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: Among the Esquimaux - or Adventures under the Arctic Circle
Author: Ellis, Edward Sylvester, 1840-1916
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 "Among the Esquimaux - or Adventures under the Arctic Circle" ***

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



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



Transcriber's Note: Minor typographical errors have been corrected
without note. Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have
been retained as printed.

Words printed in italics are marked with underscores: _italics_. Words
printed in bold are marked with tildes: ~bold~.



  [Illustration: "NO USE, LADS! THE BOAT HAS KEEN SWEPT AWAY"
  (See page 37)]



Among the Esquimaux

OR

Adventures under the Arctic Circle


BY

EDWARD S. ELLIS, A.M.

AUTHOR OF "The Campers Out," Etc., Etc.


PHILADELPHIA
THE PENN PUBLISHING COMPANY
1894


COPYRIGHT 1894 BY THE PENN PUBLISHING COMPANY



CONTENTS


CHAP.                                                            PAGE

     I TWO PASSENGERS ON THE "NAUTILUS"                             7

    II A COLOSSAL SOMERSAULT                                       16

   III AN ALARMING SITUATION                                       27

    IV ADRIFT                                                      38

     V AN ICY COUCH                                                46

    VI MISSING                                                     55

   VII A POINT OF LIGHT                                            64

  VIII HOPE DEFERRED                                               73

    IX A STARTLING OCCURRENCE                                      82

     X AN UGLY CUSTOMER                                            91

    XI LIVELY TIMES                                                99

   XII FRED'S EXPERIENCE                                          108

  XIII THE FOG                                                    117

   XIV A COLLISION                                                126

    XV THE SOUND OF A VOICE                                       135

   XVI LAND HO!                                                   144

  XVII DOCAK AND HIS HOME                                         153

 XVIII A NEW EXPEDITION                                           162

   XIX A WONDERFUL EXHIBITION                                     171

    XX THE HERD OF MUSK OXEN                                      180

   XXI CLOSE QUARTERS                                             189

  XXII FRED'S TURN                                                198

 XXIII IN THE CAVERN                                              207

  XXIV UNWELCOME CALLERS                                          216

   XXV THE COMING SHADOW                                          225

  XXVI WALLED IN                                                  234

 XXVII "COME ON!"                                                 243

XXVIII A HOPELESS TASK                                            251

  XXIX TEN MILES                                                  260

   XXX THE LAST PAUSE                                             269

  XXXI ANOTHER SOUND                                              278

 XXXII THE WILD MEN OF GREENLAND                                  287

XXXIII CONCLUSION                                                 301



AMONG THE ESQUIMAUX



CHAPTER I

TWO PASSENGERS ON THE "NAUTILUS"


The good ship "Nautilus" had completed the greater part of her voyage
from London to her far-off destination, deep in the recesses of
British America. This was York Factory, one of the chief posts of the
Hudson Bay Company.

Among the numerous streams flowing into Hudson Bay, from the frozen
regions of the north, is the Nelson River. Near the mouth of this and
of the Hayes River was erected, many years ago, Fort York, or York
Factory. The post is not a factory in the ordinary meaning of the
word, being simply the headquarters of the factors or dealers in furs
for that vast monopoly whose agents have scoured the dismal regions to
the north of the Saskatchewan, in the land of Assiniboine, along the
mighty Yukon and beyond the Arctic Circle, in quest of the fur-bearing
animals, that are found only in their perfection in the coldest
portions of the globe.

The buildings which form the fort are not attractive, but they are
comfortable. They are not specially strong, for, though the structure
has stood for a long time in a country which the aborigines make their
home, and, though it is far removed from any human assistance, its
wooden walls have never been pierced by a hostile bullet, and it is
safe to say they never will be. Somehow or other, our brethren across
the northern border have learned the art of getting along with the
Indians without fighting them.

The voyageurs and trappers, returning from their journeys in canoes or
on snow-shoes to the very heart of frozen America, first catch sight
of the flag floating from the staff of York Factory, and they know
that a warm welcome awaits them, because the peltries gathered amid
the recesses of the frigid mountains and in the heart of the land of
desolation are sure to find ready purchasers at the post, for the
precious furs are eagerly sought for in the marts of the Old and of
the New World.

It is a lonely life for the inhabitants of the fort, for it is only
once a year that the ship of the company, after breasting the fierce
storms and powerful currents of the Atlantic, sails up the great mouth
of Baffin Bay, glides through Hudson Strait, and thence steals across
the icy expanse of Hudson Bay to the little fort near the mouth of the
Nelson.

You can understand how welcome the ship is, for it brings the only
letters, papers, and news from home that can be received until another
twelvemonth shall roll around. Such, as I have said, is the rule,
though now and then what may be termed an extra ship makes that long,
tempestuous voyage. Being unexpected, its coming is all the more
joyful, for it is like the added week's holiday to the boy who has
just made ready for the hard work and study of the school-room.

You know there has been considerable said and written about a railway
to Hudson Bay, with the view of connection thence by ship to Europe.
Impracticable as is the scheme, because of the ice which locks up
navigation for months every year, it has had strong and ingenious
advocates, and considerable money has been spent in the way of
investigation. The plan has been abandoned, for the reasons I have
named, and there is no likelihood that it will ever be attempted.

The "Nautilus" had what may be called a roving commission. It is easy
to understand that so long as the ships of the Hudson Bay Company have
specific duties to perform, and that the single vessel is simply
ordered to take supplies to York Factory and bring back her cargo of
peltries, little else can be expected from her. So the staunch
"Nautilus" was fitted out, placed under the charge of the veteran
navigator, Captain McAlpine, who had commanded more than one Arctic
whaler, and sent on her westward voyage.

The ultimate destination of the "Nautilus" was York Factory, though
she was to touch at several points, after calling at St. John,
Newfoundland, one of which was the southern coast of Greenland, where
are located the most famous cryolite mines in the world, belonging,
like Greenland itself, to the Danish Government.

There is little to be told the reader about the "Nautilus" itself or
the crew composing it, but it so happened that she had on board three
parties, in whose experience and adventures I am sure you will come to
feel an interest. These three were Jack Cosgrove, a bluff, hearty
sailor, about forty years of age; Rob Carrol, seventeen, and Fred
Warburton, one year younger.

Rob was a lusty, vigorous young man, honest, courageous, often to
rashness, the picture of athletic strength and activity, and one whom
you could not help liking at the first glance. His father was a
director in the honorable Hudson Bay Company, possessed considerable
wealth, and Rob was the eldest of three sons.

Fred Warburton, while displaying many of the mental characteristics of
his friend, was quite different physically. He was of much slighter
build, not nearly so strong, was more quiet, inclined to study, but as
warmly devoted to the splendid Rob as the latter was to him.

