night coming on, he was in sad plight in
the darkness, illy clad for long exposure, lost and alone. Now and then
he fired a shot, but his straining ears heard no responsive signal from
his shipmates. After tramping to and fro for several hours, he was so
worn out that he sat down to regain his strength, but he soon found that
his clothing, wet with the sweat of travel, had frozen stiff. To save
himself from death by freezing, he began walking slowly about, keeping
to a restricted circle so that he should not wander farther from his
anxious comrades.

While tramping to and fro his listening ear, eager for any sound of
life, detected a slight rustling noise. Turning quickly he saw close
behind him the form of a beast, which loomed large in the faint light of
the rising moon. He had neither need to reason nor time to draw on his
fancy as to the character of his unwelcome pursuer, for a weird
resounding howl called forth at once an answering chorus. A ravenous
wolf had marked the hunter as his prey and was calling his gaunt and
cruel comrades to the bloody, looked-for feast.

The tales of the forecastle had been filled with grewsome details of
the ravages of wolves, so that the seaman was doubly horrified to find a
band of polar pirates on his trail. Though knowing his frightful plight,
he faced expectant death with courage and composure, putting on a bold
front. Shortly the wolves followed their customary tactics, so
successful in killing reindeer or musk-oxen. Forming a circle around the
hunter, a wolf would jump quickly toward the man's back, the animal
alertly withdrawing as he was faced. Again several would make a sudden
and united plunge toward their intended victim--coming from separate
directions. Greatly alarmed at this concerted attack, the seaman fired
at the nearest wolf. When the band, alarmed at the bright flame and loud
noise from the musket--unknown to the arctic wolf--fled a short distance
the seaman at once ascended a small knoll where he would be better
placed for defence. From this point of vantage he waged successful
warfare by timely shots at individual attacking wolves.

But the time came when he had fired every shot in his locker, and then
the band fell back a little way and seemed to be deliberating as to what
should be done next. Expecting another concerted attack, the seaman took
his hunting-knife in one hand so that he could stab any single wolf, and
grasped his musket firmly in the free hand so as to use it as a club.

While in this fearful state he was intensely relieved by seeing the
whole pack rush madly away. Though the hunter never knew for a
certainty, his relief was doubtless due either to the coming of a polar
bear, feared by the wolves, or to the scenting of an attractive
musk-ox. With anxious heart he awaited the coming daylight, when he was
able to locate himself and rejoin the comrades who were in wild search
for him.

This was not an isolated case of the boldness and tenacity of
the wolves, who were a constant menace not only to the hunters
personally--who kept well together after this experience--but to the
game resources of the country. On another occasion three men started out
to bring to the ship the carcass of a deer which had been killed the day
before. The boatswain walking in advance reached the deep ravine in
which he had cached the deer, only to find a pack of five large, gaunt
wolves rapidly devouring the carcass. As he went forward he expected
that the animals would leave, but none stirred at his approach, their
famished condition seeming to banish fear of man. Though he shouted at
the top of his voice and brandished his musket, three of the wolves fell
back only a few yards, when they squatted on their haunches and kept
their sharp eyes fixed on him. The two other wolves paid no attention to
the hunter, but continued to devour ravenously the dismembered animal.
The boatswain seized a hind leg of the deer, but Master Wolf, not at all
disconcerted, held fast to the other end in which his sharp teeth were
deeply fixed. The other wolves now set up a snarling chorus of
encouragement to their fellow and of defiance to the intruder at their
feast. However, the undismayed sailor, holding fast with one hand to the
deer's hind leg, brandished his musket vigorously with the other and
yelled at the top of his voice to his comrades coming over the hill. He
did not wish to use his precious ammunition on the wolves, as the supply
was now so small as to forbid its waste. The daring animal at last
dropped his end of the deer, but stood fast within a yard or two, ready
to renew his attack at a favorable opportunity. The hunter cautiously
gathered up, piece by piece, the remnants of his fat game, the pack all
the time howling and snarling and even making dashes at the brave seaman
who was robbing them of their dinner.

Meanwhile the Eskimo interpreter, Mr. Miertsching, a Moravian missionary
of German birth, came up in a state of excitement which turned to fear
at the scene. His long service in Labrador had made him familiar with
the audacity and prowess of the wolf, and he viewed uneasily the
menacing attitude of the five wolves, who plainly intended to attempt
the recovery of the deer meat. It was not until two other armed men came
up that the wolves took to the hills, howling defiantly.

It was the rule of the ship that a hunter should have the head and the
heart of any animal he killed, thus to encourage the activity and
success of the hunters. Though there were less than twenty pounds saved
from the deer, a generous portion went to the gallant seaman who had
fought off so successfully the predatory gang.

With the opening summer of 1852 affairs were most critical, as the ship
remained fast in the ice, with no signs of relief. In July Surgeon
Alexander Armstrong urged that the allowance of food be increased, as
the year of short rations had caused scurvy among one-third of the crew.
As all fresh meat was then gone, M'Clure refused to make larger food
issues.

At this critical juncture, Woon, a sergeant of marines, shot two
musk-oxen under rather thrilling and unusual circumstances. While
hunting, the sergeant discovered two musk-oxen lying down, one of them
evidently asleep. Creeping quietly toward them, taking advantage of such
cover as the nature of the ground afforded, he was within nearly a
hundred yards when the alarmed oxen scrambled to their feet. Firing at
the larger ox, he wounded him, but not fatally. The musk-ox charged him,
stopping within about forty yards. A second shot only caused the animal
to shake his black mane and toss his horns in a threatening manner.
Meanwhile the second ox ran forward, as though to help his comrade, and
was in turn wounded by a shot from the now alarmed hunter. The second
animal then rushed toward the sergeant in a thoroughly enraged attitude,
and though much smaller than his companion advanced with much more
courage than had the first. With his last ball the hunter fired at the
larger animal, as being more important to the larder, who, shot through
the brain, fell dead in his tracks.

Hastily loading his musket with a part of his remaining powder, the
sergeant was forced to use the screw of his ramrod as a missile, with
which he pierced the neck of the steadily advancing musk-ox. As this
still failed to check the advance the hunter withdrew slowly, reloading
his gun with his single remaining missile, the ramrod of the musket. By
this time the thoroughly enraged animal was within a few feet of the
sergeant when the last shot was fired. The ramrod passed diagonally
through the body of the ox, making a raking wound from which the animal
fell dead at the very feet of the anxious hunter. The larger musk-ox,
with its shaggy mane, curly horns, menacing air, and formidable
appearance, was quite a monster. Its huge head and massive horns made up
one hundred and thirty pounds of its full weight of seven hundred and
sixty-seven pounds.

During the brief arctic summer, under the surgeon's orders, the valleys
were searched for sorrel and scurvy grass, which contributed to the
improved physical health of the men. It was not possible, however, to
dispel the mental dejection that affected all of the crew as the
summer passed without such changes in the ice as would permit the
_Investigator_ to be moved. All knew that the ship's provisions were
inadequate for another year, which must now be faced. If game was not
killed in much larger quantities, it would be necessary to face death by
starvation, unless some unforeseen and providential relief should come
to them.

After long deliberation M'Clure made known his plans to the assembled
crew on September 9, 1852. In April twenty-eight men and officers would
be sent eastward with sledges to Beechey Island, five hundred and fifty
miles distant. At that point they would take a boat and stores there
cached and endeavor to reach the Danish settlements on the west coast of
Greenland. Nine other men would endeavor to reach the Hudson Bay posts
via the Mackenzie River, taking up en route the cache of provisions
deposited by the _Investigator_ on Prince Royal Islands in 1850. Thirty
of the healthiest of the crew would remain with the ship for the fourth
arctic winter, awaiting relief from the British Admiralty in 1854.

Of necessity the daily allowances were again reduced, so that the amount
of food issued was six ounces of meat, ten of flour, and two and
one-half of canned vegetables. Surgeon Armstrong records that "the
feeling was now one of absolute hunger, the cravings of which were ever
present."

The ration was generally eaten by the officers at a single meal, and to
insure exact fairness, and to remove any ground for complaint, the mess
adopted the rule that turn about should be taken in the disagreeable
duty of making the daily issue. The officer of the day arranged the food
in as many portions as there were persons. Then, in an order fixed by
lot, each officer inspected the various piles of food and chose that
which most pleased him. The officer making the division for the day took
the lot left.

It is to be presumed that the men suffered even more than the officers
on these starvation rations. Certainly they were unable to restrain
their feelings as well as did the officers, and on October 4, 1853,
occurred an act doubtless unprecedented in the royal navy. Suffering
from prolonged cravings of hunger, made more acute by the late reduction
of food and by the severe winter cold, the ship's crew assembled on the
quarterdeck in a body and asked Captain M'Clure for more food, which he
refused to grant.

By hunting, which duty now fell almost entirely on the officers, a few
ounces of fresh meat--deer, field-mice, or even wolf--were now and then
added to their meagre meals. The fortunate hunter, besides his game
perquisites of head and heart, also enjoyed other privileges that almost
always brought him back to the ship in a condition that made him a
frightful spectacle from blood and dirt. When he killed a deer or other
animal, the first act of the hunter was to put his lips to the mortal
wound and take therefrom a draught of fresh, warm blood that ebbed from
the dying animal. In taste and in effect this blood was found to be very
like a warm uncooked egg. As water for washing was precious and rarely
to be had, owing to lack of fuel, and then in small amounts, the ghastly
spectacle that a man presented when the blood of an animal was glued
over his face, and was frozen into the accumulated grime of weeks
without washing, may be better imagined than described.

The awful cold in which lived and hunted these half-starved men taxed to
the utmost their impaired powers of endurance. For two days in January
the temperature was ninety-one degrees below the freezing-point, and the
average for that month was four degrees below that of frozen mercury.

The pall of gloom and despair that had come with the winter darkness,
from the frightful cold, and from increasing sickness was somewhat
broken on March 15, 1853, when the weakest half of the crew was told off
in parties to make the spring retreat with sledges. To put them in
condition for the field M'Clure gave them full rations. It was strange
to note how closely they, eating once more heartily, were watched and to
what extent the few ounces of extra food made them objects of envy to
their healthier and stronger comrades, who were to stay by the ship
another awful winter.

The doctors, however, were under no delusion as to the ultimate outcome
of the situation. The weaker members of the crew were to take the field
and die like men, falling in the traces as they dragged along the fatal
sledge, as the surgeons Armstrong and Piers had reported in writing "the
absolute unfitness of the men for the performance of this journey."

Though Captain M'Clure, with the spirit of optimism that belongs to a
commander, endeavored to persuade himself to the contrary, it was
evident to Dr. Armstrong that critical conditions had developed that
threatened the extermination of the expeditionary force.

The able and clear-sighted doctor realized that the sick were not simply
suffering from physical exhaustion induced by the short rations of many
months. He recognized with horror that far the greater number of
the crew were slowly perishing from the dreaded and fatal arctic
scourge--scurvy. The progress and prevalence of the disease were such
that it was to be feared there would not remain after a few months
enough well men to properly care for their sick comrades. It was a
living death that was being faced from day to day.

But fate, inexorable and inexplicable, was doubly placing its veto on
the feeble plans of man. Three of the men who were told off for the
forlorn hope died within a fortnight, while thirty-three of the
remaining thirty-six men were suffering from materially impaired health.
Then came the relief from outside sources, which saved the expedition as
a whole.

Meanwhile, unknown to M'Clure, a searching squadron of five British
ships, commanded by Captain Sir Edward Belcher, R.N., was wintering
about two hundred miles to the eastward of the _Investigator_. Sledging
from one of these ships, the _Resolute_, at Bridgeport Inlet, Melville
Island, Lieutenant Mecham, in October, 1852, had visited Winter Harbor,
and on top of the famous sandstone rock had found the record there
deposited by M'Clure in his visit to that point in April, 1852, six
months earlier, which stated that the _Investigator_ was wintering in
Mercy Bay. The fast-approaching darkness made the trip to Mercy Bay
impossible, even if the ship was yet there--most doubtful from the
record. For M'Clure had added: "If we should not be again heard of ...
any attempt to succor would be to increase the evil."

Nevertheless, Captain Kellet, commanding the _Resolute_, thought it wise
to send a party to Mercy Bay the coming spring, not for M'Clure alone,
but to seek at that place and far beyond such news as was attainable
about Collinson's squadron. For this duty was selected Lieutenant
Bedford C. T. Pim, R.N., a young officer of spirit and determination,
who had volunteered for the journey. Kellet's advisers urged that he
delay the departure until the end of March, with its longer days and
warmer weather. Pim insisted on an early start, for it was a long
journey. Collinson's squadron was provisioned only for that year and so
would break out through the ice early from their more southerly ports.
Providentially, Kellet listened to Pim's importunate pleas, as otherwise
at least half of the crew of the _Investigator_ would have perished.

On March 10, 1853, Pim started on this journey of nearly two hundred
miles, the first long sledge trip ever attempted in an arctic expedition
at such an early date--twenty-five days in advance of any other sledge
journey from the _Resolute_ that year. Pim with eight men hauled the
man-sledge, while Dr. Domville with one man supported him with a
dog-sledge of six animals. Eleven other men were to assist them for five
days.

Things went badly from the very beginning, and Kellet was half inclined
to recall Pim. Under frightful conditions of weather and of ice travel
one man fell sick and two sledges broke down. Fearing that he would be
kept back, Pim wisely stayed in the field, sending back for other men
and sledges. The first night out was quite unendurable, the temperature
falling to seventy-six degrees below the freezing-point. Then followed
violent blizzards which storm-stayed the party for four days, during
which the temperature inside their double tent fell to fifty-six degrees
below freezing. One comfort to the young lieutenant was the presence of
a veteran polar seaman, Hoile, who had learned all the tricks and
secrets of handling gear and stores in the field during his campaigns
under the famous arctic sledgeman Sir Leopold McClintock. But no skill
could make men comfortable under such awful cold. For instance, the fur
sleeping bags at the start had been dry, pliant, and cold-proof. Now the
vapor from the men's bodies had dampened the bags which, frozen solid,
would stand on end without falling, as though made of light sheet-iron.

Marching onward, Pim's next trouble was with a food-cache, laid down by
himself the previous autumn, which wild animals--probably bears and
wolves--had plundered in large part, though some of the thick metal
coverings of the solidly frozen meats had escaped with rough marks of
the teeth and claws.

Pim took everything with jovial humor, and was entirely happy when he
left the firm land of Melville Island to cross frozen Banks Strait to
Mercy Bay, Banks Land. Bad as was travel along the ice-foot bordering
the land, it was far worse in the strait. Domville officially reported
that their course "was beset with every difficulty, every variety of
hummocks and deep snow barring our progress in all directions. Some of
the ridges, too irregular for a loaded sledge, required portages to be
made, a mode of proceeding almost equally difficult and dangerous to the
limbs, from the men sinking to the middle through the soft snow amongst
the masses of forced-up hummocks."

Later there came some level stretches, and then Pim hoisted a sail on
the man-sledge to help it along. It nearly proved their ruin, for the
sledge took charge on a steep, glassy hummock, knocked over the men,
plunged into a deep crevasse, and broke a runner. Pim did not hesitate
an hour over the best thing to do. Leaving Domville to patch up the
sledge and to return and await him at the last depot, Pim started ahead
with his six dogs and two men toward Mercy Bay. Sleepless nights of
fearful cold, days of weary toil with sun-dazzled eyes, biting blasts of
sharp blizzards, exhausting struggles through rubble ice--these one and
all could neither quench the spirit nor bend the will of this forceful
man. Ever faithful to the motto of his sledge flag, "Hope on: hope
ever," he ceased not until the land was reached and success insured.

Skirting the ice-foot of the northeastern coast of Banks Land, his heart
came into his mouth as, rounding a cape, he saw the dark spars of an
ice-beset ship loom up against the sullen southern sky. Blistered and
brazened, half snow-blinded, with face covered with accumulations of
greasy soot, what wonder that this fur-clad figure was thought by
the amazed M'Clure to be an Eskimo, a mistake aided by the wild
gesticulations and loud, unintelligible shouts of a man whose face was
as black as ebony.

Of Pim's coming Dr. Armstrong of the _Investigator_ says: "No words
could express the feelings of heart-felt gladness which all experienced
at this unlooked-for, this most providential arrival."

Over the rough, winding trails of the arctic highway, Pim had travelled
four hundred and twenty-seven miles from ship to ship, and made a
journey that will ever live in polar annals as fraught with vital
interests beyond those of any other single sledge trip.

Of Pim's work a fellow-officer, McDougal, wrote: "Each member of our
little community must have felt his heart glow to reflect that he formed
one of the little band whose undertakings in the cause of humanity had
been crowned with such success."

Thus it happened that through the heroic energy and persistent efforts
of Bedford Pim, the outcome of the voyage of the _Investigator_[7] was
changed from that of certain disaster to one of astounding success. Save
for this timely sledge journey, many of his sailor comrades must have
found unknown graves among the ice-crowned isles of the northern seas,
and an awful tragedy would have marked the splendid annals of the
Franklin search.

FOOTNOTE:

[7] M'Clure abandoned the _Investigator_ shortly after Pim's sledge
journey, and crossing the ice with his men joined Belcher's squadron.
M'Clure and his crew thus made the northwest passage and received
therefor the reward of ten thousand pounds sterling. Captain J. E.
Bernier, who wintered at Melville Island in the Canadian steamer
_Arctic_, 1908-9, says of the _Investigator_: "M'Clure anchored his
vessel ... to be cast on a shoal, where, he said, she would last for
ages. He was mistaken, as no sign was visible of the vessel when the
officer of the Arctic visited Mercy Bay in 1908."



KANE'S RESCUE OF HIS FREEZING SHIPMATES

     "Men in no particular approach so nearly to the gods as by giving
     safety to their fellow-men."--CICERO.


In 1853 the United States co-operated a second time in the search for
Sir John Franklin, and sent into Smith Sound an expedition fitted out
through the liberality of Henry Grinnell and George Peabody. Doctor
Elisha Kent Kane, United States Navy, commanded the expedition, and
placed his brig _Advance_ in winter quarters in Rensselaer Harbor, West
Greenland, whence he planned by boats and sledges to "examine the coast
lines for vestiges of the lost (Franklin's) party." This sketch relates
particularly to Kane's personal and heroic endeavors to save from death
one of his own field parties.

       *       *       *       *       *

Among arctic explorers there is no more striking and interesting
figure than that of Elisha Kent Kane, whose enthusiasm created and
individuality dominated the search of 1853. Well-intended, his
expedition was fallacious in plan, unsuitably equipped, inadequately
supplied, and manned by inexperienced volunteers. It seemed doomed to
utter and dismal failure, yet through the activities of the versatile
leader its general results exceeded those of any other arctic expedition
of his generation. With a literary charm and a beauty of expression
unexcelled by any other polar explorer, Kane revealed to the world the
human relations and racial qualities of the Etah Eskimo, told of the
plant and animal life of that desolate region, recorded the march of
physical forces, and outlined the safe and practicable route whereby
alone the north pole has been reached. But if his mind was imbued with a
spirit of philosophy, and if his poetic vision saw first the beautiful,
yet his sense of duty and strength of will inevitably involved his
exposure to any and all privations that promised definite results.

The autumnal journeys of 1853 had led to nothing promising in the
neighborhood of the _Advance_, so throughout the winter he was busy in
preparing for the spring sledge trips in order to search the northern
coast line for the lost explorers. Thus planning and laboring he
definitely recognizes the unfavorable situation. "The death of my dogs,
fifty-seven in all, the rugged obstacles of the ice, and the intense
cold (the temperature had fallen to one hundred degrees below the
freezing-point) have obliged me to reorganize our whole equipment. We
have had to discard all our India-rubber fancy-work. Canvas shoemaking,
fur-socking, sewing, carpentering are all going on. Pemmican cases are
thawing, buffalo robes drying, camp equipments are in the corners." He
adds: "The scurvy spots that mottled our faces made it plain that we
were all unfit for arduous travel on foot at the intense temperatures of
the nominal spring. _But I felt that our work was unfinished._"

[Illustration: Smith Sound and West Greenland.]

The very start of the party, on March 19, 1854, indicated clearly that
two errors, frequent in arctic work, had been committed--overloading and
too early a start in periods of extreme cold. Kane had himself noticed
that in extreme cold, say fifty degrees below freezing, "the ice or snow
covering offers great resistance to the sledge-runners. The dry snow in
its finely divided state resembles sand, and the runners creak as they
pass over it." In a temperature of seventy-one degrees below freezing
"we packed the sledge and strapped on the boat to see how she would
drag. Eight men were scarcely able to move her.... Difficulties of
draught must not interfere with my parties." Erroneously attributing the
trouble to the thin runners of his Eskimo sledge, he changed it for one
with broad-gauged sledge-runners, and then added two hundred pounds of
pemmican to the load.

The party started to the north in a temperature of seventy-five degrees
below freezing, and even with extra men in the rue-raddies (canvas
shoulder-belts for dragging the sledge) they were barely able to move
the sledge forward over the smooth, level floes near the brig.

When the sledgemen came to rough ice they promptly dumped both boat and
pemmican, realizing the impossibility of hauling them. Soon they came to
high, uptilted ice-hummocks, separated by precipitous ice-chasms filled
with drifting snow. It then became necessary to divide the load and so
travel three times over the same road.

Meanwhile they seemed to be advancing over a sea of desolation whereon
were utterly lacking the signs of life--few enough even there along the
shore. From the snow-covered floes were entirely absent the tiny traces
of the snowy ptarmigan, the weaving, wandering trails of the arctic fox,
and the sprawling foot-marks of the polar bear. Once, indeed, they saw a
short distance seaward a blow-hole, where lately a seal had come for
needful air, as shown by the thin glassy ice-covering, unbroken for
days.

Suddenly the weather changed, the clear atmosphere giving way to a
frosty fog, which shut out any distant views, and save for their compass
bearings they did not know the direction of their march, nor indeed
whether the frozen sea continued or that land, so desired, was near or
far.

The coming of a northeast blizzard caused frightful sufferings to these
inexperienced arctic sledgemen. Neither wind or snow proof, the tent was
speedily filled with the drifting, sand-like snow, which saturated the
sleeping-gear and nearly stopped the cooking. Travel in such weather
would have been dangerous for strong, active men, but Baker was too sick
even to walk, and so the days were passed in endeavors to keep
themselves warm and bring about a state of comfort. Still they went on
with courage the first fine day, though their progress was very slow,
and there seemed to be no definite hope of reaching land where their
depot of provisions could be cached.

A second blizzard ended the advance of the worn-out, thoroughly
discouraged men. When the weather cleared Brooks, the mate in charge,
found further progress hopeless. "The hummocks in front consist of
pieces of ice from one to two feet thick, having sharp edges and piled
up from ten to fifteen feet high. Single piles sometimes exceeded thirty
feet in height, and at a distance have the appearance of icebergs. We
failed to perceive a single opening in their chain." His wise decision
to return was all that saved any member of the party.

Of the conditions under which the men slept, Sonntag, who was one of the
sledgemen, says: "The evaporation from the bodies of the sleepers became
condensed on the blanket-bags and buffalo-skins, which acquired a lining
of ice as soon as the men emerged from them in the morning, and when
required for use at night these bedclothes were stiffly frozen. The
labor of sledge-hauling was so excessive that, notwithstanding
the severity of the cold, the men were often thrown into profuse
perspiration, and this was soon followed by the clothes being frozen
together so firmly that they were not thawed asunder until the men
entered their sleeping-bags."

Inspired by the fact they that were homeward bound, the men worked with
desperate energy, and camped only when they were ready to drop with
exhaustion. The last part of the march was through deep snow, which
sifted into every crevice of the men's garments, and, melting there from
the heat of the body, saturated their clothing. The most essential rules
for the safety of arctic sledgemen are the careful brushing of all snow
from the garments before entering the tent and the replacing of the
always damp foot-gear with dry socks. Exhausted and unadvised, most of
the men sought refuge from the fearful cold by crawling unbrushed into
their frozen sleeping-bags, without even removing their boots let alone
their socks. That day of the march had been one of awful cold, the
average temperature being more than seventy degrees below freezing, and
the imprudent sledgemen paid that night the exacting penalty of their
rash ignorance. The following morning the situation was hopeless unless
help could be had from the brig. The feet of four of the men were so
badly frozen that they could not even walk, much less drag the sledge.
It was impossible for the four well men to haul their four disabled
shipmates to the _Advance_, thirty miles distant.

At the call for volunteers for the dangerous journey, which must be made
in one march, all four of the well men responded, and astronomer
Sonntag, with two Danes, Ohlsen and Petersen, made the journey. Irish
Tommy, as the crew called Seaman Hickey, rebelled at first because he
was not accepted, but his generous heart reconciled him to remaining
when it was pointed out that his qualities as cook and as handy-man made
him the best person to care for his crippled shipmates.

Kane tells the story of the rescue in language that cannot be improved.
"We were at work cheerfully, sewing on moccasins by the blaze of our
lamps, when, toward midnight, we heard steps and the next minute
Sonntag, Ohlsen, and Petersen came into the cabin, swollen, haggard, and
hardly able to speak. They had left their companions in the ice, risking
their own lives to bring us the news. Brooks, Baker, Wilson, and
Pierre were all lying frozen and disabled. Where? They could not
tell--somewhere in and among the hummocks to the north and east; it was
drifting heavily around them when they parted."

With impaired health, in feeble strength, ignoring the protests of his
officers against such exposure, the heroic Kane waited not a moment, but
decided to take the field and risk his life, if necessary, to rescue his
crippled shipmates.

Kane continues: "Rigging out the _Little Willie_ sledge with a buffalo
cover, a small tent, and a package of pemmican, Ohlsen (who seemed to
have his faculties rather more at command than his associates) was
strapped on in a fur bag, his legs wrapped in dog-skins and eider-down,
and we were off. Our party consisted of myself and nine others. We
carried only the clothes on our backs. The thermometer stood at
seventy-eight degrees below the freezing-point....

"It was not until we had travelled sixteen hours that we began to lose
our way. Our lost companions were somewhere in the area before us,
within a radius of forty miles. For fifty hours without sleep, Ohlsen
fell asleep as soon as we began to move, and now awoke with unequivocal
signs of mental disturbance. He had lost the bearings of the icebergs. I
gave orders to abandon the sledge and disperse in search of foot-marks.
We raised our tent, gave each man a small allowance of pemmican to
carry on his person, and poor Ohlsen, just able to keep his legs, was
liberated.

"The thermometer had fallen to eighty-one degrees below freezing, with
the wind setting in sharply from the northwest. It was out of the
question to halt; it required brisk exercise to keep us from freezing. I
could not even melt ice for water, and any resort to snow for allaying
thirst was followed by bloody lips and tongue; it burnt like caustic.

"We moved on looking for traces as we went. When the men were ordered to
spread themselves, to multiply the chances, they kept closing up
continually. The strange manner in which we were affected I attribute as
much to shattered nerves as to the cold. McGary and Bonsall, who had
stood out our severest marches, were seized with trembling fits and
short breath. In spite of all my efforts to keep up an example of sound
bearing, I fainted twice on the snow.

"We had been out eighteen hours when Hans, our Eskimo hunter, thought he
saw a broad sledge-track which the drift had nearly effaced. We were
some of us doubtful at first whether it was not one of those accidental
rifts which the gales make in the surface snow. But as we traced it on
to the deep snow among the hummocks we were led to footsteps. Following
these with religious care, we at last came in sight of a small American
flag fluttering from a hummock, and lower down a little masonic banner
hanging from a tent-pole hardly above the drift. It was the camp of our
disabled comrades; we reached it after an unbroken march of twenty-one
hours.

"The little tent was nearly covered with snow. I was not among the first
to come up; but when I reached the tent-curtain the men were standing in
single file on each side of it. With more kindness and delicacy of
feeling than is often supposed to belong to sailors, but which is almost
characteristic, they intimated their wish that I should go in alone, and
I crawled in. Coming upon the darkness, as I heard before me the burst
of welcome gladness that came from the four poor fellows stretched on
their backs, and then for the first time the cheer outside, my weakness
and my gratitude together almost overcame me. _They had expected me!
They were sure that I would come!_

"We were now fifteen souls; the thermometer seventy-five degrees below
the freezing-point. Our sole accommodation was a tent barely able to
hold eight persons; more than half of our party were obliged to keep
from freezing by walking outside while the others slept."

For the return journey: "The sick, with their limbs sewed up carefully
in reindeer-skins, were placed upon the bed of buffalo-robes, in a
half-reclining posture; other skins and blankets were thrown above them,
and the whole litter was lashed together so as to allow but a single
opening opposite the mouth for breathing. This necessary work cost us a
great deal of effort, but it was essential to the lives of the
sufferers. After repeating a short prayer we set out on our retreat."

The journey homeward was made under conditions of almost insuperable
difficulty and distress in which lack of sleep played a greater part
than either cold or physical labor, severe as they both were. As the
energy of the sledgemen failed the tent of the field party was pitched,
and McGary left with orders to move forward after a sleep of four hours.

Not sparing himself, Kane went on with one man and reached the half-way
tent, to melt ice and pemmican, in time to save its destruction by a
predatory polar bear. He says: "The tent was uninjured though the bear
had overturned it, tossing the buffalo-robes and pemmican into the snow.
All we recollect is that we had great difficulty in raising the tent. We
crept into our reindeer-bags without speaking, and for the next three
hours slept on in a dreamy but intense slumber. When I awoke my long
beard was a mass of ice, frozen fast to the buffalo-skin; Godfrey had to
cut me out with his jack-knife."

A few hours later the crippled party rejoined Kane and after refreshment
went on toward the ship. Fortunately the weather was fine and the cold
less severe. Yet, says Kane, "Our halts multiplied, and we fell,
half-sleeping, in the snow. Strange to say, it refreshed us. I ventured
on the experiment, making Riley wake me at the end of three minutes. I
felt so much benefited that I timed the men in the same way. They sat on
the runners of the sledge, fell asleep instantly, and were forced to
wakefulness when their three minutes were out."

In an utterly exhausted, half-delirious condition, they were met a few
miles from the brig by a dog-sledge bringing restoratives. Of the
outcome of the sledge journey out and back Kane says: "Ohlsen suffered
some time from strabismus and blindness; two others underwent amputation
of parts of the foot without unpleasant consequences; and two died in
spite of all our efforts.

"The rescue party had been out for seventy-two hours. We had halted in
all eight hours, half of our number sleeping at a time. We travelled
between eighty and ninety miles, most of the way dragging a heavy
sledge. The mean temperature of the whole time was seventy-three degrees
below freezing, including the warmest hours of the three days. We had no
water except at our two halts, and were at no time able to intermit
vigorous exercise without freezing."

Such remarkable and successful efforts to rescue their suffering
shipmates cannot fail to excite the admiration of all, if merely as an
astonishing instance of man's physical endurance. Yet on the whole such
feelings are subordinate in the hearts of most men to a sense of
reverence for the spirit that animated Kane and his fellows to sacrifice
their personal comfort and venture their lives for the relief and safety
of their disabled comrades.



HOW WOON WON PROMOTION

     "Poor, reckless, rude, low-born, untaught,
     A heart with English instinct fraught,
     He only knows that _not through him_
     Shall England come to shame."
           --DOYLE.


This tale recites one of the many stirring experiences of the crew of
her majesty's ship _Investigator_, which, after having been frozen fast
in the ice-floes of Mercy Bay, Banks Land, for two years, was abandoned,
June 3, 1853. Owing to lack of provisions, the men, living on two-thirds
rations for twenty months, were obliged to keep the field for hunting
purposes so as to avoid death by starvation. The incidents herein
related occurred in connection with the chase.

       *       *       *       *       *

The sun had been entirely absent for ninety-four days, and the coldest
period of the winter was at hand. Even at the warmest moment of the
midwinter month, February, the temperature had barely risen to zero. At
times the mercury froze solid, and the cold was so intense that even the
ship herself seemed to suffer as much as the half-starved, ill-clad men.
The metal bolts and rivets glared at one with their ice-covered ends,
while the wooden tree-nails, timbers, and doors cracked continually
under the twin action of frost and contraction. And so since the New
Year's coming the crew had shielded themselves as best they could from
the utter darkness of the land and the frightful cold of the air. Even
when it was possible hunting was unfruitful of results; the deer had
migrated to the pastures of the milder south, while the hares and small
game had huddled in crannies and nooks for shelter against the wind.

But now a few hours of feeble twilight, steadily increasing in duration
and in brightness, were marked by broad bands of life-giving light at
mid-day in the southern sky. Though the longer days were those of
sharper cold, yet hunger and want early drove the hunters from the ship.
As soon as there was enough glimmering light to make it possible, the
keen-eyed sportsmen started inland to find and follow the trails of such
animals as might yet be in the country. At the same time they were
charged to take the utmost care to make sharp note of prominent
landmarks by which they could safely take up their return march to the
_Investigator_.

The spring hunt may be said to have fairly opened ten days before the
return of the long-absent sun, when a wretchedly gaunt reindeer was
killed on January 28, 1852. For days individual deer had been seen,
evidently returned from the south, where their winter life must have
been a constant struggle against starvation, judging from the slain
animal. While the deer of the previous autumn were always in good flesh,
there was in this case not a bit of fat on any rib. A collection of
mere skin and bones, this deer weighed less than ninety pounds, about
the same as a large wolf or draught-dog.

This early success stimulated to action the hungry hunters, who
thenceforth let no day pass without ranging the distant hills for sign
of deer or musk-ox, anxious for the hunter's perquisites--the longed-for
head and heart of the game.

On February 9 the day broke calm, clear, and unusually bright;
especially attractive because of an hour of sunlight, the sun having
come above the horizon at mid-day four days earlier. Every man who could
get permission was enticed into the field, and great was the furore when
one party brought in a small deer, giving promise of more from the
hunters still in the open. With the passing hours one man after another
reached the ship, while the slowly vanishing twilight became fainter and
fainter. When the darkness of night had come and the officer of the deck
had checked off the hunters, he reported to the captain that two men
were yet absent--Sergeant John Woon and Seaman Charles Anderson, both
excellent men, active-bodied and distinguished as hunters.

Woon was the non-commissioned officer in charge of the detachment of
royal marines, whose standing and popularity were almost as high with
the seamen as with his own corps. Dr. Armstrong says of him: "He proved
himself invaluable, was always a ready volunteer, most correct and
soldier-like in conduct, ever contributed to the hilarity and
cheerfulness of the crew, and was brave and intrepid on every occasion,
which fully tested the man."

Whether on shipboard or on land, Woon never failed to do a lion's share
of the work in hand, and was always the first to cheer and help a tired
comrade. An indefatigable and successful hunter, he was familiar with
the white wolves that so menaced the safety of individuals. On one
occasion, going for a deer shot that day, he killed at a distance of a
hundred yards a gaunt wolf who was greedily devouring the precious
carcass. This monster wolf, with a thick coat of pure, unstained white,
weighed eighty pounds, was three feet four inches high and five feet ten
inches in length.

It was Sergeant Woon also who had distinguished himself in killing,
under thrilling circumstances, two infuriated and charging musk-oxen, as
elsewhere related in the sketch, "Pim's Timely Sledge Journey."
Altogether he was a man quite able to care for himself, though not
coming to the ship with such a reputation for woodcraft, hunting skill,
and physical activity as had Seaman Anderson.

Able Seaman Charles Anderson was a man of powerful build and great
muscular strength, who had made himself a leader among the seamen by his
success in athletic sports, in which he easily excelled any other man on
the ship. A Canadian by birth, his color and his personality disclosed
in his veins deep strains of Indian or other alien blood. Inured to the
hardships and labors of a hunter's life in the Hudson Bay territory,
where he claimed to have been an employee, he displayed in his social
relations the mercurial and attractive qualities which distinguish the
French half-breeds, the famous _coureurs de bois_.

At the evening meal there was more or less chaffing between the marines
and the seamen as to where were Woon and Anderson and what success they
were having in the field. With a trace of that special pride of corps
which goes so far to make the various arms of the military services so
efficient, the seamen said that it was a pity that the absent men were
not together so that Woon's safety might be better assured by the skill
and strength of his friend Anderson. To these jests the royal marines
answered, as was their wont, in kind, enlarging ludicrously by side
remarks and flings on the reputed helplessness of sailors on land,
especially on _deer-back_.

At eight o'clock that night affairs took a different turn, when it was
known that M'Clure and the other officers felt serious alarm over the
continued absence of two hunters who were said to be in the field apart.
The fog had given place to a bright sky, with feeble light and rapidly
falling temperature, so that disaster to one or both was thought to be
probable. The presence and boldness of the prowling bands of ravenous
wolves in the immediate neighborhood of the ship was viewed as one of
the greatest dangers to a single disabled man.

To show the location of the ship and to guide the absentees to it in the
darkness of the night, a mortar was first fired to attract the notice of
the hunters, and then every ten or fifteen minutes a rocket was sent
up, but with the closest attention no one could detect any sound that at
all resembled a human voice. Nothing could be heard save now and then
the ominous howling of wolves, doleful sounds to the anxious crew.

After two disquieting hours of signals by mortar and rockets, with no
responsive answers from the hunters, Captain M'Clure sent out three
search-parties, each headed by an officer. Arranging a code of signals,
both for recall to and for assistance from the ship, they set forth on
an agreed plan in different directions, each party provided with
rockets, blue light, food, wraps, and stimulants. In less than a quarter
of an hour one of the searching-parties met Sergeant Woon coming to the
ship for help. Summoning another squad to join them, they hastened under
the direction of Sergeant Woon to the relief of Anderson, who was
perishing of cold in a snow-drift a scant mile distant.

It appears that Anderson, discovering a herd of deer, had pursued and
wounded one of them, which fled inland away from the ship. Following
fast after the wounded animal, without noting the winding direction of
the trail, he at length not only lost the tracks of the deer but also
found that the country was being covered by a light fog. Climbing the
nearest hill-top, he was panic-stricken to find himself unable to note
either the face of the bright southern sky, the hunters' usual method of
finding their bearings, or to see any landmark that was at all familiar.
He hurried from hill-top to hill-top, exhausting his strength, confusing
his mind, and destroying his faith in his ability to find his homeward
way. In utter despair he sat down in the snow and gave himself up for
lost.

Most fortunately Sergeant Woon had seen no game, and chancing to cross
the trail of Anderson and of the escaping deer, he decided to follow it
up and help the sailor bring in his game. With extreme astonishment he
found Anderson in a state of utter helplessness, already benumbed and
certain soon to perish either from wolves or by freezing. Cold, fear,
and fatigue had caused the seaman to lose not alone his power of action
and of decision, but had almost deprived him of the faculty of speech.
He was in such a demoralized condition--half-delirious, frightened,
fatigued, and frosted--that he could not at first fully realize that his
comrade had come to his assistance and that his ultimate safety was
quite assured.

His utter prostration was only known when Woon asked him to get up and
go home, to which he feebly moaned out, "I am lost," and did not rise
even when the sergeant curtly said: "Get up like a man and you are all
right." Some time passed before either words of cheer or sharp words of
order and abuse had any effect. His patience worn out at last, Woon
seized him roughly, dragged him to his feet, gave him a shove shipward,
and started him on the home trail, but in a few minutes the bewildered
seaman fell down in the deep snow through which he was walking. Not only
was his strength worn out to exhaustion, but to the intense horror of
Woon he was no sooner put on his feet than he fell down in a convulsive
fit, while blood gushed freely from his mouth and nostrils.

The appalling conditions would have shaken any man less courageous than
this heroic sergeant. They were many miles from the _Investigator_, the
weather was turning cold with the vanishing fog, and the feeble
twilight--it was now about two o'clock in the afternoon--was giving way
to coming darkness. If he went to the ship for aid, Anderson would
surely perish before it could be obtained. In the hours of travel to and
fro the seaman would either freeze solidly or meet a horrible
alternative fate from the not-far-distant wolves, whose dismal howlings
already seemed a funeral dirge to their helpless prey.

The audacity and strength of these starving, ravenous animals had been a
constant source of anxiety and alarm to all the hunters. Especially had
the forecastle talk run on one gigantic brute, standing nearly four feet
high at the shoulder, leaving a foot-print as big as that of a reindeer,
who was thought to be the recognized leader of a marauding band from
whose ravages no slaughtered game was free.