Fred was an orphan, without brother or sister, and in such straitened
circumstances that it had become necessary for him to find some means
of earning his daily bread. The warm-hearted Rob stated the case to
his father, and said that if he didn't make a good opening for his
chum he himself would die of a broken heart right on the spot.

"Not so bad as that, Rob," replied the genial gentleman, who was proud
of his big, manly son; "I have heard so much from you of young Mr.
Warburton that I have kept an eye on him for a year past."

"I may have told you a good deal about him," continued Rob, earnestly,
"but not half as much as he deserves."

"He must be a paragon, indeed, but, from what I can learn, my son, he
has applied himself so hard to his studies while at school that he
ought to have a vacation before settling down to real hard work; what
do you think about it, Robert?"

"A good idea, provided I take it with him," added the son, slyly.

"I see you are growing quite pale and are losing your appetite,"
continued the parent, with a grave face, which caused the youth to
laugh outright at the pleasant irony.

"Yes," said the big boy, with the same gravity; "I suffer a great loss
of appetite three or four times every day; in fact, I feel as though I
couldn't eat another mouthful."

"I have observed that phenomenon, my son, but it never seems to attack
you until the table has been well cleared of everything on it. Ah, my
boy!" he added, tenderly, laying his hand on his head; "I am thankful
that you are blessed with such fine health. Be assured there is
nothing in this world that can take its place. With a conscience void
of offense toward God and man, and a body that knows no ache nor pain,
you can laugh at the so-called miseries of life; they will roll from
you like water from a duck's back."

"But, father, have you thought of any way of giving Fred a vacation
before he goes to work? You know he is as poor as he can be, and can't
afford to do nothing and pay his expenses."

"The plan I have in mind," replied the father, leaning back in his
chair and twirling his eyeglasses, "is this: next week the 'Nautilus,'
one of the company's ships, will leave London for York Factory, which
is a station deep in the heart of British America. She will touch at
St. John, Greenland, and several other points on her way, and may stop
several weeks or months at York Factory, according to circumstances.
If it will suit your young friend to go with her, I will have him
registered as one of our clerks, which will entitle him to a salary
from the day the 'Nautilus' leaves the dock. The sea voyage will do
him good, and when he returns, at the end of a year or less, he can
settle down to hard work in our office in London. Of course, if Fred
goes, you will have to stay at home."

Rob turned in dismay to his parent, but he observed a twitching at the
corners of his mouth, and a sparkle of the fine blue eyes, which
showed he was only teasing him.

"Ah, father, I understand you!" exclaimed the big boy, springing
forward, throwing an arm about his neck and kissing him. "You wouldn't
think of separating us."

"I suppose not. There! get along with you, and tell your friend to
make ready to sail next week, his business being to look after you
while away from home."

And that is how Rob Carrol and Fred Warburton came to be
fellow-passengers on the ship "Nautilus" on the voyage to the far
North.



CHAPTER II

A COLOSSAL SOMERSAULT


The voyage of the "Nautilus" was uneventful until she was far to the
northward in Baffin Bay. It was long after leaving St. John that our
friends saw their first iceberg. They should have seen them before, as
Captain McAlpine explained, for, as you well know, those mountains of
ice often cross the path of the Atlantic steamers, and more than once
have endangered our great ocean greyhounds. No doubt numbers of them
were drifting southward, gradually dissolving as they neared the
equator, but it so happened that the "Nautilus" steered clear of them
until many degrees to the north.

The captain, who was scanning the icy ocean with his glass, apprised
the boys that the longed-for curiosity was in sight at last. As he
spoke, he pointed with his hand to the north-west, but though they
followed the direction with their eyes, they were disappointed.

"I see nothing," said Rob, "that looks like an iceberg."

"And how is it with you, Mr. Warburton?" asked the skipper, lowering
his instrument, and turning toward the younger of the boys, who had
approached, and now stood at his side.

"We can make out a small white cloud in the horizon, that's all," said
Fred.

"It's the cloud I'm referring to, boys; now take a squint at that same
thing through the glass."

Fred leveled the instrument and had hardly taken a glance, when he
cried:

"Oh! it's an iceberg sure enough! Isn't it beautiful?"

While he was studying it, the captain added: "Turn the glass a little
to the left."

"There's another!" added the delighted youth.

"I guess we've struck a school of 'em," remarked Rob, who was using
his eyes as best he could; "I thought we'd bring up the average before
reaching Greenland."

"It's a sight worth seeing," commented Fred, handing the glass to his
friend, whose pleasure was fully as great as his own.

The instrument was passed back and forth, and, in the course of a
half-hour, the vast masses of ice could be plainly discerned with the
unaided eye.

"That proves they are coming toward us, or we are going toward them,"
said Rob.

"Both," replied Captain McAlpine; "we shall pass within a mile of the
larger one."

"Suppose we run into it?"

The old sea-dog smiled grimly, as he replied:

"I tried it once, when whaling with the 'Mary Jane.' I don't mean to
say I did it on purpose, but there was no moon that night, and when
the iceberg, half as big as a whole town, loomed up in the darkness,
we hadn't time to get out of its path. Well, I guess I've said
enough," he remarked, abruptly.

"Why, you've broken off in the most interesting part of the story,"
said the deeply interested Fred.

"Well, that was the last of the 'Mary Jane.' The mate, Jack Cosgrove,
and myself were all that escaped out of a crew of eleven. We managed
to climb upon a small shelf of ice, just above the water, where we
would have perished with cold had not an Esquimau fisherman, named
Docak, seen us. We were nearer the mainland than we dared hope, and he
came out in his kayak and took us off. He helped us to make our way to
Ivignut, where the cryolite mines are, and thence we got back to
England by way of Denmark. No," added Captain McAlpine, "a prudent
navigator won't try to butt an iceberg out of his path; it don't pay."

"It must be dangerous in these waters, especially at night."

"There is danger everywhere and at all times in this life," was the
truthful remark of the commander; "and you know that the most constant
watchfulness on the part of the great steamers cannot always avert
disaster, but I have little fear of anything from icebergs."

You need to be told little about those mountains of ice which
sometimes form a procession, vast, towering, and awful, that stream
down from the far North and sail in all their sublime grandeur
steadily southward until they "go out of commission" forever in the
tepid waters of the tropic regions.

It is a strange spectacle to see one of them moving resistlessly
against the current, which is sometimes dashed from the corrugated
front, as is seen at the bow of a steamboat, but the reason is simple.
Nearly seven-eighths of an iceberg is under water, extending so far
down that most of the bulk is often within the embrace of the counter
current below. This, of course, carries it against the weaker flow,
and causes many people to wonder how it can be thus.

While the little group stood forward talking of icebergs, they were
gradually drawing near the couple that had first caught their
attention. By this time a third had risen to sight, more to the
westward, but it was much smaller than the other two, though more
unique and beautiful. It looked for all the world like a grand
cathedral, whose tapering spire towered fully two hundred feet in air.
It was easy to imagine that some gigantic structure had been submerged
by a flood, while the steeple still reared its head above the
surrounding waters as though defying them to do their worst.