If the seaman could not be left, neither could he be carried, for
Anderson was one of the largest and heaviest men of the crew, while the
marine was one of the smallest and lightest. At last the thought came to
Woon that he could drag the seaman in to the ship. Not daring, for fear
of the wolves, to quit his gun, he slung both muskets across his
shoulders, and clasping Anderson's arms around his neck started to drag
him in this manner through miles of snow to the ship. Such a task was
of the most herculean and exhausting character. The only relief that he
had was when the trail brought him to the top of a hill or the edge of a
ravine. Stopping and laying Anderson on the snow, he rolled him down the
hill-side to the bottom, in this way giving himself a rest and at the
same time stirring the dormant blood and breaking the lethargic sleep of
the steadily freezing seaman. In fact this rough treatment was the
saving of Anderson, as a fresh wind had sprung up with the temperature
fifty-seven degrees below the freezing-point.

For ten long hours this heroic sergeant struggled on, while the
situation seemed more and more critical. The seaman was growing
stupider, while his own strength was decreasing from hour to hour,
although his courage was unfailing despite cold, darkness, and snow. At
length, when within a mile of the ship, he felt that he could not drag
his man a step farther. While resting and planning what next to do, he
saw a rocket shoot up, leaving its train of welcome blazing light.
Pointing to it, he called on Anderson to stand up and walk on as he was
now safe. Again and again he uttered such words of cheer, with alternate
threats and orders, but alas! without avail. The seaman only asked in
feeble voice "to be left alone to die," having reached that benumbed
state so dangerous to a freezing man.

Seeing that he could get him no farther, Woon laid him down in a drift
of snow, covered him with such of his own clothing as he felt he could
spare, and throwing quite a thick coating of snow over him, so as in a
measure to protect him from the awful cold, went ahead for aid, which
most happily proved to be near at hand.

The precautions that the sergeant had taken on leaving the man saved his
life, as a half-hour's longer exposure to the extreme cold would have
proved fatal. As it was, Anderson was brought to the ship insensible,
with his heart scarcely beating, with clinched, frozen hands, rigid
limbs, glassy eyes, and hard-set jaws. He lost parts of both feet, of
both hands, and of his nose by amputation, but with his robust
constitution recovered his general health and returned safely to
England.

The courage and devotion of Woon was recognized by his promotion to be
color-sergeant, the highest grade to which Captain M'Clure could advance
him. Welcome as was this increase of rank to Woon, it stood second in
his mind to a sense of the high honor and deeper regard with which he
was ever after held by the men of the ship. All felt that to his
strength of will, powers of endurance, and heroic spirit of comradeship
was due the life of the ship's favorite, first from death by exhaustion
and exposure and then from a more horrible fate at the ravenous jaws of
the greatly feared wolves.

In after time when, in the midst of a heated argument as to service
matters, some exultant marine would refer to the story of the big seaman
and the little sergeant, with a modesty equal to his courage and
creditable to his spirit of comradeship Color-Sergeant Woon would at
once interrupt the speaker and change the subject of conversation.

Nor is Woon's heroism an especially unusual episode in the thrilling
history of arctic service. In countless and too-often unrecorded cases
not only the officers, but especially also the rank and file, have
practically and gloriously illustrated by personal heroism those
splendid qualities of uplifted humanity--fortitude, loyalty, patience,
best of all, solidarity and the spirit of self-sacrifice. These
unheralded and humble heroes have at the call of duty, as circumstances
required, done their part each in his own way. Among these the name of
Color-Sergeant Woon stands high, simply because his rising to a noble
occasion is a matter of written record.

We know not his later career in war or in peace, but we feel sure that
as color-sergeant he lived up to the ideal of an American private when,
as others of his caste, for the honor and safety of a nation--

     "He shows in a nameless skirmish
     How the color-guard can die."



THE ANGEKOK KALUTUNAH AND THE STARVING WHITES

     "Every one hears the voice of humanity, under whatever clime he may
     be born, through whose breast flows the gushing stream of life,
     pure and unrestrained."--GOETHE.


As elsewhere noted, Dr. Elisha Kent Kane, United States Navy, in the
brig _Advance_, while in search of Sir John Franklin, was forced into
winter quarters at Van Rensselaer Harbor, Greenland, in the Autumn of
1853. As the harbor ice did not break up the following summer, the
question arose in August, 1854, as to the proper line of action to be
taken in order to preserve the lives of the crew. The stock of fuel was
practically exhausted, the provisions were so depleted in quantity and
restricted in quality as to threaten starvation, while in the matter of
health Kane describes the crew as "a set of scurvy-riddled, broken-down
men." He believed, nevertheless, and events proved that his judgment was
sound and practicable, that the safety of the party would be best
insured by remaining in the brig during the winter, saying: "In spite of
the uncertainty, a host of expedients are to be resorted to and much
Robinson-Crusoe work ahead. Moss was to be gathered for eking out our
winter fuel; willow-stems, sorrel, and stone-crops collected as
anti-scorbutics and buried in the snow."

The Danish interpreter, Petersen, strongly urged the abandonment of the
ship and an attempt to reach by boats the Danish colony at Upernavik,
thus crossing Baffin Bay. Though his ice experiences were only as a
subordinate with Penny's arctic expedition, his opinion caused a
separation of the party.

With his unfailing quality of courtesy Kane accorded free action to each
individual. He called all hands "and explained to them frankly the
considerations that have determined me to remain. I advised them
strenuously to forego the project, and told them I should freely give my
permission to those desirous of making the attempt." Eight decided to
remain and nine to make the attempt, among whom were Dr. Hayes and
Petersen. The main incidents of their unsuccessful journey and their
relations with the Etah Eskimo, whose material aid saved their lives,
form the principal parts of this narrative.[8]

       *       *       *       *       *

The boat party, under command of the Dane, J. C. Petersen, started
August 28, 1854, provided with all that they could carry in the way of
food, arms, ammunition, clothing, camp and boat gear. "I gave them [says
Kane] their portion of our resources justly, and even liberally. They
carried with them a written assurance of a brother's welcome should they
be driven back; and this assurance was redeemed when hard trials had
prepared them to share again our fortunes."

It required eight days of heavy and unremitting labor to get the boats
and stores to open water, a start so discouraging that one man deserted
the party and returned to the _Advance_. The ice conditions were most
adverse from the very beginning, entailing sufferings and hazards from
day to day. Among their experiences were besetment in the open pack,
separation of boat and cargo during portages, some of the men adrift on
detached floes, and stormy weather that kept them once for thirty hours
without either warm food or drinking water. With courage, even if
judgment was wanting, they pushed on and improved matters by obtaining
food and another boat from the cache made at Littleton Island by Kane
the preceding year. A gale nearly swamped them in rounding Cape
Alexander, south of which they were forced to shore by the insetting
ice-pack. Ice and weather were too much for them, and they eventually
landed in Whale Sound, twenty miles north of Cape Parry. They had come
to the end, a hundred miles from Kane--scarcely an eighth of their
proposed voyage completed.

Here they were most hospitably received at an Eskimo encampment and
had their first view of native life in its own environment. The
principal man of the band was swarthy-faced Kalutunah, the Angekok, or
medicine-man, of the wandering bands that travel to and fro along the
narrow, ice-free land between Cape York and Etah. He was one of the
Etahs who had visited the _Advance_ the preceding winter and so
recognized them as friends. In a spirit of hospitality the Angekok
invited the voyagers to his encampment, where a feast of walrus blubber
and meat would be given them. It appeared, however, that the natives as
a body did not relish the inroads to be made on their scanty supply of
food, and one old woman especially inveighed against the feast. In the
end the dark-skinned Kalutunah, enforcing his authority and asserting
his dignity as the Angekok of the tribe, tersely and firmly said: "The
white man shall have blubber!" which ended the discussion.

Hayes records: "Our savage friends were kind and generous. They
anticipated every wish. Young women filled our kettles with water.
Kalutunah's wife brought us a steak of seal and a dainty piece of liver.
The hunt had latterly been unproductive, and they had not in the whole
settlement food for three days. The supply of blubber obtained was
sufficient to fill our keg. We distributed to them a few small pieces of
wood, a dozen needles, and a couple of knives. We could not obtain any
food, for the poor creatures had none either to give or to barter."

The architectural skill of these, the most northerly people of the
world, was not without interest to Hayes. "I found the huts to be in
shape much like an old-fashioned clay oven, square in front and sloping
back into the hill. The whole interior was about ten feet in diameter
and five and a half feet high. The walls were made of stones, moss, and
of the bones of whale, narwhal, and other animals. They were not arched,
but drawn in gradually and capped by long slabs of slate-stone
stretching from side to side. The floor was covered with flat stones,
and the rear half of it was elevated a foot. This elevation, called a
_breck_, served both as bed and seat, being covered with dry grass over
which were spread the skins of bears and dogs. Under a small corner
_breck_ lay a litter of pups[9] and under another was stowed a joint of
meat. Above the passageway opened a window, a square sheet of dried
intestines, neatly sewed together. The entrance hole, close to the front
wall, was covered with a piece of seal-skin. The walls were lined with
seal or fox skins stretched to dry. In the cracks between the stones of
the walls were thrust whip-stocks and bone pegs on which hung coils of
harpoon-lines. The lamps were made of soapstone and in shape much
resembled a clam-shell, being about eight inches in diameter. The cavity
was filled with oil and on the straight edge a flame was burning
brilliantly. The wick which supplied fuel to the flame was of moss.
Above the flame hung, suspended from the roof, an oblong, nearly square,
cooking-pot made of soapstone. Over this was a rack, made of bear
rib-bones lashed together crosswise, on which were placed to dry
stockings, mittens, trousers, and other articles of clothing. There were
three lamps, and centring around its own particular lamp were three
families, one represented by three generations."

Petersen's party went into winter quarters sixteen miles south of Cape
Parry, where their equipment was landed, the boats hauled up, and their
tents pitched. As the men suffered frightfully in the thin tents, a hut
was built in a crevice of a neighboring cliff. With the well-known
resourcefulness of the American sailor, they put up quite a comfortable
shelter roofed with the sails of the boat. A canvas-covered wooden frame
served as a door, and an old muslin shirt greased with seal blubber
admitted a feeble light through the hole called a window.

Three weeks had now passed since the party had left Kalutunah, and the
attempt to live on the resources of the country had utterly failed, the
only game killed by the hunter Petersen being eighteen ptarmigan (arctic
grouse). With food for a week only, "to appease the gnawing pains of
hunger we resorted to the expedient of eating the rock-lichen, which our
party called stone-moss. Black externally with a white interior, it is
an inch in diameter and the thickness of a wafer. When boiled it makes a
glutinous and slightly nutritious fluid. Poor as was this plant, it at
least filled the stomach and kept off the horrid sensation of hunger
until we got to sleep."

By the middle of October the situation was impossible, with the cold
forty degrees below the freezing-point, their bedding damp, the
stone-moss disagreeing with some, and one man sick. They talked of a
desperate foot journey to seek aid at Netlik, the native encampment
forty miles to the north, but food and strength seemed equally lacking.
Even if made, would the journey be profitable? Hayes had already noted
that the Eskimos "were poor beyond description. Nature seems to have
supplied them with nothing but life, and they appear to have wrested
from the animal world everything which they possessed. Clothed wholly in
skins, with weapons fashioned of bone, they subsisted exclusively on
animal food. [He adds:] There seems no hope for us save in stone-moss."

During an awful blizzard, when hopes were feeblest, two native hunters
burst into the hut equally to the astonishment and relief of the boat
party. Hayes says: "Invested from head to foot in a coating of ice and
snow, shapeless lumps of whiteness, they reminded me of my boy-made snow
kings. Their long, heavy fox-skin coats, surmounted by head-hoods, their
bear-skin trousers, their seal-skin boots and mittens were saturated
with snow. Their hair, eyelashes, and few chin hairs were sparkling with
white frost. Each carried in his right hand a whip and in his left a
lump of frozen meat and blubber. Throwing the meat on the floor, they
stripped off their outer garments and hung them on the rafters.
Underneath their frosty garments they wore a shirt of bird-skins. One of
these new-comers was the Angekok, the sturdy, good-natured, and voluble
Kalutunah. Soon we were rejoicing in a good substantial meal at the
expense of our guests."

The next morning when the Inuits were leaving the starving sledge dogs
attacked Hayes, who says: "An instant more and I should have been torn
to pieces. I had faced death before, but never had I felt as then; my
blood fairly curdled in my veins. Death down the red throats of a pack
of wolfish dogs was something peculiarly unpleasant.... The poor
animals, howling piteously, had been tied separately for thirty-six
hours and were savagely hungry. Every line or piece of skin or article
of food was out of their reach. One, however, had already eaten the
trace by which he was tied."

Of the critical situation Hayes writes: "We had thirty-six biscuits and
three pints of bread-dust. Each man had a biscuit a day, a quantity
insufficient for our need. The hunt having failed utterly to supply us,
we must get our food of the natives or not at all. Accordingly we made
with the Angekok a treaty by which his people are to furnish as much
food as we might want, and we are to supply them with wood, iron,
knives, and needles at rates to be subsequently fixed upon."

It was a fortnight before the Inuits again appeared, and meanwhile the
whale-boat was broken up for fuel. All of the party had become
frightfully weak and three men were sick. Hayes piteously says: "What
_shall we_ do? Will the Eskimos never come? I never go out without
expecting to find a corpse when I return."

At last, after two weeks, the natives returned, coming from a hunt with
the greater part of three bears. While the starving men "were fattening
on the juicy bear's meat they left us," yet there was a key-note of fear
in the statement that the natives "were very chary of the meat, as we
obtained only enough to suffice us for a few days." Their gratitude for
trifles and the willingness of the natives to give their last bit of
food was shown a few days later by a young Eskimo. "He had nothing on
his sledge but two small pieces of blubber, four birds, about a pound of
bear meat, a bear-skin, and a small lamp. All these he laid at our
feet."

Temporarily saved from death by starvation through food from the
natives, the whites planned for the future. There was much wild talk
about wintering at Cape York, of hiring the natives to take them across
the unknown ice of Baffin Bay to Upernavik. Finally it was agreed that
life depended on their obtaining supplies from or by their return to
Kane and the _Advance_--either of these alternatives a difficult as well
as a bitter resort. The distance along the ice-foot of the winding coast
was estimated to be about three hundred miles, and it was hard to admit
that their departure from the brig against the wishes and advice of
their commander had been a serious mistake. At least they would try
their friend Kalutunah on their various schemes before admitting their
error.

The Angekok came with food, as usual, and at the same time there was a
new visitor, a widow with a load of frozen birds--the little auks killed
the summer before and stored for winter consumption. She declined to eat
the walrus and held fast to her own food. It appeared at last that she
was a patient of the medicine-man, Kalutunah, whose power over his
comrades lay in his virtues as a sorcerer. Hayes says: "The widow
greatly interested me. She ate birds for conscience' sake. Her husband's
soul had passed into the body of a walrus as a temporary habitation, and
Angekok Kalutunah had prescribed that for a certain period she should
not eat the flesh of this animal. As bear and seal were scarce, she was
compelled to fall back on birds. This penance [he adds] was of a kind
which every Eskimo undergoes upon the death of a near relation. The
Angekok announces to the mourners into what animal the soul of the
departed has passed, and henceforth, until the spirit has shifted its
quarters, they are not to partake of the flesh of that animal."

The party, cheered by the food brought by Kalutunah, broached to him
their wishes. He listened gladly to the tales of the delight and charms
of Upernavik sung by Petersen, but declined to attempt the ice journey
across Baffin Bay, which was known to him only as a great, ice-filled
ocean wherein had perished many of his tribe, as had lately the husband
of the bird-eating widow. Neither would he sell his dogs, without whom
he could neither travel nor hunt. To their surprise he consented to take
one of the party north to the _Advance_. The commander of the
boat-party, Petersen, decided to make the journey, and with him a
seaman, Godfrey, was unwisely allowed to go, and the sledge was also
accompanied to the native settlement at Netlik by two other men. The
Netlik visit resulted in feasts for the men who stopped there, but
Petersen and Godfrey turned back a few days later to the boat camp. They
said that they were in fear of their lives from an Eskimo, Sip-su, with
whom they had trouble. Hayes records the despair of the party at this
situation, saying: "We are at the end of our plans and in two days more
shall be at the end of our provisions. We are destitute--helpless. What
_shall_ we do?"

The day that food failed he rejoices thus: "Again the Eskimos appear to
us more as our good angels than as our enemies. Kalutunah and another
hunter came to us to-day and threw at our feet a large piece of walrus
beef and a piece of liver." Doubtless through the friendly influence of
the Angekok other hunters came to the starving whites from time to time
with meat--even the dreaded bully, Sip-su--receiving in payment bits of
wood or of iron.

It was none the less clear that the party, unable to hunt itself, could
not hope to live through the winter on meat from the natives who at
times were themselves on the verge of starvation. It was decided to
obtain a sledge and dogs wherewith to make the journey back to the brig.

To build a sledge Hayes examined those of the Inuits of which he says:
"It was the most ingeniously contrived specimen of the mechanic art that
I have ever seen, made wholly of bone and leather. The runners, square
behind and rounded upward in front, about five feet long, were slabs of
bone; not solid, but composed of pieces of various shapes and sizes
cunningly fitted and tightly lashed together. Near their margins were
rows of little holes, through which were run strings of seal-skin, by
which the blocks were fastened together, making a slab almost as firm as
a board. These bones were flattened and ground--a work of months for a
single runner--into the required shape with stones.

"The runners were shod with ivory from the tusk of the walrus, ground
flat and its corners squared with stones; it was fastened to the runner
by a seal-skin string which was looped through two counter-sunk holes.
This sole, though composed of a number of pieces, was uniform and as
smooth as glass.

"The runners, fourteen inches apart, were fastened together by bones
tightly lashed. These cross-bars were the femur of the bear, the antlers
of the reindeer, and the ribs of the narwhal. Two walrus ribs were
lashed, one to the after-end of each runner, for upstanders, and were
braced by a piece of reindeer antler secured across the top."

Quite hopeless of building anything that should be as good as this, they
succeeded in making an indifferent sled from the remains of their boats,
which had been broken up and largely used for fuel. Four dogs were
bought, but a single day's journey showed how impossible it was to hope
to reach Kane with such a wretched field outfit. They must resort to the
natives, and especially to Kalutunah the Angekok.

After endless efforts the boat party succeeded in obtaining dog teams
sufficient to enable them to make the return journey to the _Advance_.
As Petersen had gone ahead with one man, it left Hayes to conduct to the
ship the other men, one being too sick to travel. It was a journey full
of suffering from the extreme cold, of danger especially in rounding the
precipitous cliffs of Cape Alexander, where the strong sea current from
the north and the tides from the south cause danger spots that often
bring death to the midwinter sledgemen.

Of their treatment while travelling up the coast one instance is given
by Hayes: "We received all manner of kind attentions from our hosts. The
women pulled off our boots, mittens, coats, and stockings and hung them
up to dry. My beard was frozen fast to the fur of my coat, and it was
the warm hand of Kalutunah's wife that thawed away the ice. Meats of
different kinds were brought in and offered to us."

Of the passage around the cape Hayes records: "For the space of several
feet the ice-foot was not more than fifteen inches wide, and sloping. A
halt was called and men and dogs crouched behind the rocks for shelter.
The furious wind, still lashing the waves against the frozen shore at
our feet, whirled great sheets of snow down upon us from the overhanging
cliffs. We could not face the pitiless storm at our backs, and to go
forward seemed impossible. Discarding my mittens and clinging with my
bare hands to the crevices in the rock, I moved cautiously along the
sloping shelf. Below the breaking surf yawned to receive any victim who
made an inadvertent step. I shall not soon forget the joy and
thankfulness with which I found myself upon the broad ice-belt at the
farther side of this dangerous place. The dogs were driven forward by
their native masters and, seized by the collars, were dragged around the
point. The sledges were pushed along the shelf and turned on one runner
and held until the dogs could stretch their traces and, bounding
forward, at the word whirled them around in safety before they could
topple over the precipice."

Finally Van Rensselaer Harbor was reached, and the returning wanderers,
blinded, frost-bitten, and exhausted, staggered on to the deck of the
_Advance_. With his generous heart their old commander Kane received
them with open arms and brotherly greetings.

One cannot but class as astounding these human experiences, which marked
the first extended relations between the men of Etah and the adventurous
explorers who had come from the outside world. In this instance there
had been brought face to face the hitherto unknown men of the stone age
and the representatives of the high and vaunted civilization that aims
to uplift and to dominate all the nations of the earth.

On the one hand were the Etahs, who were actual children of the stone
age--clothed in skins, without wood or metal, having neither houses nor
boats, using stone utensils in their rude huts of skin or of rock, and
living solely by the hunt. Following the chase with weapons of bone,
through untold hardships they wrested, day by day, precarious food from
their home environment--a habitat on one of the most desolate reaches of
the arctic coasts. Their struggles for mere existence under these harsh
conditions of uncertainty were such as--either among the men of the
stone age or in the imperial cities of to-day--engender intense
selfishness and lead to deadly contests in order to save the strong at
the expense of the weak.

On the other hand were the men of the civilized world, provided with
boats, furnished with selected food, especially equipped for polar
service, and armed with the best weapons. Engaged in the mission of
relieving the men of Franklin's missing squadron, with their superior
knowledge and their trained minds, they were supposed to be able not
only to be self-reliant and self-sustaining, but also to extend aid to
the needy.

Through the irony of fickle fortune the civilized men had found
themselves unable to maintain life by the chase of the land and sea game
of the region. In dire distress, with failing food, they faced certain
death unless aid should come from outside sources.

To the savage and famine-threatened men of Etah the appalling condition
of their alien visitors was clearly evident. Moreover, if the helpless
white men were simply left to themselves they must soon perish, leaving
for the Inuits untold wealth of hitherto unknown treasures,--of iron and
wood, of cloth and cordage, of robes and of weapons.

In this fearful crisis, amid arctic cold and in polar darkness, savage
humanity rose to heroic heights. Selfishness and covetousness stood
abashed among these children of the stone age, and in their stead were
awakened holy feelings of human pity and a spirit of self-denying
charity.

Their deeds show that in the white north as in the sunny south there
abide the true spirit of brotherly love and a recognized sense of human
interdependence. After the Etah manner, there recurred the episode of
the Samaritan charity of ancient Judea. Yet the action of the Inuit
even surpassed the deed of the good man of Palestine, for Etah aid was
not the outcome of a rich man's loving generosity to a penniless
sufferer, but it also paralleled the widow's mite, for Kalutunah, the
savage sorcerer, and his tribesmen gave the sole food of to-morrow for
their wives and children to save from death the rich and alien white men
of the unknown south. Does heroism rise to nobler deeds in the midst of
our superior civilization and higher development?

FOOTNOTES:

[8] See map, page 95.

[9] In order to raise the puppies and save them from the devouring jaws
of the ravenous, starving dogs, litters are kept in the huts, or
elsewhere in a protected place, until they are large enough to run about
and seek their mother's aid when attacked.



DR. RAE AND THE FRANKLIN MYSTERY

     "An age which passes over in silence the merits of the heroic
     deserves as a punishment that it should not bring forth such an one
     in its midst."--FORSTER.


In 1845 Captain John Franklin, royal navy, in command of the ships
_Erebus_ and _Terror_, sailed with one hundred and twenty-nine souls to
make the northwest passage. His orders carried him via Lancaster Sound
and Cape Walker, and he was provisioned for three years. The ships were
last seen by civilized men in Baffin Bay, whence they passed from the
knowledge of the world. In 1847 great anxiety prevailed as to the fate
of the expedition, and fears of its loss grew stronger from year to
year. More than a score of ships, with crews of nearly two thousand men,
at an expense of millions of dollars vainly sought, between 1847 and
1853, news of the missing squadron, and the British Parliament offered a
reward of ten thousand pounds sterling for the first accredited
information regarding the lost explorers.

The Franklin mystery was solved through the labors of Dr. John Rae, a
Scotch surgeon in the employ of the Hudson Bay Company, whose marvellous
endurance and restless energy are evident from the statement that in his
various journeys of exploration he walked more than twenty thousand
miles. The conditions under which Rae gained information as to the fate
of Franklin are herein set forth.

       *       *       *       *       *

Twice before had Rae been engaged in the Franklin search, in 1848-50
with Sir John Richardson, and later under the auspices of the Hudson Bay
Company. In these combined journeys of five thousand three hundred and
eighty miles he had explored much of Wollaston and Victoria Lands, from
Fort Confidence as a base. The doctor then found at Parker Bay the butt
of a flag-staff, which from its tack and line, bearing the special mark
of the royal navy, had evidently belonged to one of Franklin's ships.
Now, in 1853, he was in command of a Hudson Bay Company's party to
complete the exploration of Boothia Peninsula.

Leaving Chesterfield Inlet by boat, Rae was en route to Repulse Bay, his
intended head-quarters, when he fell in with a herd of walruses, from
which, in spite of his terrified crew, who feared these sea-monsters, he
obtained an enormous animal that furnished enough blubber for his
cooking-lamps throughout the winter. That Rae's walrus hunt was not
without danger was evident from the experiences of four Eskimos off this
very coast on Rae's previous visit. The natives lashed together their
four kayaks, and while in pursuit of walruses were attacked by a
ferocious male. Striking down the first kayak with his enormous tusks,
the infuriated animal ploughed through the miniature fleet, capsizing
and breaking up the four tiny crafts and drowning the unfortunate
hunters.

[Illustration: Boothia and Melville Peninsulas.]

It was the middle of August when Rae pitched his tents on the barren
shores of Repulse Bay, where the outlook for food and comfort were not
promising--the shore being free from Eskimo hunters, whose absence
indicated that the migratory game was pasturing inland that year. Summer
was rapidly passing, yet thick masses of old ice clung to the shore and
immense drifts of snow still filled the ravines.

The party had food and fuel for three months only, while the work in
hand meant a stay of nine months. The doctor began to collect supplies
systematically, and knew how to work to the best advantage as he had
once wintered at Repulse Bay. One party spread fish-nets at the best
places along the shore, the second took the field for deer and other
large game, while the last busied itself in gathering fuel for the
winter. Rae had earlier found that bunches of the arctic saxifrage made
excellent fuel when dried, and as there were neither trees nor shrubs
the hills and valleys were scoured for this useful plant.

With true Scottish pertinacity, Rae set the pace for his men and then
outdid them all in turn. Supplementing the mental training of the
Caucasian by extended experiences in the hunting-field of the Hudson Bay
region, he astonished and discomfited his men through astounding success
in the pursuit of game. In knowledge of woodcraft, in keenness of
vision, in keeping the trail, in patient waiting, and in hunter's wiles
he was without equal among his men. The Indian deer-hunter, Mistegan,
had come north especially selected to kill game for the party. When the
Indian kept the field for ten hours and brought in a deer, Rae kept it
for twelve hours and killed two or three animals. Pushed by his white
rival, Mistegan did his best and shot twenty-one deer in six weeks,
while Rae had to his credit forty-nine head--the whole party of eight
killing only one hundred and nine.

To the amazement of all, after a long absence roaming over the
far-distant hills to the west, Rae brought word that he had slain a
musk-ox--the sole wanderer that year from the herds of the barren
grounds to the southwest.

The weather became bitter cold, with the temperature down to zero, and
sea-fishing then failed. Rae turned his efforts to the newly frozen
lakes, where the hooks and nets, skilfully set, yielded two or three
salmon or lake trout daily--no mean addition to their larder for men who
were living on the game of the country.

October was a dismal period with its shortening days, its gloomy skies,
and high winds, which with zero temperatures blew piercingly through the
wretchedly thin tents. Life in daylight was only endurable when men were
on the trail or hunt. But now the wise old monarchs of the herds were
turning their heads southward in their annual migration, and only
twenty-five deer were killed during the month.

However, the bitter wind did good and needful work, for in time it
packed into marble-like drifts the autumnal snows. This gave work for
native snow-knife and deft hands, which soon erected two large snow
houses, on the southerly side of Beacon Hill, where they were well
sheltered from the prevailing northwesterly gales.

With Indian inclinations to idleness, some of the men looked forward
eagerly to the completion of the snow houses. They were viewed as
comfortable places for the long winter, where the cheerful pipe, with
tales of the trail and ample food, should make content the trapper's
heart and body. Rae had no such notion, for he had lived too long with
natives and with half-breeds not to know that daily work was needful
not only for the health, but even more for the morale and efficiency of
his men.

Finding that the fish-nets of the lake were much cut up by a small,
shrimp-like water insect, the favorite food of the salmon, he
transferred them to the rapids of North Pole River, which kept open
nearly all winter. Some of the men made the six-mile tramp across the
rough country to daily drag the nets, while the rest kept the field
where an occasional fox, wolf, partridge, or wolverine rewarded their
efforts.

After a time there was much grumbling at days of fruitless hunting. Rae
was equal to the occasion, and he set the discontented hunters at work
scraping under the snow for saxifrage, their sole supply of fuel. To
complaints he tersely said: "No saxifrage, no tea." Only men familiar
with the white north know what a deprivation it would have been to these
half-breeds to give up the hot tea, which they daily look forward to
with intense longing and drink with deep satisfaction.

With midwinter past and the sun returned, Rae welcomed with relief the
first sign of the far-distant but longed-for arctic spring. Of course,
with lengthening days came strengthening cold, and there were weeks
during which the mercury was frozen--the true arctic days of no wind, of
bright skies, and of beautiful colors in air and on ice.

One day the youngest of the Indians burst into the snow house, crying
out in great terror that the clouds were on fire. While the older men
rushed out instantly, the phlegmatic Scot followed at leisure. It
proved to be an offshoot of one of the brilliant sun-dogs which so
wondrously beautify the arctic heavens, especially in the early spring
or late winter. These sun-dogs, or mock-suns, arise from refraction and
reflection of the solar rays of light from the ice particles that are
suspended in the air, and are usually at twenty-two or forty-five
degrees distant from the sun itself.

On this occasion the sun-dogs had formed behind a thin, transparent
cirrus cloud which greatly extended the area of the sun-dog besides
adding very greatly to its already vivid colors. Rae tells us that
"three fringes of pink and green followed the outlines of the cloud."
The alarm and mistake of the young novice in sun-dogs and solar halos
were sources of gibes and fun among his chaffing comrades for many days.

Rae now began his preparations for field work. A snow hut was put up for
the use of the carpenter, who was soon busy overhauling the sledge gear.
The Hudson Bay sledges were carefully taken apart, scraped, polished,
reduced in weight as far as was safe, and then put together with the
utmost care so that the chance of a break-down in the field should be
reduced to a minimum. The trade articles for use with the Eskimos were
gone over and so arranged as to give the greatest variety for use in the
field with the least weight. Everything was to be hauled by man-power
and the weights must be as small as possible. Beads, files, knives,
thimbles, fish-hooks, needles, and chisels were thought to be the best
suited to native needs and tastes.

Meanwhile, Rae was disturbed that no signs of Eskimos had been found in
their local field journeys. He feared that their absence might mean that
there had been a change of route on the part of the reindeer in their
migratory paths, for in that region no game meant no inhabitants.
Several efforts to locate natives near the fishing-points were made
without success. The doctor then put into the field two of his best men,
Thomas Mistegan, the deer-hunter, "a trusty, pushing fellow," as we are
told, and William Ouglibuck, the Eskimo interpreter of the party. Their
journey of several days to Ross Bay showed that the country was bare of
natives, but here and there were seen a number of deer migrating to the
north, and of these a few were shot. This journey was most disappointing
in its results for Rae had hoped to find Eskimos from whom he could buy
a few dogs for sledge work.

Rae did not spare himself, for starting in bitterly cold weather he laid
down an advance depot which was hauled on Hudson Bay sledges a distance
of one hundred and seventy miles. At Cape Pelly stores were cached under
large stones, secure, as he said, from any animal except man or bear.
Long experience had made him familiar with the enormous strength and
destructive powers of the polar bear. Dr. Kane, it will be recalled,
tells of the utter ruin of one of his best-built cairns, which he
thought to be animal-proof. Yet the bears tore it down and scattered its
heaviest packages in all directions.

The long and final trip to the north began on the last day of March,
the four sledgemen hauling each a heavily laden sledge. The field ration
was almost entirely pemmican, two pounds per day, with a few biscuit and
the indispensable tea. The trip began with misfortunes, one man proving
so weak in the traces that Rae had to replace him by the Cree Indian,
Mistegan, an experienced sledge-hauler of unusual activity.

The route lay overland almost directly north, to Pelly Bay across a
broken, desolate country. Violent blizzards and knee-deep snow made
travel painful enough, but under Rae's exacting leadership the hardships
became extreme. Each sledge with its load approached two hundred pounds,
an awful drag, which could be made only by men of iron frame and great
endurance, especially when making some twenty miles per day--Rae's
standard of travel. The day's march ended, then came the tedious labor
of building a snow igloo, wherein at least they were able to sleep with
warmth and comfort. While hut-building was in progress the doctor
faithfully made sextant observations for latitude or longitude,
determined the local variation of the compass, and observed the
temperature--in short, did more than any other man of the party.

Day after day they marched on over a land of desolation and abandonment.
Neither bird nor man nor beast was to be seen, despite the keen eyes of
the Cree hunter, of whom Rae commendingly remarked: "Custom had caused
him to notice indications and marks which would have escaped the
observation of a person less acute and experienced." In this single
particular, of picking up and following a trail, was the remarkable
Scottish leader surpassed by any of his Indian hunters or Canadian
trappers.

Nearly three weeks of monotonous, heart-breaking travel had thus passed,
and they reached the shores of Pelly Bay. Scouring the country near the
camp as usual, the trail-hunting Cree, Mistegan, threw up his hands with
the welcome message of things seen, which brought Rae to his side.
There, clear to the Indian but almost illegible to any other, a few
faint scratches on the surface of the ice told that days before there
had passed a dog-drawn sledge.

Making camp, Rae began work on his observations, at the same time
setting two men at gathering saxifrage for fuel, and putting on the
sledge trail Eskimo Ouglibuck and fleet-footed Mistegan. That night Rae
was happy to see flying across the bay ice several dog-sledges with
triumphant Mistegan in the lead.

There were seventeen Inuit hunters, twelve men and five women. Although
several of them had met Rae at Repulse Bay in 1846-7, the greater number
were pushing and troublesome, having a certain contempt for men of pale
faces who were so poor that they were without even a single dog and had
to haul their sledges themselves. After some talk they were ready to
sell the seal meat with which their sledges were loaded, but would not,
despite liberal promises of needles, agree to hire out their dogs to go
westward across land, as Rae desired them to do in order that he might
survey the west coast--his sole object on this journey. Although Rae
spoke of the delights of chasing musk-oxen, they preferred their
seal-hunting grounds which they had just visited with success.

Rae tells us of a favorite method of seal-hunting followed by these
Eskimos in which many of the native women are very expert. On bright
days the seals, crawling from their air-holes, delight to bask in the
sun and indulge in little cat-naps or siestas. Dozing a half-minute, the
seal awakes with alarm, and after quickly looking in all directions
falls asleep, with constant repetitions of naps and starts. When a seal
is thus engaged the hunter, clad in seal-skin garments, endeavors to
make his way between the seal and the air-hole, a process demanding
endless patience and involving much fatigue. The hunter lies either on
his face or side, and makes his advances while the animal dozes or is
looking elsewhere. If obliged to move while the seal is awake, the
native makes his advances by a series of awkward motions like those of a
seal making its way over the ice. A skilful hunter sometimes gets within
a few feet of the animal without arousing its fears, and an on-looker
would at a distance be unable to say which figure was the seal and which
the man. Seals are unusually curious, and at times one comes forward
with friendly air to meet its supposed fellow. When in the desired
position the hunter springs up and, running to the air-hole, attacks the
animal as he tries to escape. Seals are thus captured even without a
spear or other weapon, a blow on the nose from a club killing them.

The active and numerous body of Eskimo visitors were too meddlesome for
Scotch patience, and Rae finally sent them away, not, however, before
they had stolen, as it was later learned, a few pounds of biscuit and a
large lump of fuel-grease.

Rae was now almost directly to the east of the magnetic north pole, the
north-seeking end of his compass pointing eight degrees to the _south_
of due _west_. Breaking camp, he turned toward the magnetic pole. Having
a heavy load, he decided to cache his surplus supplies until his return,
but did not dare to do so near the Eskimos. The cache was made on a
rocky hill several miles inland, and it took some time to make it secure
from animals and free from observation by travellers. The cache made,
Rae was astonished and angry to find that the Eskimo interpreter,
Ouglibuck, was gone. Rae never thought of desertion, but keen-eyed
Mistegan caught sight of the Inuit fleeing to the eastward toward the
camp of his native cousins. As the speediest of the party, the doctor
and the Cree started after him, taking that slow dog-trot with which the
Indian runners cover so much ground untiringly. It was a sharp run of
five miles before the deserter was overtaken.

Rae says: "Ouglibuck was in a great fright when we came up with him, and
was crying like a child, but expressed his readiness to return, and
pleaded sickness as an excuse."

The doctor thought it best to diplomatically accept the statement that
the deserter was sick, but none the less he deemed it wise to decrease
the load hauled by the Eskimo, doing so at the expense of the
half-breeds. But it was quite clear that Ouglibuck was more than willing
to exchange his conditions of hard field work with scant food for the
abundant seal meat and the social company of his own people, which had
proved so enjoyable during his brief visit to their igloos.

This prompt action of Rae's tided over the critical phase of the
expedition, and the temporary delay indirectly brought about the meeting
with other natives, from whom came the first news of the missing
explorers. Immediately after renewing his western journey, Rae met a
native who had killed a musk-ox and was returning home with his
dog-sledge laden with meat. Ouglibuck made his best efforts to reinstate
himself in the good graces of Rae by persuading the Inuit stranger to
make a journey of two days to the westward, thus lightening the loads of
the other sledges. Another Eskimo then joined Rae, anxious to see the
white men of whom he had heard from the visitors of the day previous.

The doctor asked his usual question, as a matter of form, as to the
Eskimo having seen before any white men or any ships, to which he
answered in the negative. On further questioning he said that he had
heard of a party of _kabloonans_ (white men), who had died of starvation
a long distance to the west.

Realizing the full importance of this startling and unexpected
information, Dr. Rae followed up this clew with the utmost energy, both
through visits to and by questionings of all Eskimos he could find. He
also extended his field efforts, during which cairns were searched and
the adjoining region travelled over as far as Beecher River, about 69°
N. 92° W. His original work of surveying was now made incidental to a
search for Franklin!

Nor must it be thought that these journeys were made without
considerable danger and much physical suffering. A half-breed, through
neglect of Rae's orders regarding changes of damp foot-gear at night,
froze two toes. With a courage almost heroic, this Indian labored to
redeem himself by travelling along and by doing all his work for several
weeks until he could scarcely stand. Imbued with the importance of his
new mission, Rae allowed nothing to stand in his way of adding to his
precious knowledge and to the possible chance of tracing the wanderings
of the lost explorers. He left the lame man with another half-breed to
care for him and to cook the food spared for them. The shiftless
character of Rae's men was shown by the fact that the well man not only
did not shoot anything but did not even gather saxifrage for fuel, but
used scarce and precious grease food for cooking.

Yet the fortitude and pride of the cripple was displayed in the return
journey, with the outer joint of his great toe sloughed off, thus making
it most painful to walk; as Rae remarks, "He had too much spirit to
allow himself to be hauled."

Rae's collected information was as follows:

In 1850 Eskimo families killing seals near King William Land saw about
forty white men travelling southward along the west shore, dragging a
boat and sledges. By signs the natives learned that their ships had been
crushed and that they were going to find deer to shoot. All were hauling
on the sledge except one officer. They looked thin and bought a seal
from the natives. Late that year the natives found the corpses of about
thirty-five men near Montreal Island and Point Ogle, part in tents and
others under a boat. None of the Eskimos questioned by Rae had seen the
explorers either living or dead. They learned of these matters from
other natives, from whom they had obtained by barter many relics of
various kinds.

Rae succeeded in purchasing about sixty articles from the Eskimos. The
most important, which left no doubt of their having come from Franklin's
squadron, were twenty-one pieces of silver for the table, which were
marked with five different crests and with the initials of seven
officers of the expedition, including Sir John Franklin.

The natives thought that some of the explorers lived until the coming of
wild fowl, in May, 1850, as shots were heard and fish bones with
feathers of geese were later seen near the last encampment.

Although Rae had completed his survey only in part, he wisely decided
that he had, as he records, "A higher duty to attend to, that duty being
to communicate with as little loss of time as possible the melancholy
tidings which I had heard, and thereby save the risk of more valuable
lives being jeopardized in a fruitless search in a direction where
there was not the slightest prospect of obtaining any information."

As may be imagined, Rae's definite reports stirred deeply the hearts and
minds of the civilized world, which for seven long years had vainly
striven to rend the veil of mystery that surrounded the fate of Franklin
and his men.

The silver and other articles brought back by Dr. Rae were placed in the
Painted Hall of Greenwich Hospital, among the many historic relics of
the royal navy. Even to-day these relics attract the attention and
excite the admiration of countless visitors. And well they may, not
alone as memorials of the deeds in peace of the naval heroes of England,
but also as evidences of the modest courage, the stanch endurance, and
heroic efforts of a Scotch doctor, John Rae, through whose arduous
labors they were placed in this temple of fame.



SONNTAG'S FATAL SLEDGE JOURNEY

     "Death cut him down before his prime,
     At manhood's open portal."
           --POMEROY.


The remarkable series of physical observations of Kane's expedition, the
most valuable scientific contribution of any single arctic party in that
generation, was almost entirely due to the scientific training and
personal devotion of his astronomer, August Sonntag. While the nature of
his duties lay in the observatory, his adventurous spirit sought field
service whenever practicable. As shown in "Kane's Rescue of His Freezing
Shipmates," Sonntag's prudence kept him from freezing in that terrible
winter sledging, while his energy in the long journey for aid
contributed to the final rescue of the disabled party.

When Dr. I. I. Hayes outfitted his expedition of 1860 in the _United
States_, the glamour of the arctic seas was still on Sonntag, who for
service therewith resigned his fine position as associate director of
the Dudley Observatory at Albany. Of his expeditionary force Hayes wrote
that he "lacked men. My only well-instructed associate was Mr. Sonntag."

Sailing as astronomer and as second in command, Sonntag met his fate
with the expedition on the ice-foot of the West Greenland coast. His
dangerous journey was made for reasons vital to the success of the
expedition. The incidents of the sledge trip are briefly supplemented by
such references to his previous field experiences as show the physical
fitness and heroic quality of the man.[10]

       *       *       *       *       *

The schooner _United States_ was in winter quarters at Port Foulke, near
Littleton Island. Without steam-power, the ship had not only been unable
to pass to the northward of Cape Sabine, but her unavoidable conflicts
with the polar pack had sadly damaged her. Conscious that his ship was
so near a wreck as to be unable to renew her voyage toward the north the
next summer, Hayes found himself obliged to undertake his polar
explorations with dogs over a long line of ice-floes.

Tests of dogs became the order of the day, and Hayes's delight was great
when, driving his own team--twelve strong, selected animals with no
load--twelve miles in sixty-one minutes, he beat Sonntag by four
minutes.

Although knowing the danger of such a journey, Sonntag arranged to climb
Brother John's Glacier (named by Kane for his brother) to determine its
seaward march. The approach was through a deep canyon. "This gorge is
interrupted in places by immense bowlders which have fallen from the
overhanging cliffs, or by equally large masses of ice which have broken
from the glacier. Sometimes the ice, moving bodily forward, had pushed
the rocks up the hill-side in a confused wave. After travelling two
miles along the gorge Sonntag made the ascent, Alpine fashion, with
which he was familiar, by steps cut with a hatchet in solid ice."

The deep, irregular crevasses common to most glaciers were bridged by
crust formations of the recent autumnal snows. These bridges were so
uniform with the general surface of the glacier as to make their
detection almost impossible. Although Sonntag moved with great caution
and continually tested the snow with his ice-chisel, which replaced the
Alpine alpenstock, he broke through one bridge. Most fortunately the
fall was at a place where the fissure was only about three feet wide,
opening either way into a broad crevasse. Still more fortunately he did
not fall entirely into the chasm, but as he pitched forward he
instinctively extended his left hand, in which he was carrying a
mercurial barometer three feet long, which caught on two points of the
glacier and thus barely saved his life.[11]

But Sonntag's ardent wish was for a bear hunt which occurred during an
unsuccessful attempt to revisit Rensselaer Harbor by dog-sledge, when a
bear and cub were killed.

Hayes says: "Sonntag has given me a lively description of the chase. As
soon as the dogs discovered the trail they dashed off utterly regardless
of the safety of the people on the sledges. Jensen's sledge nearly
capsized, and Sonntag rolled off in the snow, but he was fortunate
enough to catch the upstander and with its aid to regain his seat. The
delay in the hummocks gave the bears a start and made it probable that
they would reach the open sea. Maddened by the detention and the
prospect of the prey escaping them, the bloodthirsty pack swept across
the snowy plain like a whirlwind. The dogs manifested the impatience of
hounds in view of a fox, with ten times their savageness. To Sonntag
they seemed like so many wolves closing upon a wounded buffalo.

"The old bear was kept back by the young one, which she was unwilling to
abandon. The poor beast was in agony and her cries were piteous. The
little one jogged on, frightened and anxious, retarding the progress of
the mother who would not abandon it. Fear and maternal affection
alternately governed her. One moment she would rush forward toward the
open water, intent only upon her own safety; then she would wheel around
and push on the struggling cub with her snout and again coaxingly
encourage it to greater speed.

"Within fifty yards of the struggling animals the hunters, leaning
forward, slipped the knot which bound the traces together in one
fastening, and the dogs, freed from the sledges, bounded fiercely for
their prey. The old bear heard the rush of her enemies and squared
herself to meet the assault. The little one ran frightened around her
and then crouched for shelter between her legs.

"The old and experienced leader, Oo-si-so-ak, led the attack. Queen
Ar-ka-dik was close beside him, and twenty other wolfish beasts
followed. Only one dog faced her, and he, young, with more courage than
discretion, rushed at her throat and in a moment was crushed by her huge
paw. Oo-si-so-ak came in upon her flank, Ar-ka-dik tore at her haunch,
and other dogs followed this prudent example. She turned upon
Oo-si-so-ak and drove him from his hold, but in this act the cub was
uncovered. Quick as lightning Karsuk flew at its neck and a slender
yellow mongrel followed after. The little bear prepared to do battle.
Karsuk missed his grip and the mongrel tangled among the legs of the cub
was soon doubled up with a blow in the side and escaped yowling.
Oo-si-so-ak was hard pressed, but his powerful rival came to his relief
with his followers upon the opposite flank, which concentrated onslaught
turned the bear in the direction of the cub in time to save it, for it
was now being pulled down by Karsuk and his pack.

"Disregarding her own tormentors, she threw herself upon the assailants
of the cub, and to avoid her blows they quickly abandoned their hold,
which enabled her to once more draw under her the plucky little
creature, weakened with loss of blood and exhausted with the fight. The
dogs, beaten off from the cub, now concentrated on the mother, and the
battle became more fierce than ever. The snow was covered with blood. A
crimson stream poured from the old bear's mouth and another trickled
over the white hair of her shoulder, from shots fired by Hans and
Jensen. The little one was torn and bleeding. One dog was crushed almost
lifeless, and another marked with many a red stain the spot where he was
soothing his agony with piteous cries.

"Sonntag now came up, but their united volley, while weakening her, was
not sufficient to prevent her from again scattering the dogs and
sheltering her offspring, which then sank expiring. Seeing it fall, she
for a moment forgot the dogs, and licking its face tried to coax it to
rise. Now, apparently conscious that the cub no longer needed her
protection, she turned upon her tormentors with redoubled fury, and
flung another dog to join the luckless mongrel.

"For the first time she seemed to know that she was beset with other
enemies than dogs, when, his rifle missing fire, Hans advanced with an
Eskimo spear to a hand-to-hand encounter. Seeing him approach, the
infuriated monster cleared away the dogs with a vigorous dash and
charged him. He threw his weapon at the animal and turned in flight. The
bear bounded after him, and in an instant more neither speed nor dogs
could have saved him. Fortunately Sonntag and Jensen had by this time
reloaded their rifles, and with well-directed shots rolled her over on
the blood-stained snow."

In early December a great misfortune befell the expedition through an
epidemic disease attacking the dogs. "The serious nature of this
disaster [says Hayes] will be apparent when it is remembered that my
plans of operations for the spring were mainly based upon dogs as a
means of transportation across the ice. Unless I shall be able to supply
the loss, all of my plans would be abortive." The first dog attacked,
Karsuk of the bear-fight, was the best draught animal of the best team.
Of the effect of the malady he adds: "I have never seen such expression
of ferocity and mad strength exhibited by any living creature as he
manifested two hours after the first symptoms were observed. I had him
caught and placed in a large box, but this aggravated rather than
soothed the violence of the symptoms. He tore the boards with
indescribable fierceness, ripping off splinter after splinter, when I
ordered him to be shot." About the middle of December there remained
only nine dogs out of the original pack of thirty-six.

It occurred both to Hayes and to Sonntag that the best method of
replacing their lost animals was to open communication with the Eskimos
of Whale Sound. If they could induce several native families, through
offers of stores and food, to come north to Foulke Harbor, they would
bring along their dog teams which would thus be available for the sledge
journeys of the coming spring.

There were supposed to be several Inuit families living on the south
side of Whale Sound, which was distant a midwinter sledge journey of at
least one hundred and fifty miles. Hayes says: "That we should
communicate with these people at the earliest practicable moment was a
matter of the first importance. When the moon came it was arranged that
Sonntag should make the journey, taking a single sledge and Hans as a
driver."

Sonntag and Hans started with a team of nine dogs on the day of the
arctic midnight, December 21, when the sun had reached its greatest
southern declension. Hayes writes on the 22d: "Sonntag set out yesterday
to reach the Eskimos. We had talked the matter over from day to day, and
saw clearly it was the only thing to do. It was evident that if we
waited for daylight they would be beyond our reach."

Five weeks later came the news of Sonntag's death, which is told by Hans
in his "Memoirs":[12]

"In winter, just before Christmas, the astronomer [Sonntag] and I
undertook a journey by sledge to look for natives. We crossed the great
glacier [at Cape Alexander] and travelled the whole day without meeting
with any people. A strong wind sprang up from the north and caused a
thick drifting of snow, while we made our snow hut and went to sleep. On
wakening the next day it still blew a gale and the snow drifting
dreadfully, for which reason we resolved to return. While we proceeded
homeward the ice began to break up, so we were forced to go ashore and
continue our drive over the beach ice [ice-foot]. We arrived at a small
firth and crossed it, but on trying to proceed by land on the other side
it proved impassable and we were obliged to return to the ice again. On
descending here my companion fell through the ice which was nothing but
a thick sheet of snow and water. I stooped [from the high ice-foot
evidently] but was unable to seize him, it being very low tide. As a
last resort I remembered a strap hanging on the sledge-poles; this I
threw to him, and when he had tied it around his body I pulled, but
found it very difficult. At length I succeeded in drawing him up, but he
was at the point of freezing to death, and now in the storm and drifting
snow he took off his clothes and slipped into the sleeping-bag,
whereupon I placed him on the sledge and repaired to our last
resting-place.

"Our road being very rough, I cried from despair for want of help; but I
reached the snow hut and brought him inside. I was, however, unable to
kindle a fire and was myself overpowered with cold. My companion grew
still worse, although placed in the bear-skin bag, but with nothing else
than his shirt. By and by his breathing grew scarcer, and I, too, began
to feel extremely cold on account of now standing still after having
perspired with exertion. During the whole night my friend still
breathed, but he drew his breath at long intervals and toward morning
only very rarely. When finally I was at the point of freezing to death,
I shut up the entrance with snow, and as the breaking up of the ice had
rendered any near road to the ship impracticable, and the gale continued
violently, I set out for the south in search of men, although I had a
wide sea to cross."

After finding two deserted huts he threw himself down in despair,
awaiting his death. He continues: "When here I lay prostrate I uttered
sighing, _They say some one on high watches over me too. Have mercy on
me, and save me if possible, though I am a great sinner. My dear wife
and child are in such a pitiful state--may I first be able to bring them
to the land of the baptized._[13]

"I also pronounced the following prayer:

     "'Jesu, lead me by the hand
     While I am here below,
     Forsake me not.
     If Thou dost not abide with me, I shall fall,
     But near to Thee I am safe.'

"Thereafter I arose and set off again.... I discovered the light of a
window.... These folks [Etah Inuits] were very kind and hospitable. When
I entered the house and began to take off my clothes the fox-skin of my
jacket was as soft and moist as if newly flayed. My outer bear-skin
trousers were not so very wet. When I took off my hare-skin gaiters they
stuck to my stockings from being frozen together, and I could not get
them off but by cutting open the boots. Had I used seal-skin gaiters I
think that I should have frozen to death. Here I stayed many days, being
unable to return alone."

Sonntag's body was recovered in the early spring, the hut in which he
died being found to be completely covered with drifted snow, and he was
buried on the desolate shores of Port Foulke.

In an unpublished journal his shipmate Dodge writes: "Not yet in the
prime of life, but already enjoying a well-earned reputation which
gray-haired men might envy, with prospects of honor and usefulness
before him, he was endowed with abilities to achieve success in the
highest walks of science. Peace to his remains and all honor to his
memory. For among the gallant and the gifted men who have fallen victims
to their zeal for scientific research in the arctic regions, there has
been none braver or worthier than August Sonntag."

Thus perished one of nature's gentlemen, wedded to the universe through
his devotion to astronomy and yet alive to the winning aspects of
terrestrial grandeurs. Unsparing of self where the lives or comfort of
his comrades were in question, in unobtrusive ways he contributed to
their happiness and shared cheerfully the common burden of daily duties.
Such manly qualities, simple though they seem, made heroic the life and
death of August Sonntag.

FOOTNOTES:

[10] See map on page 95.

[11] Comparative measurements showed that the centre of Brother John
Glacier moved one hundred feet annually. Rink states that the centre of
the great Jacobshavn Glacier moves twenty metres a day, or about four
and a half miles annually.

[12] "Memoirs of Hans Hendrik" was written by Hans in Eskimo
twenty-eight years after Sonntag's death. This little-known volume,
translated by Dr. Henry Rink, gives, among other interesting matter
about the expeditions of Kane, Hayes, Hall, and Nares, the account of
Sonntag's death, which is substantially the same as that recorded in
Hayes's "Open Polar Sea."

[13] Hans Hendrik was of West Greenland where all the natives are
baptized. His wife, Mertuk, was one of the so-called heathen natives of
the Cape York region. See "The Wifely Heroism of Mertuk, the Daughter of
Shung-Hu."



THE HEROIC DEVOTION OF LADY JANE FRANKLIN

     "So many saints and saviors,
     So many high behaviors."
           --EMERSON.


In "The Discovery of the Northwest Passage" and in "Pim's Timely Sledge
Journey" there have been sketched various heroic phases connected with
the last voyage of Sir John Franklin and the expeditions of the Franklin
search. In the search there were employed thirty-three ships and nearly
two thousand officers and men, whose utmost endeavors during a period of
eight years, and at an expense of many millions of dollars, had failed
to obtain any definite information as to the fate of the missing
explorers. One clew had come from private sources, as shown in the tale
of "Dr. Rae and the Franklin Mystery."

This present narrative sets forth the work accomplished through the
devotion of the widow of Sir John Franklin, in a so-called hopeless
enterprise. Sacrificing her ease and her private fortune to a sense of
duty, not alone to her husband but also to those who served under him,
her labors eventually wrested from the desolate isles of the northern
seas the definite secret of the fate of the expedition as a whole.

       *       *       *       *       *

After his abandonment in 1853 of four expeditionary ships of the
Franklin search, Sir Edward Belcher returned to England, ending what he
termed "The Last of Arctic Voyages," in which opinion the British
Government concurred. Lady Jane Franklin did not accept this decision as
final. On April 12, 1856, in a letter to the admiralty, she strongly
urged the need for a further search, saying: "It is due to a set of men
who have solved the problem of centuries by the sacrifice of their
lives." To this letter no reply was made, and efforts for another
expedition made by her friends in Parliament were equally futile.

It is needless to say that even such unwonted and discourteous neglect
did not silence this noble-hearted woman, whose heroic devotion had been
conspicuously displayed in her earlier efforts. It will be remembered
that she had previously awakened the interest and engaged the active
support of two great nations--Russia and the United States--in the
search for the Franklin squadron.

Americans will recall with pride that, moved by Lady Franklin's appeal,
President Zachary Taylor, in a message of January 4, 1850, urged
co-operation on Congress, which took action that resulted in the
expedition commanded by Lieutenant E. J. De Haven, United States Navy.

In her letter to President Taylor, Lady Franklin alluded gracefully to
"that continent of which the American republic forms so vast and
conspicuous a portion," and says: "To the American whalers I look with
more hope, being well aware of their numbers and strength, their
thorough equipment, and the bold spirit of enterprise which animates
their crews. But I venture to look even beyond these. I am not without
hope that you will deem it not unworthy of a great and kindred nation to
take up the cause of humanity, which I plead, in a national spirit."

On learning of the attitude of the American press, she wrote: "I learn
that the people of the United States have responded to the appeal made
to their humane and generous feelings, and that in a manner worthy of so
great and powerful a nation--indeed, with a munificence which is almost
without parallel."

Now the efforts of three nations having failed, Lady Jane then resolved
to undertake a final search at the expense of herself and of her
sympathizing friends. There was then available the _Resolute_, abandoned
by Belcher, brought back by the American whaler, J. M. Buddington,
bought by the American Congress, and presented to the Queen. The
admiralty would neither loan the _Resolute_ nor any of its surplus
stores suited for arctic service. By the efforts of Lady Franklin and
her friends the steam-yacht _Fox_ was sent forth on an expedition that
cost about thirty-five thousand pounds sterling, of which the greater
portion came from Lady Jane's private fortune. McClintock and Allen
Young volunteered to serve without pay, and both Hobson and Dr. Walker
made similar pecuniary sacrifices.

At McClintock's request Lady Jane wrote out her wishes, in which the
personal element came last. She says: "The rescue of any survivor of the
_Erebus_ and _Terror_ would be to me the noblest results of our
efforts. To this object I wish every other to be subordinate; and next
to it in importance is the recovery of the unspeakably precious
documents of the expedition, public and private, and the personal relics
of my dear husband and his companions. And lastly, to confirm, directly
or inferentially, the claim of my husband's expedition to the earliest
discovery of the passage, which, if Dr. Rae's report be true (and the
government has accepted it as such), these martyrs in a noble cause
achieved at their last extremity."

Captain Sir Leopold McClintock sailed July 2, 1857, inspired by the
feeling that "the glorious mission intrusted to me was in reality a
great national duty." He was the greatest of arctic sledgemen, having
made in unexplored parts of Parry archipelago, without dogs, a sledge
journey of one hundred and five days, in which he travelled twelve
hundred and ten miles.

Reaching Baffin Bay, the _Fox_ had the great misfortune of being caught
in the pack in the midst of summer, on August 15. McClintock's
experiences and sufferings were horrible. His assistant engineer died of
an accident, and for days at a time the _Fox_ was in danger of instant
destruction from gales, icebergs, and other elements attendant on life
in the pack. After a besetment of eight months and nine days, in which
she drifted twelve hundred miles to the south, the yacht escaped,
buffeted, racked, and leaking.

The winter in the pack was not entirely without the presence of game,
for in the beginning of November a bear crept up to the yacht, attracted
by odors from the cook's galley. Fortunately an alert quartermaster
detected his form outlined against the snow and at once shouted to the
dogs. Some of them ran like cowards, while others, rushing the bear,
closed in on him, biting his legs as he ran. Crossing a lane of lately
frozen sea, the bear broke through the new ice, followed by a number of
dogs who held fast to him in the water-space. One dog, old Sophy, fared
badly at close quarters, receiving a deep cut in one of her shoulders
from his sharp claws. It took four shots to kill the animal, it being a
large male bear seven feet three inches long. McClintock tells us that
"The chase and death were exciting. A misty moon affording but scanty
light, dark figures gliding singly about, not daring to approach each
other, for the ice trembled under their feet, the enraged bear, the
wolfish, howling dogs, and the bright flashes of the rifles made a novel
scene."

The escape from the pack was made under conditions that would turn one's
hair gray in a few days. For eighteen hours the chief stood fast at his
engines, while navigation was made through very high seas, with waves
from ten to thirteen feet high, which threatened to destroy the yacht by
driving against her great ice-floes which shook the vessel violently and
nearly knocked the crew off their legs.

Return to Europe for repairs seemed inevitable, but with the thought of
poor Lady Franklin in his heart, McClintock patched up the ship as best
he could in Greenland, and, crossing Baffin Bay, was driven, after a
fruitless sea-search, to winter quarters in Port Kennedy, 72° N. 94° W.

Hunting filled in the winter, though most animal life had gone south.
Lemmings were plentiful, about twice the size of and resembling the
short-tailed field-mouse. Bold and fearless, they enlivened the members
of the crew. An ermine visited the ship, and, being seen by one of the
dogs, the pack set up a perfect pandemonium in their efforts to catch
him. The beautiful snow-white creature rather unconcernedly watched the
efforts of the dogs to get at him under the grating of the boat where he
was safely ensconced. It was amusing to see an ermine play around the
ship, and when closely pursued by man or by dog plunge into a drift of
soft snow only to reappear at a considerable distance and in a quarter
where least expected. It was with the active little animals a kind of
hide-and-seek game, with their lives for forfeit if they were caught.

During Hobson's long journey to lay down an advance depot he lost a dog
actually from overcare. She had the bad habit of gnawing and eating her
seal-thong harness, and to prevent this Hobson caused her to be tightly
muzzled after the evening meal. One of the numberless dog-fights
occurred during the night, and with the trait so common to these
half-wolfish beasts they fell on the least defenceless, and the whole
pack bit and tore almost to pieces their muzzled and defenceless sister.
Her wounds were so many and so deep that she died during the day.

In this journey Hobson's party barely escaped perishing through a
violent northeasterly gale which drove seaward the ice-pack on which
they were encamped. McClintock says that on discovering that the entire
ice-field was adrift "They packed their sledge, harnessed the dogs, and
passed the long and fearful night in anxious waiting for some chance to
escape. A little distance offshore the ice broke up under the influence
of the wind and sea, and the disruption continued until the piece they
were on was scarce twenty yards in diameter. Impelled by the storm, in
utter darkness and amid fast-falling snow, they drifted across a wide
inlet. The gale was quickly followed by a calm, and an intense frost in
a single night formed ice strong enough to bear them safely to land,
although it bent fearfully under their weight. Their escape was indeed
providential."

[Illustration: King William Land.]

Death spared these men of action in the field, but it invaded the ship,
and Brand, the engineer, died of apoplexy.

When the sun came back after seventy-three days of absence, McClintock
decided to take the field, and started February 14, earlier than any
previous arctic traveller, for an extended journey. His great hope of
success depended on finding Eskimos in the region of the north magnetic
pole, which entailed a trip of four hundred and twenty miles, in
temperatures as much as eighty degrees below the freezing-point.

Sledging through an unknown country, wearily breaking day after day a
trail for his emaciated, untrained dogs, McClintock vainly searched the
unbroken snowy wastes for trace of sledge or of man, and anxiously
scanned the dreary landscape for sight of the longed-for igloo or hut.
The cold was intense, the land was barren of game, the region seemed
accursed in its desolation, while the conditions of travel were hard in
the extreme.

The absence of human life was far more distressing to the heroic
McClintock than the rigors of the journey, for without Inuit aid the
labors and sufferings of his crew and of himself would be unavailing.
Was it possible that the region was abandoned by beast and so by man?
Was his mission destined to be a failure? Could he succeed without
Eskimo help?

He reached the magnetic pole without seeing any one, his dogs in such
fearful plight that he could advance but one day farther. Six of the
dogs were then useless, and during the journey the poor animals had so
suffered from poor food, intense cold, and bad snow that several of them
had repeatedly fallen down in fits.

When he was quite in despair, several Eskimos returning from a seal hunt
crossed his trail and visited his camp. From the winter colony of
forty-five Boothians he gained his first tidings of the missing
explorers. One native said that a three-masted ship had been crushed by
ice to the west of King William Land, but the crew came safe to shore.
Another told of white men who starved on an island (probably Montreal)
where salmon came. That the men had perished was quite clear from the
abundance of Franklin relics among the Eskimos--buttons, knives, forks,
McDonald's medal and a gold chain, which McClintock bought at the
average price of one needle each. None of the Inuits had seen the
whites, but one native had seen some of their skeletons.

An example of the disregard of the natives for extreme cold made
McClintock shiver with pity and anger. He says: "One pertinacious old
dame pulled out her infant by the arm from the back of her large fur
dress, and quietly held the poor little creature, perfectly naked,
before me in the breeze, the temperature at the time being sixty
degrees below the freezing-point." McClintock at once gave her a needle,
for which she was thus begging, but was considerably alarmed for the
infant's safety before it was restored to the warmth of its mother's fur
hood.

Active sledging, meantime, by Young, Walker, and Hobson, had no results
beyond snow-blindness, freezings, and other suffering for these resolute
and efficient officers. McClintock himself, on his return, was scarred
by frost-bites, his fingers calloused by frequent freezings, and his
body thin with scant food, which made him eat, Boothian fashion, "frozen
blubber in delicate little slices." These physical hardships were as
nothing in return for the mental satisfaction of tidings of Franklin,
with intimations as to the locality of the regions in which further
research would doubtless produce results. He was determined to explore
the whole King William region, and thus obtain further information as to
the fate of the second ship.

McClintock then outfitted his sledge party for a journey of eighty-four
days, with Hobson as assistant, while Young was to establish supporting
depots of food, the field of operations to be southwest of the magnetic
pole.

The journey to the Boothian village was, like other arctic travel, under
bad conditions. The uncomplaining leader tells us that despite colored
glasses their eyes were inflamed and nearly blinded, while the tale was
further told by their blistered faces, frost-bitten members, cracked
lips, and split hands. The discomfort of their camps may be inferred
from the fact that it took an entire day to clear from accumulated ice
and hoar-frost their sleeping-bags and camp gear. The exhausting
character of their march is evident from the load of two hundred pounds
hauled by each man and the hundred pounds pulled by each dog.

Two Boothian families now told McClintock that one ship sank and that
the other broke up on shore where she was forced by the ice. The body of
a very large man with long teeth had been found in the ship visited by
the Inuits. The crew had gone, taking boats along, to the "large [Back]
river," where their bones were later found. An old Eskimo woman and boy
had last visited the wreck during the preceding winter, 1857-8.

On leaving the magnetic pole, in order to extend the field of search,
Hobson was sent down the west coast of King William Land. McClintock
following the land to the east of that island fell in with forty
natives, who confirmed the information earlier obtained, and from whom
he bought silver plate marked with the crests of Franklin, Crozier,
Fairholme, and McDonald.

It was the middle of May when he reached snow-clad Montreal Island,
which he fruitlessly searched with as much thoroughness as was possible
under conditions of blizzard weather and zero temperatures. Of his
travel troubles he tells us that driving a wretched dog team for six
weeks had quite exhausted his stock of patience. He relates: "None of
the dogs had ever been yoked before, and they displayed astonishing
cunning and perversity to avoid whip and work. They bit through their
traces, hid under the sled, leaped over each other until the traces were
plaited and the dogs knotted together. I had to halt every few minutes,
pull off my mitts, and at the risk of frozen fingers disentangle the
lines. When the sledge is stopped or stuck fast in deep snow, the
perfectly delighted dogs lie down, and the driver has to himself
extricate the sledge and apply persuasion to set his team in motion."

His hopes of finding tangible information as to the Franklin records had
been centred on Montreal Island, which Rae's report (p. 139) indicated
as the scene of the final catastrophe. McClintock's thorough search of
that region had been futile. Must he return to England and face Lady
Franklin with the admission that her years of effort and her sacrifice
of personal fortune had produced no additional results? Was the fate of
England's noted explorers to remain always a mystery? Were the records
of work done and of courage shown by the officers and the men of the
royal navy lost forever to the world? A thousand like and unbidden
thoughts filled incessantly the tortured brain of this the greatest
of arctic sledgemen. However, it was not in the nature of this
noble-hearted man to despair utterly, or to cease from labors to the
very end.

Sick at heart and worn in body, the indefatigable McClintock turned
shipward, and almost despairingly took up the search of the south coast
of King William Land. Here he tells us: "On a gravel ridge near the
beach, partially bare of snow, I came upon a human skeleton, now
perfectly bleached, lying upon its face. This poor man seems to have
fallen in the position in which we found him. It was a melancholy truth
that the old woman spoke when she said: '_They fell down and died as
they walked along._'" Sad as may appear the fate of this man, one of the
rank and file of the expedition, his indomitable courage in struggling
to the last moment of his life will always stand as an instance of the
high endeavor and heroic persistency of the British race.

Welcome as was the indirect information obtained in this and in other
places near by, McClintock's heart was supremely gladdened at finding in
a small cairn, prominently placed, a note from Hobson who had found an
abandoned boat, in which were two skeletons, with crested silver, etc.,
and, most vital of all, a record from Franklin's expedition.

It appears that Hobson found on the south side of Back Bay, King William
Land, a record deposited by Lieutenant Graham Gore in May, 1847. It was
in a thin tin soldered-up cylinder, and proved to be a duplicate of the
record also found by Hobson at Point Victory. The latter record was in
an unsoldered cylinder which had fallen from the top of the cairn where
it was originally placed. It was written on one of the printed blanks
usually furnished to surveying and to discovery ships to be thrown
overboard in a sealed bottle, with a request to return it to the
admiralty. This written record, in full, ran as follows:

     "H. M. Ships _Erebus_ and _Terror_ 28th of May 1847. Wintered in
     the ice in Lat. 70° 5´ N., Long. 98° 23´ W. Having wintered in
     1846-7 [should read 1845-6] at Beechey Island, in Lat. 74° 43´ N.,
     Long. 91° 39´ 15´´ W. After having ascended Wellington Channel to
     Lat. 77°, and returning by the west coast of Cornwallis Island. Sir
     John Franklin commanding the Expedition. All well. Party consisting
     of 2 officers and 6 men left the ships on Monday 24th May 1847.

         "GM [Graham] GORE Lieut.
         "CHAS F DES VOEUX Mate."

On the margin of the above record was written the following:

     "April 25, 1848, H. M. Ships _Terror_ and _Erebus_ were deserted on
     the 22nd of April, 5 leagues N.N.W. of this, having been beset
     since 12 September, 1846. The officers and crew, consisting of 105
     souls, under the command of Capt. F. R. M. Crozier, landed in Lat.
     69° 37´ 42´´, Long. 93° 41´ W. This paper was found by Lieut.
     Irving, under the cairn supposed to have been built by Sir James
     Ross in 1831, 4 miles to the northward, where it had been deposited
     by the late commander Gore in [May, erased and therefor
     substituted] June, 1847. Sir James Ross' pillar has not however
     been found and the paper has been transferred to this position,
     which is that in which Sir J. Ross' pillar was erected. Sir John
     Franklin died on the 11th of June, 1847, and the total loss by
     death in the Expedition has been to date 9 officers and 15 men.

         "F. R. M. CROZIER, Captain and senior officer.
         "JAMES FITZJAMES, Captain H. M. S. _Erebus_.
         "And start to-morrow, 26th, for Back's Fish River."


These are the only records that have ever been found, and the thorough
search made by Hall, Schwatka, and Gilder make it most improbable that
any other will ever be discovered.

The heroic persistency of Hobson in locating these precious papers is
akin to that shown by the steward who fell down and died as he walked.
When ten days out from the ship Hobson found that he was suffering from
scurvy, but he went on and in a month walked lame. Near the end of his
journey of seventy-four days he was not able to walk more than a few
yards at a time, and so had to allow himself to be dragged on the
sledge. When he arrived at the ship he was neither able to walk nor even
to stand without assistance. Worthy comrades were Sir Allen Young and
Dr. Walker, whose strenuous and co-operating labors made this success
possible, for which they also paid the price in physical suffering and
in impaired health.

McClintock himself played many parts, for with his two engineers dead he
stood at a critical time twenty-four consecutive hours at the engine,
while Young from the crow's nest piloted the _Fox_ out of the ice-pack
on her homeward voyage, in August, 1859.

With characteristic modesty McClintock dwells lightly on his own work,
and ends his story with a merited tribute to "those heroic men who
perished in the path of duty, but not until they had achieved the grand
object of their voyage--_the discovery of the northwest passage_."

While the self-sacrificing heroism of McClintock and of his loyal
companions solved the mystery of the English sailor dead, which their
powerful government had been unable to reveal, yet the initiation and in
part the prosecution of this work were due to the wifely and patriotic
devotion of Lady Jane Franklin.

Well and truly has it been said of this true woman: "So long as the name
of Franklin shall be bright in the annals of British heroism will the
unwearied devotion and energy of his widow be with it remembered and
honored."



THE MARVELLOUS ICE-DRIFT OF CAPTAIN TYSON

     "To die be given us, or to attain!
     Fierce work it were to do again."
           --ARNOLD.


Only once in our history has the United States sent forth an expedition
to reach the north pole, and that was under Charles Francis Hall,
already distinguished for his daring arctic work in search of relics of
the Franklin squadron. Hall sailed in the _Polaris_, and in a voyage of
unusual rapidity, passing through Smith Sound, added to his fame by
discovering Robeson Channel and its bordering lands. He broke the record
in navigating his ship to 82° 11´ north latitude, in the Great Frozen
Ocean, which was reached August 30, 1871. The _Polaris_, forced
southward by the arctic pack, wintered at Thank God Harbor, Greenland,
where Hall died of apoplexy. With his death the north-polar quest was
abandoned, and the ice-master Buddington sailed homeward the following
summer. Pushed hastily into an impassable pack, the ship was subjected
to its vicissitudes for two months without possibility of escape.
Drifting steadily southward the _Polaris_ was off Northumberland Island
on October 15, 1872, when she was nearly destroyed by a violent blizzard
and her crew was separated--half on the floating pack and the rest on
shipboard. The latter party beached the sinking ship in Life Boat Cove,
where the crew wintered. Going south in 1873 they were picked up by the
whaler _Ravenscraig_ near Cape York. The story of the separation and of
the experiences of the castaways follow.[14]

       *       *       *       *       *

Above the shining waters of the blue and historic Potomac at Washington
rise the oak-crowned hills of Arlington where repose many heroic dead in
our American Valhalla. Side by side in almost countless rows stand
thousands of plain white stones which preserve for coming patriotic
generations the names and memories of those who died for the Union. Here
and there the prevailing monotony is broken by a more ambitious monument
raised by family or by friends. These men, inspired by patriotism as a
rule, did deeds of valor, with weapons in hand, in the face of an armed
foe. But the men of the American nation have conquered fate in other
fields than those of war, and such services are elsewhere commemorated
in Washington. In the Hall of Fame at our national capital each American
State places the statues of its two most distinguished servitors--in
memory of deeds done for the good and the greatness of the State. And
near by the Congressional Cemetery contains stately shafts and memorial
columns that mark the graves of other men famous in national annals
through civic worth.

Yet there are other heroes than those of war or of civic service buried
within sight of the majestic monument to Washington or of the graceful
dome of the Capitol. In the shades of Greenwood stands a plain shaft of
black marble whereon the passer-by may read as follows:

"To the memory of an arctic hero, Captain George E. Tyson, 1829-1906. In
1872-73, while adrift on an ice-floe 196 days, he saved the lives of 18
companions. _They serve God well who serve his creatures._"

This memorial, built through small contributions from self-denying men
of meagre means, was in honor of a plain man of small education, of
humble occupation, who loved his fellows. It therefore seems well that
the tale of his arctic services thus recognized should be told anew to
the rising generation of Americans that his deeds may not soon fade from
the minds of men.

The fateful disaster of October 15, 1872, which led to the Tyson
floe-drift occurred in the midst of a dark winter night when a
snow-filled hurricane wind drove huge icebergs through the solid and
seemingly impenetrable ice-field in which the _Polaris_ was fast beset.
As if by magic the solemn, quiet calm of the polar night was broken by a
series of tornado-like gusts, and soon the responsive ice-field quivered
as though upcast by a marine earthquake. The howlings of the wind were
broken by horrible groanings from the moving polar pack, while now and
then arose deafening sounds, as of a cannonade, from the explosions of
the ice-surface. It takes much to move to fear men long in arctic
service, but the quiet ship life was stirred into startled action when
heavy floes near the ship began to split into countless fragments. One
and all knew that the long-dreaded peril was upon them--the disruption
of the polar pack. For weeks they had watched with pleasure the changing
lights and reflected tints from their azure-colored neighbors--the
tall, white sentinels of the arctic seas. After pleasure the pain,
and now with terror they saw the pale blue icebergs of enormous
size--wind-driven and slow-moving--plough their way serenely through the
main pack of flat-topped paleocrystic floes scores of feet in thickness.

Under these awful pressures the huge floes, as they met, crumbling
at the edges, threw up vast masses of broken ice which in long
pressure-ridges acted as buffers. Caught in this maelstrom of whirling,
upturning ice the _Polaris_ was bodily lifted many feet, quite out of
the water, so that she careened on her beam ends.

In this crisis, amid intense excitement, some one cried out that the
ship's sides were broken in and that she was making water freely. At
this Buddington shouted: "Work for your lives, boys! Throw everything
overboard"--meaning the emergency packages of stores and provisions
which for weeks had been kept ready on deck in view of possible and
sudden shipwreck. Stores, clothing, records, boats, food, and other
articles were frantically cast upon the main floe to which the ship was
secured by ice-anchors. Fearing that the _Polaris_ would soon sink and
carry down in her final plunge everything near her, Captain Tyson busied
himself in removing and piling together, at a safe distance, the
scattered stores. While thus engaged the main pack loosened up near the
_Polaris_. The ice pressures slowly relaxed, the pressure-ridges
dropped apart, and the ship, slipping down into the sea, dragged her
ice-anchors, broke her hawser, and was driven out of sight--disappearing
almost in the twinkling of an eye, as it seemed to the dazed men yet on
the floe.

The stranded men and supplies were not on a single floe, but scattered
on several, which were separated by rapidly widening lanes of water.
Tyson acted with decision and promptness, and launching a whale-boat at
the risk of his life succeeded during that dark, tempestuous night in
bringing together the nineteen men, women, and children on the immense
floe to which the ship had been anchored for weeks. Here the exhausted
party huddled together under some musk-ox skins, which in a degree
protected them from the increasing southwest blizzard that then
prevailed; but dawn found them chilled to the bone, covered with the
heavy snow-fall of the night.[15]

Tyson took charge and at once decided to abandon the floe and the main
supplies, knowing that the party would be safe if it could reach land
and the Etah Eskimos. The ice had so drifted that the shore was within a
few miles, and the party in an attempt to reach it was hurried into the
boat, which unfortunately had only three oars and was rudderless. Two
men actually reached the land over the ice, on a scouting trip, but
later the wind, ice, and tides were so adverse that Tyson decided, as
the pack closed in front of the boat, to return to their original floe.

Although sadly reduced in size by the action of the grinding pack and by
the ploughing icebergs, the flat-topped floe-berg was still enormous.
Nearly circular in shape, and averaging quite a hundred feet in
thickness, its area was about seven square miles. With its diversified
surface of hill and dale, favored by several fresh-water lakes, and of
marble-like texture and hardness as to its ice, it seemed to be a
floe-berg of such solidity and extent as would insure safety under any
and all conditions.

The castaways numbered nineteen in all--Captain Tyson, Signal Sergeant
Meyer, eight seamen, and nine Eskimos, of whom seven were women and
children. Except Tyson and the negro cook Jackson, there were no
Americans in the party.

With the foresight, system, and judgment which insured the final safety
of the party, Tyson collected the materials scattered over the several
floes, inventoried and provided for the safety of the food, and insisted
on a fixed ration. Their food supplies on October 18 consisted of 14
hams, 14 cans of pemmican, 12 bags of bread, 1 can of dried apples, 132
cans of meats and soups, and a small bag of chocolate. They also had 2
whale-boats, 2 kayaks, an A-tent, compasses, chronometer, etc., rifles
and ammunition.

Food was of surpassing importance, and Tyson calculated that the supply
would last four months at the rate of twelve ounces daily to each adult,
the Eskimo children to receive half rations.