The other two bergs were much more enormous and of irregular contour.
The imaginative spectator could fancy all kinds of resemblances, but
the "cold fact" remained that they were simply mountains of ice, with
no more symmetry of outline than a mass of rock blasted from a quarry.

"I have read," said Fred, "that in the iceberg factories of the north,
as they are called, they are sometimes two or three years in forming,
before they break loose and sweep off into the ocean."

"That is true," added Captain McAlpine; "an iceberg is simply a chunk
off a frozen river, and a pretty good-sized one, it must be admitted.
Where the cold is so intense, a river becomes frozen from the surface
to the ground. Snow falls, there may be a little rain during the
moderate season, then snow comes again, and all the time the water
beneath is freezing more and more solid. Gravity and the pressure of
the inconceivable weight beyond keeps forcing the bulk of ice and snow
nearer the ocean, until it projects into the clear sea. By and by it
breaks loose, and off it goes."

"But why does it take so long?"

"It is like the glaciers of the Alps. Being solid as a rock while the
pressure is gradual as well as resistless, it may move only a few feet
in a month or a year; but all the same the end must come."

The captain had grown fond of the boys, and the fact that the father
of one of them was a director of the company which employed him
naturally led him to seek to please them so far as he could do so
consistent with his duty. He caused the course of the "Nautilus" to be
shifted, so that they approached within a third of a mile of the
nearest iceberg, which then was due east.

Sail had been slackened and the progress of the mass was so slow as to
be almost imperceptible. This gave full time for its appalling
grandeur to grow upon the senses of the youths, who stood minute after
minute admiring the overwhelming spectacle, speechless and awed as is
one who first pauses at the base of Niagara.

Naturally the officers and crew of the "Nautilus" gave the sight some
attention, but it could not impress them as it did those who looked
upon it for the first time.

The second iceberg was more to the northward, and the ship was heading
directly toward it. It was probably two-thirds the size of the first,
and, instead of possessing its rugged regularity of outline, had a
curious, one-sided look.

"It seems to me," remarked Rob, who had been studying it for some
moments, "that the centre of gravity in that fellow must be rather
ticklish."

"It may be more stable than the big one," said Fred, "for you don't
know what shape they have under water; a good deal must depend on
that."

Jack Cosgrove, the sailor, who had joined the little party at the
invitation of the captain, ventured to say:

"Sometimes them craft get top-heavy and take a flop; I shouldn't be
s'prised if that one done the same."

"It must be a curious sight; I've often wondered how Jumbo, the great
elephant, would have looked turning a somersault. An iceberg
performing a handspring would be something of the same order, but a
hundred thousand times more extensive. I would give a good deal if one
of those bergs should take it into his head to fling a handspring, but
I don't suppose--"

"Look!" broke in Fred, in sudden excitement.

To the unbounded amazement of captain, crew, and all the spectators,
the very thing spoken of by Rob Carrol took place. The vast bulk of
towering ice was seen to plunge downward with a motion, slow at first,
but rapidly increasing until it dived beneath the waves like some
enormous mass of matter cast off by a planet in its flight through
space. As it disappeared, two-fold as much bulk came to view, there
was a swirl of water, which was flung high in fountains, and the waves
formed by the commotion, as they swept across the intervening space,
caused the "Nautilus" to rock like a cradle.

The splash could have been heard miles away, and the iceberg seemed to
shiver and shake itself, as though it were some flurried monster of
the deep, before it could regain its full equilibrium. Then, as the
spectators looked, behold! where was one of those mountains of ice
they saw what seemed to be another, for its shape, contour,
projections, and depressions were so different that no resemblance
could be traced.

"She's all right now," remarked Jack Cosgrove, whose emotions were
less stirred than those of any one else; "she's good for two or three
thousand miles' voyage, onless she should happen to run aground in
shoal water."

"What then would take place, Jack?" asked Fred.

"Wal, there would be the mischief to pay gener'ly. Things would go
ripping, tearing, and smashing, and the way that berg would behave
would be shameful. If anybody was within reach he'd get hurt."

Rob stepped up to the sailor as if a sudden thought had come to him.
Laying his hand on his arm, he said, in an undertone:

"I wonder if the captain won't let us visit that iceberg?"



CHAPTER III

AN ALARMING SITUATION


The boldness of the proposition fairly took away the breath of the
honest sailor. He stared at Rob as though doubting whether he had
heard aright. He looked at the smiling youth from head to foot, and
stared a full minute before he spoke.

"By the horned spoon, you're crazy, younker!"

"What is there so crazy about such an idea?" asked Fred, as eager to
go on the excursion as his friend.

Jack removed his tarpaulin and scratched his head in perplexity. He
voided a mouthful of tobacco spittle over the taffrail, heaved a
prodigious sigh, and then muttered, as if to himself:

"It's crazy clean through, from top to bottom, sideways,
cat-a-cornered, and every way; but if the captain says 'yes' I'll take
you."

Rob stepped to where the skipper stood, some paces away, and said:

"Captain McAlpine, being as this is the first time Fred and I ever had
a good look at an iceberg, we would be much obliged if you will allow
Jack to row us out to it. We want to get a better view of it than we
can from the deck of the ship. Jack is willing, and we will be much
obliged for your permission."

Fred was listening breathlessly for the reply, which, like Rob, he
expected would be a curt refusal. Great, therefore, was the surprise
of the two when the good-natured commander said:

"The request doesn't strike me as very sensible, but, if your hearts
are set on it, I don't see any objection. Yes, Jack has my permission
to take you to that mass of ice, provided you don't stay too long."

"He's crazy, too!" was the whispered exclamation of the sailor, who,
nevertheless, was pleased to gratify his young friends.

The preparations were quickly made. Fred had heard that polar bears
are occasionally found on the icebergs which float southward from the
Arctic regions, and he insisted that they ought to take their rifles
and ammunition along. Rob laughed, but fortunately he followed his
advice, and thus it happened that the couple were as well supplied in
that respect as if starting out on a week's hunt in the interior of
the country.

When Jack was urged to do the same he resolutely shook his head, and
then turned about and accepted a weapon from the captain, who seemed
in the mood for humoring every whim of the youths that afternoon.

"Take it along, Jack," he said; "there may be some tigers, leopards,
boa-constrictors, and hyenas prowling about on the ice. They may be on
skates, and there is nothing like being prepared for whatever comes.
Good luck to you!"