To insure an equable distribution of the food, Tyson took charge and
personally measured out both bread and pemmican. Later he was able to
give exact weights through a pair of improvised scales. They were made
by Meyer most ingeniously of a lever balance taken from an aneroid
barometer and connected with a three-cornered rule; the weights used
were shot from their shot-gun ammunition.

The foreigners of the party, except the docile Eskimos, were not
thoroughly amenable to command. After Hall's death the failings of the
sailing-master in command, Captain Buddington, were such that he could
not maintain proper discipline, and hence a certain degree of
demoralization existed among the seamen. The rule of the sea that
loosens bonds and makes seamen free from service on the loss of a ship,
was also injuriously felt.

As a result Tyson's powers of control simply arose from his high
character, sound judgment, and professional knowledge. His orders were
obeyed as seemed convenient, but, as one man testified under oath, "When
we didn't [obey his orders] we found out it didn't turn out well"--the
highest of praise.

With increasing cold the tent was no longer habitable, and it became
necessary to provide warm shelter, which was done through the building
of igloos, or snow huts, by the Eskimo Ebierbing (Joe) and Hans
Hendrik. Hans and his family of six built their igloo a little apart
from the others. While there were five separate igloos, they were thrown
into close connection by a system of arched snow passages through which
the men came and went without exposure to the weather. Some delay and
trouble occurred in finding suitable drifts of packed snow from which
were dexterously carved the snow slabs needful for the huts. The very
low entrances to the igloos were covered by a canvas flap frozen into
the outer wall so as to exclude almost entirely the entrance into the
hut of either cold air or wind-driven snow. Feeble light was introduced
through windows made of thin slabs of fresh-water ice cut from an
adjacent lake.

From the entrance the canvas-covered snow floor sloped gently upward to
the rear of the igloo, thus making that portion of the room a little
higher and somewhat warmer, as the colder air flowed down toward the
door. Their scant bedding of sleeping-bags and musk-ox skins was
arranged in the rear of the hut, on canvas-covered boards, where,
however, the arched snow roof was near the head of the sleeper. The only
place where one could stand erect was in the very centre of the hut,
where the separate messes cooked their scanty meals.

Tyson and the Eskimo families did their cooking from the first by lamp,
native-fashion, the lamps being made from pemmican cans with wicks of
canvas ravelings. He urged the others to follow the example thus set,
telling them that this economical method was necessary owing to scarcity
of fuel. The seamen tried it for a while, but as there was much smoke
from lack of care they abandoned the lamp. Despite Tyson's advice, they
began, with reckless disregard for the future, to break up the smaller
of the two boats and use it as fuel for cooking. In excuse they said
that the astronomical observations and opinions of Meyer showed that the
floe was drifting toward Disco, Greenland, and that they would soon
reach that place and the occupancy of the ice camp would be of short
duration.

On October 27 the sun left them permanently for three months, and soon
the bitter, benumbing cold of the arctic winter was felt by all. The
cold, hunger, and short rations soon affected both body and mind,
causing less bodily activity and inducing a sharpness of temper which
often led to long and angry discussions among the seamen.

An unfortunate loss of food occurred in connection with the dogs, all
nine having been kept for bear-hunting. Slowly perishing of starvation,
the wolfish dogs succeeded in breaking into the storehouse, and devoured
everything within reach before they were discovered. Five of the most
ravenous brutes were shot, greatly to the advantage of the Eskimo, who
made a royal feast. The white men, not yet reduced to extremities,
looked on with amusement as their native companions with luxurious
satisfaction cooked and swallowed the slaughtered animals.

Tyson's experiences as a whaler made him realize that the only chance
of life lay in obtaining game, and so he organized and encouraged
hunting-parties. All the men were armed except the captain himself, but
it must be here admitted that the entire crew of seamen did not obtain
enough game, during the drift of six months' duration, to make a single
meal for the party. The successful hunters were the Eskimo, Ebierbing
(Joe) being most successful, though Hans Hendrik killed many seal.

Once Hans barely escaped death from the rifles of Ebierbing and Seaman
Kruger, as in the darkness they mistook him for a bear owing to the
color of his snow-covered fur clothing and to the lumbering methods by
which he climbed over the hummocky ridges. Fortunately the hunters
waited for a better shot, and meantime saw that it was Hans.

Matters were getting bad after one boat had been burned and there was no
blubber left for cooking. Some of the men were so weak that they
trembled as they walked, and the native children often cried from the
pangs of hunger. Once the men ate the seal meat uncooked and undressed,
so keen was their hunger.

As no bears appeared, seal-hunting was followed with renewed and
feverish energy. At first seal were killed in open water-spaces around
the edges of the floe. When the extreme cold cemented together the
floes, it was necessary to hunt carefully for seal-holes--places where
the seal comes regularly for air, keeping the hole open by his nose,
rising and breaking the new ice as it forms from day to day.

Such holes are only three or four inches across, and it often requires
long search before the trained eye of the seal-hunter locates a
breathing space. Even then unwearied patience and great skill are
needful for successful hunting. Seated by the hole, with his back to the
wind, his feet on a bit of seal-skin, with a barbed spear in his hand,
the Inuit hunter steadily and intently fastens his eyes on the glazed
water-space where the animal rises. Often it is hours before the seal
comes, if indeed at all, and he is caught only through a swift, single
stroke by which the spear unerringly pierces the thin skull of the
animal. Five seals were killed during November, and Thanksgiving day was
celebrated by adding to the usual meal a little chocolate and some dried
apples.

The moral attitude of the greater number of the seamen was evident from
several incidents. On Thanksgiving day the captain suggested that all
unite in some religious service appropriate to the day and to their
situation, but the seamen were unwilling to participate.

In marked contrast were the feelings of the Inuit Hans Hendrik, who thus
writes: "I considered the miserable condition of my wife and children,
on a piece of ice in the mid-ocean, then I pronounced my prayer:

     "_Jesu, lead me by the hand,
     While I am here below;
     Forsake me not._"

With bad judgment Meyer, who was an under-officer, left Tyson's hut and
joined the seamen--mostly Germans like himself. As a result of the
growing demoralization, incursions were made on the food by unknown
persons, and when Tyson was one day sick a seaman made the issues and
then decided to retain this duty. There had been complaint that Tyson
was too stingy in his issues, and the new issuing officer gave with
freer hand in accord with the wishes of the heedless few.

Tyson was then driven to leave his lonely hut for the igloo wherein
lived Ebierbing and his worthy wife Tookoolito (Hannah) and their young
adopted daughter. This hut was the very centre of activity on the floe.
Apart from the time needful for cooking, Tookoolito busied herself
either in deftly mending the torn and sadly worn skin garments of her
husband and of Tyson, or in making some article that would add to the
general comfort and be of daily use. Thus the party was divided into two
camps, one of care and production, the other of amusement and
consumption. Ebierbing kept the field daily, and his success as a hunter
proved to be the salvation of the party. Hans did what he could, it is
true, but he was either less skilful or less fortunate than his native
companion. The crew did almost nothing save to cook the food given them.
They scarcely took exercise and filled in their time with endless
discussions as to the future or with a pack of cards made out of heavy
paper. Tyson controlled the Eskimos alone, and gave advice to the men
only as occasion urgently demanded.

The winter month of December passed badly, with increasing darkness,
severer cold, and despondent feelings. The poor natives, hearing so much
desperate talk, unfortunately gained the notion that in the last
extremity, which then seemed to be at hand, they would be sacrificed,
and much uneasiness was felt by Tyson who strove to reassure them. Two
wretchedly thin foxes, giving about three ounces of fresh meat to each
man, was the only game up to Christmas, and nothing was encouraging
except the steady drift to the south.

The captain felt it best to give a _starvation feast_ on Christmas, and
so added to the usual ration the last remaining delicacies--a bit of
frozen ham, a few spoonfuls of dried apples, and a swallow or two of
seal blood saved in a frozen condition. The knowledge that the sun was
returning, of southing being made by drift, and chances of game
increasing were conditions of hope that made it an almost cheerful
holiday.

Actually they were in desperate straits of hunger, for Tyson relates
that in his igloo they ate greedily the refuse of the cooking-lamp oil.
Tookoolito turned into food and cooked pieces of dried seal-skin which
had been set aside for repairing their clothing. Of this Tyson says: "It
was so very tough it made my jaws ache to chew it."

Day after day, in storm and in calm, faithful Ebierbing kept the field,
always hoping for success on the morrow. After thirty-six days of
unsuccess he killed a seal in the open sea. Shot through the brain,
the seal floated until he could be reached by that wonderful skin
boat of the Eskimos--the kayak. Then land shot up into view to the
southwestward, and all felt that they were saved.

The new year of 1873 opened in dreary form, with no game, and a dinner
of two mouldy biscuit with seal entrails and blubber served frozen, as
their fuel was gone. The improvident seamen had not only burned one
boat, but even the boards under their sleeping-robes. Compelled at last
by dire need, they now made a lamp from an old can and began to cook
Eskimo-fashion. Most of the time the seamen passed idly in their igloo,
quarrelling and disputing. In their ill-clad, half-starved condition
they suffered terribly from the severe and prolonged cold of January,
during which the mercury was often frozen, with occasional temperatures
seventy degrees below freezing. Hopes of relief were high when a bear
was found near, and then came a feeling of despair when the animal
escaped after injuring badly the two remaining dogs.

Affairs then went from bad to worse, and the utter disruption of the
party was imminent, although Tyson used to the utmost his powers of
command over the natives and of persuasion with the seamen. An unruly
and mutinous member of the crew invaded Tyson's igloo, roundly abused
the captain, and even threatened him with personal violence, well
knowing that he was unarmed. The evil effects of such conduct was so
plain to all that the culprit was forced by public opinion to make an
apology for his actions and thus in a manner to strengthen Tyson's hands
in the future.

After an absence of eighty-three days the sun returned on January 19,
which gave new courage to the natives and increased chances of game.
When they killed a seal after many days of hunting, the starving seamen,
almost crazy at the sight of food, dragged the animal into their own
igloo and gave to the hunters only a small and unfair part of the meat
and blubber. With difficulty Tyson was able to mollify the offended
natives, by whom this injustice was the more felt as Tobias, one of
Hans's babies, was quite sick and could not eat pemmican.

February opened with ten days of fruitless hunting, when Hans
fortunately saw a seal thrust his head up through young ice far from the
floe. Would he come again? Could he kill him at that distance, and was
it possible to bring him in? While asking himself these questions, with
his eyes intent on the air-hole, the nose and then the head of the seal
rose slowly into view. On this shot might depend their lives, and with
the care and slowness of the Inuit hunter, half-starved Hans, with
steady hand and unerring aim, sent a bullet through the brain of the
seal, paralyzing him and thus keeping the air in the seal's lungs and
floating his body. As the thin new ice would not bear a man, Tyson
solved the difficulty by putting Hans in his kayak and pushing him
forward as far as could be done. With his paddle braced against rough
bits of the floe and by squirming his body, Hans finally reached the
seal, fastened a line to it, and worked his way back in the kayak.

With food failing again and the revival of the selfish spirit of every
man for himself, Tyson's lot was hard and he knew not what would happen
from day to day. Always quiet and cool, he spoke only when there was
need, and never with harsh tones or angry words. He did not waste his
force on matters of minor importance--an attitude that carried weight in
the end.

When almost in despair there came seal after seal, and scores of arctic
dovekies, or little auks in winter plumage. Though each of the birds
gave but four ounces of meat, they were welcomed both as a change of
diet and as harbingers of coming spring. The seamen then listened to
Tyson's advice and decided to eke out life on one meal a day, owing to
the fast-vanishing stock of bread and pemmican.

Cape Mercy, in about 65° north latitude, was now in sight though forty
miles distant. Some of the men were ready to heartlessly abandon the
natives, owing to the smallness of the sole remaining boat, but Tyson
said tactfully that all _could_ go (not _must_ go) when the water was
ice-free. Preparations were made, the tent enlarged from spare canvas,
the ammunition divided, etc., but ice conditions grew worse instead of
better.

March opened with a violent storm, which kept all in their igloos save
the indefatigable hunters. Then Ebierbing shot a monster harp seal about
nine feet long, the largest that Tyson had ever seen, which gave about
seven hundred pounds of its rich, nutritious meat and blubber. So
delirious were the quite starved seamen that they rushed at the body,
carved out pieces and ate them raw, soon being so frightfully besmeared
with blood that they looked like ravenous brutes devouring their prey.
The heedless men, who turned to Tyson in all cases of dire distress, now
ignored his advice not to eat the liver of the seal, and paid for their
imprudence by fits of sickness, fortunately not fatal.

With a persistent, fatuitous belief that they would drift to Disco, the
seamen were first aroused to the extreme seriousness of their situation
by a most violent gale of sixty hours in which they barely escaped
death. As has been said, their igloos were built near the centre of an
enormous floe nearly a hundred feet in thickness and fifteen miles in
circumference. When the storm began the sea seemed covered by floes of
similar size and of equally unbreakable ice. The party again failed to
have in mind the many insecure and dangerous icebergs which dotted the
ice-plain that covered the sea. Throughout the first night the cracking
and breaking of the floes sounded like the firing of heavy artillery and
the explosion of high-powered shells. Under stress of anxiety the men
passed the second night dressed and ready for the worst.

The howling of the gale, the snow-filled air making everything
invisible, the recurring roar of the sea, the sound of splitting floes
within a few yards of the igloos, and the awful moaning of the moving
pack around them, with the steady grinding of colliding bergs, made it a
night of horrors. With the gale ended they found themselves saved almost
as by miracle, for though their igloos were safe in the centre of a tiny
fragment of the great floe, its area was less than a hundred square
yards. Surrounding them were hundreds of icebergs and huge floes of all
sizes and shapes inextricably entangled and disrupted. Yesterday they
could walk miles on their own floe, now they were confined to a
floe-fragment.

Dangerous as was the gale it brought about their safety, for the open
pack made seal-hunting more productive. The twenty-three seals which
were killed during the succeeding two weeks gave needful food, revived
their courage, and renewed their strength. Tyson then arranged to save
for emergencies their little remaining bread and pemmican. As they were
now off the entrance to Hudson Strait, on the breeding grounds of the
seal, their safety as regards food seemed to be assured. But another
gale brought fresh and unlooked-for disaster, for while they collided
with a large iceberg without destruction they were driven far to the
eastward, into the open ocean, where their floe was by itself away from
the main ice, with only water in sight.

Tyson knew that separation from the icebergs and floes meant speedy
death, and as soon as the sea calmed, April 1, he ordered the party to
prepare for the abandonment of the floe. Many objected to leaving their
comfortable igloos, with plenty of meat, to seek ice so far to the west
that it could not be seen, but they finally obeyed Tyson's orders.

The short-sightedness of the seamen in burning a boat was now evident to
all. There were nineteen persons to be crowded into a whale-boat
intended for eight. Some of the selfish would have left the natives
behind, for taking them meant the leaving behind of nearly all meat and
other dead weights. Bread, pemmican, some ammunition, the tent, and
sleeping-gear were put in the boat, and with a spirit of loyalty
criticised by the seamen, Tyson took on board the desk and records of
Captain Hall. If this man lived it would be with honor; if he died it
should be with his self-respect. The fearfully overcrowded boat barely
escaped swamping several times--saved only through Tyson's skilful
seamanship. Some men were so alarmed that in panic they threw overboard
seal meat to lighten the boat. Three days of unremitting labor brought
them to a floe that seemed solid, which they occupied in face of bad
weather.

They had barely put up igloos when an awful gale burst on them, and for
four days it was a steady battle against death. Their floe began to
crumble under pressure from other bergs, and Ebierbing's hut was carried
off as the floe split. Seeking the centre of the ice they built a new
igloo, which lasted for the night only. Next day the floe, caught
between two giant bergs, burst with a mighty roar, splitting completely
in two, the crack running through the floor of the igloo. They were left
on a piece of ice so small that they could not make arrangements for all
to lie down together. Everything was put into the boat, and all through
the night they stood watch, half-and-half, ready to launch her at a
moment's notice. Again the floe split while breakfast was being cooked
in the tent, the crack running through the tent; the cook escaped but
the breakfast fell into the sea. The tent was again pitched alongside
the whale-boat. The tent could not shelter all the party, but by turns
they got a little sleep.

About midnight there was heard a fearful crash, and, as Hans relates,
"The ice which served us as a camping-place parted between the boat on
which I slept and the tent. I jumped out to the other side, while that
piece on which the boat was placed moved off quickly with Mister Maje
[Meyer] who was seated in the boat, and we were separated from it by the
water. Our Master [Tyson] asked the sailors to make a boat out of a
piece of ice and try to reach it, but they refused. We had never felt so
distressed as at this moment, when we had lost our boat. At last I said
to my comrade [Ebierbing]: '_We must try to get at it!_' Each of us then
formed an _umiardluk_ [a bad boat] out of a piece of ice, and in this
way passed to the other fragment. As now we were three men we could
manage to put the boat into the water. On doing so Mister Maje [Meyer]
fell into the sea; Ebierbing pulled him up. Meanwhile the ice had
screwed together, and we stood still. At this time night fell, and our
companion who had been in the sea, now lying in the boat, was like to
freeze to death. I said to my comrade that if he remained so he would
really die. When I had spoken we asked him to rise, saying that if he
remained he would perish. The first time he rose he tumbled down, but,
after having walked a long time, he recovered. At daybreak we discovered
our friends close by, and the ice joined together. They came to us and
assisted us to drag the boat over to them."

[Illustration: "WE WERE NEARLY CARRIED OFF, BOAT AND ALL, MANY TIMES
DURING THIS DREADFUL NIGHT."

From Tyson's "Arctic Experiences."]

The crucial trial on the evening of April 20 may best be realized from
Tyson's graphic description: "Finally came a tremendous wave, carrying
away our tent, skins, and bed-clothing, leaving us destitute. The women
and children were already in the boat (Merkut having her tiny baby
Charlie Polaris, Inuit-fashion, in the hood of her fur jacket), or the
little ones would have been swept into watery graves. All we could do
was to try and save the boat. All hands were called to man the boat--to
hold on to it with might and main to prevent it being washed away. With
our boat warp and strong line of _oogjook_ (seal) thongs we secured the
boat to vertical projecting points of ice. Having no grapnels or
ice-anchors these fastenings were frequently unloosed and broken, and we
had to brace ourselves and hold on with all the strength we had.

"I got the boat over to the edge of our ice where the seas first struck,
for toward the farther edge the gathered momentum of the waves would
more than master us and the boat would go.... We were nearly carried
off, boat and all, many times during this dreadful night. The heaviest
seas came at intervals of fifteen to twenty minutes.... There we stood
all night long, from 9 P. M. to 7 A. M., enduring what few, if any, have
gone through and lived. Tremendous seas would come and lift up the boat
bodily, and carry it and us forward almost to the extreme opposite edge
of our piece.

"Several times the boat got partly over the edge and was only hauled
back by the superhuman strength which a knowledge of the desperate
condition its loss would reduce us to gave us. With almost every sea
would come an avalanche of ice-blocks in all sizes, from a foot square
to the size of a bureau, which, striking our legs and bodies, bowled us
off our feet. We were black and blue with bruises for many a day.

"We stood hour after hour, the sea as strong as ever, but we weakening.
Before morning we had to make Tookoolito and Merkut [the women] get out
and help us hold on too.... That was the greatest fight for life we had
yet had. God must have given us strength for the occasion. For twelve
hours there was scarcely a sound uttered save the crying of the children
and my orders: '_Hold on! Bear down! Put on all your weight!_' and the
responsive '_ay, ay, sir!_' which for once came readily enough."

These awful experiences past, they were rescued ten days later, off the
coast of Labrador, by Captain Bartlett of the sealing-steamer _Tigress_.
They had lived on an ice-floe one hundred and ninety-six days and
drifted fifteen hundred miles. Through God's providence they were
restored to the world in health and without the loss of a life or even
of a limb.

His work accomplished, the heroic sailor, Tyson, went back to the
every-day things of life without parade or boastings, and in an humble
position did well and contentedly the ordinary round of work.

In the difficult and dangerous arctic service herein told Tyson did from
day to day what seemed his present duty as best he could without thought
of self. Without other ambition than to save the lives of the men, the
women, and the children whom Providence had intrusted to his charge, he
did not seek but he found fame and good report. Let the youth of our
great land note that this is but one of the many cases in our day and
generation in which, as Tennyson sings:

     "Let his great example stand,
     Till in all lands and thro' all human story
     The path of duty be the path of glory."

FOOTNOTES:

[14] See map, page 95.

[15] Of this situation Hans Hendrik, in his "Memoirs," written in
Eskimo, says: "But especially I pitied my poor little wife and her
children in the terrible snow-storm. I began thinking: 'Have I searched
for this myself by travelling to the north? But no! we have a merciful
Providence to watch over us.' At length our children fell asleep, while
we covered them with ox-hides in the frightful snow-drift."



THE SAVING OF PETERSEN

     "Only action gives life strength."
           --RICHTER.


In 1875 the British arctic expedition steamed northward through Kane Sea
in its attempt to reach the north pole. Its commander, Captain George S.
Nares, R.N., thought it prudent to insure a safe retreat by establishing
a southerly base of operations where one ship should remain. Nares, in
the flag-ship _Alert_, chose the dangerous and exposed winter quarters
at Floeberg Beach, an open roadstead of the ice-clad Arctic Ocean at the
northern entrance of Robeson Channel. The _Discovery_, under command of
Captain S. F. Stephenson, R.N., was laid up at a sheltered anchorage in
Lady Franklin Bay, more than a hundred miles to the southward of the
_Alert_. An attempt to open communication between the two ships by
sledge party failed in the autumn of 1875. With the return of the sun in
1876, after an absence of one hundred and fifty days, it became most
important to establish communication with the _Discovery_ at the
earliest moment. From the _Alert_ there was visible far to the eastward,
on clear days, the mountains of northwest Greenland, which Nares wished
Stephenson to explore instead of making a sledge trip to the Etah
Eskimos to the south as originally planned. The heroic conduct of the
officers attempting this journey and their success in saving the life of
Petersen are set forth in this tale.

       *       *       *       *       *

The efficiency of every army and of every navy of the world is known
only by the final and supreme test of active service in war, but it is
plain that the essential attributes to success--skill, solidarity, and
devotion to duty--are acquired in times of peace. Nowhere are greater
efforts made to cultivate these admirable qualities than in the royal
navy of Great Britain, the most formidable of the world.

Among its chiefs is the second naval lord, whose duties lie especially
with the hearts of oak, the men behind the guns, whose courage and skill
are the very soul of the service. The second naval lord has in charge
the manning and officering of the war-ships; he plans the bringing
together at a special place and in a given time the mighty dreadnoughts,
the tiny torpedo-boats, the swaying submarines, and the swift
destroyers; and he sees that gunnery, marksmanship, and other special
training are up to the highest mark. Such a lord should, above all, be a
man among men--one inspiring confidence both by knowing when and how
times of peril should be met and also through having himself done such
service in earlier life.

[Illustration: Robeson Channel and Lady Franklin Bay.]

Such is the life history of Admiral Sir George Le Clerc Egerton, who,
passing from a high sea command to duty as the naval aid to his majesty
the King, rose a few years since to this lofty station and assumed its
important duties. Great as may be the respect and high as can be the
admiration of the world for efficient performance of public duties by
officials of high station, yet the hearts of sympathetic, tender-hearted
men and women are more deeply moved whenever and where-ever they hear a
tale of self-sacrifice and of heroic comradeship. Such is the story of
this great naval lord, enacted by him as a sub-lieutenant far from the
civilized world, on the ice-bound coast of a desolate arctic land, for
the safety of an humble dog driver. The nobler the heart the greater is
its sense of duty to helpless dependents in deep distress. And more
heroic was the work of Lieutenant Egerton, flying his sledge flag,
"_Tanq je puis_ (All that I can)," than any done under his stately flag
as a naval lord or as admiral of the fleet.

When Captain Nares looked longingly southward from his ship on the
Arctic Ocean, wishing in his heart for word of his assistant, he was not
blind to the dangers and difficulties of the journey. The preceding
September gallant Lieutenant Rawson with strength and courage had
pressed on to Cape Rawson. The precipitous cliffs there made a farther
journey by land impossible, while the half-open sea was covered with a
shifting, ever-moving ice-pack that made the ocean as impassable for a
boat as the ice was for a sledge.

Now in late winter the surface of Robeson Channel was covered by a
solid, unmoving pack, but the cold was so intense that it could be
endured in the field only by men of iron. Day after day the temperature
was eighty degrees below the freezing-point, and even when it should
moderate the travelling party must be carefully chosen. Rawson was to go
as a passenger, for his ship was the _Discovery_ to which he was now to
return. Of all available officers Egerton seemed to have physical and
mental qualities that promised well. Naturally the dog driver--for they
were to travel with a dog-sledge--would have been Eskimo Frederick. In
this emergency Niels Christian Petersen offered his services, claiming
that his arctic experiences and powers of endurance fitted him for such
a journey. A Dane by birth, his years of service in Greenland had made
him a skilled dog driver, and experiences with Dr. Hayes in his
expedition of 1860 had made him familiar with field service. A vigorous
man of forty years, he seemed the best of the three sledgemen for stanch
endurance in such ice and weather.

Nares said in his letter of instructions: "In performing this duty in
the present cold weather, with the temperature more than seventy-seven
degrees below freezing, great caution is necessary." The date of
departure was originally fixed for March 4, 1876, the day on which the
retiring sun was first clearly seen above the southern hills at 11.30 A.
M. The cold was intense, being one hundred and one degrees below the
freezing-point. Whiskey placed on the floe froze hard in a few minutes.
Egerton's departure was therefore postponed until the prolonged cold
ended eight days later.

Meantime it was clear that such awful temperatures would seriously
affect the dogs, who were suffering in short exercise marches from the
action of the intense cold on the sharp, sand-like snow particles--all
separate. Nares relates that in crossing the trails of the dogs near the
ship he "noticed, lying on the floe, numerous frozen pellets of blood
which always form between the toes of these animals when working during
severely cold weather. The heat of the foot causes the snow to ball;
this soon changes into ice, and collecting between the toes cuts into
the flesh. On board of the _Resolute_ in 1853 we endeavored to fit our
dogs with blanket pads on their feet, but these were found to increase
the mischief by first becoming damp and then freezing, when the
hardened blanket cut into the sinews at the back of the dogs' legs."[16]

On March 12, 1876, Petersen threw forward the long flexible lash of his
Eskimo whip, calling sharply to the waiting dogs, and the party dashed
off in a temperature of minus thirty degrees. Petersen, Rawson, and
Egerton took turns on the sledge, one riding at a time. The others ran
behind the sledge, holding fast each to one of the upstanders.[17]

The dogs ran freely with their very light load of fifty-one pounds per
animal, for a full load would be about one hundred pounds for each dog.
An hour's travel in a cross wind--filled with the fine drift of
sand-like snow so common in the arctic--made them all put on their
_blinkers_ (face-protectors against the cold, made of carpeting
material) to keep their faces from freezing solid. Every care was taken
by the watchful Egerton to guard against frost-bites. Each quarter of an
hour he stopped the sledge for a moment, when each sledgeman examined
the faces of his comrades. Whenever a whitish spot was seen, the warm
palm of the bare hand was placed against the frozen flesh which at once
thaws.[18]

As closely as possible Egerton followed the favorite line of travel,
along the high ice-foot of the bold shore, inside or outside as
conditions required. This name is given to the ice-ledge which forms by
gradual accretion on the rocks or earth of the shore. As the main sea
ice rises and falls with the tides, the ice necessarily breaks near the
shore; the inner, fast-adhering ice is known as the ice-foot, the outer
ice as the main pack or the floe. The break is in the form of an
irregular fissure called the tidal crack. In the period of the spring
tides (when the tides have their greatest ranges) the main pack rises at
high tide above the ice-foot, and through the tidal crack flows the sea,
covering and filling the irregularities of the ice-foot. This overflow
freezes, leaving a smooth, level surface particularly favorable for
sledge travel until it is broken up by pressure from the moving pack.

Egerton found the ice-foot in good shape for some distance, but now and
then was driven to the main floe of Robeson Channel. The ice of the
strait was a mass of broken, irregular blocks, often loose in
arrangement and sharp in forms. Its surface and the difficulties of
travel may be best likened to marching over great blocks of anthracite
coal, save that the ice is bluish-white instead of black.

The lieutenant made a short day's march, going early into camp to avoid
overworking the unhardened muscles of man and beast--a sound practice
followed by wise arctic sledgemen at the beginning of a long journey.

Even in good weather the making of camp is the worst feature of arctic
travel. Everything is frozen solid, from the bread to the bacon, from
the tent to the sleeping-bags, which become as stiff as a board. Now
conditions were worse than usual owing to the increasing violence of the
blizzard. With snow-blinded eyes and a high, annoying wind the putting
up of the tent was most difficult, but it was finally done. This gave a
wind-protected place where the cook could light his lamp, melt his snow
for tea, and thaw out the frozen meat.

Meanwhile the two other men unpacked the sledge and removed the articles
into the tent. It was found that the driving wind had sifted fine snow
into the provision bags, the sleeping-gear, and everything that was at
all exposed. It was a necessary but most tedious labor to carefully
brush every particle of snow from each article before moving it into the
tent. They knew that a neglect so to do would be felt the next morning
through coatings of ice over their gear. While the cook was busy the
other sledgemen fed and picketed the dogs. If left loose these
domesticated wolves might possibly return to their fellows at the ship,
where good food and fighting company were to be had. If they remained at
the camp a loose dog would swallow down everything in the shape of skin,
hide, or food. More than once an arctic "tenderfoot" has wakened to find
his means of travel vanished--sledge-thongs and dog harness entirely
gone down the capacious throats of his ravenous team. Egerton, alive to
the situation, carefully stored harnesses and camp gear in the tent with
the provision bags.

So bad was the weather that it took six hours of steady labor to make
camp, change foot-gear, cook, eat, and enter their sleeping-bags.

With the night passed on the blizzard, and morning came--clear, calm,
and bitter cold. Even in the tent the temperature was forty-two degrees
below freezing. Frost-bitten hands, ravenous dogs, slowly melting snow,
and the watched pot that never boils made slow the striking of camp. It
was five and a half hours after leaving their sleeping-bags before they
were getting a spark of warmth into their benumbed limbs by steady
travel over the arctic trail. Though it was bitter cold the dogs kept
taut their traces and progress was rapid for several hours. From time to
time Petersen would sigh, and to Egerton's question, "What is the
matter?" answer that it was only a pain that would pass. But Egerton
felt anxious, as the Dane fell back now and then, and when he said that
the cramps in his stomach were terrible, halt was made in a sheltered
spot where the cooking-lamp could be lighted. In a half-hour a bowl of
boiling-hot tea was served, the finest known restorative of vigor and
warmth in cases of arctic exposure--far surpassing rum, brandy, or any
alcoholic stimulant. The Dane ate neither the offered bread nor the
bacon, and indeed of the latter Egerton said that it was frozen so
solidly that even a well man could not put tooth through the lean
parts.

Soon they came to very bad travelling, across steeply inclined snow
slopes along the bordering cliffs of the ice-bound sea that they were
forced to follow. In one place the trail led to a snow-drift thirty feet
across, whose steep seaward face ended on a rocky ledge with a sheer
outward fall of about thirty feet. It was clearly impossible to move the
sledge across, and, Alpine-glacier fashion, a road was slowly hewn out
with pick and axe. In other bad places the loaded sledge plunged
headlong from the top of high hummocks into masses of rubble-ice in the
intervening valleys. In such work animals are quite useless, for the
Eskimo dog pulls hard and steady only under conditions where the sledge
moves constantly forward. When once stalled the dog team sits on its
haunches, welcoming a rest, and watches events composedly. In such cases
the skilled driver untangles the traces, straightens out the team, calls
out shrilly, cracks his whip loudly, and, as the dogs spring forward,
gives a timely and skilful twist to the upstanders which helps the
sledge to a new start. If the sledge does not then move it must be
unloaded and the dogs again started, or it must be hauled by man-power
to an easier part of the trail.

This exhausting labor fell on the young officers, as Petersen was so
sick as to be unable to do his part. Standing around, the Dane began to
lose that warmth of vigorous circulation that alone keeps a man alive in
arctic cold. When finally the dog driver was seized with fits of
spasmodic shivering and his face showed frequent frostings, with bits of
seriously frozen flesh, Egerton became greatly alarmed. As they were
then making their way through very bad ice, camping at once was
impossible. From time to time, however, the officers, quitting the
sledge, took the sufferer in hand, and by five or ten minutes of work
would get him so thawed out that he could safely go on.

When a good camping-place was reached, though they had travelled only
six miles, Egerton at once stopped, hoping that a good night's rest with
warm drink and food would bring the Dane around.

The moment that the tent was up Egerton sent Petersen in with directions
to change his clothing, get into the sleeping-bag, and make himself
comfortable until dinner was ready. Meanwhile the officers unloaded the
sledge, picketed the dogs, and cared for the camp gear.

On crawling into the tent Egerton found Petersen groaning, and
on examination was shocked to find that he had crawled into the
sleeping-bag without changing his clothing. Especially bad was his
failure to replace his damp foot-gear by dry socks--a practice of
recognized necessity in arctic travel to prevent the feet from freezing
at night.

As he was groaning and complaining of much pain, Egerton set to work to
relieve him. Finding that both the hands and the feet were severely
frost-bitten, the man was made to strip off all his clothing, damp with
the sweat of travel, and put on dry undergarments. While Rawson was busy
making tea, Egerton set himself to the labor of thawing out the frost
and of restoring circulation by chafing the hardened limbs with his
bare hands--a long and difficult task. The sick man took a little hot
tea, which his stomach would not retain, but a dose of _sal volatile_
(ammonia) with hot rum and water gave temporary relief. A high wind
arose and the cold became most bitter, the temperature in the tent
falling to fifty-two degrees below the freezing-point. With a cold that
would nearly solidify mercury added to their mental troubles, the
sufferings of the party were extreme. The hands, face, and feet of the
invalid suffered repeated frost-bites, which the devoted officers were
hardly able to remove.

Exhausted as they were by the hard and unusual labors of the day,
sleeping only by snatches, they took watch and watch to care as best
they might for their sick comrade. Suffering extremely themselves from
the cold, they spared no efforts to give such personal services as might
comfort and benefit him. Again and again they restored circulation to
the frozen parts by chafing alternately with their naked hands and by
the application of flannel wraps heated by their own bodies. Such a
night seemed endless with its cares, its privations, and its anxieties,
and unfortunately the continuing gale made it impossible to move when
dawn came.

It was with great relief that they learned from the Dane that his cramps
had nearly disappeared, after he had taken his breakfast of hot cocoa
and soaked biscuit. This gave way to renewed anxiety when a few hours
later Petersen was attacked by violent and recurring fits of ague,
which they hoped to dispel by wrapping him up closely in all the
available robes and flannels.

Egerton no longer thought of going on to the _Discovery_, as it was now
a question whether or not the Dane would perish before he could be got
back to the _Alert_, less than twenty miles distant. While knowing that
travel in such a gale would be fatal to one if not to all, it was
certain that death would come to the Dane if they remained in the tent
with a cold of fifty-six degrees below freezing.

Rawson and Egerton agreed that the only chance of prolonging life lay in
building a snow house. Casting about they found conditions unfavorable
for a regular hut, and so decided to burrow a refuge hole in a great
snow-drift not far from their tent. First they sank a shaft six feet
deep to a solid foundation, and thence under-cut a tunnel inward for
some distance. At the end of it they hollowed out a space eight feet
square and four feet high. This work was intermittently done, as from
time to time they had to return to the terrible duty of thawing out and
restoring circulation to the limbs of the freezing man. Within six
hours, however, they had the shelter done and the Dane removed to it.
Both tent and sledge were drawn over the passageways so as to keep the
cold air out and the warmth from their bodies within. The cold being
still intense, they ran the risk of asphyxiation to insure Petersen's
comfort. Closing every crevice through which could come a breath of air,
they lighted their cooking-lamp and thus raised the temperature to seven
degrees above zero. Fortunately such transpiration of fresh air took
place through the snow as saved them from harm.

The day passed in this manner, small quantities of food being taken from
time to time by the sick man only to be rejected later. Indeed, the only
improvement in his condition seemed to come from those strong and
dangerous, though effective, restoratives, rum and ammonia, and these
were almost always followed by physical relapses. Answering repeatedly,
to inquiries, that he was warm and comfortable, in making him ready for
the night they found that his feet were perfectly gelid from the toes to
the ankles and that his hands were nearly as benumbed.

Realizing that he was nearly in extremities, Egerton and Rawson renewed
their devoted efforts. Each officer took a foot, stripped it naked, and
set to work to warm it by rubbing it with their bare hands. When
circulation was somewhat restored they applied flannels warmed against
their bodies, and replaced them as the used pieces became too cold for
service. The hands were similarly restored to warmth after two hours of
steady work. When the limbs were wrapped up in thick, dry, and warm
coverings they thought that the crisis was over.

During the night Egerton was awakened to find the Dane worse than ever.
Quite delirious, he had crawled from his sleeping-bag, began to eat
snow, and exposed his uncovered body to the cold. Ague fits attacked
him, his breath came in short convulsive gasps, and circulation was
almost entirely suspended, even in his body. Then followed the same
awful and tedious labor of thawing the man out and of guarding against a
repetition of such irrational conduct.

With the coming morn the weather was found to be nearly calm, and to
their great surprise the condition of Petersen was somewhat improved.

As it was certain death to remain where they were, Egerton decided to
start on the journey to the _Alert_, seventeen miles distant. Though
exceedingly feeble, Petersen thought that he could make the journey,
Egerton promptly abandoned everything except tent, sleeping-gear, and
food for a single day. Over the first part of the trail--most dangerous
for a sledge and very rough--Petersen managed to walk under the
stimulation of rum and ammonia. When he fell, prostrate and unconscious,
on the icy road and could go no farther, he was put into a sleeping-bag,
wrapped in warm robes, and lashed securely to the sledge.

The terrible conditions of the homeward journey must be imagined for
they cannot well be described. Once the sledge was precipitated down a
crevasse twenty-five feet deep, the sledge turning over and over three
times in its descent, hurling the dogs in all directions. With beating
hearts the officers scrambled down in haste to Petersen, expecting to
find him badly injured, but almost miraculously he had escaped with a
few bruises. At another point Egerton, who was driving, stopped the team
to clear the harness, a frequent duty, as the antics of the dogs tie up
in a sadly tangled knot the seal-thong traces by which the sledge is
hauled. With one of its occasional fits of uncontrol, the team started
on the jump, and dragged the spirited Egerton, who held fast to the
traces, a hundred yards through rough ice-masses before he could gain
control.

Whenever a stop was made to clear harness or to pick a way through bad
ice, the officers went through the slow and painful duty of thawing out
Petersen's limbs. Save a brief stop for hot tea to give warmth to and
quench the thirst of the invalid, they travelled ten hours, and when in
the last stages of physical exhaustion had the inexpressible happiness
of bringing their crippled comrade alive to the _Alert_.

With a generosity in keeping with his heroic conduct toward Petersen,
Egerton ascribed his final success to Rawson's labors, for in his
official report he says that high praise is due Lieutenant Rawson "for
the great aid derived from his advice and help; without his unremitting
exertions and cheerful spirit, my own efforts would have been unavailing
to return to the ship with my patient alive."

In these hours of splendid devotion to their disabled comrade these
young officers, absolutely disregarding personal considerations,
displayed that contempt for external good which Emerson indicates as the
true measure of every heroic act.

FOOTNOTES:

[16] In my own expedition we shod our dogs for travel in very cold
weather with neatly fitting, thin, oil-tanned seal-skin shoes. Though a
shoe was occasionally lost, as they had to be tied on loosely, the feet
of the dogs were well protected.

[17] The upstanders are stout poles rising from the extreme rear of the
sledge by which the driver is able to steer or direct the course of the
sledge itself.

[18] The rubbing of frozen places with snow, so often recommended, is
most injurious in the extreme north. In my own expedition it was once
suggested to a man whose nose was freezing, as a matter of joke. Taken
seriously, the unfortunate man rubbed his nose freely. The sharp,
sand-like particles of snow acted like a file and scraped off the skin
so that it was a week or more before the man's face was healed.



LIFE ON AN EAST GREENLAND ICE-PACK

     "And now there came both mist and snow,
     And it grew wondrous cold:
     And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
     As green as emerald."
           --COLERIDGE.


The second German north polar expedition sailed under Captain Karl
Koldewey in 1869, with the intention of landing on the coast of
East Greenland, near Sabine Island, whence by winter sledging the
explorations of the northern coasts of Greenland and of the north polar
basin were to be undertaken. The two ships of the expedition, the
_Germania_ and the _Hansa_, reached by the middle of July the edge of
the great ice-pack, which in enormous and generally impenetrable
ice-masses streams southward from the Arctic Ocean between Greenland and
Spitzbergen. As an accompaniment to this vast ice-field come from the
glacier fiords of East Greenland most of the enormous icebergs which are
sighted and encountered by transatlantic steamships off the banks of
Newfoundland. The ships separating through misunderstanding of a signal,
the _Germania_, a steam-ship, succeeded in working her way through the
ice-stream to Sabine Island, where her crew carried out its programme.
The _Hansa_, without steam-power, and so dependent on sails, became
entangled in the pack in early August and was never able to escape
therefrom. The fate of the _Hansa_ and the experiences of her crew form
the subject-matter of this sketch.

       *       *       *       *       *

Until the _Hansa_ was fast frozen in the pack, on September 9, Captain
Hegemann was prepared for any emergency, whether the ship was crushed or
if opening lanes of water should permit escape to Sabine Island from
which they were only forty miles distant. Completely equipped and
victualled boats were kept on deck so that they could be lowered to the
ice at any moment.

When the ship was frozen in the captain faced resourcefully the serious
question of wintering in the pack. It was known to him that no ship had
ever escaped from such wintering in the drifting ice-pack of the
Greenland Sea, and indeed the violent and frequently recurring pressures
of the ice-field pointed to the early loss of their ship. Life might
be possible, but health and comfort could not be had in boats covered
with canvas. Cramped quarters, severe cold, damp bedding, and absence
of facilities for cooking forbade such an attempt. While others
suggested the snow houses of the Eskimo, one fertile mind urged that
a living-house be built of coal, which was done.

[Illustration: Southeastern Greenland.]

Fortunately the coal supply was in the form of briquets, coal tiles nine
inches broad, quite like ordinary bricks in shape. Thus went up the most
remarkable construction in the annals of polar history, a house of coal
on a foundation of ice. The _Hansa_ was moored to one of the so-called
paleocrystic floe-bergs several square miles in extent, nearly fifty
feet thick, with fresh-water ponds and an uplifted central mass
thirty-nine feet high, near which hill the coal house was built to
insure its safety. With water from the pools to pour on the finely
powdered snow, the arctic masons had a cement that quickly bound
together the tiles as they were laid in courses. The ship's spars were
laid crossways for the main rafters, and other wood was used for the
completion of the roof-frame, over which were stretched reed mattings
and sail-cloth. Coal tiles made a level and convenient floor, whence in
case of necessity they might draw for fuel in the late winter. With a
double door and provision caches in the house they awaited the action of
the pack, still comfortable in the ship's cabins.

With joy the hunters learned that the ice-field was not wholly desolate,
but that it was the hunting-field of the polar bear, who was followed by
the arctic fox, who deftly snapped up under bruin's very nose any
outlying bit of seal that was within reach.

In the early days, before the pack had become an unbroken ice-mass, a
hunter espied on an adjacent floe a large she bear with her cub. A boat
was quickly put off to cross the narrow water-lane, when to the surprise
of every one the old bear, followed by the cub, rushed forward to meet
them at the edge of the floe, gnashing her teeth and licking her chops,
clearly unfamiliar with man and his weapons and anxious for a meal. As
they fired the bear fell dead on the snow, but the cub instead of
running remained by her side licking and caressing her mother in the
most affectionate manner. She paid no attention at first to the
advancing hunters, save to alertly elude the many efforts to cast a
noose over her head. Finally the cub became alarmed, and with piteous
howlings ran away, escaping over the rugged pack despite a shot which
wounded her.

In the middle of October came a series of violent blizzards which
foretold the coming fate of the ship. The groaning, grinding ice-field
was breaking up under enormous pressures that came from the colliding
floe-bergs, which were revolving under various forces of wind and sea
currents. Though trembling violently, with her masts swaying to and fro,
the _Hansa_ was spared, great fissures in the floe near by showing how
close was her escape. All of the crew were busy preparing for the worst,
fuel, food, and clothing being carried in quantities to the house.

The end came on October 19 within four miles of the East Greenland
coast, when a gale sprang up and the collision of the fast ice of the
shore and the moving sea-pack had already increased the ice-pressures
with fearful results. Mighty blocks of granite-like ice shoving under
the bow of the ship raised it seventeen feet above its former position
in the ice, while the after part of the _Hansa_ was frozen in so tightly
or jammed so badly that it could not rise, under which conditions it was
certain that the stern would be racked and strained beyond service.

The dangerous situation was dramatic in the extreme. With the dying wind
the sky cleared, the stars shone with keen brilliancy, the cold
increased sharply to forty-five degrees below the freezing-point, while,
as if in mockery of man's sorrows, the merry dancers flashed upward in
dagger-shaped gleams wavering an instant and then vanishing, only to
come again in new forms with ever-changing colors. To a mere observer it
would have been a perfect picture of adverse arctic conditions,
wonderful in its aspects and surpassingly beautiful to an artistic eye.

With relaxing pressures the great ice-ridges slowly decreasing in height
fell apart, and the ship was again on her usual level, but rent fatally
and making water fast. In vain did the whole crew strain at the pumps,
while the outpouring water from the spouts froze on the deck as it
fell--the water gained steadily and orders to save the cargo were given.
The worn-out men worked frantically, dragging out bedding, food,
clothing, medicines, guns, ammunition, sledges, boat furniture, and
everything that could be of service for life on the floe. Best of all,
for their comfort and amusement, they hoisted over the rail of the
ship's galley heating-stoves, games, and books; they felled the masts
for fuel and stripped the sails for house use. Fortunately the energetic
seamen were able to strip the ship of all useful articles before she
sank on October 22, 1869, in 70° 52´ north latitude, a few miles from
the Greenland coast.

They now faced a situation of extraordinary if not of imminent peril. It
was barely possible that they might reach the coast, six miles distant,
but that was to face starvation, as everything must be abandoned for a
cross-floe march. If the shore was reached it was well known to be
ice-clad and desolate, as there were to be found neither natives nor
land game along the narrow strips of rocky, ice-free beach which
stretches from sea-glacier to sea-glacier on this seemingly accursed
coast.

The only chances of life were in the shifting and uncertain forces of
nature--a cold winter to keep the ice-field intact, a stormless season
to save their floe from breaking up under pressures, and the usual
Greenland current to set them to the south. With good fortune they might
hope to get into open water seven months hence, when by their boats they
could possibly reach the Danish settlements of West Greenland. But could
they live seven months through a winter barely begun? At least they
would do their best. They were fourteen men, all good and true, in
health, skilled to the sea, inured to hardships and privations,
accustomed to discipline, and inspired by a spirit of comradeship.

Their floe had been wasted at its edges by the enormous pressure, as
well as by the action of the sea, so that they were thankful for
Hegemann's foresight in placing the coal house remote from the ocean.
All that sailor ingenuity could plan was now done to make life healthy
and comfortable in their ark of safety. Outer snow walls were erected so
that there was a free walk around the main house, giving also a place
for the protection of stores against storms and shelter for daily
exercise. From their flag-staff was displayed on fine days a flag,
emblem of their love for their country, of their faith in themselves,
and of aspiration and uplifting courage in hours of danger.

The hunt engaged their activities whenever signs of game were noted.
Once a bear and her cub came from the land, and the mother was slain and
added to their larder. An effort was made to keep the cub as a kind of
pet. After a while she escaped and was caught swimming across a narrow
lane of water. To keep her secure they fastened her to an ice-anchor,
where she was at first very much frightened, but later she ate with
avidity such meat as was thrown to her. To add to her comfort a snow
house was built, with the floor strewed with shavings for her bed, but
the record runs: "The young bear, as a genuine inhabitant of the arctic
seas, despised the hut and bed, preferring to camp in the snow." Some
days later she disappeared, and with the heavy chain doubtless sank to
the bottom of the sea.

Nor were these castaways unmindful of the charms of arctic nature. Their
narratives tell us of the common beauties around them--the snow-crystals
glittering in the few hours of sunlight like millions of tiny diamonds.
Night scenes were even more impressive, through wondrous views of the
starry constellations and the recurring and evanescent gleams of the
mystical aurora. Under the weird auroral light the white snow took at
times a peculiar greenish tint, and with it, says an officer, "One could
read the finest writing without trouble. One night it shone so intensely
that the starlight waned and objects on our field cast shadows." But in
its main aspects life on the ice-pack was full of dread in which nervous
anxiety largely entered.

The barren peaks and rounded snow-capped land masses of the Greenland
coast were usually in sight, and once they were astonished as they
walked to see thousands of tiny leaves, possibly of the arctic willow,
flying about them, signs of a snow-free fiord not far distant. Again
the newly fallen snow for a considerable distance was covered with a
reddish matter which Dr. Laube thought must be of volcanic origin
carried through the air from Iceland two hundred miles away.

Of interest to the party were the visits of foxes, who came from the
near-by land. Of the first it is said: "With tails high in air they shot
over the ice-field like small craft sailing before the wind. For the
first moment it seemed as if the wind had caught up a couple of large
semicircles of whitish yellow paper and was wafting them along." One was
shot as a specimen, but the later visitor in the middle of December was
better treated. We are told that "the fox, white with a black-tipped
tail, was particularly confiding, even bold. He scratched up the bear
flesh buried in the snow, and carried it off to eat as we approached. He
then quite unconcernedly took a walk on the roof of our house, and
through the small window convinced himself as to what we were doing.
Should we shoot it? No! It was a long time since we had seen such a
fearless creature. At times we placed nets with a meat bait to tease
him, but he always managed to get clear of them."

Meanwhile their coal house with the floe was drifting south slowly, with
the coast of Greenland in plain sight, distant from five to fifteen
miles. Their safety, always the subject of daily talk, seemed assured
until the coming spring, for they were on an immense floe-berg whose
area of about four square miles was dotted with hills and vales, while
sweet-water lakes gave abundant water for drinking and cooking, a great
boon. It was known that surrounding floes were daily grinding huge
pieces of ice from the edge of their own, and that the ice-pressures
were steadily turning it around, so that one week they saw the rising
sun from their single window and the week following noted the setting
sun therefrom. At first this floe rotation was completed in twelve days,
but later, with reduced size, stronger currents, and high winds, the
floe-berg made a full rotation in four days.

At times there were welcome additions to their slim larder of fresh
meat. One day a seaman rushed in breathless to say that he was sure
there was a walrus near by. All were instantly astir, and soon a walrus
was located, a black spot on the clear white of an adjoining floe. With
great celerity and caution the whale-boat was launched in the
intervening lane of open water, and with notable skill the steersman,
Hildebrant, manoeuvred the boat within rifle range without disturbing
the rest of the sleeping animal. The first shot wounded the walrus so
badly that he could move away but slowly. On the approach of the hunters
he struggled with great fury, breaking through the young ice and
attempting to strike down the hunters as they approached to give him his
death wound.

Covered with hide an inch thick, the walrus was so colossal that it took
the united strength of ten men, using a powerful pulley, to raise the
carcass from the water to the main ice. Under the outer hide was a layer
of fat three inches thick, which was almost as acceptable for fuel as
was the meat for food to men who had for so long a time been confined to
salt and canned meats as their principal diet.

The odor of the burning walrus fat seemed to attract bears from long
distances. One inquisitive bruin, sniffing at the meat in one of the
boats, fell through the tightly stretched canvas covering, and
scrambling out growled at the night light by the outer door of the house
and passed on safely. A second animal was wounded but escaped. The
third, whose acute hunger brought him one dark night to the house in
search of the odorous walrus fat, was received with a volley and was
found dead the next morning.

The quiet Christmas holidays, celebrated with German earnestness, had
brought to their hearts an unusual sense of confidence, peace, and hope,
based on their providential preservation, excellent health, and physical
comfort. This confidence was soon rudely dispelled, giving way to deep
anxiety at the devastation wrought by a frightful blizzard that burst on
them with the opening new year.

Then the crew realized that there was a possible danger of perishing in
the pack, since at any time their immense floe-berg might break into
countless pieces in the very midst of the polar cold and the winter
darkness. With the violent wind arose an awful groaning of the ice-pack,
due to the tremendous pressures of the surging ocean beneath and of the
crowding floes around. So violent were the movements of the floe itself,
and so great the noise of crashing bergs, that they feared to longer
remain in the coal house, and in terror of their lives they sought
refuge in the open. Although the snow-filled air made it impossible for
any one to see a dozen yards, yet at least there was a chance to escape
if the floe split under their feet, which was felt to be possible at any
moment. They made ready for the worst, though escape from death seemed
quite hopeless. Rolling up their fur sleeping-bags and clothing, they
filled their knapsacks with food. Forming a human chain they ran safety
lines from the house to the several boats, well knowing that in the
blinding blizzard one could not otherwise find his way to the boat to
which each one had been told off for the final emergency. They then set
a watch of two men to note events, and, intrusting their souls to God,
the rest of the party crawled into their sleeping-bags for such needed
rest and for such possible sleep as might come to the most stolid.

When the gale broke two days later they found that they had escaped
death as by miracle. Three-fourths of this seemingly stable floe had
disappeared, broken into huge, shapeless masses. Barely a square mile of
the floe remained intact, with the coal house perilously near the edge
instead of in the centre.

Scarcely had order and comfort been restored, when ten days later an
even more furious blizzard burst upon them, actually bringing them face
to face with death. In the middle of the night the watch cried out
loudly, "All hands turn out!" With their furs and knapsacks now kept
ready for instant action, they rushed out and stood in place, each by
his allotted boat. The hurricane wind made movement most difficult, snow
filled the air, their floe was quivering from awful pressures, while the
howling gale and groaning ice-pack made a deafening tumult. Nothing
could be done but to stand and wait!

Suddenly the captain cried out, "Water is making on the next floe!" An
adjoining floe-berg of great size and thickness had split into countless
pieces, and where a moment before had been a solid ice surface was a
high sea tossing broken ice-masses. Huge pieces of their own berg now
broke off, due to the action of the sea and to collision with the
crowding pack. While looking with a feeling of despair at the high
waves, now gnawing at and rapidly wasting the edges of their floe, they
were greatly alarmed to hear a loud, sharp report as of a cannon-shot.
Before any one could stir, even had he known where to go, their floe
burst with a fearful sound midway between the coal house and the
wood-pile. Within a dozen yards of the house now appeared a huge chasm,
quickly filled with huge waves which tossed to and fro great ice-blocks
which beat against the floe remnant on which the dismayed men stood.
Though all seemed lost the crew without exception acted with courage and
celerity. By prompt work they dragged up on the sound ice the whale-boat
which barely escaped dropping into the sea. Aware that they could not
launch and handle in such a storm the largest of their boats, Hegemann
told off the men to the two small boats. In the pandemonium death was
thought to be close at hand. With this thought they gave a last
handshake to each other and said a final farewell as they separated and
went to their alloted stations by the boats. The physical conditions
were so utterly wretched that some even said that death would be
welcome. The roaring of the pack was unceasing, the hurricane-like winds
continued, while the temperature was forty-two degrees below freezing.
The sharp, cutting snow-pellets of the blizzard not only blinded the
vision, but the clothes were saturated with the sand-like ice particles
driven through the fur to their very skin, where they were melted by the
heat of the body. Food was not to be thought of, save a bit of biscuit
which was eaten as they stood.

For ten hours they stood fast by their boats in shivering misery and in
mental anxiety, knowing that any moment they might be thrown into the
sea. But by God's protection, in a providential manner, after being
reduced to a diameter of one hundred and fifty feet their floe held
together.

The dangers of the sea and of the ordinary pack had still another and
novel phase. When matters seemed to be at their worst the watch cried
out: "We are drifting on a high iceberg!" They stood immovable as the
lofty berg loomed far above their heads, close on them, and after
hanging a ghastly object over their tiny floe for a moment vanished in
the mist while their hearts were yet in their mouths.

They had barely gathered together and arranged their few remaining
effects when another frightful storm came upon them. While there were
ice-movements around them all went to sleep except the watch, when with
a thundering sound their quivering floe broke in two, a broad fissure
passing through the floor of the house. Captain Hegemann says: "God only
knows how it happened that in our flight into the open none came to
harm. In the most fearful weather we all stood roofless on the ice,
waiting for the daylight which was still ten hours off. As it became
quieter some crept into the captain's boat. Sleep was not to be thought
of; it was a confused, unquiet half-slumber, from utter weariness, and
our limbs quivered convulsively from cold (it was forty-one degrees
below freezing) as we lay packed like herrings in our furs."

With a heroic devotion to duty the energetic cook had the courage to
make coffee in the shattered house, on the very edge of the gaping
ice-chasm that ran down into the sea. Hegemann says: "Never had the
delicious drink awakened more creatures to life." This cook was a
notable character, never discomposed, but invariably self-possessed even
in the most critical moments. While the shattered coal house seemed in
danger of falling into the sea he was busy repairing a kettle. When the
captain suggested that he leave the house owing to the peril, he said:
"If only the floe would hold together until I finish the kettle, then I
can make tea so that you all may have something warm before you enter
the boats." No pains or trouble was too great for him when the comfort
of his shipmates was in question.

The poor doctor of the expedition did not have the iron nerves of the
cook, and under the influence of constantly recurring dangers he
developed melancholia, which lasted to the end. Of the crew in general
captain Hegemann says: "Throughout all of the discomforts, want,
hardships, and dangers of all kinds the frame of mind among the men was
good, undaunted, and exalting."

All denied themselves to give comfort and to show consideration to the
afflicted doctor.

At a gloomy period there came to them amusement and distraction through
the visit of a frisky fox from the main-land, who remained with them
many days. With growing boldness he came up quickly without signs of
fear when bits of meat were thrown to him from the cook's galley. His
gay antics and cunning ways were the source of much fun. Finally he
became so tame that he even let the men he knew best stroke his
snow-white fur.

On May 7, 1870, they were near Cape Farewell, the southerly point of
Greenland, where they expected to quit the ice-field. It was now two
hundred days since their besetment, and they had drifted more than six
hundred miles, with all in health save the doctor. Snow had now given
place to rain, the pack was rapidly dissolving, and at the first opening
of the ice toward land they left their old floe and faced in their three
boats the perils of an ice-filled sea. Afflicted by snow-blindness, worn
out by strenuous, unceasing labor, storm-beset at times, encompassed by
closely packed broken ice--through which the boats could not be rowed
or pushed and over which man could not travel--they at last reached
Illuidlek Island. The voyage at starting was supposed to involve four
days of navigation, but it took twenty-four days to make it.

Now food became scarce for the first time, neither seals nor bears being
killed, so that they were always hungry. Hegemann writes: "Talk turns on
nothing but eating. Konrad was quite sad this morning; in his sleep he
had consumed ham and poached eggs, one after another, but on waking felt
so dreadfully hollow within."

Threatened by a closing pack they hauled up, with great difficulty,
their boats on a large floe. They found a low shelving edge of the ice
and emptied the large boat of its contents. Rocking the boat backward
and forward, head on, when it had gained a free motion, the whole crew
hauled together on the painter when the boatswain cried loudly: "Pull
all!" When the bow caught the edge of the ice the boat could in time be
worked gradually up on the floe, but it was a heart-breaking,
exhausting, prolonged labor.

Storm-bound for four days, they resorted to various devices to pass the
time and divert their minds from hunger. The loquacious carpenter spun
old-time sea yarns, Vegesack tales of astounding character. In one story
he related his experiences as captain of a gun-boat when, having no
sailing directions for the North Sea, he steered by the help of a chart
of the Mediterranean from Bremen to Hull. When he arrived off Hull he
verified his position exactly by a sounding, which proved conclusively
that he was at Ramsgate, south of the Thames. Thus did folly beguile
misery.

Cut off from land by closely packed ice, they finally made the journey
practically on foot, carrying their food and baggage on their backs. The
boats were dragged one at a time through soft snow and across icy
chasms. This task left them in a state of utter exhaustion, even the
captain fainting from continued overwork.

From Illuidlek their voyage was easy to the Moravian missionary colony
at Friedrichshaab, West Greenland, where comfort and safety were again
theirs. Thus ended this wondrous voyage, which quiet heroism, complete
comradeship, and full devotion to duty make one of the most striking in
the annals of arctic service.



PARR'S LONELY MARCH FROM THE GREAT FROZEN SEA

     Those grim fields which lie silent as night and uninhabited, and
     where no sound of human voice breaks the repose, where no dead are
     buried and where none can rise.
           --KLOPSTOCK.


Centuries of efforts to attain the north pole, under the auspices of the
government of Great Britain, had their final culmination in the arctic
expedition of 1875-6. The squadron was commanded by Captain Sir George
Nares, R.N., of _Challenger_ fame, whose flag-ship, the _Alert_,
wintered at Floeberg Beach, exposed to the full force of the mighty pack
of the frozen Arctic Ocean. Of the many sledge journeys made with the
_Alert_ as the base of operations, the most important was naturally
expected to accomplish the main object of the expedition. It was
commanded by Commander Albert H. Markham, R.N., who with three
man-sledges, two boats, and seventeen men all told marched directly
northward over the hummocky surface of the Great Frozen Sea in an effort
to reach the north pole. By most strenuous labors and heroic persistency
Markham reached on the surface of the ice-covered sea latitude 83° 20´
N., a point nearer the north pole than had ever before been attained by
man.

This tale sets forth the lamentable experiences of Markham's homeward
march, and particularly the vitally important and heroic journey of
Lieutenant A. A. C. Parr, R.N., which saved the lives of his slowly
perishing comrades.

       *       *       *       *       *

The northward sledge journey over the floes of the frozen sea, though
conducted by brave and experienced officers with selected men, was made
under unusual physical disadvantages which made impossible any further
success than was actually accomplished. The party was encumbered with
heavy boats, which were carried as a precautionary measure through fear
lest the main polar pack might be disrupted during their journey. The
sledges were fearfully overloaded, for while their burdens of two
hundred pounds per man might be hauled short distances over good ice,
the later conditions of four hundred pounds (three sledges with two
crews) per man, in deep snow and through rough ice, was simply
impossible. The extreme roughness of the ice of the Arctic Ocean was
beyond expectation or earlier experience. Finally it developed on the
march that the health and strength of the men were impaired by attacks
of incipient and unsuspected scurvy. So it happened that when only
thirteen days out from the ship a scurvy-stricken man had to be hauled
on the already overloaded sledge. With true British grit Markham went
ahead, but four days later, in order to spare the strength of his men,
who were daily falling out of the traces, he decided to take the chances
of pack-disruption and so abandoned one of his boats.

[Illustration: Great Frozen Sea and Robeson Channel.]

It is not needful to give the details of the outward journey, which
involved the abject misery of scarified faces, frost-hardened fingers,
capsizing sledges, deep snows, and extreme cold to which most arctic
sledgemen are subjected. To these were added road-making, owing to the
mazes of high hummocks with deep intervening valleys. The increase of
loads, so that progress could be made only by standing-pulls, was bad
enough, but this disability was enhanced by the steady decrease of the
number of sledgemen, by the necessity of hauling disabled men, and by
the nursing care of patients steadily growing worse and unable to do
anything for themselves.

Under such conditions Markham added to the glory of the British Navy by
displaying the flag of his country on May 12, 1876, in 83° 20´ N., thus
establishing a world's record. As five of his seventeen men were then
unable even to walk, his venturesome courage in this journey could not
be surpassed. Certainly Commander Markham pushed to the extreme limit
compliance with his assertive sledge motto: "I dare do all that becomes
a man. Who dares do more is none."

Amidst the glory and happiness of this notable day, there could not fail
to arise in the minds of all, especially of Markham and his efficient
aid, Lieutenant Parr, unbidden forebodings as to the homeward march. Was
it not possible that their distressing conditions were a prelude to
disaster? Would they all reach the ship? At all events they would do all
that was in their power.

The seriousness of the situation was soon evident. In five days' travel,
though inspired to greater efforts by the fact that they were homeward
bound, they averaged only one and a half miles daily, at which rate it
would take fifty days of uninterrupted sledging to reach the _Alert_.
The sledge work was simply appalling, almost heart-breaking. It took the
whole force to advance the largest of the three sledges, and the
necessary return for the smaller sledges tripled the distance of the
original march. In addition the windings of the road to avoid bad ice
so increased the length of the route that they were travelling five
miles for each mile made good toward the ship.

Meantime the health and the strength of the men steadily decreased, and,
most alarming symptoms of all, the appetites of the sledgemen began to
fail. Markham's field journal briefly tells the harrowing tale: "With
great difficulty can the patients be persuaded to eat anything. Mouths
are too tender for well-soaked biscuit, and stomachs rebel against
pemmican and fat bacon.... Unquenchable thirst, alleviated at meals only
for lack of fuel to melt ice.... Invalids very weak and much subject to
fainting fits. So utterly helpless and prostrate are they that they have
to be assisted in every detail by two and sometimes four of their
companions.... Tea-leaves are devoured with avidity by the majority....
The men find great difficulty in moving their legs, and are in great
pain.... All are so stiff that the slightest exertion causes great
suffering.... Out of thirty-four legs in the party we can only muster
eleven good ones.... Every hour is important, as we know not when we may
all be attacked and rendered useless."

When in this condition they were storm-stayed for thirty-six hours by a
violent blizzard, when one could not see a sledge's length ahead. This
brought matters to a crisis, and to hasten the march Markham was obliged
to abandon his last boat and all stores that could be spared,
ammunition, one hundred and seventy pounds of pemmican, and much camp
gear. It was indeed time, for only four of the men were entirely well.

A pleasurable incident made happy for a moment these distressed sailors,
sick, worn out, surrounded by an illimitable expanse of ice. Markham
records: "The appearance of a little snow-bunting, which fluttered
around us for a short time, uttering to us its rather sweet chirp. This
was an event of no small interest to our party, as it was the first bird
seen by the majority for a period of nine months. Even the sick men on
the sledge requested they might have their heads uncovered and lifted so
as to obtain a glimpse of the little warbler."

Conditions steadily changed from bad to worse, and on June 2 the sledge
party was simply a band of cripples. Five helpless invalids were in
their sleeping-bags on the sledge, four others were barely able to crawl
along, leaving only six men and two officers to drag their sick comrades
and the heavily loaded sledge.

On June 5 they camped on land, about seven miles south of Cape Joseph
Henry, and were cheered and encouraged by having a meal of fresh hare,
which had been thoughtfully cached for them by a travelling party.
Unfortunately they came to the shore a day too late, for on visiting the
depot Markham learned from a note "to our disappointment that Captain
Nares, May, and Fielden had only left for the ship the previous day.
This was very unfortunate."

Although temporarily braced up by fresh meat and by delicacies from the
depot, the party reached its effective end the following day, June 6.
Five invalids were on the sledge, four others had to lie down on the
snow and rest every thirty or forty yards, and a tenth man was quite
near the end, while the party had wandered a distance from the road.

Markham fully realized the critical situation of the party and writes:
"So rapid had been the encroachments of the disease that it was only too
palpable that immediate succor was necessary for our salvation. At the
rate of progress we were making, it would take us fully three weeks to
reach the ship, although only forty miles distant; and who would there
be left in three weeks' time? The few who were still strong enough to
drag the sledges would barely last as many days!"

In his field journal he records on June 6: "After a long consultation
with Parr it has been resolved that he shall proceed to-morrow morning,
if fine, and walk to the ship. Our only chance of saving life is by
receiving succor as soon as possible. Although the distance from us to
the ship is nearly forty miles, over floes covered with deep snow and
girt with heavy hummocks, he has nobly volunteered to attempt it, and
has confidence in his being able to accomplish it. He is the only one of
the party strong enough to undertake such a march."

Parr knew the strain that such a dangerous and difficult journey
involved, so he arranged his equipment and laid his plans accordingly.
As lightly outfitted as was safe, he started at ten o'clock in the
evening, wisely avoiding the disadvantages of day travel. The night
gave him the needed lower temperatures with firmer snow-crust, and
avoided the snow-blinding sun-glare, as the course was to the south
which brought the midnight sun on the traveller's back and so spared his
eyes, while more clearly disclosing the irregularities of the ice.

Most fortunately there was no wind, the weather was fine, the air so
clear that to the westward stood sharply outlined the coast of Grant
Land along which the heroic officer had often travelled during the past
year. This enabled him to keep a straight course, and saved him from the
dangers of straying to which one is liable in thick or stormy weather
when travel must be slowly made by careful compass bearings. He took
with him food for a single day only, with a small spirit lamp so that in
extreme need he could start a fire, melt ice for drinking-water, or warm
a scanty meal. With his belt well pulled up, his foot-gear carefully and
not too tightly adjusted, ice-chisel in hand and snow-goggles over his
eyes, he said "Good-by," and started amid the answering "God-speeds" of
his comrades, which long re-echoed in his ears as so many appeals for
aid and stimulants to action.

Two routes were open to him to the _Alert_. Possibly the safer way in
the advanced stage of oncoming summer, but certainly a much longer
route, lay along the ice-foot of the coast, which from the next headland
made a long détour to the westward around Marco Polo Bay. The shorter
air-line route was across the sea ice, now fast decaying under the
summer sun, with the certainty of many air-holes and possible pitfalls
where tides and pressure, sun and currents had broken and wasted the
winter floe. Confident in his keenness of vision and in his familiarity
with sea ice, he took the shorter air-line route, though its rough
rubble-ice and shattered hummock-masses were sure to make greater
demands on his physical strength and to require vigilance to avoid
accidents.

On and on, mile after mile, hour upon hour, he marched slowly but
steadily onward, stumbling often and halting only when road conditions
demanded. Now and then the loose rubble-ice separated under his feet,
leaving him uncertain footing, and again huge pressure-ridges or
converging hummocks obliged the weary man to carefully seek a safe way
through their tangled, confused masses. The greatest danger was that of
breaking through thin ice, and when he came to some attractive piece of
new smooth ice, deceptively promising fast and easy travel, it was his
rule to carefully test its strength and thickness with his ice-chisel
before venturing to cross it. It was not that his life should be lost,
but that he carried with him the gift of life or the message of death to
others.

Now and then he staggered and there came over him a sense of growing
weariness, but the thought of his helpless, dying comrades on the Great
Frozen Sea behind him, and of the eager, willing hearts in the ship
before him, steeled his nerves, inspired anew his heart, and gave fiery
energy to his flagging strength and failing body.

For an hour or two as he marched there arose faint doubts as to the
wisdom of his cross-sea route, for it was a period of strong tides which
in their onward sweep from the northern Arctic Ocean warped and twisted
the mighty ice-covering, whose total disruption was certain at the first
violent gale, it being stayed now only by the almost immovable floes of
enormous thickness crowded against the bordering lands.

Wearisome and monotonous in the extreme had the main pack become to Parr
after steady travel thereon for more than two months, especially during
the brief periods of calm weather when the curling wreaths and trailing
streamers of the almost constantly drifting snow were absent, leaving
the scene unrelieved in its almost hideous desolation. But then at least
he was free from the nervous tension that now came with the loud groans,
the feeble mutterings, the rasping grindings of floes, and the loud
explosions that mark the surface changes of the pack from heavy tidal
action. Especially the fear of a fog-covered floe came to his mind, as
vaporous forms like water-spirits rose here and there from fissures
forming in the cracking floes. Would the dreaded fog envelop the pack?
If so, what were his chances of reaching the _Alert_? And what fate
would the fog bring to the field party?

The uneasy, trembling ice-pack in thus forcing on him a realization of
its presence through motion under his feet recalled inevitably the
vision of the Great Frozen Sea, which if it had insured world-wide fame
to his faithful sledge-mates had also brought death so near to them.

It was therefore with an overwhelming sense of relief that he clambered
up the overtowering ice-foot at Depot Point and once more placed his
foot on firm ground.

Ascending the hill he scanned the horizon and was relieved to note that
a breath of southern wind was carrying the fog to the north, while the
floes toward the ship were entirely clear.[19]

Behind him lay Marco Polo Bay, while before him was the seemingly
boundless and illimitable expanse of the great polar pack. Ample food
dainties in the cache at his feet invited refreshment, while physical
exhaustion, from rough, steady travel, demanded rest and sleep. Either
need would have here stayed a man of less heroic stamp than Parr, but he
paused not to eat a bit of food, to drink a cup of tea, nor to take the
brief rest that his tired muscles so sadly needed.

A short distance beyond he scrambled down over the precipitous ice-foot
to the chaotic, pressure-ridged ice-masses of Black Cliffs Bay, and
fixed his course in a bee-line to the farthest cape, Harley Spit to the
southeast. He could not later recall the awful trials of that cross-bay
travel. With failing strength and exhausted body, to his confused mind
the furlongs seemed to lengthen out to miles and the hours were of
interminable duration. With his great and splendid vitality almost
utterly spent, he reached the cape after nine hours of utmost effort.

A short mile along the ice-foot brought in sight a standing tent which
stirred his heart with visions of expectant comrades from the ship with
God-sent aid. Hastening his lagging steps as best he could, he reached
the tent and raised the flap. Alas! it was empty, and for the moment he
was overcome with bitter and disheartening disappointment. Would aid
ever come or help be obtained?

With the mental reaction he became conscious of his fearfully exhausted
condition and knew that he could go no farther without rest and drink.
He lighted his tiny spirit lamp, filled the pot with fresh snow,
unrolled a sleeping-bag and crept into it for warmth and rest. In time,
all too short it was to the worn-out man, the kettle sang its usually
welcome song of steam. Then came the tea--strong and almost boiling it
stirred his blood, cheered his heart, and gave vigor to his wearied
body; he needed none for his unfailing courage. On rising he found that
his legs were so stiff that he could barely place one before the other,
but with a great effort of will he was soon able to reach the floe and
to go on toward Cape Sheridan, beyond which at a short distance lay the
_Alert_, and safety.

Pressing onward steadily, though with decreasing speed, from hour to
hour he hoped against hope to meet some sailor comrade from the
ship--either hunters seeking game or officers taking their daily
exercise. Time and again a black speck on the floe took the mocking
semblance of a man to his longing eyes, only to fade into an inanimate
shape. Time and again, as he stumbled or staggered, it seemed as though
he would fail, so feeble had the body become and so forceless his
will-power. Could he reach the ship? Would help come in time for the
dying men behind? Most fearful of all, was the _Alert_ still there?
Exposed to the full force of the Arctic Ocean, had she suffered
shipwreck or was she unharmed? If safe, why did no one come?

At last he was at Cape Sheridan, and oh! happiness, there against the
southern sky were outlined the bare spars and the covered deck of the
long-sought _Alert_. She was but a few miles away, yet in his enfeebled
state she seemed to recede rather than to advance as he dragged himself
along.

But everything has its end, and in six of his weariest hours Parr
reached the ship, strangely enough without being seen. Striding silently
across the deck, nodding only to the officer on watch, he nervously
knocked on the panels of Captain Nares's cabin. The door swung open
at once and for a few seconds the captain stared vaguely at his
subordinate. So solemn was Parr's look, so soiled his garb, so weary his
expression, and so travel-stained was his person that Sir George at
first failed to recognize him.

Meanwhile matters had steadily gone from bad to worse with Markham and
his men. On the day following Parr's departure, Gunner George Porter,
who had been sick seven weeks with suspected scurvy, was taken with
retching, with recurring spasms and stertorous breathing, which ended in
his death. Regard for the safety of the living did not permit of
carrying him farther, and he was buried on the floe, in a deep
snow-drift near the camp. At the head of his grave was placed a cross
improvised from the oar of a boat and a sledge batten.

The day following the death of Porter only five of the fourteen men were
able to enter the sledge harness, so that Commander Markham had to make
the needful sixth sledgeman to move the party forward. The next day two
other men failed utterly, immediately before the arrival of the relief
party from the _Alert_--promptly despatched as a result of Parr's heroic
journey. Before reaching the ship there remained only three of Markham's
original fifteen men who were not dragged on the relief sledges, unable
to walk.

Heroic as was the dauntless spirit that spurred Parr to the journey
which saved the lives of several of his field comrades, it was well
matched by his indomitable will and by his powers of physical endurance.
By the route traversed Parr marched over forty miles, which under any
conditions would have been a remarkable achievement, without extended
break or rest, over the rough surface of the Great Frozen Sea, whose
broken, disjointed ice-masses present difficulties of travel to an
almost incredible degree.

Not only was Parr's march practically unbroken, but it was made in less
than twenty-three hours, a somewhat shorter time than was taken by Dr.
Moss and Lieutenant May with a fresh dog team "on a forced march" for
the relief of the party.

Parr's conduct after his most heroic actions was thoroughly modest and
unassuming. In the field and later at home his life appears to have been
an exemplification of his sledge motto during the northern journeys, of
_Faire sans dire_ (To do and not to talk).

In recalling the past and glorious deeds of British seamen in arctic
work during the past century, looking to the future one may ask with
Drayton:

     "O, when again shall Englishmen
     With such acts fill a pen?"

FOOTNOTE:

[19] The clearing of the fog was providential for the invalids. Markham
records at that time: "Our usual weather overtook us, and the land was
entirely concealed by the fog. This increases our anxiety about Parr."
The solidarity and altruism of the party is shown by the anxiety not for
themselves but for others.



RELIEF OF AMERICAN WHALERS AT POINT BARROW

     "Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail
     Or knock the breast; no weakness, no contempt.
     Dispraise or blame: nothing but well and fair."
           --MILTON.


After a long and dangerous besetment in the polar ice to the north of
Bering Strait, the American whaling-ship _Navrach_ was abandoned August
14, 1897. Twenty-one of her seamen perished on the moving ice-pack of
the Arctic Ocean in their efforts to reach land across the drifting ice.
Captain Whitesides with his brave wife and six of the crew intrusted
their fortunes to the sea, and almost miraculously escaped by using a
canvas boat, which was alternately hauled across the floes and launched
where open water was reached. On landing at Copper Island, off the coast
of Asia, the party was in danger of death through starvation when
rescued by the United States revenue-cutter _Bear_, which chanced to
touch at that point. The news of the loss of the _Navrach_ and the
reports of very bad ice conditions in the Arctic Ocean created great
alarm in the United States, owing to the fact that no less than eight
whale-ships with crews of two hundred and sixty-five men were missing
that autumn. Appeals for prompt aid were made to the President of the
United States by the members of the chamber of commerce of San
Francisco and by other interested persons. Refitting in three weeks'
time, the United States revenue-cutter _Bear_, manned by volunteers
under Captain Francis Tuttle, R.C.S., sailed from Seattle on November
27, 1897, and wintered at Unalaska. The story of the relief of the
whalers, happily and heroically accomplished by this expedition, forms
the substance of this sketch.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the character of the duties of the revenue-cutter service its
officers and men are not favored with such frequent opportunities for
adventurous deeds as are those of the army and of the navy, but whenever
occasion has arisen they have ever shown those qualities of courage,
self-sacrifice, and devotion which go far to inspire heroic action.

As the period of navigation had already passed for the northern seas,
the _Bear_ was to winter at Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, communicating with
the distressed seamen by an overland expedition, which should aid and
encourage them until the spring navigation should make their rescue
possible. If practicable the land party was to be set ashore on the
north side of Norton Sound, near Cape Nome, which would require some
eight hundred miles of sledge travel at the least.

From the eager volunteers for this arduous and novel service, Captain
Tuttle approved of Lieutenant D. H. Jarvis, commanding, Lieutenant E. P.
Bertholf, and Dr. S. J. McCall, with a reindeer driver, Koltchoff.

[Illustration: Northwestern Alaska.]

With dauntless courage and skill Captain Tuttle skirted the growing
ice-fields of Bering Sea, seeking in vain a lead through which he could
reach Norton Sound, but it was finally clear that the ship could not be
put north of Nunavak Island without danger of her loss as well as
sealing the fate of the whalers. The winter darkness, storm conditions,
an uncharted coast, and drifting ice forced him to land the party as far
north of Kuskowim Bay as could be safely reached. Fortunately, on
December 16, a wild, stormy day, the shore ice drifted far enough
seaward to enable a hasty landing to be made near Cape Vancouver. There
were forebodings of evil in attempting this winter journey now stretched
out to fifteen hundred miles, under conditions which increased its
perils. But with the splendid confidence and magnificent vitality of
youth, the fearless revenue-officers hailed with satisfaction the
beginning of their arduous journey of mercy and relief.