Rob placed himself in the bow of the small boat, and Fred in the
stern, while the sailor, sitting down near the middle, grasped the
oars and rowed with that long, steady stroke which showed his mastery
of the art. There was little wind stirring, and the waves were so
slight that they were easily ridden. The sea was of a deep green
color, and when the spray occasionally dashed over the lads it was as
cold as ice itself. By this time the iceberg had drifted somewhat to
the southward, but its progress was so slow as to suggest that the two
currents which swept against it were nearly of the same strength. Had
it been earlier in the day it would probably have remained visible to
the "Nautilus" until sunset.

Meanwhile, a fourth mass rose to sight in the rim of the eastern
horizon, so that there seemed some truth in Rob's suggestion that they
had run into a school of them. They felt no interest, however, in any
except the particular specimen before them.

How it grew upon them as they neared it! It seemed to spread right and
left, and to tower upward toward the sky, until even the reckless Rob
was hushed into awed silence and sat staring aloft, with feelings
beyond expression. It was much the same with Fred, who, sitting at the
stern, almost held his breath, while the overwhelming grandeur hushed
the words trembling on his lip.

The mass of ice was hundreds of feet in width and length, while the
highest portion must have been, at the least, three hundred feet above
the surface of the sea. What, therefore, was the bulk below. Its
colossal proportions were beyond imagination.

The part within their field of vision was too irregular and shapeless
to admit of clear description. If the reader can picture a mass of
rock and _débris_ blown from the side of a mountain, multiplied a
million times, he may form some idea of it.

The highest portion was on the opposite side. About half-way from the
sea, facing the little party, was a plateau broad enough to allow a
company of soldiers to camp upon it. To the left of this the ice
showed considerable snow in its composition, while, in other places,
it was as clear as crystal itself. In still other portions it was dark
or almost steel blue, probably due to some peculiar refraction of
light. There were no rippling streams of water along and over its
side, for the weather was too cold for the thawing which would be
plentiful when it struck a warmer latitude.

But there were caverns, projections, some sharp, but most of them
blunt and misshapen, steps, long stretches of vertical wall as smooth
as glass, up which the most agile climber could never make his way.

Courageous as Rob Carrol unquestionably was, a feeling akin to terror
took possession of him when they were quite near the iceberg. He
turned to suggest to Jack that they had come far enough, when he
observed that the sailor had turned the bow of the boat to the right,
though he was still rowing moderately.

He was the only one that was not impressed by the majesty of the
scene. Squinting one eye up the side of the towering mass, he
remarked:

"There's enough ice there to make a chap's etarnal fortune, if he
could only hitch on and tow it into London or New York harbor; but
being as we've sot out to take a view of it, why we'll sarcumnavigate
the thing, as me cousin remarked when he run around the barn to dodge
the dog that was nipping at his heels."

The voice of the sailor served to break the spell that had held the
tongues of the boys mute until then, and they spoke more cheerily, but
unconsciously modulated their voices, as a person will do when walking
through some great gallery of paintings or the aisles of a vast
cathedral.

They were so interested, however, in themselves and their novel
experience that neither looked toward the "Nautilus," which was
rapidly passing from sight, as they were rowed around the iceberg. Had
they done so, they would have seen Captain McAlpine making eager
signals to them to return, and, perhaps, had they listened, they might
have heard his stentorian voice, though the moderate wind, blowing at
right angles, was quite unfavorable for hearing.

Unfortunately not one of the three saw or heard the movement or words
of the skipper, and the little boat glided around the eastern end of
the mountainous mass and began slowly creeping along the further side.

"Hello!" called out Rob, "there's a good place to land, Jack; let's go
ashore."

"Go ashore!" repeated the sailor, with a scornful laugh; "what kind of
a going ashore do you call that?"

While there was nothing especially desirable in placing foot upon an
iceberg, yet, boy-like, the two friends felt that it would be worth
something to be able to say on their return home that they had
actually stood upon one of them.

Inasmuch as the whole thing was a fool's errand in the eyes of Jack
Cosgrove, he thought it was well to neglect nothing, so he shied the
boat toward the gently sloping shelf, which came down to the water,
and, with a couple of powerful sweeps of the oars, sent the bow far up
the glassy surface, the stoppage being so gradual as to cause hardly a
perceptible shock.

"Out with you, younkers, for the day will soon be gone," he called,
waiting for the two to climb out before following them.

They lost no time in obeying, and he drew the boat so far up that he
felt there was no fear of its being washed away during their absence.
All took their guns, and, leaving it to the sailor to act as guide,
they began picking their way up the incline, which continued for fully
a dozen yards from the edge of the water.

"This is easy enough," remarked Rob; "if we only had our skates, we
might--confound it!"

His feet shot up in the air, and down he came with a bump that shook
off his hat, and would have sent him sliding to the boat had he not
done some lively skirmishing to save himself. Fred laughed, as every
boy does under similar circumstances, and he took particular heed to
his own footsteps.

Jack had no purpose of venturing farther than to the top of the gentle
incline, since there was no cause to do so; but, on reaching the
point, he observed that it was easy to climb along a rougher portion
to the right, and he led the way, the boys being more than willing to
follow him.

They continued in this manner until they had gone a considerable
distance, and, for the first time, the guide stopped and looked
around. As he did so, he uttered an exclamation of amazement:

"Where have been my eyes?" he called out, as if unable to comprehend
his oversight.

"What's the matter?" asked the boys, startled at his emotion, for
which they saw no cause.

"There's one of the biggest storms ever heard of in these latitudes,
bearing right down on us; it'll soon be night, and we shall be catched
afore we reach the ship, lads! there isn't a minute to lose; it's all
my fault."

He led the way at a reckless pace, the youths following as best they
could, stumbling at times, but heeding it not as they scrambled to
their feet and hurried after their friend, more frightened, if
possible, than he.

He could out-travel them, and was at the bottom of the incline first.
Before he reached it, he stopped short and uttered a despairing cry:

"No use, lads! the boat has been swept away!"

Such was the fact.



CHAPTER IV

ADRIFT


Jack Cosgrove, of the "Nautilus," was not often agitated by anything
in which he became involved. Few of his perilous calling had gone
through more thrilling experiences than he, and in them all he had
acquired a reputation for coolness that could not be surpassed.

But one of the few occasions that stirred him to the heart was when
hurrying to disembark from the iceberg, in the desperate hope of
reaching the ship before the bursting of the gale and the closing of
night, he found that the little boat had been swept from its
fastenings, and the only means of escape was cut off.

There was more in the incident than occurred to Rob Carrol and Fred
Warburton, who hastened after him. He had been in those latitudes
before, and the reader will recall the story Captain McAlpine told to
the boys of the time Jack was one of three who escaped from the
collision of the whaling ship with an iceberg in the gloom of a dark
night.

Had it been earlier in the day, and had no storm been impending, he
could have afforded to laugh at this mishap, for at the most, it would
have resulted in a temporary inconvenience only. The skipper would
have discovered their plight sooner or later, and sent another boat to
bring them off, but the present case was a hundred-fold more serious
in every aspect.

In the first place, the fierce disturbance of the elements would
compel Captain McAlpine to give all attention to the care of his ship.
That was of more importance than the little party on the iceberg, who
must be left to themselves for the time, since any effort to reach
them would endanger the vessel, the loss of which meant the loss of
everything, including the little company that found itself in sudden
and dire peril.

What might take place during the storm and darkness his imagination
shuddered to picture. Had the boat been found where he left it a short
time before, desperate rowing would have carried them to the
"Nautilus" in time to escape the full force of the storm. That was
impossible now, and as to the future who could say?

The rowboat, as will be remembered, was simply drawn a short distance
up the icy incline, where it ought to have remained until the return
of the party. Such would have been the fact under ordinary
circumstances, for the mighty bulk of the iceberg prevented it feeling
the shock of any disturbance that could take place in its majestic
sweep through the Arctic Ocean, except from its base striking the
bottom of the sea, or a readjustment of its equilibrium, as they had
observed in the case of the smaller berg. It might crush the "Great
Eastern" if it lay in its path, but that would have been like a wagon
passing over an egg-shell.

In leaving the boat as related, the stern lay in the water. Even then
it would have been secure, but for the agitation caused by the coming
gale. That began swaying the rear of the craft, whose support was so
smooth that it speedily worked down the incline and floating into the
open water instantly worked off beyond reach.

The boys knowing so little what all this meant and what was before
them, were disposed to make light of their misfortune.

"By the great horned spoon, but that is bad!" exclaimed Jack, pointing
out on the water, where the boat was seen bobbing on the rising waves,
fully a hundred yards away, with the distance rapidly increasing.

It seems as if in the few minutes intervening, night had fully
descended. The wind had risen to a gale, and, even at that short
distance the little craft was fast growing indistinct in the gathering
gloom.

"It isn't very pleasant," replied Rob, "but it might be worse."

"I should like to know how it could be worse," said the sailor,
turning reprovingly toward him; "I wonder if I can do it."

The last words were uttered to himself, and he hastily laid down his
gun on the ice by his side. Then he began taking off his outer coat.

"What do you mean to do?" asked the amazed Fred.

"I believe I can swim out to the boat and bring it back," was the
reply, as he continued preparations.

"You musn't think of such a thing," protested Rob; "the water is cold
enough to freeze you to death. If you can't reach it, you will have to
come back to us, with your clothing frozen stiff, and nothing will
save you from perishing."

"I'll chance that," said Jack, who, however, continued his
preparations more deliberately, and with his eye still on the receding
boat.

He was about to take the icy plunge, in the last effort to save
himself and friends, when he stopped, and, straightening up, watched
the craft for a few seconds.

"No," said he, "it can't be done; the thing is drifting faster than I
can swim."

Such was the evident fact. While the vast mass of ice, as has been
explained elsewhere, was under the impulse of a mighty under-current,
the small craft was swept away by the surface current which flowed in
the opposite direction.

Even while the party looked, the boat faded from sight in the gloom.

"I can't see it," said Rob, who, like the others, was peering intently
into the darkness.

"Nor I either," added Fred.

"And what's more, you'll never see it again," commented Jack, who
began slowly donning his outer garments; "younkers, I've been in a
good many bad scraps in my life, and more than once would have sworn I
was booked for Davy Jones' locker, but this is a little the worst of
'em all."

His young friends looked wonderingly at him, unable to understand the
cause of such extreme depression on the part of one whom they knew to
be among the bravest of men, and in a situation that did not strike
them as specially threatening.

"Don't you think this iceberg will hold together until morning?" asked
Rob.

"It'll hold together for months," was the answer, "and like enough
will travel hundreds of miles through the Gulf Stream before it goes
to nothing."

"Then we are sure of a ship to keep us from drowning."

"I aint meaning that," said Jack, who was rapidly recovering his
equanimity, though it was plain he was strongly affected by the woful
turn the adventure had taken.

"And," added Fred, "Captain McAlpine knows where we are; he will
remain in the neighborhood until morning--"

"How do you know he will?" broke in Jack, impatiently.

"What's to hinder him?" asked Fred, in turn, startled by the abrupt
question; "he knows how to sail the 'Nautilus,' and has taken it
through many gales worse than this."

"How do you know he has?"

"Gracious, Jack, I don't know anything about it; I am only saying what
appears to me to be the truth."

"I don't want to hurt your feelings, lads, but I can't help saying you
don't know what you're talking about. A couple of young land lubbers
like you don't see things as they show themselves to one who was born
and has lived all his life on the ocean, as you may say. I don't mean
to scare you more than I oughter, but you can just make up your minds,
my hearties, that you never was in such a fix as this, and if you live
to be a hundred years old you'll never be in another half as bad."

These were alarming words, but, inasmuch as Jack did not accompany
them with any explanation, neither Rob nor Fred were as much impressed
as they would have been had he explained the grounds for his extreme
fear. What they saw was an enforced stay on the iceberg until the
following day. Although in a high latitude, the night was not
unusually long, and, though it was certain to be as uncomfortable as
can well be imagined, they had no doubt they would survive it and live
to laugh at their mishap.



CHAPTER V

AN ICY COUCH


By this time the sailor felt that he had forgotten himself in the
agitation caused by the loss of the boat. Although he might see the
dark future with clearer vision than his young friends, it was his
duty to keep their sight veiled as long as he could. Time enough to
face the terrors and their direful consequences when the possibility
of avoiding them no longer existed.

It will be recalled that when the little party stepped out from the
small boat upon the iceberg they did so on the side farthest from the
"Nautilus," so that all view of the ship was shut off, and neither
Captain McAlpine nor any of his crew could observe the action of Jack
and the boys.

The skipper had warrant for supposing that such an experienced sailor
as the one in charge of the lads would be quick to notice the
threatening change in the weather, and would make all haste to return.
Inasmuch as he had failed to do so, the party must be left to
themselves for the time, while the commander gave his full attention
to the care of the ship--a responsibility that required his utmost
skill, with no slight chance of his failure.

The storm or squall, or whatever it might be termed, was one of those
sudden changes, sometimes seen in the high latitudes, whose coming is
so sudden that there is but the briefest warning ere it bursts in all
its fury.

By the time our friends reached the spot where they expected to find
their boat it was almost as dark as night. This darkness deepened so
rapidly, after losing sight of the craft, that they were unable to see
more than fifty feet in any direction. Fortunately, before leaving the
"Nautilus," they had donned their heaviest clothing, so that they were
quite well protected under the circumstances. Had they neglected this
precaution they must have perished of the extreme cold that followed.

Accompanying the oppressive gloom was a marked falling of the
temperature, and a fierceness of blast which, so long as they were
exposed to it, cut them to the bone. The gale, instead of blowing in
their faces, swept along the side of the iceberg. They had but to
withdraw, therefore, only a short distance when they were able to take
shelter behind some of the numerous projections, and save themselves
from its full force.