South of the landing was a deserted village, but fortunately a few miles
to the north, near Cape Vancouver, was the still occupied Eskimo
settlement of Tunanak. Ashore, Jarvis found himself in difficulty, for
the snow-free rocky beach was impassable for his sledges, while he was
without boats. Here, as elsewhere on this journey, the native aid was
obtained on which he had counted from the knowledge of the kindly
feelings of these children of the ice that he had gained in his past
cruises in the Bering Sea region. As there was now an ice-free channel
along the coast, the Eskimo sea-hunters deftly lashed together in pairs
their kayaks (skin canoes), catamaran fashion, and piled thereon
helter-skelter the various supplies. Jarvis and Bertholf watched this
cargo-stowing with great anxiety, not unmingled with doubt as to the
outcome of the voyage. Following the progress of the kayaks and shouting
advice and encouragement from the sea-shore, they were dismayed to see
now and then a breaking wave threaten to overwhelm the boats and to find
that the short sea trip had ruined much of the precious flour and
indispensable hard bread.

Overhauling his cumbersome, heavy sledges and inspecting his few
unsuitable dogs, he knew that they could never do all the work required.
Fortunately he found a half-breed trader, Alexis, who agreed to furnish
dogs, sledges, and serve as a guide to the party as far as the army post
at Saint Michael. As the half-breed knew the short shore route and was
familiar with the location and supplies of the succession of native
villages, this enabled them to drop much of their heavy baggage and
travel light. Their outfit was carefully selected, consisting of
sleeping-bags, changes of clothing, camp-stoves, rifles, ammunition,
axes, and a small supply of food.

Their three native sledges were open box-frames, ten feet by two in size
and eighteen inches high, resting on wooden runners a foot high. Tough,
pliant lashings of walrus hide bound together with the utmost tightness
the frame and the runners. This method of construction, in which not a
bit of iron enters, avoids rigidity and thus gives a flexibility and
life to the sledge which enables it to withstand shocks and endure hard
usage, which would soon break a solid frame into pieces. A cargo-cover
of light canvas not only closely fits the bottom and sides of the
box-frame but overlaps the top. When the cargo-cover is neatly hauled
taut and is properly lashed to the sides of the sledge the load, if it
has been snugly packed, is secure from accidents. Its compact mass is
equally safe from thievish dogs, from the penetrating drift of the
fierce blizzards, and from dangers of loss through jolts or capsizings.

Of a single piece for each dog, the harness used by the natives is
of seal-skin; the half-breeds often make it of light canvas, not
only as better suited to the work but especially for its quality of
non-eatableness which is a vital factor during days of dog-famine on
long journeys. The harness is collar-shaped with three long bands; the
collar slips over the dog's head and one band extends to the rear over
the animal's back. The other bands pass downward between the dog's legs
and, triced up on each side, are fastened permanently to the back-band,
where there is also attached a drag-thong or pulling-trace about two
feet long. In harnessing, the three loops described are slipped
respectively over the head and legs of the dog.

The animals are secured in pairs to the long draught-rope of the sledge
by the Alaskan pioneers, who much prefer this method to the old plan
of the natives whereby the dogs were strung out in single file.
With the dogs in couples the draught-line is shorter, so that the
better-controlled animals will haul a larger load.

In the first day's journey they crossed a mountain range two thousand
feet high, and in making the descent of the precipitous northern slope
Jarvis records a sledging expedient almost unique in sledge travel. The
four Eskimo drivers detached the dogs from the sledge, and winding
around the runners small chains so as to sink in the deep snow and
impede their progress, prepared to coast down the mountain. Two men
secured themselves firmly on each sledge, and when once started the
descent was so steep that the sledges attained a fearful speed, which
brought them almost breathless to the bottom of the range in ten
minutes.

Jarvis describes in graphic language the trying task of feeding the
always famished, wolf-like dogs: "They are ever hungry, and when one
appears with an armful of dried fish, in their eagerness to get a stray
mouthful the dogs crowd around in a fighting, jumping mass, which makes
it difficult to keep one's balance. After throwing a fish to each dog,
it takes all of us with clubs to keep off the larger fellows and to see
that the weaker ones keep and eat their share. When being fed they are
like wild animals--snarl, bite, and fight continually until everything
is eaten."

As the dogs, worn-out by the hard journey, could not be replaced by
fresh ones at the Eskimo colony of Ki-yi-lieng, Bertholf and Koltchoff
waited there to bring them up later, while Jarvis and McCall pushed on,
marching across the Yukon delta in temperatures below zero daily. They
found the natives of this alluvial region wretchedly poor and illy
protected against the bitter cold. To the eye they were a motley crowd,
as they had levied tribute for clothing on the birds of the air, the
beasts of the tundra, the fish of the river, and the game of the sea.
There were trousers and heavy boots from the seal, inner jackets of the
breasts of the wild geese, fur ornamentation of the arctic fox, and the
poorer Eskimos even made boots, when seal were lacking, from the tanned
skin of the Yukon salmon.

With all their dire poverty they were not unmindful of their duty to
strangers and always offered the shelter of the _khazeem_ (a hut built
for general use by the unmarried men, from which women are rigidly
excluded). His sense of fastidiousness had not yet left Jarvis, who
surprised the Eskimos by tenting in the midwinter cold rather than
endure the tortures of the stifling _khazeem_, which to the natives was
a place of comfort and pleasure. Of this half-underground hut Jarvis
says in part: "The sides are of drift-wood, filled in with brush. The
roof is ingeniously made by laying logs along the sides and lashing them
thereto with walrus thongs. Two logs notched on the ends to fit securely
are then laid across the first logs on opposite sides, but a little
farther in toward the centre. This method is repeated until a sort of
arch is formed, which is filled in with earth-covered brush leaving a
small hole in the centre of the roof. Other drift-wood, split in rough
slabs, forms the floor, leaving an entrance space about two feet square.
From this hole in the floor, which is always several feet below the
level of the surrounding ground, an entrance passage has been dug out
large enough for a man to crawl through it into the main earth-floored
room. Over the entrance opening is hung a skin to keep out the air,
while the roof opening is covered with the thin, translucent, dried
intestines of the seal or walrus, which gives faint light during the
day.

"In the _khazeem_ the animal heat from the bodies of the natives, with
that from seal-oil lamps, raises the temperature so high that the men
sit around with the upper part of the body entirely naked. The only
ventilation is through a small hole in the roof, invariably closed at
night in cold weather. The condition of the air can be better imagined
than described, with fifteen or twenty natives sleeping inside the small
room."

The culmination of danger and suffering on the march in the delta
journey was at Pikmiktellik, when they strayed from the trail and nearly
perished in a violent storm. Almost as by miracle they staggered by
chance into the village long after dark, so exhausted that without
strength to put up their tent they gladly occupied the dreaded
_khazeem_.

Twelve days brought them to Saint Michael, where they were given cordial
and humane aid from Colonel (now General) George M. Randall, United
States Army, and the agents of the Alaska Commercial and North American
Trading Companies. Without such help Jarvis must have failed. The feet
of his dogs were worn bare by rapid, rough travel of three hundred and
seventy-five miles, the rubber-covered, goat-skin sleeping-bags were
cold and heavy, which in bitterer weather would be actually dangerous.
Deerskin clothing and fresh dogs were necessary for rapid travel with
light loads on which final success depended.

Leaving orders for Bertholf, yet far behind, to bring up relief supplies
from Unalaklik to Cape Blossom, by crossing the divide at the head of
Norton Bay, Jarvis and McCall pushed ahead on January 1, 1898. The
third day out they met a native woman travelling south on snow-shoes,
who told them that she was with her husband and Mate Tilton of the
_Belvedere_; the two parties had passed each other, unseen, on trails
three hundred feet apart. Tilton brought news even worse than had been
expected. Three ships had been crushed by the ice-pack, two losing all
their provisions, while five other ships were frozen up in the ocean
ice. As the worn-out mate went south, Jarvis pushed on with new energy,
realizing the great need ahead.

Severe storms and deep snow made travel very slow, and at times the
runners sank so deep that the body of the sledge dragged, while the dogs
were almost buried in their efforts to struggle on. They soon realized
that actual arctic travel is far from being like the usual pictures of
dog-sledging. Instead of frisky dogs with tails curled over their backs,
with drivers comfortably seated on the sledge cracking a whip at the
flying team, snarling dogs and worn-out men tramped slowly and silently
through the unbroken snow.

It very rarely occurs that there is either a beaten or a marked trail,
so the lead is taken by a man who keeps in advance, picking out the best
road, while his comrades are hard at work lifting the sledge over bad
places or keeping it from capsizing. The king dogs, who lead the way and
set the pace, never stray from the broken path save in rare instances of
sighting tempting game, but follow exactly the trail-breaker. One day
Jarvis came to fresh, deep snow, where it took all four men to break a
way for the sledge, and when they themselves were worn out they had the
misery of seeing their utterly exhausted dogs lie down on the trail,
indifferent equally to the urging voice or the cutting whip. That
wretched night the party had to make its camp in the open instead of at
one of the native huts which were always in view.

The dog teams were sent back from the Swedish mission, Golovin Bay,
where reindeer were available. Of this new and unusual method of travel,
Jarvis, who drove a single-deer sledge, says: "All hands must be ready
at the same time when starting a deer-train. As soon as the other
animals see the head team start they are off with a jump, and for a
short time they keep up a very high rate of speed. If one is not quick
in jumping and in holding on to his sledge, he is likely either to lose
his team or be dragged bodily along.

"The deer is harnessed with a well-fitting collar of two flat pieces of
wood from which short traces go back to a breastplate or single-tree
under the body. From this a single trace, protected by soft fur to
prevent chafing, runs back to the sledge. A single line made fast to the
halter is used for guiding, and, kept slack, is only pulled to guide or
stop the deer. A hard pull brings the weight of the sledge on the head
of the deer and generally brings him to a stop. No whip is used, for the
timid deer becomes easily frightened and then is hard to control and
quiet down. The low, wide sledges with broad runners are hard to pack so
as to secure and protect the load." As the dogs naturally attack the
deer, it was henceforth necessary to stop outside the Eskimo villages,
unharness the animals, and send them to pasture on the nearest beds of
reindeer moss.

Jarvis thus relates his straying during a violent blizzard: "Soon after
dark my deer wandered from the trail, became entangled in drift-wood on
the beach, and finally wound up by running the sledge full speed against
a stump, breaking the harness, dragging the line from my hand, and
disappearing in the darkness and flying snow. It was impossible to see
ten yards ahead, and it would be reckless to start off alone, for the
others were in advance, and I might wander about all night, become
exhausted, and perhaps freeze. I had nothing to eat, but righting the
sledge I got out my sleeping-bag in its lee and made myself as
comfortable as possible." His comrades were greatly alarmed as a
reindeer dashed by them, and fearing disaster hastened back on the
trail, which, although followed with difficulty on account of the
blinding snow, brought them to the lieutenant still unharmed.

If the relief expedition was to be of use to the shipwrecked men it was
important that food should be carried north. As this was impossible by
sledge, it was evident that the sole method was to carry meat on the
hoof. The sole sources of supply consisted of two herds of reindeer, at
Teller and at Cape Prince of Wales. If these herds could be purchased,
and if the services of skilled herders could be obtained and the herd
could be driven such a long distance then the whalers could be saved. To
these three problems Jarvis now bent his powers of persuasion and of
administrative ability, feeling that lives depended on the outcome and
that he must not fail.

The reindeer belonged in part to an Eskimo, Artisarlook, and in part to
the American Missionary Society, under the control and management of Mr.
H. W. Lopp. Without the assent and active aid of these two men the
proposed action would be impossible. Would he be able to persuade these
men to give him their entire plant and leave themselves destitute for
men whom they had never seen and knew of only to hold them in fear?
Would they consider the plan practicable, and would they leave their
families and go on the arctic trail in the midst of an Alaskan winter?
If they thought it a bounden duty, what was to happen to their families
during their absence? Day after day these questions rose in the
lieutenant's mind to his great disquietude.

With Jarvis and Bertholf there was the stimulus of the _esprit de
corps_, the honor of the service, always acting as a spur to their
heroic labors, while in the case of Dr. McCall there was also that sense
of personal devotion to the relief of suffering that inspires the
medical profession as a whole.

On January 19 Jarvis reached the house of Artisarlook, when he "almost
shrank from the task." From this untaught, semi-civilized native,
wrestling for a bare subsistence with harsh, forbidding nature, what
favor could be expected? The starving men were of an alien race, and of
that class from which too often his own people had reaped degradation,
suffered outrage, and endured wrongs too grievous to be ignored or
forgotten. To relieve these men Artisarlook must voluntarily loan his
entire herd of reindeer without certainty of replacement. He must leave
behind him his wife, unprotected and subject to the vicissitudes of an
arctic environment. He must also endure the hardships and sufferings
incident to a midwinter drive, in the coldest month of the year, of
reindeer across a country unknown to him--a desperate venture that might
cost him his life. Altruistic souls of the civilized world might make
such sacrifices, but would this Alaskan Eskimo?

Of the crisis Jarvis writes: "I almost shrank from the task. He and his
wife were old friends, but how to induce them to give up their
deer--their absolute property--and how to convince them that the
government would return an equal number at some future time was quite
another matter. Besides, he and the natives gathered about him were
dependent on the herd for food and clothing. If I took the deer and
Artisarlook away these people were likely to starve unless some other
arrangements were made for their living.

"I explained carefully what the deer were wanted for; that he must let
me have the deer of his own free will, and trust to the government for
an ample reward and the return of an equal number of deer.

"Artisarlook and his wife Mary held a long and solemn consultation and
finally explained their situation. They were sorry for the white men at
Point Barrow and they were glad to be able to help them. They would let
me have their deer, one hundred and thirty-three in number, which
represented their all, if I would be directly responsible for them.

"I had dreaded this interview for fear that Artisarlook might refuse,
but his nobility of character could have no better exposition than the
fact that he was willing to give up his property, leave his family, and
go eight hundred miles to help white men in distress, under a simple
promise that his property should be returned to him."

Has there ever been a finer instance of the full faith of man in brother
man than is shown in this simple pact, by word of mouth, under the dark,
gloomy sky of an Alaskan midwinter? Far from the business marts of
crowded cities, in the free open of broad expanses of country, there are
often similar instances of man's trusting generosity and of personal
self-sacrifice, but more often between those of kindred race than
between the civilized man and the aborigine.

Giving written orders on the traders to tide over the winter for the
natives, Jarvis pushed on, leaving Artisarlook and his herders to follow
with the deer. Meantime the lieutenant had adopted the native garb,
saying: "I had determined to do as the people who lived in the country
did--to dress, travel, and live as they did, and if necessary to eat the
same food. I found the only way to get along was to conform to the
customs of those who had solved many of the problems of existence in the
arctic climate." His clothing consisted of close-fitting deerskin
trousers and socks, with hair next to the skin; deerskin boots, hair
out, with heavy seal-skin soles; two deerskin shirts, one with hair out
and the other with hair toward the skin; close hoods, with fringing
wolfskin, and mittens, the whole weighing only about ten pounds. In
stormy weather he wore an outer shirt and overalls of drilling, which
kept the drifting snow from filling up and freezing in a mass the hair
of the deerskins.

The five days' travel to the Teller reindeer station, near Cape Prince
of Wales, were filled with most bitter experiences. The temperature fell
to seventy-two degrees below freezing; the sea ice over which they
travelled became of almost incredible roughness; while fearful blizzards
sprang up. With increasing northing the days became shorter and the
exhausted reindeer had to be replaced by dogs. Much of the travel was in
darkness, with resultant capsizings of sledges, frequent falls, and many
bodily bruises. Of one critical situation he reports: "The heavy sledge
was continually capsizing in the rough ice. About eight o'clock at night
I was completely played out and quite willing to camp. But Artisarlook
said _No!_ that it was too cold to camp without wood (they depended on
drift-wood for their fires), and that the ice-foot along the land was in
danger of breaking off the shore at any minute. In the darkness I
stepped through an ice-crack, and my leg to the knee was immediately one
mass of ice. Urging the dogs, we dragged along till midnight to a hut
that Artisarlook had before mentioned. A horrible place, no palace could
have been more welcome. Fifteen people were already sleeping in the hut,
the most filthy I saw in Alaska, only ten by twelve feet in size and
five feet high. Too tired to care for the filth, too tired even to eat,
I was satisfied to take off my wet clothing, crawl into my bag, and to
sleep." Failure to find the house and to have his frozen clothing dried
would have cost the lieutenant his life.

On arriving at Teller station he had a new problem to solve--to win over
the agent. He had high hopes, for although this representative of a
missionary society was living on the outer edge of the world, yet he had
become familiar with the vicissitudes of the frontier, and from vocation
and through his associations was readily moved to acts of humanity.

Jarvis set forth the situation to Mr. W. T. Lopp, the superintendent,
adding that he considered Lopp's personal services to be indispensable,
as he knew the country, was familiar with the customs and characteristics
of the natives, and was expert in handling deer. Lopp replied that
"the reindeer had been builded on by his people as their wealth and
support, and to lose them would make a break in the work that could
not be repaired. Still, in the interests of humanity he would give them
all, explain the case to the Eskimos, and induce them to give their deer
also [aggregating about three hundred]." Lopp also gave his own
knowledge, influence, and personal service, his wife, with a noble
disregard for her own comfort and safety at being left alone with the
natives, "urging him to go, believing it to be his duty."

It is needless to recite in detail the trials and troubles that daily
arose in driving across trackless tundras (the swampy, moss-covered
plains), in the darkness of midwinter, this great herd of more than four
hundred timid, intractable reindeer. Throughout the eight hundred miles
of travel the reindeer drivers had to carefully avoid the immediate
neighborhood of Eskimo villages for fear of the ravenous, attacking
dogs, who, however, on one occasion succeeded in stampeding the whole
herd. For days at a time the herders were at their wits' ends to guard
the deer against gaunt packs of ravenous wolves, who kept on their trail
and, despite their utmost vigilance, succeeded in killing and maiming
several deer. A triumphal but venturesome feat of Lopp's was the driving
of the herd across the sea-floes of the broad expanse of Kotzebue Sound,
thus saving one hundred and fifty miles of land travel and two weeks of
valuable time.

While there were eight skilled herders, Lapps and Eskimos, the most
effective work was that done by a little Lapp deer-dog, who circled
around the herd when on the march to prevent the deer from straying. If
a deer started from the main herd the dog was at once on his trail,
snapping at his heels and turning him toward the others. Very few deer
strayed or were lost, and three hundred and sixty-two were brought to
Barrow in good condition.

Travelling in advance, following the shore line by dog-sledge, Jarvis
and McCall were welcomed with warm generosity even by the most forlorn
and wretched Eskimos, who asked them into their huts, cared for their
dogs, dried their clothes, and did all possible for their safety and
comfort. The relief party, however, suffered much from the begging
demands of almost starving natives, from the loss of straying dogs, and
the desertion of several unreliable native employees. They were quite at
the end of their food when they reached, at Cape Krusenstern, their
depot. This had been brought up across country from Unalaklik through
the great energy and indomitable courage of Bertholf, whose journey and
sufferings were no less striking than those of his comrades.

Inexpressible was the joy of the party when, fifty miles south of Point
Barrow, the masts of the _Belvedere_, a whale-ship fast in the ice, were
sighted. Four days later they were at the point, their marvellous
journey of eighteen hundred miles ended and their coming welcomed as a
providential relief.

They found conditions frightful as regards the shelter, health, and
sanitation of the shipwrecked whalers. Three ships had been lost and
another was ice-beset beyond power of saving. The captains of the
wrecked ships had abandoned the care and control of their men as to
quarters, clothing, food, and general welfare. Provisions were very
short, and the seamen were depending on their safety through successful
hunting among the caribou herds in the neighborhood of Point Barrow,
which were rapidly disappearing.

Jarvis at once took charge of the situation. Dr. McCall found the
seamen's quarters in a most horrible condition, its single window giving
but a feeble glimmer of light at midday, and its ventilation confined to
the few air draughts through cracks in the walls. Eighty seamen
occupied for sleeping, shelter, and cooking a single room twenty by
fifty feet in size, wherein they were so badly crowded that there was
scarcely room for all to stand when out of their bunks together.
Moisture was continually dropping from the inner ceiling and walls,
which were covered with frost. Their bedding was never dry, sooty
grease was coated over all things, and no place was free from great
accumulations of filth and its accompaniments. The whalers were
"scarcely recognizable as white men," and large numbers of them would
without doubt have perished of disease but for the opportune arrival of
the relief party.

Order, cleanliness, decency, and discipline were instituted, the men
were distributed in light, airy rooms, their clothing was washed and
renovated, and intercourse with the natives prohibited. By inspection,
precept, and command the general health greatly improved. At every
opportunity individual men were sent south by occasional sledge parties.
Hunting was systematized, but it failed to produce enough food for the
suffering whalers. Recourse was then had to the herds driven north by
Lopp and Artisarlook, and with the slaughter of nearly two hundred
reindeer suitable quantities of fresh meat were issued. Out of two
hundred and seventy-five whalers only one died of disease. Captain
Tuttle by daring seamanship reached Icy Cape July 22, 1898, and took on
board the _Bear_ about a hundred men whose ships were lost.

With generous feeling Jarvis gives credit in his report to the
whaling agent, A. C. Brower, and to "the goodness and help of the
natives [Eskimos], who denied themselves to save the white people,"
subordinating with true heroic modesty his work to all others.

Gold and commerce have peopled the barren Alaskan wastes which were the
scenes of this adventurous journey with its unique equipment and its
cosmopolitan personnel of Eskimo, Lapp, and American.

While these men worked not for fame but for the lives of brother men,
yet in Alaskan annals should stand forever recorded the heroic deeds and
unselfish acts of Jarvis and McCall, of Bertholf and Lopp, and of that
man among men--Eskimo Artisarlook.



THE MISSIONARY'S ARCTIC TRAIL

     "Blest river of salvation!
       Pursue thy onward way;
     Flow thou to every nation,
       Nor in thy richness stay;
     Stay not till all the lowly
       Triumphant reach their home;
     Stay not till all the holy
       Proclaim--_The Lord is come!_"
           --S. F. SMITH.


Among the heroic figures in the history of the human race there should
be none to command greater admiration than the typical missionaries who,
in foreign lands and among uncivilized tribes, have devoted their lives
to the good of man and to the glory of God. Of the countless many
through the ages may be named a few whose labors, actuated by a spirit
of lofty endeavor, particularly appeal to the imagination and love of
the people. Such men were Schwarz and Carey, in India; Livingstone, in
Africa; Egede, in Greenland; Eliot and Whitney, in America. Of earnest
missionaries in North America there are many worthy of special notice,
and among these are not a few of French birth whose memories remain
fragrant through heroic deeds and unselfish labors. Their work has
entered into the life of the people, though Père Marquette is perhaps
the only one whose deeds have affected the growth of a nation. Of French
missionaries in late years whose activities have been exerted within
the arctic circle may be mentioned M. Emile Petitot, who served fifteen
years in the arctic regions of Canada, principally in the water-sheds of
the Anderson, the Mackenzie, and the Yukon. Apart from his labors of
piety and of love among the Indian tribes of northwestern Canada, M.
Petitot, in a dozen or more volumes, has contributed largely to our
knowledge of the customs, of the beliefs, of the methods of life, and of
the human qualities of the aborigines among whom he has labored.
Stationed on the shores of Great Slave Lake in 1863, in the autumn of
the following year he descended the Mackenzie and proceeded via Fort
Simpson for missionary labors at Fort Good Hope. With his experiences in
such voyages, and especially with his visit to the shores of the polar
sea, this tale is principally concerned.

       *       *       *       *       *

Coming from the highly civilized and elaborately circumscribed life of
France, M. Petitot was vividly impressed with the enormous and
underlying difference in the methods of life in the two countries, the
more so on account of his youth. He says of this: "It is well to know
the advantages of an isolated life. There is an entire exemption from
taxes, tithes, levies in kind, quit-rents, poll-taxes, tariffs, customs
duties, town duties (octroi), inheritance-taxes, land rents, forced
labor, etc., etc."

[Illustration: Liverpool Bay Region.]

On the other hand he finds in the northern wilds "Perfect security,
unchanging peacefulness, liberty to plant, to cut, to clear land, to
mow, to reap, to fish, to hunt, to take and to give, to build and to
tear down"--in short, unrestricted personal liberty of action as of
thought.

In changing his station to the far north he made his first voyage down
the magnificent Mackenzie, which in the area of its drainage basin, its
outflow, its length, and its wondrous scenery is scarcely surpassed by
any other river of the world. His first stage of travel brought him to
Fort Simpson, where he came in contact with the chief factors or agents
of the Hudson Bay posts to the north, who gathered there in early autumn
to bring the winter furs and to obtain the annual supply of food and of
trading goods known as their outfit. For these men it was the holiday
season of the year, the only break in the fearful monotony of their
isolated lives, when they see their kind and speak their native tongue.

The final glass had been drunk, the precious outfit[20] had been stowed
safely under cover, the final word said, and then the Indian steersman
dexterously turned his paddle. The voyage to the real north thus began,
and the missionary's happiness was complete, though he travelled with
six Indians, the factor staying behind. Drifting throughout the night,
he could scarce believe his eyes when the sharp air of the cold morning
awoke him. He had left a land of green trees and now the foliage of the
elms that bordered the Mackenzie were as yellow as straw. The single
night of polar cold had checked the life-giving sap with the same
startling rapidity with which it had been caused to flow by a spring day
of warm, invigorating sunshine.

Then the priest, with the mountains in view, realized the justness of
the poetic Indian name, the Giant of the Highlands, given to the "noble
Mackenzie, with its vast outflow, its great length, its immense width,
and its majestic mountainous banks."

The river could be as terrible as it was majestic; and then came the
first touch of terror from the north, a tornado storm known as the
"white wind." Whirling downward from a cloudless sky, its furious force
lashed the water into waves, filled the air with sand and gravel, and
barely missed sinking the boats as they were rushed to the bank. There,
standing in water to their waists, the voyageurs held fast to the ends
of the boats until a brief lull made possible their discharging. For a
night and a day the storm-bound travellers were thus imprisoned on a
narrow ledge in wretched plight--without fire, drenched to the skin,
unable to sleep, shivering under the biting northerly gale.

Near their destination they had to run the fearful rapids of the
Ramparts, the most dangerous of the many swift currents of the
Mackenzie. Their skiffs flew with frightful velocity, plunging down
descents that were falls in low stages of water and being helplessly
whirled around and around. Three danger spots were passed under
conditions that made the missionary hold his breath, while admiring the
dexterity and composure of the Indian steersman. It seemed an
interminable eight miles, this series of rapids walled in by the
towering, precipitous Ramparts, with only two points of refuge in its
inhospitable cliffs even for a canoe.

Petitot soon made himself at home at the mission of Fort Good Hope,
situated on the arctic circle. He found the Hare Indians alert,
loquacious, companionable, warm-hearted, and childlike in their
sympathies and feelings. Speaking of the free, happy Indian life he
says: "How can such misery be combined with such contentment with their
lot? How does the sweet pride of a free man inspire their abject nomadic
life? Ask its secret from the bird which flies warbling from shrub to
shrub, waving its swift wings, drying its rain-wet plumage in the sun,
tranquilly sleeping on a twig, its head under its wing."

Learning the Hare language, baptizing the babes and teaching the adults,
he also put up buildings, cared for the sick, and in his garden raised
potatoes and turnips under the arctic circle. But ever keeping alive
that wandering spirit which had its influence in his choice for a
missionary life, Petitot was not content.

With his work well in hand he learned with sadness from some of his
Indian flock of the wretched conditions under which the Eskimos of
Liverpool Bay were living. Fired with his usual zeal for the wretched,
untaught savages, and perchance impelled somewhat by a desire to explore
the country to the north, Petitot decided to make a midwinter journey to
the polar sea. The agent, Gaudet, pointed out the dangers of travel in
winter when the cold was excessive, sometimes ninety degrees or more
below freezing, but when the priest insisted he accompanied him to Fort
Anderson (or Eskimo) both men following on snow-shoes the dog-team that
hauled their camp outfit over the two hundred and fifty miles of
snow-covered country.

Fort Eskimo, in 68° 30´ N., on Anderson River, was the most northerly of
the Hudson Bay posts, and its factor, MacFarlane, saw with surprise the
arrival of this young French priest with the alert bearing and splendid
confidence of his twenty-five years. It must be a matter of life or
death that brought him. What was his mission? The factor could scarcely
trust his ears when he heard that the object was a missionary visit to
Liverpool Bay.

MacFarlane told him that the country was so wild that Fort Eskimo was
palisaded, flanked with bastions, and loop-holed for rifle-fire, owing
to the desperate character of the surrounding and hostile tribes.
Meanwhile four Eskimos had come to the fort from Liverpool Bay,
including In-no-ra-na-na, called Powder Horn by the traders. The priest
had hoped to meet this native, whom the factor said was known to be the
greatest scapegrace on the arctic coast. Learning that Petitot was
unfamiliar with the Inuit language, and was travelling unarmed, his
anxiety increased and he told him that a journey into this unknown
country with this savage brute would prove fatal. It was pointed out in
vain that the Eskimos were bandits and outcasts--true pirates who,
glorying in theft, violence, and fraud, viewed their unbridled passions
as so many human virtues that showed the true man (Inuit).[21]

The pen portrait of In-no-ra-na-na, whom the missionary had chosen as
his guide, is worth reproduction as a type of Eskimo dandy no longer
seen. "He was a handsome man, well made, of large size, good presence,
fine face, and had a nearly white complexion. He wore an elegant suit of
reindeer-skin, its hair outside, stylishly cut and made. It can be
compared only to the costume of our ancestors in the time of Henry IV.
The close coat, old French breeches, and tightly fitting boots were of
a beautiful brown skin of the summer coat of the deer bordered with a
triple trimming of sea-otter, white wolf, and of the caribou, whose long
reddish hairs surrounded his figure like a flaming aureole. Similar
fringes around his arms and his legs set them off as by so many
phylacteries. A head-dress hollowed out of the scowling head of a wolf
surrounded his naked and closely shaven skull, which the Inuit could, if
needful, partly cover with a small hood made of the head of a reindeer
on which still remained the ears and budding horns of the animal." The
usual labrets (ornaments inserted through slits made in the cheeks) of
walrus ivory protruded from the great gashes in his face and hideously
completed his dress.

As nothing could shake the priest's resolution, Factor MacFarlane
decided to send as a companion a baptized Loucheux Indian, Sida-Jan,
usually known as General Bottom, who spoke a little Inuit. He would save
the situation and maintain the missionary's dignity by acting as his
cook, dog driver, and camp servant. Moreover, as the brutal, powerful
In-no-ra-na-na was actually going north the factor bribed him by giving
goods to the amount of twenty beaver-skins[22] to guard the priest from
insult or injury at the hands of his fellow-savages. Thus having done
his best MacFarlane cried out, as the whip cracked and the dogs jumped
to their traces, "May God protect your days among the bad people."

Eskimo fashion, they ran over the crisp, crackling snow in single file,
the leader I-you-ma-tou-nak (the itchy) breaking the trail, followed by
the great chief In-no-ra-na-na (Powder Horn), Sida-Jan (Bottom), and
Petitot. When asked why they always thus marched in single file the
Inuits answered: "The best-fitted leads and the others form the tail.
It is the order of the ducks and cranes who plough the air, of the
reindeer in migration, and of the buffalo or musk-oxen changing their
pasture-grounds."

The calm cold was not felt, though the mercury was frozen, until the
leader stopped short on the middle ice of the frozen Anderson, over
which their route lay, and began to unload his sledge while the others
were busy cutting through the snow for water. Petitot had a Hudson Bay
sledge with steel-clad, smooth bottom, while the native sledges ran on
two rough, solid side runners of wood. These runners drag fearfully when
not shod with ice, which coating usually wears off in a few hours of
land travel. So throughout the day, from time to time the Eskimo sledge
was turned upside down, and its ice runners renewed by frequent wettings
of the injured surfaces, the water freezing as it was applied.

As they were about camping the first night they met two young Inuits who
had a stone lamp and fresh whale blubber--essentials for a warm meal--so
the two parties joined forces to build a snow hut. Warned by the factor
not to endanger his life or impair his dignity by working with his
hands, the poor priest nearly froze as the house was reared, his
undergarments, damp with the perspiration of travel, chilling his body
bitterly. He tells us how deftly two of the natives carved from the
snow-drifts on the river wedge-shaped slabs. The builder skilfully laid
the blocks in spiral fashion, slicing them to fit and matching them
quite closely with his snow-knife. The master-workman sprinkled with
water the rising walls, which when finished formed a dome-like structure
of dazzling whiteness, though hermetically sealed. Then with a few
strokes of the snow-knife a door-way was carved out and to the windward
of it was built a circular snow wall. Meanwhile an Eskimo built of snow
inside the hut the customary divan--a raised shelf where the natives
sleep--whereon were arranged the bear and reindeer skins for bedding.
Close by the door was suspended the black pot-stone lamp, and directly
opposite was placed the proverbial chamber-pot--always present in the
Inuit huts.

After being brushed for the twentieth time with the reindeer wisp, to
remove every particle of snow from his fur garments, Petitot seated
himself in a corner of the divan, a place of honor. When all the Inuits
were within the hut they carefully drew up the circular snow wall to the
very door-way and poured water over the crevices. When it froze the six
travellers were in a hermetically sealed snow house, there being no
window or other opening through which a breath of wind could come.

The missionary's sufferings were intense that first night of arctic
travel. Smoky soot from the dirty lamp and the nauseous effluvia from
his unkempt bed-fellows were bad enough, but the excessive heat and
impure air became quite unendurable. The outside cold was about eighty
degrees below freezing, while the inside temperature was about eighty
degrees above, so that the inner snow-blocks sweat freely, the globules
of water forming on the surface ready to shower down on them at the
slightest shock.

The Inuits stripped as usual to the skin, but the shame-faced priest
felt obliged to keep on his clothes, removing his outer fur garments
only. He says: "I slept feverishly in cat-naps, with constant nightmare.
Tormented by my garments, perspiring terribly from the heat, crowded
between my companions like a packed herring, sickened by unhealthy
odors, and suffocated by unbreathable air, what fearful agony I suffered
that night! [He adds:] Save their odor and their nudity, the company of
the inmates was not disagreeable. Nor did the food prove less repulsive,
especially the opaline, greenish-white whale blubber, which, cut into
long, thin strips, forms a choice delicacy known to the Inuits as
_ortchok_. The native with his left hand holds the dainty morsel above
the greedily upturned open mouth which it at once fills. Gripping the
_ortchok_ fast with his teeth, with a knife in his right hand he cuts it
off as near the lips as he can, swallowing it with a gurgle of joy."

When Petitot asked for cooked blubber his host promptly pulled out the
melting piece from the smoking, dirty lamp, and was surprised that such
a delicacy was refused. When later tasted the raw blubber was found to
be insipid, though the fresh oil therefrom was not unlike olive oil in
its flavor.

As a kind of dessert they drew on their small supply of congealed
seal-oil, so rancid as to be offensive. To this food neither time nor
circumstance reconciles the white man.

The meal over the natives took to the soothing evening pipe, and
gradually began the talk of the day and of the morrow. Mindful of the
precious store goods in his pack and of his promise to the factor,
Powder Horn chanted the glory of Fort Anderson, and then sang to the
young stranger Inuits the praises of the missionary, whom he proclaimed
to be the Son of the Sun; despite his protestations, transforming the
priest into a demi-god.

The long day's march had seen the scattering groves dwindle and
fail--first the bankerian pine, followed in order by the balsam poplar
and the aspen. Now as they broke their morning camp the canoe birch was
a stunted, wretched shrub scarcely attaining the dignity of a tree, and
even this was gone when they made their next camp near the Anderson
delta, leaving here and there unsightly and rare specimens of the hardy
larch and the arctic spruces.

Next day they parted company with the young natives, who carried with
them the pot-stone lamp, much to the priest's annoyance, as he was
nearly frozen when they entered the igloo on the river ice. Powder Horn
under pressure showed his ingenuity in providing a substitute. Picking
up a piece of drift-wood, he hollowed it out lamp-shaped, and covered
its bottom and sides with pebbles and flat stones. As moss was lacking
for the wicking, he plucked a pinch of hair from his deerskin
sleeping-robe, twisted it into a mesh, and the lamp was ready. During
the night a violent gale buried the igloo in a snow-drift. The river ice
was under such storm-pressures and it oscillated so strongly and
continuously to and fro that they all feared that the river would open
and swallow them up. Throughout the whole night the roaring of the wind,
the groaning of the ice, and the quivering of the igloo made sleep
impossible.

As they passed the river's mouth the third day the landscape was one of
frightful sterility. Snow became thin and scanty, the ice was rougher,
and the bare spots of ground seemed to have no signs of vegetation,
trees and shrubs failing utterly. Nature was worse than dead with its
apparent desolation. Here both man and beast was doomed alike to a
constant and eternal struggle for bare existence in this adverse
environment.

The lack of material and the ingenuity of the Inuits in wresting a bare
subsistence from this forlorn country was indicated by a most efficient
fox-trap made entirely of ice.

Long after dark the wearied sledge dogs with loud howlings broke into a
rapid run, and were welcomed with fierce yells from the rival teams of
the Eskimo village, a dozen large snow houses on the shores of Liverpool
Bay. So dim was the light and so strange the garments and the attitudes
of the native women, fur-clad and crawling on all-fours from the huts,
that the missionary could scarcely distinguish them from the dogs.

Introduced to the people of the village by his Inuit protector as the
Son of the Sun, he was made welcome after the manner of the country. His
efforts at conversions did not bear visible fruit, though the natives
listened gravely to his sermons on kindness and goodness, on chastity
and honesty, on wifely fidelity and motherly love.

Doubtless he was best remembered in after days, as he himself suggests,
"As the man who ate when a little pocket-sun [chronometer] told him; who
guided himself on the trail by a live turning-iron [compass]; who made
fire by rubbing a bit of wood on his sleeve [matches]; and who by
looking hard at something white [prayer-book] made it possible for the
Inuit to catch black foxes--the most valuable of all their furs."

Father Petitot made his plans the following summer to renew his efforts
to improve the method of life of these wretched and remote natives, and
to instil in them moral lessons which his later acquired knowledge of
the Eskimo dialect would facilitate. An epidemic, however, destroyed
many of the Inuits as well as of the Indian tribes in the Mackenzie
region, thus preventing a renewal of the missionary's crusade against
immorality and misery.

Nevertheless the adventurous midwinter mission of Father Petitot, in
facing fearlessly the danger of death, in enduring uncomplainingly its
physical tortures, and in taking up a daily life, Inuit fashion, under
such almost revolting conditions, displayed the heroism of the true
missionary. While Petitot's self-sacrifice, in the way of physical
comforts and of personal sufferings, is not the most remarkable in the
annals of the church in arctic history, yet it may well serve as an
example for the aspiring and altruistic souls who are willing to do and
to dare for the welfare of their fellow-man.

FOOTNOTES:

[20] M. Petitot tells us that the yearly outfit for the chief factor
was, in pounds, 600 flour, 800 sugar, 200 each of rice, raisins, and
salt, 100 tea, 20 chocolate, 10 black pepper, and liberal amounts of
twisted or nigger-head tobacco.

[21] The Eskimos call themselves Inuits, that is, _the men_ of the whole
world.

[22] The beaver-skin was the standard coin of the Hudson Bay territory,
its value in our money being fifty cents.



SCHWATKA'S SUMMER SEARCH

     "On Fame's eternal camping ground
     Their silent tents are spread,
     And glory guards with solemn round
     The bivouac of the dead."
           --O'HARA.


Among the startling and too-often believed stories of the polar regions
are many which have their origin as whalers' "yarns." Spun for the
purpose of killing time and of amusing hearers, by repetition and
circulation they attain the dignity of "reliable personal accounts."
Among such credited "yarns" in the early seventies was one to the effect
that the missing records of the proceedings and discoveries of the lost
squadron of Sir John Franklin were to be found in a cairn which was
located near and easily accessible from Repulse Bay. Told and retold
with an air of truth, it became the foundation on which was based the
Schwatka-Gilder search of King William Land. This expedition sailed
under the favoring auspices of the American Geographical Society of New
York on the whaler _Eothen_, from which landed at Repulse Bay the party
of five--Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka, United States Army, W. H.
Gilder, H. W. Klutschak, F. E. Melms, and Eskimo Ebierbing, known as Joe
(see p. 196).

In establishing their winter camp near Chesterfield Inlet they adopted
as closely as possible native methods of life as to food, clothing, and
shelter. In the intervals of hunting trips they ran down the several
"yarns" on which their search had been planned, and were dismayed to
find that they were entirely unfounded.

Schwatka was not the man to turn back without results, and so he
determined to visit the regions in which the Franklin party had
perished, hoping that he might be able to throw new light on the
disaster. If he had been deceived as to the Franklin records being
cached at a particular point, he possibly might find them elsewhere, as
records must have been somewhere deposited for safety. It was a daring
venture, but there might be a possibility of more thoroughly examining
King William Land when snow-free.

The more striking phases of Schwatka's unique and successful experience
in the search are told here.[23]

       *       *       *       *       *

During the winter there was much visiting to and fro with the Eskimos
camped near them. They soon found that there was a bright side to life
among the Inuits, and that the natives indulged in games of skill much
as we do. Gilder tells of the men playing the game of _nu-glew-tar_,
which demands a quick eye and alert, accurate movements: "A small piece
of bone is suspended from the roof by a line made of walrus hide, and a
heavy weight dangles below it to keep it from swinging. The bone is
pierced with four small holes, and the players stand around, armed with
small sticks with which they jab at the bone, endeavoring to pierce one
of the holes. Some one starts the game by offering a prize, which is won
by him who pierces the bone and holds it fast with his stick. The winner
in turn offers a prize for the others to try for." It is not a gambling
game, but by prizes it encourages the acquirement of keen eyesight and
accurate aim, so needful to success in hunting.

With the opening of April, 1879, Schwatka's party took the field,
crossing the land in as straight a line as they could to Montreal
Island, near the mouth of Back River. Twelve Eskimos--men, women, and
children--were added to the party, and with their forty-two dogs they
hauled about two and one-half tons, of which less than one-fourth
consisted of provisions of a civilized character--bread, pork, beef,
coffee, tea, etc.--being food for one month only. Travel overland was
very difficult owing to the rocky region traversed, which stripped the
runners of their ice-shoes. He says: "The ice is put upon the runners
the first thing in the morning when coming out of the igloo, which was
built every night. The sledge is turned upside down, and the water,
after being held in the mouth a little while to warm it, is squirted
over the runners and freezes almost immediately. Successive layers are
applied until a clean, smooth surface is acquired, upon which the sledge
slips over the snow with comparative ease."

Of the Ook-joo-liks they met with Gilder says: "Instead of reindeer
gloves and shoes they wore articles made of musk-ox skin, which had a
most extraordinary effect. The hair of the musk-ox is several inches
long, and it looked as if the natives had an old-fashioned muff on each
hand. They explained that it was almost impossible to get near enough to
kill reindeer with arrows, their only weapons."

An old Ook-joo-lik said that he had seen a white man dead in a ship
which sank about five miles west of Grant Point, Adelaide Peninsula.
Before the ship sank the Inuits obtained spoons, knives, etc., from her,
and the story seemed true from the number of relics of the _Erebus_ and
_Terror_ in their possession.

The explorers visited Richardson Inlet, where they were told that a boat
had been found by the natives with five skeletons under it. The most
important information was gained from a Netchillik woman who said that
on the southeast coast of King William Land "she with her husband, and
two other men with their wives, had many years ago seen ten men dragging
a sledge with a boat on it. Five whites put up a tent on shore and five
remained with the boat. The Inuits and the whites stayed together five
days, the former killing several seals and giving them to the white
men." The whites attempted to cross to the main-land, and the Eskimos
remained all summer on King William Land and never saw the whites again.
She also said that "the following spring she saw a tent standing
at the head of Terror Bay. There were dead bodies in the tent and
outside--nothing but bones and clothing. Near by were knives, spoons,
forks, books, etc."

While elated at his success in learning from the Ook-joo-liks these
incidents, which added much to the reports of Rae and McClintock as to
the fate of Crozier and his comrades, Schwatka was not content. With a
courage bordering on rashness he decided to cross Simpson Strait to King
William Land and thoroughly search for records while the ground was free
from snow. This meant passing the summer on this desolate island, for he
could not hope to recross the strait, save by chance, until the autumnal
colds should form new ice.

He had just learned that the island was so barren of game in 1848 that
one hundred and five men had there perished of starvation. Some of the
natives told him that the same fate awaited the white men of to-day. Yet
such was the dominating power of this fearless soldier that not only did
his white comrades go forward zealously but several Eskimos followed,
including his hunter, Too-loo-ah, of whom it was said: "There is a
legend in his tribe that he was never known to be tired."

Among the hunting feats of the natives was the spring duck-hunting, when
the birds are moulting and unable to fly. Fitted with his spear the
Eskimo carries his kayak to the remote lake where the birds feed.
Cautiously advancing until the flock is alarmed, he makes a furious dash
toward the largest bunch. When within some twenty feet of the struggling
birds he seizes his queer-looking spear, with its three barbs of unequal
length, and with an expertness gained from long practice hurls it at a
bird, which is nearly always killed, impaled by the sharp central barb.
The wooden shaft of the spear floats the game until the hunter reaches
it.

Scarcely had the party marched a single day on the ice-pack of Simpson
Strait when some would have turned back, the crossing being doubtful.
Gilder records: "We would sink to our waists and our legs would be
dangling in slush without finding bottom. The sledge often sank so that
the dogs, floundering in the slush or scrambling over the broken ice,
could not pull. Then we gathered around to help them, getting an
occasional footing by kneeling on a hummock or holding on with one hand
while we pushed with the other. Yet through the skill and experience of
our Inuit dog driver we made a march of ten miles." In this journey even
the athlete, Too-loo-ah, was so exhausted that the party had to rest the
following day.

Schwatka with Gilder and his other white companions then made a most
exhaustive search of the island, the Eskimos aiding in the intervals of
the hunt or while going to and fro. The search revealed four despoiled
graves, three skeletons, Crozier's original camp and his daily bivouacs
during his fatal southward march, the Erebus Bay boat, and the record
deposited by McClintock in 1859. Especially interesting was the grave of
Lieutenant John Irving, one of Franklin's officers. Evidently the body
had been wrapped in his uniform and then encased in canvas as if for
burial at sea. A personal medal of Irving's and other articles
identified the remains. Unfortunately none of the Franklin records or
traces thereof were anywhere found.

It is not to be thought that these marches and discoveries were made
otherwise than with great suffering, with danger even of starvation.
More than once they were entirely without food, and as a rule they lived
from hand to mouth.

Gilder relates this semi-humorous experience: "While Klutschak was
cooking the last of our meat he left the fire a few minutes. The dogs
breaking from their fastenings poured down on the culinary department
like an army of devouring fiends. Too-loo-ah, knowing the state of our
larder, slipped out under the end of the tent, stark naked from his
sleeping-bag, and by a shower of stones sent the dogs away howling."

Their greatest discomfort arose from the lack of shoes and stockings,
their outer foot-gear being soon worn-out beyond repair, while hard
travel had rubbed all the hair from their stockings. Under these
conditions walking was often physical torture, which frequent moccasin
patching only slightly relieved. Finally they had to send to the base
camp at the south end of the island, where the two native women were, to
obtain foot-gear for their return journey from Cape Felix, the
northernmost point of King William Land.

While sledging along this point Too-loo-ah discovered a bear on the ice
of Victoria Strait far to the north. Dumping his load he urged his dogs
forward, plying the whip until the team sighted the as yet unconscious
bear. With wolf-like ferocity and swiftness the excited dogs rushed
madly forward, the empty sledge swinging from side to side on the rough
ice-floes or splashing through the pools or tide cracks that lay in the
road. When within a mile or so of the bear he saw his coming enemies,
and with his lumbering, rocking gait rushes off at a speed that
astonishes a novice who notes his awkward motions. Ook-joo-lik leaning
forward cuts the traces with his sharp hunting-knife, freeing in a bunch
the yelping dogs who run swiftly after the fleeing animal. Soon the dogs
are at bruin's heels, snapping and biting him so that he is obliged to
halt and defend himself. A battle royal now occurs, the defiant,
growling bear, rushing and striking fiercely at his enemies. The old and
experienced dogs attack him either in the rear or by side rushes when
his attention is given to another quarter, and when he turns they elude
the clumsy brute with great dexterity. Now and then an untrained
youngster attacks directly, only to receive a blow from the powerful
paws that either kills or maims him.

Soon Too-loo-ah came up almost breathless from his haste, and waited for
a chance to get a shot without killing a dog. Gilder tells us of the
unusual experience of the native at this time: "The bear disregarding
the dogs made a rush for the active young hunter that almost brought his
heart into his mouth. Recovering his composure in good season, he sent
three bullets from his Winchester rifle, backed by a charge of
seventy-five grains of powder behind each, right into the animal's
skull, and the huge beast lay dead almost at his feet."

At times their hunger, when meat was lacking, was appeased by a small
black berry called by the natives _parawong_, which was not only
pleasing from its welcome spicy and pungent tartness, but was really
life-supporting for a while at least.

While making thorough search of every ravine or hill-top for records or
for relics, "The walking developed new tortures every day. We were
either wading through the hill-side torrents or lakes, which, frozen on
the bottom, made the footing exceedingly treacherous, or else with
seal-skin boots, soft by constant wetting, painfully plodding over sharp
stones set firmly in the ground with the edges pointed up. Sometimes as
a new method of injury, stepping and slipping on flat stones, the unwary
foot slid into a crevice that seemingly wrenched it from the body."

Under stress of hunger and in due time they came to eat the same food as
their native hunters. We are told that "In the season the reindeer are
exceedingly fat, the tallow (called by the Inuits _tudnoo_) lying in
great flakes from half an inch to two and a half inches thick along the
back and over the rump. This tallow has a most delicious flavor and is
eaten with the meat, either cooked or raw. The intestines are also
encased in a lace-work of tallow which constitutes a palatable dish.
Indeed, there is no part of any animal used for food but what is eaten
by the Eskimos and which we also have partaken of with great relish. A
dish made of the contents of the paunch, mixed with seal-oil, looks like
ice-cream and is the Eskimos' substitute for that confection." It has
none of the flavor, however, of ice-cream, but, as Lieutenant Schwatka
says, may be more likened to _locust_, _sawdust_ and _wild-honey_.

After the breaking up of the winter floes in the strait the hunters gave
much time to the pursuit of the reindeer and killed many. Too-loo-ah
gave a new instance of his courage and of his resourcefulness as a
hunter. Going to the beach to find some drift-wood for fuel he left his
gun in camp. Near the coast he came upon a she bear with her half grown
cub. Knowing that the game would escape if he went back for his rifle,
"he drove the old bear into the sea with stones and killed the cub with
a handless snow-knife." His great pleasure was in the slaughter of
reindeer, of which great herds appeared during the late summer, while
Schwatka was awaiting the coming of cold and the formation of ice on
Simpson Strait for the crossing of his heavy sledges. Too-loo-ah
indulged as a pastime in seal-hunting in these days of prosperity. When
he got a seal one of his first operations was "to make a slit in the
stomach of the still breathing animal, and cutting off some of the warm
liver with a slice or two of blubber, the hunter regaled himself with a
hearty luncheon." Now and then the keen scent of a dog or his own
hunter's instinct discovered a seal _igloo_ on the floe. This is a house
built for their young near the air-holes where the mothers come for
breathing spells. Gilder says: "Here the baby seals are born and live
until old enough to venture into the water. When a hunter finds an
occupied _igloo_ he immediately breaks in the roof in search of the
little one, which remains very quiet even when the hunter pokes his head
through the broken roof. The young seal is easily killed with the spear,
and the hunter waits for the mother who is never absent a long time from
her baby. The young seal is usually cut open as soon as killed and its
little stomach examined for milk, which is esteemed a great luxury by
the Eskimos."

Gilder gives an account of their camp life while waiting on events. "We
ate quantities of reindeer tallow with our meat, probably about half of
our daily food. Breakfast is eaten raw and frozen, but we generally have
a warm meal in the evening. Fuel is hard to obtain and now consists of a
vine-like moss called _ik-shoot-ik_. Reindeer tallow is used for a
light. A small, flat stone serves for a candlestick, on which a lump of
tallow is placed close to a piece of fibrous moss called _mun-ne_, which
is used for a wick. The melting tallow runs down upon the stone and is
immediately absorbed by the moss. This makes a cheerful and pleasant
light, but is most exasperating to a hungry man as it smells exactly
like frying meat. Eating such quantities of tallow is a great benefit in
this climate, and we can easily see the effects of it in the comfort
with which we meet the cold."

It was most interesting to see the southward migration of the reindeer,
which began as soon as the ice on Simpson Strait would bear them. They
went in herds, and by the middle of October the country was practically
bare of them.

Of their own trip southward Gilder writes: "The most unpleasant feature
of winter travelling is the waiting for an igloo to be built, which is
done at the end of every day's march. To those at work even this time
can be made to pass pleasantly, and there is plenty that even the white
men can do at such time. Another task that the white men can interest
themselves in is the unloading of the sled and beating the ice and snow
out of the fur bedclothing. The Eskimos do not use sleeping-bags for
themselves, but instead have a blanket which they spread over them,
while under them are several skins, not only to keep the body away from
the snow, but also to prevent the body from thawing the snow-couch and
thus making a hole that would soon wet the skins. On the march the
bed-skins are usually spread over the top of the loaded sledge, the fur
side up, because it is easy enough to beat the snow from the fur, while
it might thaw and make the skin side wet. Continued pounding will remove
every vestige of ice without disturbing the fur, if the weather is
sufficiently cold."

Of the dogs he says: "Twice the dogs had an interval of eight days
between meals and were in condition for hard work. That they could live
and do any work at all seemed marvellous. I am constrained to believe
that the Eskimo dog will do more work, and with less food, than any
other draught animal existing."

Of the travel he adds: "The weather is intensely cold, ninety-seven
degrees below freezing, with scarcely any wind. It did not seem so cold
as when the wind was blowing in our face at fifty degrees below
freezing. We were so well fortified against the cold by the quantities
of fat we had eaten that we did not mind it."

Conditions of travel were very bad in December, when they had to lie
over for hunting, game being so scarce. But January, 1880, was their
month of trial, the temperature sinking to one hundred and four degrees
below the freezing-point on one occasion, while they were harassed by a
violent blizzard of thirteen days' duration. Wolves later attacked their
team, killing four dogs in their very camp. Indeed, Too-loo-ah had a
most narrow escape when surrounded by a pack of twenty wolves. "He
jumped upon a big rock, which was soon surrounded, and there fought the
savage beasts off with the butt of his gun until he got a sure shot,
when he killed one. While the others fought over and devoured the
carcass of their mate he made the best of his opportunity to get back
into camp."

Through famine, cold, and wolf raids the teams began to fail. "It was
almost our daily experience now to lose one or more dogs [in fact, they
lost twenty-seven on this trip]. A seal-skin full of blubber would have
saved many of our dogs; but we had none to spare for them, as we were
reduced to the point when we had to save it exclusively for lighting the
igloos at night. We could not use it to warm our igloos or to cook with.
Our meat had to be eaten cold--that is, frozen so solid that it had to
be sawed and then broken into convenient-sized lumps, which when first
put into the mouth were like stones. Sometimes, however, the snow was
beaten off the moss on the hill-sides and enough was gathered to cook a
meal."

In the last stages of famine the party was saved by the killing of a
walrus. Of conditions existing at this time Gilder records: "All felt
the danger that again threatened them, as it had done twice before when
they had to kill and eat some of their starving dogs. People spoke to
each other in whispers, and everything was quiet save for the
never-ceasing and piteous cries of the hungry children begging for the
food that their parents could not give them."

In this laudable effort to find the Franklin records Schwatka and his
comrades passed through experiences unsurpassed in arctic life by white
men, and that without loss of life or with other disaster. They adopted
Eskimo methods of dress, travel, shelter, and life in general. As an
expedition it surpassed in distance of travel and in length of absence
from civilized life, or of external support, any other known. It was
absent from its base of supplies for a year (lacking ten days), and
travelled three thousand two hundred and fifty miles.

The success of Schwatka is important as showing what can be done by men
active in body, alert in mind, and firm in will. He acted on the belief
that men of force, well armed and intelligently outfitted, could safely
venture into regions where have lived for many generations the Eskimos,
who hold fast to the country and to the method of life of their
ancestors.

The most striking phases of the journeys of Schwatka and his white
comrades evidence heroic qualities of mind and unusual powers of
endurance which achieved sledging feats that have excited the admiration
of all arctic experts. Such success, however, could have been obtained
only by men of exceptional energy, practically familiar with field
work, and gifted with such resourceful minds as at times can dominate
adverse conditions that would involve less heroic men in dire disaster.

The Franklin Search by Schwatka, Gilder and Klutschak was quixotic
in its initiation, ill-fitted in its equipment, and rash in its
prosecution. It was redeemed from failure through the heroic spirit of
the party, which gained the applause of the civilized world for its
material contributions to a problem that was considered as definitely
abandoned and as absolutely insoluble. Such an example of accomplishment
under most adverse conditions is worth much to aspiring minds and
resolute characters.

FOOTNOTE:

[23] See map on page 177.



THE INUIT SURVIVORS OF THE STONE AGE

     "Ye whose hearts are fresh and simple,
     Who have faith in God and Nature,
     Who believe, that in all ages
     Every human heart is human,
     That in even savage bosoms
     There are longings, yearnings, strivings
     For the good they comprehend not,
     That the feeble hands and helpless,
     Groping blindly in the darkness,
     Touch God's hand in that darkness;--
     And are lifted up and strengthened."
           --LONGFELLOW.


It is now well known that the first country of the western hemisphere to
be visited by Europeans was Greenland--nearly a thousand years ago. The
European settlement, the Christianization, and the abandonment of
southern Greenland, covering a period of three centuries, has lately
received interesting and exhaustive treatment by a famous arctic
expert who has brought together all existing data. Foreign to these
investigations are the facts associated with the discovery during the
past hundred years of three Inuit tribes of Greenland previously unknown
to the world. It seems astonishing that nine hundred years of
Greenland's history and of its exploration should have passed without
revealing the existence of the Eskimos of Etah, of Omevik, and of
Angmagsalik. This narrative dwells more particularly on the finding of
the tribe of Angmagsalik, on the coast of East Greenland, by Captain G.
Holm, Royal Danish Navy, through whose heroic efforts and wise
recommendations the tribe is now under the protecting influences of the
government of Denmark and has become a Christian, well-cared-for
people.[24]

       *       *       *       *       *

In 1818 Captain John Ross, R.N., in an attempt to discover the northwest
passage, though verifying the discredited discoveries of Baffin in 1616,
failed in his special effort. However, he added a new people to the
knowledge of the world through meeting in the neighborhood of Cape York,
Baffin Bay, eight of the Inuits, now known as the Etah or Cape York
Eskimos, whom he fancifully designated as the Arctic Highlanders. Elisha
Kent Kane was the first to have familiar relations with and give
detailed information about these isolated natives, the tribe in 1854
consisting of one hundred and forty persons. In later years the Etahs
have been frequently visited by explorers, whalers, and hunters. As the
most northerly inhabitants of the world at the present time, they
naturally have engaged the earnest attention of all who have met these
hardy, kindly, and resourceful people. Kane's fear of their extinction
was groundless, as against the number of one hundred and forty, given by
him, Peary's census figures of 1897 show two hundred and thirty-four, an
increase of ninety-four in forty years. Rasmussen relates that within
the memory of man, but evidently since Kane's time, fourteen Eskimos
from the region of Baffin Land have joined the Etah natives. It is
reasonable to believe that the origin of the Cape York Eskimo was
through similar migrations probably two or three centuries earlier.

Prior to the nineteenth century practically the only known Eskimo people
of Greenland consisted of those under Danish protection, who occupied
the entire ice-free west coast from Cape Farewell 60° N. to Tasiusak,
73° 24´ N. Traditions of the existence of tribes of natives on the east
coast have long prevailed, but up to the nineteenth century there were
known only a few individuals, quite near Farewell, which were visited by
Wallø in 1752.

Still among the Inuits of extreme southern Greenland were numerous and
curious traditions of the inhabitants of the east coast, one to the
effect that far to the northward were some light-haired people of
European complexion. Another tale oft told in winter gatherings was one,
doubtless in ridicule, of the occasional Inuit who, holding fast to a
barren land, came west only to trade and never to live. It is a
beautiful legend showing true and abiding love of home and country. Dr.
Rink thus translates it: "A man from the east coast of Greenland from
love of his home never left it even during the summer-time. Among his
principal enjoyments was that of gazing at the sun rising out of the
ocean. But when his son grew up he became desirous of seeing other
countries and above all of accompanying his countrymen to the west
coast. At length he persuaded his father to go with him. No sooner,
however, had they passed Cape Farewell and the father saw the sun about
to rise behind the land than he insisted upon returning immediately.
Having again reached their island home, he went out from his tent early
next morning, and when his people had in vain waited for his return they
went out and found him dead. His delight at again seeing the sun rise
out of the ocean had overpowered and killed him."

The first definite knowledge of the Eastern Inuits came by accident,
through the boat voyage of Captain W. A. Graah, who under the directions
of the King of Denmark was searching for the ruins of the East Bygd--the
colony of Scandinavians of the twelfth to the fifteenth century. During
this search, which extended to within sight of Cape Dan, Graah found no
less than five hundred and thirty-six Inuits living at about twenty
different places. Of these more than one-half had never seen a white
man.

[Illustration: A GROUP OF THE ESKIMO INUITS.]

Graah says of them: "The affection the Eastlanders have for their
children is excessive.... Notwithstanding the little care bestowed on
them, the children conduct themselves so as to seldom merit reproof....
The East Greenlanders look on begging, especially for food, as a
disgrace.... As soon as a boy can creep about alone his father gives him
a little javelin, which he is taught to throw at a mark. He thus
speedily acquires that dexterity in the management of his weapon on
which in after years he is to principally depend for his own and his
family's subsistence. When he grows older he is provided with a
kayak, and learns to battle with the waves, to catch birds, and to
strike the seal. When the youth comes home for the first time with a
seal in tow the day is made a holiday and the friends and neighbors
invited to a feast, at which, while he recounts all the circumstances of
the chase, the maidens present lay their heads together to choose a
bride for him.

"Their intercourse with each other is marked with singular urbanity;
they are modest, friendly, obliging, and forbearing.

"When the howling of the dogs proclaim the arrival of strangers the
people hurry to the shore to welcome them and to invite them to their
houses. The wet clothes of the visitors are taken from them and hung up
to dry. Dry ones are lent in their stead, and if a hole is discovered in
their boots the landlady sets to work straightway to patch it.

"They are a gentle, civil, well-behaved set of people among whom one's
life and property are perfectly secure as long as one treats them with
civility and does them no wrong. Their veracity and fidelity are beyond
impeachment.

"The northern lights they take to be the spirits of the dead playing
ball with the head of a walrus."

The principal encampments were between Kemisak and Omevik, beyond which
place to the north, said the natives of Kemisak, there were no
inhabitants. The Eskimos numbered two hundred and ninety-five and were
called the Omivekkians.

Of their environment in favorable places and their amusements Graah
reported: "The cove had fields of considerable extent, covered with
dwarf willows, juniper berry, black crakeberry, and whortleberry heath,
with many patches of fine grass. The stream, abounding in char, had its
source in the glaciers of which several gigantic arms reached down from
the height in the background. Flowers everywhere adorned the fields.
Three hundred paces from the sea the cliffs rise almost perpendicularly,
with snow-clad summits, far beyond the average height. The natives had
here assembled to feast upon the char, plentiful and of large size, the
black crakeberry, and angelica, gathering them also for winter use. They
give themselves up to mirth and merrymaking. This evening, to the number
of two hundred or more, they began by torch-light their tambourine
dance, a favorite festival."

Graah believed that there were no natives living to the north of Cape
Dan, and that, when the greater part of the Eskimos seen by him moved to
West Greenland, in the course of a few years, the whole coast was
deserted. This belief was seemingly, though erroneously, confirmed
by the fact that, while Clavering saw a few natives in 74° N.,
Scoresby, Koldewey, Ryder, Nathorst, and the Duke of Orleans, in
their explorations, saw no living native on the east coast.

It remained for the expeditions of Hall, Nares, Greely, Amdrup, Holm,
and Mylius-Erichsen to prove by their united observations that there was
not only an Inuit settlement on the east coast, but that such natives
are the descendants of the true Children of the Ice, who have crossed
Grinnell Land, skirted northern Greenland, and thus come eventually to
their present habitat. Their fathers were formerly inhabitants of the
most northerly lands of the globe, of the lands of Grant, Grinnell,
Greenland, and Hazen (or Peary).

Brief and transient may have been their occupation of many of the
various encampments during their devious wanderings in the long
migration, covering nearly two thousand miles of travel. Their summer
tent-rings and stone winter huts dot the favoring shores of every
game-producing fiord from Cape Farewell, in 60° N., northward to
Brönlund Fiord, Hazen (Peary) Land, 82° 08´ N., on the nearest known
land to the north pole.

They travelled leisurely, seeking fruitful hunting grounds and living on
the game of the land or of the adjacent sea. They thus netted the salmon
of the glacial lakes, searched the valleys for deer, snared the
ptarmigan, lanced the lumbering musk-ox, speared the sea-fowl, caught
the seal, slaughtered the walrus, and they are believed to have even
pursued in kayaks and lanced the narwhal and the white whale.

While Mylius-Erichsen and his heroic comrades obtained the definite
information as to the extreme northern limit of Inuit habitation of all
time, and paid the price of such data with their lives, it was with
equal bravery but happier fortune that Captain G. Holm rescued from
oblivion, and thus indirectly raised to happier life, the struggling
descendants of the iron men and women whose unfailing courage and
fertile resourcefulness had wrested food and shelter from the most
desolate and the most northerly land environment of the world.

Once, in 1860, there came to the Cape Farewell trading station an Inuit
who had lost his toes and fingertips. Though just able to grasp a paddle
with his stumpy fingers, he was an expert kayaker and threw his javelin
with the left hand. He said that he was from a place called Angmagsalik,
and that between eight hundred and a thousand natives dwelt in that
vicinity. For nearly a quarter of a century this report of the existence
of an unknown tribe of Inuits remained unverified. In 1883, however, the
exploration of this part of East Greenland was made by a Danish officer
of extended and successful experience in the governmental surveys of
southern Greenland, who fully recognized the hazardous and prolonged
nature of such an expedition. The Inuits said that many lives had been
lost in attempting the shore-ice of the east coast, and that a round
trip to and from Angmagsalik--"Far, oh! so far to the north!"--took from
three to four years.

Thoroughly familiar with the native methods of life and of travel, this
officer, Captain G. F. Holm, Royal Danish Navy, adopted the safest,
indeed, the only, method of coast transportation--in the _umiak_.

The _umiak_ (called the woman's boat, as it is always rowed by women) is
a flat-bottomed, wooden-framed, skin-covered boat about twenty-five feet
long and five feet wide. Only the framework, thwarts, and rowing
benches are wooden, the covering being well-dried, blubber-saturated,
hair-free skins of the _atarsoak_ (Greenland seal). Resembling in
appearance the parchment of a drum-head, the seal-skin becomes quite
transparent when wet so that the motion of the water is seen through it.
Sometimes a light mast carries a spread seal-skin for sail, but as a
rule the boat is propelled by short, bone-tipped paddles which, in the
hands of several strong women, carry the _umiak_ thirty miles a day
through smooth, ice-free water. When going near the ice a heavy
seal-skin is hung before the bow to prevent the delicate boat skin from
being cut. When a little hole is worn through, the women deftly thrust a
bit of blubber through it until the boat is hauled up on the shore,
which must be done daily to dry the sea-saturated covering. These boats
can transport from three to four tons of cargo, and are so light that
they can be readily carried on the women's backs overland.

Holm knew that his journey must entail at least one winter among such
natives as he might meet, so that his equipment was very carefully
selected, with a view to the gifts and trading which are so dear to the
native heart. The northward journey was full of incident and of
interest. Not crowding his women rowers, Holm tarried here and there for
the hunt; besides, he wished both to gather information from an
occasional encampment and also to cultivate loyalty in his reluctant
crew by permitting his women to show their west coast riches to the
east-coast heathen.

Here seal were killed and there the polar bear was chased, while the
sea-fowl, the narwhal, and the white whale were the objects of pursuit
to the eager native hunters, who accompanied the _umiaks_ in their
light, swift-flying kayaks.

In voyaging there was the usual danger from sharp ice cutting the
_umiaks_ and necessitating repairs, and from lofty bergs and ancient
hummocks as they crossed the ocean mouths of the ice-filled fiords, and
alas! too often there were tedious, nerve-racking delays when on
desolate islands or rocky beaches the _umiak_ fleet was ice-bound for
days at a time.

Wintering near Cape Farewell, Holm, with Garde and Knutsen, put to sea
May 5, 1884, his _umiaks_ being rowed by nineteen women and five men,
while seven hunters followed in kayaks. Garde devoted himself to the
precipitous, ice-capped coast, and between 60° and 63° N. found nearly
two hundred living glaciers that entered the sea, seventy being a mile
or more broad. In Lindenows Fiord, 62° 15´ N., were found almost
impenetrable willow groves near old Scandinavian ruins. Fine new
ice-fiords were discovered which put forth innumerable numbers of
icebergs, the highest rising two hundred feet above the sea.

The western Eskimos were alarmed either at the ice difficulties which
lengthened the voyage, or feared the _angekoks_, or magicians of the
east coast, and nineteen of them insisted on turning back. Holm was
obliged to send them back under Garde, but with determined courage to
fulfil his duty as an officer of the Danish navy, he went on with
twelve faithful women and men, although he was not half-way to Cape Dan.

As before told, Graah turned back in sight of Cape Dan, believing that
he had reached the limit of human habitations. Great then was Holm's
surprise to here find the last of the three missing polar tribes, who to
the number of five hundred and forty-eight individuals were occupying
the fertile hunting-grounds of the archipelago of Angmagsalik, which
consists of about twenty ice-free islands to the west of Cape Dan, about
65° 31´ N., adjacent to the beautiful Sermilik ice-fiord. In this
district the tides and currents keep open the inland water-ways, so that
seals are plentiful and easily taken, thus making it an Inuit paradise.
Holm and Knutsen here wintered, 1884-5, and in their ten months'
residence with these people gathered a vast amount of ethnographic
and historic material pertaining to the lives of these extraordinary
Inuits, who had never before seen a white man.[25]

This missing polar tribe pertains to the stone age of the world, its
weapons being almost entirely of bone, while its methods of hunting
follow lines long since abandoned by Inuits who have had contact with
whites. Their high sense of fidelity was shown by Navfalik, who was
placed in charge of stores left for the winter at Kasingortok. That
winter his family suffered from lack of food, but all through these
days of terrible distress and prolonged hunger the stores of the white
man were untouched by this faithful Eskimo.

Of these natives Rasmussen says: "There is no people with a history
which, as regards the bitterness of its struggle for existence and the
eeriness of its memories, can be compared with that of the Eskimo....
His mind can be calm and sunny like the water on a summer day in the
deep, warm fiords. But it can likewise be savage and remorseless as the
sea itself, the sea that is eating its way into his country."

Of their endurance of cold Poulsen records: "Inside the house both
grown-up people and children wear, so to speak, nothing, and it does not
inconvenience them to walk out into the cold in the same light dress,
only increased by a pair of skin boots. I remember seeing two quite
young girls walking almost naked on the beach, fifteen minutes' walk
from the house, gathering sea-weed, though the temperature was about
twenty-four degrees below the freezing-point."

As a dumb witness of their method of life in their permanent homes may
be mentioned the house at Nualik, more than a hundred miles to the north
of Angmagsalik (discovered by Amdrup), where an entire settlement of
twenty or more perished, probably of ptomaine poisoning from semi-putrid
meat (a delicacy among the Eskimos as is semi-putrid game with us).

"On the platform along the back wall, as shown by the skeletons, the
inhabitants had once lain comfortably between the two bear-skins, the
upper one with the hair down. On the five lamp-platforms stood the
lamps and the stone pots. The drying-hatches above them had fallen down,
but remains of bear-skin clothes still lay on them. Under the platform
there were chip-boxes and square wooden[26] cases, and on the
stone-paved floor large urine and water tubs. In front of one of the
small side platforms there was a blubber-board and a large, well-carved
meat-trough, and scattered about the floor lay wooden dishes,
blood-scoops, water-scoops, besides specimens of all the bone utensils
which belong to an Eskimo house.

"Near the house stood four long, heavy stones, placed edgewise, on the
top of which the _umiak_ rested (protected thus from the dogs).
Scattered around were kayak frames and their bone mountings, hunting and
other implements. Amongst the big heap of bones outside the house were
the skulls of narwhals, dogs, and bears. Among the utensils was a
blood-stopper ornamented with a neatly cut man's head, which, recognized
by old Inuits at Angmagsalik, identified this party as a northerly
migrating band from the main settlement."

Of the after life a glimpse is given by the talk of an east-coast Inuit
to Rasmussen: "On a lovely evening a broad belt of northern lights shot
out over the hills in the background and cast a flickering light over
the booming sea. Puarajik said: '_Those are the dead playing ball. See
how they fly about! They say that they run about up there without
clothing on._'"

Of the seamy side of life he adds: "But in the winter, when people were
gathered together, the larders were full, and desires centred on the
shortening of the long, idle winter nights, things would be quite
different [from the happy, industrious life of summer]. Much food and
sitting still, the desire to be doing, the craving for change made
people pick quarrels. Old grievances were resuscitated; scorn and
mocking, venomous words egged on to outbursts of anger; and in winter
feasts regrettable incidents occurred. Men and women, excited and goaded
on by others, forgot all friendly feeling, and on most extraordinary
pretexts often challenged each other to insult-songs, fought duels, and
committed most appalling murders."

It is evident that among the people of the stone age there exists the
same inclination to exploit and perpetuate deeds of individual and
warlike prowess, that appears not only in modern history as a whole but
also in news of current publication.

Acts of kindness, deeds of heroism, and displays of the fair and humble
virtues that sweeten daily life are entirely absent from the old Inuit
traditions. Yet these "True Tales" depict the honesty of Navfalik, the
humanity of Kalutunah, the fidelity of Brönlund, and the devotion of
Mertuk.

The total omission of similar tales of admirable and humane conduct from
the legends and the folksongs of the Inuits of the stone age doubtless
depends in part on the savage superstitions, wherein magical powers and
forces of evil are greatly exalted, and in part on the disposition to
dwell on the unusual and the terrifying.

So there are reasons to believe that the survivors of the stone age in
East Greenland exhibit in their daily life human qualities of goodness
and of justice that were characteristic of their rude and virile
ancestors.

Such, though inadequately described, are the newly found Inuits of the
Angmagsalik district of East Greenland, the sole surviving remnant of
the untutored aborigines of the north polar lands. Their human evolution
is of intense interest, as it has been worked out under adverse
conditions of appalling desolation as regards their food and their
travel, their dress and their shelter, their child-rearing and their
social relations.

That the world knows the last of the missing polar tribes, and that this
remote, primitive people is now being uplifted in the scale of humanity,
must be credited to the resolute courage, the professional zeal, and,
above all, to the sympathetic human qualities of Captain Holm and his
faithful officers and assistants.

FOOTNOTES:

[24] See map on page 235.

[25] The data relative to this expedition is not available in English,
but has been published in full in vol. IX, "Meddelelser om Gronland
(Communications on Greenland)," in Danish text. With its generous
policy the Danish Government has taken these natives under its
fatherly protection, so that their future welfare is assured against
exploitation, degradation, and early extinction.

[26] The wood was obtained from the drift-wood along the east coast,
supposed to come from Asia, along the line of drift shown by the voyage
of the _Fram_.



THE FIDELITY OF ESKIMO BRÖNLUND

     "And truly he who here
     Hath run his bright career,
     And served men nobly, and acceptance found,
     And borne to light and right his witness high,
     What better could he wish than then to die?"
           --ARNOLD.


The Mylius-Erichsen arctic expedition of 1905 sailed for the east coast
of Greenland in the ship _Danmark_, commanded by Captain Trolle, Danish
Royal Navy. Its purpose was to continue the remarkable surveys of the
Danish government by completing the coast-line of northeast Greenland.
From its winter quarters at Cape Bismarck, 76° 14´ N., autumnal sledge
parties established advance depots of supplies in order to facilitate
the travel of its surveying party the following spring.

The field work was under charge of Mylius-Erichsen personally, a
Danish explorer of ability and experience, already distinguished for
successful work in northwestern Greenland. It was planned that near
the eighty-second parallel of north latitude the main party should be
divided, so as to complete the work that season. Lieutenant Koch was to
outline the southeastern shore-lines of the land to the north of
Greenland, while Mylius-Erichsen was to carry his surveys inland until
they joined those of Peary, thus filling in the totally unknown regions
of extreme northeastern Greenland.

This plan was carried out in the spring of 1906, the two parties
separating at Northeast Cape, whence Koch struck courageously north on
May 1, with food for fourteen days only. Game fortunately came to him
and he was enabled to advance his country's colors to an unprecedentedly
northern latitude for Denmark, 83.5° N., and by his explorations to
complete the survey of the most northerly land of the globe--originally
named Hazen Land, which is now known as Peary Land. The brilliant
discoveries, tragic experiences, and heroic struggles of Mylius-Erichsen
and his topographer Hagen, and the fidelity unto death of his Eskimo dog
driver, Jörgen Brönlund, are briefly outlined in this narrative.

       *       *       *       *       *

After the long winter of sunless days and bitter cold, it was with high
hopes and cheery hearts that the long line of dog-drawn sledges followed
Mylius-Erichsen as they wended their way northward at the end of March,
1907. With ten sledges and nearly a hundred dogs much was to be done by
the resolute men who feared neither cold nor famine, the dangers of the
sea-ice, or the hardships of the trail.

[Illustration: Amdrup and Hazen Lands, Greenland.]

Their courage and strength were soon tested by difficulties and perils
of unexpected character, for they thought to find the ordinary ice-foot
along the shore, which could be followed inward or outward as the
character of the ice dictated. But there was no ice-foot. Along Glacier
Gulf for the distance of one hundred and forty miles the glacial
ice-cap of Greenland, known usually as the _inland ice_, moves summer
and winter--with unbroken vertical front, hundreds of feet in
height--slowly but unceasingly into the Greenland Sea. Between the
steady southward drift of the vast ice-fields from the Arctic Ocean and
the seaward march of the glacier the shore ice was found to be of almost
incredible roughness. Magnificent, and unequalled elsewhere in the
world, was the sight of this towering sea-face, but scores upon scores
of miles of ever-dominating ice-cliffs through their weeks of struggle
grew to be unwelcome, so that their end at Lambert Land was hailed with
joy.

Here came unexpected food, which did much to make the completion of the
survey possible. As they were crossing the smooth fiord ice, Brönlund's
keen and practised eye saw far shoreward tiny specks of moving animals,
and he shouted loudly "_Nanetok!_" (A bear!). They proved to be two
mother bears with cubs. In a trice the teams were stopped, the
trace-toggles slipped from the few dogs that were used to bear-hunting,
who started excitedly on the jump for the already fleeing game. Soon
catching up with the lumbering animals, slow-moving on account of the
cubs, the dogs, followed their usual tactics of nipping sharply the hind
legs of the bear, who stops to drive off the dog or stumbles forward
with the dog fast at his legs. Meantime Brönlund and Tobias, the two
Eskimo dog drivers, quickly threw off the sledge loads on the floe and
drove on with such speed that the hunters were soon within shot. The
bears skinned and the dogs fed, the northward march was renewed in high
spirits, for the slow travel had sadly reduced their food.

They were nearly in despair on reaching the south shore of Mount
Mallemuk, as the open sea made it impossible to pass around it. With
exhausting labor they finally were able to clamber up a projecting point
of the seaward-flowing glacier, but their first supporting sledge here
turned homeward.