All at once the air was full of millions of particles of snow, which
eddied and whirled in such fantastic fashion that when they crouched
down they were so blinded that they could not see each other's forms,
although near enough to clasp hands.

This lasted but a few minutes, when it ceased as suddenly as it began.
The air was clear, but the gloom was profound. They could see nothing
of the raging ocean, nor of a tall spire-like mass of ice, which
towered a hundred feet above their heads, within a few yards of them,
and which had attracted their admiration on their first visit.

It was blowing great guns. The sound of the waves, as they broke
against the solid abutment of ice, and were dashed into spray and
spume, was like that of the breakers in a hurricane. Inconceivable as
was the bulk of the berg, they plainly felt it yield to the resistless
power of the ocean. It acquired a slow sea-saw motion, more alarming
than the most violent disturbance they had ever known on the
"Nautilus" in a storm. The movement was slight, but too distinct to be
mistaken.

For some time the three huddled together, under the protection of the
friendly projection, and no one spoke a word. They had laid down their
guns, for there was no need of keeping them in their hands. The metal
was so intensely cold that it could be noted through the protection of
their thick mittens, and they needed every atom of vitality in their
shivering bodies. They pressed closer together and found comfort in
the mutual warmth thus secured.

The sky was blackness itself. There was no glimpse of moon or friendly
star. They were adrift on an iceberg in darkness and gloom in the
midst of a trackless ocean. Whither they were going, when the
terrifying voyage should end, what was to be the issue, only One knew.
They could but pray and trust and hope and await the end.

It is a curious feature of this curious human nature of ours that the
most hopeless depression of spirits is frequently followed by a
rebound, as the highest spirits are quickly succeeded by the deepest
dejection. Our make-up is such that nature reacts, and neither state
can continue long without change, unless the conditions are
exceptional. Were it otherwise, many a strong mind would break down
under its weight of trouble.

The three had remained crouching together silent and motionless for
some minutes, no one venturing to express a hope or opinion, when Rob
Carrol suddenly spoke, in the cheeriest tones.

"I'll tell you what we'll do, fellows."

"What's that?" asked Fred, quick to seize the relief of hearing each
other's voices.

"Let's start a fire."

"A good idee," assented Jack Cosgrove, falling into the odd mood that
had taken possession of his companions; "you gather the fuel and I'll
kindle it. It happens I haven't such a thing as a match about me, but
I'll find a way to start it."

"Rob and I have plenty, but, if we hadn't, we could rub some pieces of
ice together till the friction started a flame."

"The Esquimaux have another plan," added Rob. "They will trim a piece
of ice in the form of a convex lens and concentrate the sun's rays on
the object they want to set on fire. Why not try that?"

"I am afraid there isn't enough sunlight to amount to anything,"
replied Fred, craning his head forward and peering through the gloom,
as if searching for the orb of day.

"That isn't the only way of getting up steam," remarked Jack, who,
just like his honest self, was striving to dispose of his body so as
to give each of the boys the greatest possible amount of warmth; "I
know a better one."

"Let's hear it."

"Race back and forth along the side of the berg till we start the
blood circulating; nothing like that."

"Suppose we should slip, Jack?"

"Then you'd flop into the sea; it's a good thing to take a bath when
your blood is heated too much."

"If there was only a footpath where we could do that, it would be a
good plan," observed Rob, "but, as it is, we shall have to huddle
together till morning, when I hope Captain McAlpine will send a boat
after us."

The boys noticed that Jack made no reply to this. They expected an
encouraging response, but he remained silent, as though he was
considering difficulties, dangers, complications, and perils of which
they could form no idea.

Meanwhile the gale raged with resistless fury. There was no more fall
of snow, but the wind was like a hurricane. The most vivid idea of its
awful power was gained when the friends, far removed from the water's
edge, and at no small elevation above it, felt drops of spray flung in
their faces.

The thunder of the surges, shattered into mist and foam against the
adamantine side of the iceberg, was so overpowering that, had not the
heads of the three been close, they would not have heard each other's
voices. The see-sawing of the colossal mass was more perceptible than
ever, and caused them to think, with unspeakable dread, of the
possibility of the berg breaking apart, or overturning like the other,
in the effort to preserve its equilibrium.

The gale whistled around and among the projections of the ice with a
weird, uncanny sound, alike and yet different from that heard when it
moans through the network of ropes and rigging of a great ship. The
question was whether such a vast volume of wind, impinging against the
thousands of square feet of ice, would not affect the course and speed
of the mass. If the hurricane drove in the same direction as the
controlling current, it ought to be of much help. If opposed, it might
check it; if quartering, it might make a radical change in its course.

All these speculations were in vain, however, and, as has been said,
there was nothing to be done, but to wait and trust in the only One
who could help them, and who had been so merciful in the past that
their faith in His goodness and protecting care could not be shaken.

"My lads," said Jack, when the silence which followed their brief
conversation had lasted some minutes, "there's only one thing to do,
and that's to make ourselves as comfortable as we can where we are."

"Isn't that what we are doing?" asked Rob.

"Of course it is, but I didn't know but what you was trying to conjure
up some other plan. If so, give it up, say your prayers, and go to
bed."



CHAPTER VI

MISSING


It is at such times that a person realizes his helplessness and utter
dependence on the great Father of all. Too much are we prone to forget
such dependence, when all goes well, and too often the prayer for help
and guidance is put off until too late.

It was a commendable trait in all three of the parties whose
experience I have set out to tell that they never forgot their duty in
this all-important matter. Rob and Fred were full of animal life and
spirits, and the elder especially was inclined, from this very excess
of health and strength, to overstep at times the bounds of propriety,
but both remembered the lessons learned in infancy at the mother's
knee, and never failed to commend themselves to their heavenly parent,
not only on waking in the glad morning, but on closing their eyes at
night.

Jack Cosgrove had one of those impressionable natures, tinged with
innocent superstition, which is often seen in those of his calling.
His faith possessed the simplicity of a child, and, though many of his
doings might not square with those of a Christian, yet at heart he
devoutly believed in the all-protecting care of his Maker, and was
never ashamed, no matter what his surroundings, to call upon Him for
help and guidance.

And so, as the three pressed closer together, adjusting themselves as
best they could to pass the long, dismal hours ere the sun would shine
upon them again, they were silent, and all, at the same time, communed
with God, as fervently and trustfully as ever a dying Christian did
when stretched upon his bed of mortal illness.

Had they possessed a blanket among them they could have spread it upon
the ice, lain down upon it, and, wrapping it as best they could,
passed the night with a fair degree of comfort. That, however, was out
of the question. They, therefore, seated themselves under the lee, as
may be said of the mass of ice, which protected them against the gale,
their bodies pressed as closely together as well could be, and in this
sitting posture prepared to go to sleep, if it should so prove that
the blessing could be won.