Difficult as had been the ice and the glacier-scaling, they came to a
real danger when around Mallemuk they were driven far out on the ocean
in order to proceed northward, for the inland ice was impossible of
passage and great areas of open water gave way slowly seaward to new
ice. This was so thin that it bent and crackled as sledge after sledge
tried in separate and fearsome order a passage that threatened to engulf
them at any moment. Yet they came safely to Amdrup Land, 80° 43´ N.,
whence the last supporting party returned, charged to explore on their
homeward journey the unknown fiords to the north of Lambert Land, where
their spring discoveries of new lands had begun.

Pressing on after the return of the supporting sledges, Mylius-Erichsen
was surprised and disappointed to find that the coast continued to trend
to the northeast, and not to the northwest, as indicated by all charts
since Peary crossed the inland ice to Navy Cliff. This northeasterly
trend greatly increased the length of the journey needful to complete
the survey of the entire east coast. Their equipment had been planned
for the shorter distance, and it was evident that this forced détour
would soon leave them without food for themselves or for their dogs
unless more game should be found.

They thought that this extension would never end, but it was finally
reached at Cape Northeast, 82° 30´ N., 12° W., no less than 22° of
longitude to the eastward of Peary's location of the Greenland Sea in
his discoveries of 1892 and 1895. The new cape was half-way between Navy
Cliff and Spitzbergen, thus narrowing by one-half the largest connecting
waterway of the Arctic and the Atlantic Oceans. It was a magnificent
discovery, for which some of these explorers were to pay with their
lives.

Mylius-Erichsen and Koch counselled seriously together, and well they
might. They had been on the march more than a month; coming summer, with
a disintegrating ice-pack, and the dreaded Mallemuk mountain precipices,
sea-washed at their base, were to be faced on their homeward journey;
and to crown all they had provisions for only fourteen days.

Imbued with the high Danish spirit, they duly weighed, with national
calmness, the pros and the cons, only asking each other how and what,
with their pitiful means, they could further do for the glory of
Denmark. The heroic loyalty of both men found full expression in the
decision that it was their bounden duty to go forward, and to finish the
survey with which they were charged, regardless of possible dangers and
personal privations. So Koch marched northward, while Mylius-Erichsen
turned westward toward Navy Cliff, nearly two hundred miles distant. The
westward explorations had been made much more important by the
unexpected easterly extension of Greenland, which left a great gap in
its northern shore-line that must at all hazards be surveyed. Starting
with Topographer Hagen and the Greenlander dog driver, Brönlund,
Erichsen reached a great inland fiord (Denmark), which he naturally took
for the one charted by Peary as bordering the Greenland Sea. Though this
détour carried him a hundred miles out of the direct route to Cape
Riksdag, it was not wholly without results. Twenty-one musk-oxen were
killed, which restored the strength of the dogs, whose gaunt frames
already alarmed the party.

Here with astonishment they saw signs not alone of the beasts of the
earth and the birds of the air, but everywhere were indications of their
master--man himself. As they skirted such scanty bits of land as the
inland ice had spared, they found along every bay or inlet proofs of
former human life. There were huts and household utensils,--left as
though suddenly,--circles of summer tents, fragments of kayaks and
sledges, stone meat-caches, fox-traps, and implements of land hunt and
sea chase, in which both reindeer and whales were in question. They were
mighty hunters, these children of the ice, men of iron who inhabited the
most northern lands of the earth, and had there lived where these white
voyagers of heroic mould were destined to perish.

The signs of human life continued beyond Denmark Fiord to the very
shores of Hagen Fiord, thus clearly establishing the route of migration
over which the Eskimo of Arctic America or of the Bering Strait region
had reached the east coast, and possibly West Greenland, coming from the
north.[27]

The turning-point of Erichsen's fortunes came at Cape Riksdag, where he
met Koch's party returning from the north. His discoveries and surveys
of southeastern Hazen Land (Peary), where he reached 83° 30´ N., and his
tales of game, encouraged Mylius-Erichsen to go on, though he had food
for eight days only for the men, eleven for the dogs, and a few quarts
of oil for cooking.

Another fiord (Hagen) was discovered, which proved fatal to the party,
as Mylius-Erichsen felt that Navy Cliff, reported as overlooking the
Greenland Sea, must surely be therein. He turned north on learning his
error, only to eat his last food on June 4. He felt obliged to cover his
mistake by going still to the west to Cape Glacier (Navy Cliff) yet 9°
of longitude inland. Peary had there escaped starvation by large game,
and Erichsen went forward knowing that without game death awaited him.
Now and then they shot a polar hare, a bare mouthful for three starving
men and twenty-three ravenous dogs. June 14, 1907, Mylius-Erichsen
connected his surveys with Navy Cliff.[28] He had a right to a feeling
of pride and of exultation, for his magnificent series of discoveries,
covering 5° of latitude and 22° of longitude, completed the survey of
northeastern Greenland. Thus had these adventurous men given tangible
form to the hopes and aspirations that for so many years had stirred the
imagination of Danish explorers. These discoveries had involved outward
sledge journeys of more than seven hundred miles, although the party was
only outfitted for a distance of three hundred and thirty miles.

Lieutenant Trolle tells us how startlingly sudden was the change from
winter to summer at the _Danmark_, Cape Bismarck. "The temperature of
the snow had risen to zero (32° Fahrenheit), and then in one day it all
melted. The rivers were rushing along, flowers budding forth, and
butterflies fluttering in the air. One day only the ptarmigan and raven,
the next the sanderling, the ringed plover, geese, ducks, and others."

Mylius-Erichsen and his comrade had a similar experience just as they
turned homeward. Almost in a day the snow-covering of the sea-floe
vanished, as if by miracle. Here and there water-holes appeared--the
dreadful fact was clear, the ice-floes were breaking up. Forced now to
the coast-land, it was plain that return to their ship was no longer
possible. They must summer in a barren, ice-capped land, and wait, if
they could live so long, until the frosts of early autumn should
re-form the great white highway of arctic travel.

Mylius-Erichsen hoped that the outlying valleys of his newly discovered
Denmark Fiord would afford enough game to enable them to live, at least
long enough to permit them to reach some one of their depots where they
could deposit the records of their surveys. They reached the fiord about
the end of July, but alas! the big game of the past spring was gone! Now
and then they killed a stray musk-ox and, like famishing creatures, men
and dogs ate for once their fill. Again and again food failed utterly,
but when death came too near they killed, with sad hearts, one of their
faithful dogs, until nine of them had been eaten.

In the recovered field-journal of Brönlund, under date of August 7, we
read: "No more food! It is impossible to travel and we are more than
nine hundred kilometres [five hundred and sixty miles] from the ship."
On the 8th Erichsen started for the southern end of the fiord, thinking
that in its ice-free valleys the chances of game would be increased. As
it was necessary to travel on the ice-floes they started across the ice,
changing from one floe to another when forced to do so. Unfortunately
they were driven offshore and found themselves adrift. Day after day,
kept seaward by wind and tide, they strove in vain to reach shore, but
it was sixteen days before this was accomplished. When they landed on
August 24, Brönlund writes: "We still have fourteen dogs, but no food.
We have killed one of these animals and eaten half of him; the other
half will serve as our food to-morrow. The half of a dog for three men
and thirteen dogs is not too much to digest, and after eating it we are
as hungry as before."

When land was reached Erichsen and Hagen applied themselves to hunting.
Hare after hare and ptarmigan after ptarmigan were pursued and killed.
But alas! the valleys were searched in vain for musk-oxen or reindeer,
and it was feared that the big game of the region was exterminated.

Throughout these awful days of suspense and of hunger neither
Mylius-Erichsen nor Hagen failed to maintain their courage and
cheerfulness. In the intervals of needed rest between the long,
exhausting hunting tramps, they kept on the even tenor of their way.
Erichsen wrote a little poem to distract the attention of his companions
from their present surroundings. Faithful to the last to his favorite
vocation, Hagen made with care and pride beautiful sketches of the
country traversed and of the lands newly discovered. Thus passed away
the brief polar summer, but further details are lacking since Brönlund's
journal has no entries from August 31 to October 19.

Meanwhile, Koch had made safely his homeward journey, and, although the
anxiety of the officers at the ship was somewhat lessened by the news
that game had been found in the far north, yet they were nevertheless
uneasy as to the dangers of Erichsen's home travel. Koch, it seems, had
found an open and impassable sea at Mount Mallemuk, so that he was
driven to the inland ice. He there found himself obliged to cross a
very narrow glacier, where its seaward slant was so nearly perpendicular
that a single slip would have precipitated men and dogs into the open
sea, hundreds of feet below.

Later it was decided to send a search party north, under mate Thostrup.
Nor was this autumnal march without danger, even apart from the perils
of travel along the coast, where the men nearly perished by breaking
through the new ice. At Jokel Bay Thostrup was driven to the inland ice,
the only possible route. At all times difficult, this travel was now
made especially dangerous by the fact that the old glacial surface was
not yet covered by the hard-packed winter drifts. Thostrup's whole
sledge party on several occasions barely escaped falling into the
fearful crevasses, seen with difficulty in the semi-darkness of the
sunless days. As it was, several of the dogs were lost when, a snow
bridge crumbling, the animals fell into a crevasse. Their seal-skin
traces breaking, the dogs dropped to the bottom of the ice-chasms, which
were sometimes two hundred feet or more deep. With kindly hearts the
Eskimo drivers tried to shoot the poor animals, and put them out of
their misery, but did not always succeed. As Erichsen had not reached
the coast the journey was without result. Thostrup found untouched the
caches of Lambert Land and Mount Mallemuk, and turned southward on
October 18, unconscious that a hundred miles to the westward his missing
shipmates, facing frost and famine, were valiantly struggling against
fate and death.

The condition of the arctic Crusoes of Denmark Fiord, though there were
doubtless days of cheer and hope, grew gradually worse, and by the
middle of October had become terrible, if not hopeless. Although the
autumnal ice was now forming, Mylius-Erichsen knew that in their state
of physical weakness the long journey of five hundred miles to the ship,
around Cape Northeast, could never be made. Hagen agreed with him that
the single chance of life, feeble though it was, lay in crossing the
ice-capped mountain range, direct to the depot on Lambert Land. Of
course, the height of the ice-cap, the character of its surface, and the
irregularities of the road were all unknown quantities.

The state of their field outfit for the crossing of the inland ice
betrayed their desperate condition. In general, their equipment had
practically disappeared under stress of travel and of hunting. To the
very last they had carried their scientific outfit and instruments.
It was a sad day when they recognized that the only way of repairing
the great rents in their skin boots was through the use of the
sole-leather case of the theodolite. Even that had quite gone, and
without needle, thread, or leather, they could only fold wraps around
their boots, now in shreds, and tie them on with such seal-skin
thongs as had not been eaten. The tent was badly torn, and, with the
sleeping-gear--on which had been made sad inroads for dog-food and
patches for clothing--afforded wretched shelter against storm and cold.
For transportation there were four gaunt dogs--the last that ravenous
hunger had spared--to haul the remnants of a disabled sledge. The winter
cold had set in, with almost unendurable bitterness to the enfeebled,
shivering men. The weak arctic sun, now skirting the southern sky at
mid-day, was leaving them for the winter, so that the dangers of
crevasses and the difficulties of glacier-travel must be met either in
total darkness, or, at the best, in feeble, uncertain twilight.

Discarding everything that could be spared, they reached the inland ice
on October 19, the day the sun went for the winter, and barefooted they
travelled across this glacial ice-cap one hundred and sixty miles in
twenty-six days. Their shipmate, Lieutenant A. Trolle says: "When I
think of the northerly wind and the darkness, when I consider that every
morning they must have crawled out of their dilapidated sleeping-bags,
though they could have had one desire, one craving--that of sleeping the
eternal sleep--then my mind is full of sorrow that I shall never be able
to tell them how much I admire them. They _would_ go on, they _would_
reach a place where their comrades could find them and the _results of
their work_. Then at last came the end, the death of Mylius-Erichsen and
Hagen a few miles from the depot, and the last walk of Brönlund,
crawling along on frozen feet in the moonshine. With the sure instinct
of the child of nature, he found the depot, ate some of the food,
wrapped himself up in his fur, and died."

By Brönlund's body was found Hagen's chart of their discoveries, and his
own field-journal in which the final entry runs: "I perished in 79° N.
latitude, under the hardships of the return journey over the inland ice
in November. I reached this place under a waning moon, and cannot go on
because of my frozen feet and the darkness. The bodies of the others are
in the middle of the fiord. Hagen died on November 15, Mylius-Erichsen
some ten days later."

The courage and self-sacrifice of Mylius-Erichsen and Hagen for the
advancement of the glory of their country were based on conditions
readily understood. Officials of high ideals, long in public service,
honored with important duties, they possessed those heroic qualities
which throughout the ages have impelled chosen men to subordinate self
to the common weal. Of such has been said:

     "Gone? In a grander form they rise!
     Dead? We may clasp their hands in ours,
     And catch the light of their clearer eyes,
     And wreathe their brows with immortal flowers."

These young explorers instinctively knew that their deeds of daring
would give them fitting and enduring fame. Their faith in their country
was justified by the tribute that Denmark promptly erected.

But with Jörgen Brönlund, Greenlander, it was quite another tale. The
virtues of self-sacrifice and of fidelity unto death are practically
ignored in the traditional myths and tales of Greenland, which represent
the literature, the religion, the history, and the poetry of the Eskimo
people.[29]

Brönlund had long foreseen the outcome, as appears from his journal
entry: "We are all dead!" From this early acceptance of his coming fate,
and from the Eskimo racial trait of calm acquiescence in destiny, it
would be natural that in the field the native would have first
succumbed.

But, charged with a solemn, vital mission, evidently receiving the
commands of his leader as the voice of God, this Inuit was faithful even
over fear of death, and by his heroic efforts, freezing and starving,
insured the fame of his comrades and so added to the glory of his
distant fatherland (Greenland is a colony of Denmark), unknown to him.

Both through the dictates of his noble soul, and also inspired by his
leader, he rose to sublime heights of heroic action. All must indeed
die, but he would to the last moment of his life be true to his
sledge-mates, Erichsen and Hagen. Without doubt their last words
were a charge not to fail to place in the cache at Lambert Land the
field-charts and his own journal, so that Denmark might know that her
sons had fulfilled their allotted duty.

They mistook not their man, and the fame of Denmark's officers was
insured by the heroic efforts and unfailing fidelity of their humble
subordinate, the Inuit dog driver, Jörgen Brönlund--Greenlander.

Among the striking features of the beautiful city of Copenhagen are
statuary by the famous Thorwaldsen and other great sculptors, which
proclaim the fame and preserve the memory of kings and statesmen, of
authors and admirals--men great in war and in peace, in civic worth and
in learning. It is to the honor of the city that lately there has arisen
a unique and striking memorial to commemorate worth and fidelity in
fields far beyond the sunset, remote from commercialism and from
civilization. Thus Denmark keeps fresh in the hearts and in the minds of
her people the heroic struggle unto death of Mylius-Erichsen and of
Hagen, and of the Danish Eskimo Brönlund. Such steadfast sense of duty
and heroic powers of accomplishment are not the heritage of Denmark
alone, but of the nobler men of the wide world.

FOOTNOTES:

[27] The discoveries of Lieutenant (now General) Greely around Lake
Hazen, of Lockwood and Brainard in northwest Greenland and Hazen Land,
prove that the route followed was via Greely Fiord, past Lake Hazen,
across Kennedy Channel, over Hall Land, probably through the upper
valley of Nordenskiöld Inlet, and along the shores of Peary Channel to
Denmark Fiord.

[28] According to the lately published report of the gallant Danish
explorer, Mikkelsen, the recovered records of Mylius-Erichsen show that
the insularity of Greenland was not discovered by Peary at Navy Cliff.
Peary Channel is only a fiord indenting northeastern Greenland, which
extends northward as shown in the attached map of Amdrup Land.

[29] Among two hundred Eskimo tales and traditions given by Rink and
Rasmussen there does not appear to be a single one wherein the qualities
of self-sacrifice and absolute fidelity are the essential or main ideas.



THE WIFELY HEROISM OF MERTUK, THE DAUGHTER OF SHUNG-HU

     "Deeper devotion
       Nowhere hath knelt;
     Fuller emotion
       Heart never felt."
           --GOETHE (_Dwight's translation_).


Rarely, if ever, has there been recorded in history a more varied and
adventurous life than that of Mertuk, wife of Hans Hendrik, who came
into literature through the magical pen of Elisha Kent Kane as the
"pretty daughter" of Shung-hu, an Etah Eskimo. She was born (and reared)
as a veritable Child of the Ice, being one of the members of the
northernmost tribe of the world,--a people, in the last century, of
absorbing interest as a surviving offshoot of the Stone Age.

Mertuk married Hans Hendrik, an Eskimo of Moravian faith from Danish
West Greenland, who was practically a deserter from Kane. This northern
idyl was the reverse of Ruth of the Bible, since for the sake of Mertuk,
Hans abandoned his family and his country, willingly separating himself
from the comforts and certainties of civilized life for the vicissitudes
and inconveniences of an archaic environment. Despite a lovely wife,
Hans soon discovered the wretched discomforts and unwelcome methods of
life on the Etah coast, where hunger and physical sufferings were not
infrequent attendants on even the most skilful and active hunter.

When the polar expedition of Dr. Isaac I. Hayes touched in 1860 at Cape
York, Hans joined the doctor's forces taking his wife and child with
him; next year they emigrated to Danish Greenland when Hayes sailed
south.

Ten years later Hans, with Mertuk and three children, joined Hall's
north-polar expedition, which made a ship's record for the world. At
Thank-God Harbor was born Mertuk's youngest child, Charles Polaris,
nearer the pole than any other known infant. With undaunted courage and
uncomplaining fortitude she endured, with her four children (one a babe
of three months), the fearful vicissitudes of the Polaris drift, set
forth in another sketch, "The Marvellous Ice-Drift of Captain Tyson,"
carrying her babe in her seal-skin hood while dragging a heavy sledge
over rough ice.

With quiet dignity, in keeping with her cool equanimity and her
unblanching acceptance of hardships in the white North, Mertuk accepted
the extraordinary experiences incident to temporary life in the great
emporium of American civilization--New York City--which she was the
first of her tribe to visit. Returning to Danish Greenland with her
children, she there passed the rest of her less eventful life, busy and
happy in the domestic duties pertaining to her family and to her Inuit
neighbors.

The incident of Mertuk's wifely heroism, herein told in detail, is drawn
from an unpublished diary of Mr. Henry W. Dodge, mate of the schooner
_United States_, then wintering under Dr. Hayes at Port Foulke.[30]

The sketch of the childhood of this heroic and interesting woman is
based on various passages of explorers and writers familiar with the
incidents of Etah life.

       *       *       *       *       *

Among the forceful and friendly natives of Etah sixty years since, in
the days of Kane, was Shung-hu, famed equally for his qualities as a man
and for his daring as a mighty hunter. He especially displayed his skill
in the successful pursuit of the polar bear, whether on land along the
coast, on the fast ice under the frowning snow-cliffs of Humboldt
Glacier, or on the moving ice-floes of Smith Sound. Apart from his alert
action and dignified bearing, his person was notable through his ample
whiskers, on chin and on lips, which age and exposure had already
softened by their silvery coloring. Indeed, he was the only full-bearded
native in the nation, as is related by Hayes, whose distressed and
starving boat party was only able in the last extremity to reach the
_Advance_ through the aid of the Angekok Kalutunah and his comrade
Shung-hu.

Among the much-loved children of Shung-hu was a daughter, Mertuk, whose
mother's name is unknown, but she doubtless had that deep affection and
tender care for her daughter which are common traits of these iron women
of the Etah coast.

Nature and necessity had made the family lead a life of constant
wandering, and so the child shared the seasonal and oft irregular
journeys along the shut-in, narrow coast-land between the great Humboldt
Glacier and the sea-beaten cliffs of Cape York. It was always a journey
for food--birds and bears, deer and seals, walruses and narwhals, as
time and good-fortune dictated.

Carried by her mother, little Mertuk travelled in true native fashion,
thrust naked and feet foremost into the back part of the ample seal-skin
hood. There she rode in warmth and comfort, safely seated astride of a
soft, rounded walrus thong, which passed under the arms of the mother
and was made fast around her neck.

Mertuk thus grew and throve, happy and healthy, under conditions which
to boys and girls of our own country would have seemed impossible of
endurance. Sometimes the tiny child would be thrust out in a temperature
in which mercury would freeze solid, and with laughter felt the biting,
stimulating cold that only made the hood more welcome as a home-nest. It
was the way of the wild, which must be followed in this country of
sunless winters and of blinding blizzards, which every brave Inuit
loved.

To this Eskimo maiden the whole world was made up of a few score men,
women, and children of the igloos, of a dozen kinds of birds in the air,
and on the cliffs; of white hares, bluish foxes, and reddish deer on
land; of smooth seals, white whales, horned narwhals, and big-tusked
walruses in the sea; and last but by no means least the enormous
amphibious, sharp-clawed bear whose glistening, yellowish-white skin
furnished material for the furry garments in which her father Shung-hu
was always clothed.

At an early age Mertuk came to know the living creatures which were the
sources of food and the means of life. She could tell the seasonal time
in which came and went the wild fowl, of their breeding and of their
young. The haunts and habits of the swift-footed animals of the
glacier-enclosed land were all known to her, as well as the favorite
resorts of the monsters of the bordering icy ocean, which furnished the
hides and bones, the sinew and ivory, without which there would be
neither needles and thread for the igloo, nor lances and sledges for the
hunter.

It was a land of meat and flesh in which she lived, with no bread or
vegetables, and the taste of sugar and of tea, the flavor of salt and of
pepper, were absent from her food. She knew not books, matches,
fire-arms, boats, stoves, crockery, nor cloth whether of cotton or
fibre, of silk or wool. It was a land without wood, iron, medicines, or
stimulants, and equally without government, schools, churches,
hospitals, or even houses--unless one could so name the stone huts, the
skin tents, or the transient snow igloos.

Her mother early taught her all the kinds of women's work which could
make her useful to her tribe or to her family, and without doubt
instilled in her a sense of some of the feminine graces which have
softened the harshness of the world in all climes and in every country
throughout the ages. Here they were a part of the life of the stone age,
which the Etahs had inherited untainted by the outside world.

The daughter's supple fingers soon braided evenly and closely the sinews
of the narwhal into the tense and needful bow-strings, for Shung-hu
hunted reindeer with bow and arrows. Her strong hands tightly stretched
the drying seal-skin, through which later her bone-needles and
sinew-thread were so skilfully plied that the skin broke before the
seams gave way. With deft action and with an unwonted taste she so
shaped her bird-skin clothing and blue-fox hoods as to win praise for
her garments from men and women alike. Her skill with the lamp soon
became equal to that of the oldest expert of the tribe. Choosing and
drying the long moss best suited for wicks, she applied a bit of walrus
fat to the moss threads, and twisted them into a dense, even roll. While
other lamps gave forth volumes of smoke, Mertuk so skilfully trimmed the
lighted moss-wick that it gave an equal steady flame along the edge of
the _koodlik_ (pot-stone lamp). An adept in all woman's work, always in
health, gay, witty and even-tempered, Mertuk came also to be a comely
maiden--well-formed in figure, fair of face, though very tiny in
stature.

But even in this land of Eskimo plenty there come seasons of dire
distress, when famine stalks abroad and slow starvation strikes down the
weaklings of the tribe. In such a time of want and hunger Hans Hendrik
came to the Etah tribe, to aid the half-famished folk in the hunt of
the walrus, then needed to save from lingering death the sick men of
Kane's ship as well as the strong people with Kalutunah and Shung-hu.
Mertuk had watched from a distance this wonderful youth, who spoke
Inuit queerly, to the sly amusement of the listening Etahs. But he
carried a long, strange weapon--fire-flashing, ear-splitting, and
death-dealing--that killed a bear or a walrus at great and unheard-of
distances. In the brief intervals of the urgent hunt he came to
Shung-hu's igloo to sleep, to eat their scant fare, and to feed his
wolfish dogs, which were ever fighting with those of Shung-hu. The hunt
was fast and furious, and with such success that steaks and liver,
walrus-skin and rich blubber, were again in plenty.

Of the joyous feast after this particular hunt, in which Mertuk partook
with other famishing Etahs, Kane quotes Hans Hendrik, "an exact and
truthful man," as saying: "Even the children ate all night. You (Kane)
know the little two-year-old that Awiu (possibly the mother of Mertuk)
carried in her hood--the one that bit you when you tickled her. That
baby cut for herself, with a knife made out of an iron hoop and so heavy
that she could hardly lift it, cut and ate, ate and cut, as long as I
looked at her. She ate a _sipak_--the Eskimo name for the lump which is
cut off close to the lips [of the eater]--as large as her own head.
Three hours afterward, when I went to bed, the baby was cutting off
another lump and eating still."

The work of the hunt proved too strenuous for the Danish Greenlander,
and finally Hans was worn out by exposure and fatigue, while he fell
sick from cold and wet. In this condition he sought the breek[31] of
Shung-hu's igloo for rest until he gained strength to enable him to
return to Kane, to whom he had sent walrus meat.

The care of the strange Inuit fell on Mertuk. Prompt and gentle in her
ministrations and attentions, jovial in her speech, and witty in
conversation, she soon ensnared the heart of Hans. Indeed, from all
accounts, she had that peculiar winning bashfulness that is so
attractive among certain of the children of nature. Besides her tasteful
dress she had a sense of order and of cleanliness, not always found
among the Etahs. She not only kept her long, raven-black hair unmatted,
but had also gathered her tresses into a tuft on the top of her head,
where it was fastened by a finely embroidered seal-skin strap. This gave
her a semblance of size and height quite needed, for she was only a
trifle over four feet tall.

Hans soon took careful notice of his nurse, who talked with overflowing
mirth, while her busy fingers, in the intervals of personal service,
unceasingly plaited the tough sinew-thread with which arrow-heads are
secured or other hunting implements perfected. Deft and quick, busy with
work, careful of her little brothers, she seemed to be the maiden suited
to his taste, although the claims of other women were presented to him
during his stay. Before he was strong, he had asked that she should
become his wife. Most of her maiden comrades had sobbed and lamented
when the time came for them to change the care-free, petted, and joyous
child life for the onerous duties of an Etah matron. But Mertuk's heart
glowed with happy feelings, and she sang with joy when the great Eskimo
hunter, who had killed three of the five great walruses, asked that she
would be his wife.

Kane relates the story of the courtship as follows: "Hans, the kind son
and ardent lover of Fiskernaes,[32] has been missing for nearly two
months. I am loath to tell the tale as I believe it, for it may not be
the true one at all, and I would not intimate an unwarranted doubt of
the consistency of boyish love. Before my April hunt, Hans with long
face asked permission to visit Peteravik, as he had no boots and wanted
to lay in a stock of walrus hide for soles. I consented.

"He has not returned and the stories of him that come from Etah were the
theme of much conversation and surmise. He had given Nessark's wife an
order for a pair of boots, and then wended his way to Peteravik (the
halting-place), where Shung-hu and his pretty daughter had their home.
This explanation was given by the natives with many an explanatory
grin; for Hans was a favorite with all, and as a match one of the
greatest men of the country.

"The story was everywhere the same. Hans the faithful, yet I fear the
faithless, was last seen upon a native sledge, driving south from
Peteravik with a maiden at his side, and professedly bound for a new
principality at Uwarrow, high up Murchison Sound. Alas! for Hans the
married man. Lover as he was, and _nalegak_ (chief) by the all-hail
hereafter, joy go with him, for he was a right good fellow."

Though Hans said that his mother-in-law "had always behaved to me like a
tender mother," and that "the amiability of these unbaptized people is
to be wondered at," yet life went hard with the married couple among
"the unchristened natives of the North."

Touching at Cape York in 1860, Dr. Hayes found Hans and his wife living
there. Of their quarters, Dodge, in his unpublished journal says: "Their
shelter was a seal-skin tent, six by eight feet in size and six feet
high, in which lived Hans, Mertuk, the baby, and the mother-in-law. The
_breek_ of large stones took up, with the bedding, two-thirds of the
space, leaving scant room for the cooking utensils; a small stone pot
hung above the blubber-fed stone lamp."

He continues: "Mertuk was with him, having at her back a baby not a year
old. I must admit that Hans would not have been inexcusable for being
allured by a pair of black eyes to cast in his lot with the roving
tribes of the North. She is by far the handsomest native woman that we
have yet seen, being much prettier than any woman of the mixed races of
Danish Greenland. She is very small but is finely featured, and has
hands and feet as delicate as a child's. Notwithstanding the general
harshness of the Etah language, her voice is quite musical, and she has
the most gleeful, ringing, bell-like laugh that I have ever heard."

Taking his wife and babe along, Hans joined the expedition of Dr. Hayes
as hunter. In midwinter, as elsewhere related in "Sonntag's Fatal Sledge
Journey," Hans went south as dog driver, with the astronomer, to buy
dogs for the sledge journeys of the coming spring. After a month Dr.
Hayes, becoming greatly alarmed at their protracted absence, decided to
send Dodge, the mate, south to trace the missing men. But deep as may
have been the anxiety of Hayes for Sonntag, it did not equal the anguish
of Mertuk's soul as to the fate of her loved Hans.

The theory that the people of the stone age are purely animals,
struggling only for food, for clothing, and for shelter, finds no
support in the conduct of this tiny, ignorant, heathen woman, whose
heart was filled with ideals of love and of duty.

Living under conditions of ease and luxury far surpassing anything of
which Mertuk's mind had before been capable of imagining, this tiny,
uncivilized woman resolved to quit her abode of warmth and light for
piercing cold and utter darkness, to abandon her abundant food and
comfortable berth for a chance bit of frozen seal meat and a snow igloo.
And for what reason? To find a missing husband, in search of whom a
party was to take the field. To non-polar people no words can convey an
adequate idea of the dangers to be met, of the privations to be endured.
It was a period of sunless days (the sun had been gone for more than a
month), in the excessive cold of midwinter, at the season of fearful
blizzards, along an uninhabited stretch of coast of utter desolation, in
following which one must pass the dreaded Cape Alexander either on the
outer moving ice-pack or along the treacherous ice-foot at the base of
its precipitous cliffs. And no one knew better than Mertuk the misery
and hardships, the sufferings and perils which must be faced on such a
journey.

The tale of this woman's heroic resolution is thus told in his journal
by Dodge, whom Hayes sent south to trace Sonntag's trail:

"Here let me introduce a little episode which might be useful to poets
and novelists as an example of woman's constancy and devotion, showing
perhaps that the true woman's heart beats the same in all ages,
countries, and climes. It reveals itself equally strong in a Gertrude
watching the livelong night beneath a scaffold, and in a simple,
untutored savage, going out alone under the shadow of an arctic night,
carrying a child upon her back and looking for a lost husband.

"Mrs. Hans [Mertuk] had discovered by some means that a searching party
was being organized to discover the fate of the missing men. Being
fearful that she would be detained if her intentions were known, she
left the vessel an hour in advance of us, hoping that she would be
allowed to keep on when she should be overtaken.

"This information was not pleasant for me, as those best acquainted with
Eskimo character felt sure that she would not turn back, unless forcibly
compelled to do so.

"Her intention was not suspected, however, and it was not until I was on
the point of starting that one of the Eskimo told Jansen, the Dane, that
Mertuk had gone in search of her husband.

"When we were on our way, two and a half miles from the ship, I
discovered some distance ahead a little form, plodding through the snow,
which I knew must be Mrs. Hans. In half an hour more we had overtaken
her, and I must admit that it was an affecting sight to look upon this
little woman, barely four feet tall.

"With her child only a year old on her back, Mertuk plodded bravely
along through the snow, into which she sank knee-deep at almost every
step, impressed with the idea that the dearest one on earth to her was
somewhere in the vast desolation before her, and fired with the feeling
that she must find him or perish too.

"As my companion, Christian Petersen the Dane, could make her understand
him, I told him to tell her that she could not go on but must go back,
while we would go on and look for Hans, explaining the reasons for her
return. But to all his arguments Mertuk simply said that she must find
Hans or die--and resolutely she set her face toward the south.

"While Christian talked to her I stood by, leaning on my rifle, awaiting
anxiously the result of a discussion that I could not understand, except
as I read the woman's face. We could not spare the time to go back with
her. She could not accompany us, for our pace was too rapid for her and
besides we must not be delayed in our mission. If she followed us she
would be soon worn out with fatigue, carrying her child through the
soft, deep snow; and if she sat down to rest, her fate was certain when
overcome by sleep or through exhaustion."

When Petersen said that he could do nothing with her, as she obstinately
declared that she was going on for her husband, Dodge, greatly
disturbed, was perplexed as to what action he should take. Fortunately
there came to his mind a thought, kindred to that so forcefully and
beautifully expressed by Tennyson in his lines, "Home they brought her
warrior dead," and he continues:

"Finding that Christian's arguments were likely to prove unavailing, I
stepped up to Mertuk, lifted up a corner of the reindeer skin that she
had thrown over her seal-skin hood, and pointed to the tiny baby who was
sleeping quietly, and said [in English]: '_If you go on the child will
die._' She could not understand my words, which the Dane did not
translate, but something in her heart must have disclosed their meaning.
For the first time she showed signs of irresolution, and her eyes filled
with tears. Carefully covering the child's face, I brushed from the
mother's hair and eyebrows the frost-feathers that had already formed
through the awful cold. Looking steadily into her eyes, and talking in a
low, firm voice, I told her that I would look faithfully for Hans, and
bring him back to her if he could be found.

"I shall never forget the expression of her countenance, the moonbeams
streaming down on her eager, upturned face. Her lips were slightly
parted, and her whole soul seemed to be shining through her expressive
eyes, which were fastened fixedly on mine.

"When I ceased speaking, she answered, talking in an eager, impassioned
strain, which made her meaning plain enough, though her speech was in an
unknown tongue. Finally she pointed to the south and said that she
_would_ go on, but the trembling tones of her voice did not show the
same firmness as it had done before. Christian would have interpreted,
but it was unnecessary; the woman and I understood one another, and I
felt that the victory was won.

"Again I spoke to her in the same tone as before, and as she listened
her eyes were once more dimmed by tears. I was sure that her
determination was wavering. Now pointing first to the child, and
then in the direction of the ship, I told her that she _must_ go back.
Though she felt my meaning she stood for a moment, most resolute in her
attitude, gazing intently into my eyes, until she must have seen
something forbidding in my unrelenting face."

Dodge later writes: "To fully appreciate the impressive effect of this
most dramatic incident, the conditions under which it occurred should
be remembered. We were far out of sight of the ship, were some distance
off shore on the main ice-pack of Smith Sound, the moon was shedding a
dim, ghost-like glare upon us, and it was the coldest day of the winter,
the thermometer indicating seventy-five degrees below the freezing
point."

He humorously adds regarding his forceful language in ordering Mertuk
back to the ship: "I will not swear that the vigorous words froze as
they came from my mouth, but after I finished there were pendant icicles
an inch long to my whiskers and mustache."

As to Mertuk, orders, arguments, and requests, whether in pantomime
English or in Danish-Eskimo dialect, would have utterly failed of
effect, had she not been stirred by frequent allusions to her
baby--Hans's child, who must be saved from danger of death. To the
mother, cold, hunger, and privations were as naught.

Long and bitter was the conflict in Mertuk's heart between her motherly
affection and her wifely devotion. Should she do alone her duty to her
infant, or should she put the child's life aside in her arctic quest for
her missing hunter husband? To the last her heart was undecided. Now she
turned to the north, taking a few steps toward the ship, then she flew
back on the trail after the searching party, which had now moved onward.

Finally, with a gesture as of despair at adverse and inexorable fate,
she slowly took up her lonely march back to the ship--where food,
warmth, and shelter awaited at least the child of Hans.

On shipboard Mertuk did not cease to bewail her weakness in returning
from the search until the very day when Hans, who by no means hastened
his return, came back to fill her heart with that sweet content which
was absolutely insured by his presence alone.

By modern standards this woman of the stone age was low in the scale of
humanity--uncouth, ignorant, a heathen, and even brutish in a way.

This tale of an Inuit girl is, however, but a loose leaf from the
history of woman, which indicates that the spirit of altruistic devotion
is an attribute implanted by God in the primitive races, and not, as
some would fain have us believe, the golden fruit of developed humanity.

A century since an American poet paid due homage to a beautiful belle,
who later became his wife, in verse that aptly depicts the lovable
traits of Mertuk, the daughter of Shung-hu.

     "Affections are as thoughts to her,
     The measures of her hours;
     Her feelings have the fragrancy,
     The freshness of the flowers."

FOOTNOTES:

[30] See map on page 95.

[31] The raised bench or platform of stone, earth, or snow, in the back
part of the igloo, on which the furs and skins are arranged for bedding.

[32] Kane says of him: "I obtained an Eskimo hunter at Fiskernaes, one
Hans Christian (known elsewhere as Hans Hendrik), a boy of eighteen, an
expert with the kayak and javelin. After Hans had given me a touch of
his quality by spearing a bird on the wing, I engaged him. He was fat,
good-natured, and except under the excitements of the hunt as stolid and
unimpressive as one of our Indians."



THE SCRIBNER SERIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

EACH WITH ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOR

BOOKS FOR BOYS

  THE MODERN VIKINGS                            By H. H. Boyesen
  WILL SHAKESPEARE'S LITTLE LAD                 By Imogen Clark
  THE BOY SCOUT and Other Stories for Boys
  STORIES FOR BOYS                              By Richard Harding Davis
  HANS BRINKER, or, The Silver Skates           By Mary Mapes Dodge
  THE HOOSIER SCHOOL-BOY                        By Edward Eggleston
  TRUE TALES OF ARCTIC HEROISM IN THE NEW WORLD By Adolphus W. Greely
  THE COURT OF KING ARTHUR                      By William Henry Frost
  BY PIKE AND DYKE
  WITH LEE IN VIRGINIA
  WITH WOLFE IN CANADA
  REDSKIN AND COWBOY                            By G. A. Henty
  AT WAR WITH PONTIAC                           By Kirk Munroe
  TOMMY TROT'S VISIT TO SANTA CLAUS and
  A CAPTURED SANTA CLAUS                        By Thomas Nelson Page
  BOYS OF ST. TIMOTHY'S                         By Arthur Stanwood Pier
  DAVID BALFOUR
  KIDNAPPED
  TREASURE ISLAND
  BLACK ARROW                                   By Robert Louis Stevenson
  AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS
  A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
  FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
  TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA         By Jules Verne
  ON THE OLD KEARSARGE
  IN THE WASP'S NEST                            By Cyrus Townsend Brady
  THE BOY SETTLERS
  THE BOYS OF FAIRPORT                          By Noah Brooks
  THE CONSCRIPT OF 1813                         By Erckmann-Chatrian
  THE STEAM-SHOVEL MAN                          By Ralph D. Paine
  THE MOUNTAIN DIVIDE                           By Frank H. Spearman
  THE STRANGE GRAY CANOE                        By Paul G. Tomlinson
  THE ADVENTURES OF A FRESHMAN                  By J. L. Williams
  JACK HALL, or, The School Days of
        an American Boy                         By Robert Grant


BOOKS FOR GIRLS

  THE JANUARY GIRL                             By Joslyn Gray
  SMITH COLLEGE STORIES                        By Josephine Daskam
  THE HALLOWELL PARTNERSHIP                    By Katharine Holland Brown
  MY WONDERFUL VISIT                           By Elizabeth Hill
  SARAH CREWE, or, What Happened
        at Miss Minchin's                      By Frances Hodgson Burnett


CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's Notes

Italics in the original text are represented by underscores (e.g. "H. M.
Ships _Erebus_ and _Terror_").

Duplicate chapter headings have been removed. A list of books from the
same publisher has been moved from the beginning to the end of the text.

The text uses inconsistent hyphenation: "bedclothes" and "bed-clothes";
"midday" and "mid-day"; and "midwinter" and "mid-winter". Titles are
inconsistently capitalised (e.g. "Mate Des Voeux", but "mate Thostrup").

An apparent error on page 176 ("they fell on the least defenceless") has
been left unchanged.

The following errors in the text have been corrected:

Page 26, "Beranger" changed to "Belanger" (Belanger lost his balance)

Page 166, quotation mark added to text ("Thereafter I arose)

Page 199, quotation marks added to text ("_Jesu, lead); (me not._")

Page 300, "splended" changed to "splendid" (splendid confidence)





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "True Tales of Arctic Heroism in the New World" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home