One can become accustomed to almost anything. An abrupt change from
the comfortable cabin of the "Nautilus" to the bleak situation on the
iceberg would have filled them with a dread hardly less trying than
death itself; but they had already been in the situation long enough
to grow used to it. The ponderous swaying of the frozen structure, the
thunderous dash and roar of the waves against its base, the screaming
of the gale and the darkness of the arctic night; all these were
sounds and sensations which in a certain sense grew familiar to them
and did not disturb them as the hours passed.

It cannot be said that an icy seat or rest forms the most comfortable
support for the body, whose warmth is likely to melt the frozen
surface, but the thick clothing of the party did much to avert
unpleasant consequences. Had Jack or Rob or Fred been alone, the
penetrating cold most likely would have overcome him, but as has been
shown, the mutual warmth rendered their situation less trying than
would be supposed.

When an hour had passed, with only an occasional word spoken, Jack
addressed each of the boys in turn by name. There was no response, and
he spoke in a louder tone with the same result.

"They're asleep," he said to himself, "and I'm glad of it, though the
sleep that sometimes comes to a chap in these parts at such times is
the kind that doesn't know any waking in this world. I've no doubt,
howsumever, that they're all right."

With a vague uneasiness, natural under the circumstances, he passed
his hands over their faces and pinched their arms, as if to assure
himself there was no mistake.

The boys were so muffled up in their thick coats and sealskin caps
that were drawn about their ears, behind which the collars of their
coats were raised, that only the ends of their noses and a slight
portion of their cheeks could be felt. He removed his heavy mitten
from one hand, and, reaching under the protecting covering about the
cheeks and neck, found a healthy glow which told him all was well,
and, for the time at least, he need feel no further anxiety, so far as
they were concerned.

"Which being the case," he added, drawing on his mitten again, and
making sure their coverings were adjusted, "I'll take a little trip
myself into the land of nod."

But this trip was easier thought of than made. His rugged body, with
its powerful vitality, would have soon succumbed to drowsiness, could
his mind have been free of its distressing fear for the two young
friends under his charge. But, though he had said little, he knew far
more than he dare tell them. He had shown his alarm on discovering the
loss of the boat, but though some impatient expressions escaped him,
he did not explain what was in his mind.

His belief was that before morning should come the "Nautilus" would be
driven so far from her course that she would be nowhere in sight, and,
towering as was the iceberg in its height and proportions, it would be
invisible from the deck of the ship, or, if visible, could not be
identified among the others drifting through the icy ocean. Well
aware, too, he was of the terrific strength of the gale sweeping
across the deep, he trembled for the safety of the "Nautilus" and
those on board, hardly less than he did for himself and friends. The
hurricane was resistless in its power, and would drive the ship
whither it chose like a cockle-shell. Icebergs were moving hither and
thither through the darkness, less affected by the wind and waves than
the vessel, and a collision was among the possibilities, if not the
probabilities.

Inasmuch as the "Nautilus" was likely to go down under the fury of the
elements, or, if she rode through it, was certain to be too far
removed to be of help to the three, the question to consider was what
hope of escape remained to the latter.

Although vessels penetrate Baffin Bay and far into the Arctic Ocean,
they are so few in number that days and weeks may pass without any two
of them gaining sight of each other. A shipwrecked sailor afloat in
the South Sea, on a spar, was as likely to be picked up by some
trading ship as were Jack and his companions, by any of the whalers or
ships in that high latitude.

And then, supposing they did catch sight of some stray vessel, who of
the captain and crew would be looking for living persons on board an
iceberg? Why would they give the latter any more attention than the
scores of the mountainous masses afloat in their path and which it was
their first care to avoid?

If a ship should pass so near to them that they could make their
signals seen there would be hope; but the chances of anything of that
kind were too remote to be regarded.

Such being the outlook, where was there ground for hope? They were
beyond sight of the Greenland coast, and were doubtless drifting
farther away every hour. Nothing in the nature of succor was to be
hoped for from land, and the brave-hearted Jack was obliged to say to
himself that, so far as human eye could see, there was none from any
source. Cold, starvation, and death seemed among the certainties near
at hand.

And having reached this disheartening belief, he closed his eyes and
joined his young friends in the land of dreams.

Having sunk into slumber, the sailor was likely to remain so until
morning, unless some unexpected circumstance should break in upon his
rest, and it did.

It was Rob Carrol, who, probably because of his cramped position,
first regained consciousness. As his senses gradually came back to
him, and the thunder of the surges and the shrieking of the gale broke
in upon his brain, he stretched his benumbed limbs and yawned in an
effort to make his situation more comfortable.

It struck him that there had been a change in their relative positions
while asleep. Not wishing to awake his companions, he carefully
shifted his limbs and body, so as not to disturb them. While doing so,
he extended his hand to touch them.

He groped along one figure, which he knew at once was Jack, but he
felt no other. With a vague fear he straightened up, leaned over, and
hastily extended his arms about him, as far as he could reach. The
next moment he roughly shook the shoulder of the sailor, and called
out in a husky voice:

"Jack! Jack! wake up! Fred is gone!"



CHAPTER VII

A POINT OF LIGHT


Jack Cosgrove was awake on the instant. Not until he had groped around
in the darkness and repeated the name of Fred several times in a loud
voice would he believe he was not with them.

"Well, by the great horned spoon!" he exclaimed, "that beats
everything. How that chap got away, and why he done it, and where he's
gone to gets me."

"I wonder if he took his gun," added Rob, stooping over and examining
the depression in the ice, where the three laid their weapons before
composing themselves for sleep; "yes," he added directly after, "he
took his rifle with him."

As may be supposed, the two were in a frenzied state of mind, and for
several minutes were at a loss what to do, if, indeed, they could do
anything. They knew not where to look for their missing friend, nor
could they decide as to what had become of him.

One fearful thought was in the minds of both, but neither gave
expression to it; each recoiled with a shudder from doing so. It was
that he had wandered off in his sleep and fallen into the sea.

Despite their distress and dismay, they noticed several significant
facts. The wind that blew like a hurricane when they closed their
eyes, had subsided. When they stood up, so that their heads arose
above the projections that had protected them, the breeze was so
gentle that it was hard to tell from which direction it came. It would
be truth to say there was no wind at all.

Further, there was a marked rise in the temperature. In fact, the
weather was milder than any experienced after leaving St. John, and
was remarked by Rob.

"You don't often see anything of the kind," replied the sailor;
"though I call something of the kind to mind on that voyage in these
parts in the 'Mary Jane,' which was smashed by the iceberg."

But their thoughts instantly reverted to the missing boy. Rob had
shouted to him again and again in his loudest tones, had whistled
until the echo rang in his own ears, and had listened in vain for the
response.

The tumultuous waves did not subside as rapidly as they arose. They
broke against the walls of the iceberg with decreasing power, but with
a boom and crash that it would seem threatened to shatter the vast
structure into fragments. There were occasional lulls in the
overpowering turmoil, which were used both by Rob and Jack in calling
to the missing one, but with no result.

"It's no use," remarked the sailor, after they had tired themselves
pretty well out; "wherever he is, he can't hear us."

"I wonder if he will ever be able to hear us," said Rob, in a choking
voice, peering around in the gloom, his eyes and ears strained to the
highest tension.

"I wish I knew," replied Jack, who, though he was as much distressed
as his companion, was too thoughtful to add to the grief by any words
of his own. "I hope the lad is asleep somewhere in these parts, but I
don't know nothing more about him than you."

"And I know nothing at all."

"Can you find out what time it is?"

That was easily done. Stooping down so as to protect the flame from
any chance eddy of wind, Rob ignited a match on his clothing and
looked at his watch.

"We slept longer than I imagined, Jack; day-break isn't more than
three or four hours off."

"That's good, but them hours will seem the longest that you ever
passed, my hearty."

There could be no doubt on that point, as affected both.

"Why, Jack," called out Rob, "the stars are shining."

"Hadn't you observed that before? Yes; there's lots of the twinklers
out, and the storm is gone for good."

Every portion of the sky except the northern showed the glittering
orbs, and, for the moment, Rob forgot his grief in the surprise over
the marked change in the weather.

"This mildness will bring another change afore long," remarked Jack.

"What's that?"

"Fogs. We'll catch it inside of twenty-four hours, and some of them
articles in this part of the world will beat them in London town;
thick enough for you to lean against without falling."

As the minutes passed, with the couple speculating as to what could
have happened to Fred Warburton, their uneasiness became so great that
they could not remain idle. They must do something or they would lose
command of themselves.

Rob was on the point of proposing a move, with little hope of its
amounting to anything, when the sailor caught his arm.

"Do you see that?"

The darkness had so lifted that the friends could distinguish each
other's forms quite plainly, and the lad saw that Jack had extended
his arm, and was pointing out to sea. The fellow was startled, as he
had good cause to be.

Apparently not far off was something resembling a star, low down in
the horizon and gliding over the surface of the deep. Now and then it
disappeared, but only for a moment. At such times it was evidently
shut from sight by the crests of the intervening waves.

It was moving steadily from the right to the left, the friends, of
course, being unable to decide what points of the compass these were.
Its motion in rising and sinking, vanishing and then coming to view
again, advancing steadily all the while, left no doubt as to its
nature.

"It's the 'Nautilus'!" exclaimed Rob; "Captain McAlpine is looking for
us."

"That's not the 'Nautilus'," said Jack; "for she doesn't show her
lights in that fashion. Howsumever, it's a craft of some kind, and if
we can only make 'em know we're here they'll lay by and take us off in
the morning."

As the only means of reaching the ears of the strangers the two began
shouting lustily, varying the cries as fancy suggested. In addition,
Jack fired his gun several times.

While thus busied they kept their gaze upon the star-like point of
light on which their hopes were fixed.

It maintained the same dancing motion, all the while pushing forward,
for several minutes after the emission of the signals.

"She has stopped!" was the joyful exclamation of Rob, who postponed a
shout that was trembling on his lips; "they have heard us and will
soon be here."

Jack was less hopeful, but thought his friend might be right. The
motion of the star from left to right had almost ceased, as if the
boat was coming to a halt. Still the sailor knew that the same effect
on their vision would be produced if the vessel headed either away
from or toward the iceberg; it was one of these changes of direction
that he feared had taken place.

Up and down the light bobbed out of sight for a second, then gleaming
brightly as if the obscuring clouds had been brushed aside from the
face of the star, which shone through the intervening gloom like a
beacon to the wanderer.

"Yes, they are coming to us," added Rob, forgetting his lost friend in
his excitement; "they will soon be here. I wonder they don't hail us."

"Don't be too sartin, lad," was the answer of the sailor; "if the boat
was going straight from us it would seem for a time as though she was
coming this way; I b'lieve she has changed her course without a
thought of us."

They were cruel words, but, sad to say, they proved true. The time was
not long in coming when all doubt was removed. The star dwindled to a
smaller point than ever, seemed longer lost to view, until finally it
was seen no more.

"Do you suppose they heard us?" asked Rob, when it was no longer
possible to hope for relief from that source.

"Of course not; if they had they would have behaved like a Christian,
and stood by and done what they could."

"Ships are not numerous in this latitude, and it may be a long time
before we see another."

"The chances p'int that way, and yet you know there's a good many
settlements along the Greenland coast. It isn't exactly the place I'd
choose for a winter residence--especially back in the country--but
there are plenty who like it."

"In what way can that affect us?"

"There are ships passing back and forth between Denmark and Greenland,
and a number v'yage to the United States, and I'm hoping we may be run
across by some of them--Hark!"



CHAPTER VIII

HOPE DEFERRED


A hoarse, tremulous sound came across the ocean. There was no
mistaking its character; it was from the whistle of a steamer, the one
whose light led them to hope for a time that their rescue was at hand.
It sounded three times, and evidently the blasts were intended as a
signal, though, of course, they bore no reference to the two persons
listening so intently on the iceberg.

"That was the last thing I expected to hear in this latitude,"
remarked Rob, turning to his companion.

"I don't know why," replied Jack; "they have such craft plying along
the Greenland coast. What's more, I've heard that same whistle before
and know the boat; it's the 'Fox'."

"Not the 'Fox' I have read about as having to do with the Franklin
expedition?" said the youth, in astonishment.

"The identical craft."

"You amaze me."

Those of my readers who are familiar with the history of Arctic
exploration will recall this familiar name. It was the steam tug in
which sailed the party that succeeded in finding traces of the
ill-fated Franklin expedition of near a half century ago. It afterward
came into the possession of the company that owns the cryolite mine at
Ivigtut, and is now used to carry laborers and supplies from
Copenhagen to that place. While at Ivigtut, it is occasionally
employed to tow the Greenland ships in and out of the fiord.

Ah, if its crew had only heard the shouts and signals of the couple on
the iceberg, how blessed it would have been! But its lights had
vanished long ago, and, if its whistle sounded again, it was so far
away that it could not reach the listening ears.

The restlessness of the friends, to which I have referred, now led
them to attempt a search, if it may so be called, for the missing
Fred. This of necessity was vague and blind, and was accompanied with
but a grain of hope. Neither had yet referred to the awful dread that
was in their thoughts, but weakly trusted they might find the poor
fellow somewhere near asleep or senseless from a fall.

Morning was still several hours distant, but the clearing of the air
enabled them to pick their way with safety, so long as they took heed
to their footsteps.

"I will go down toward the spot where the boat gave us the slip," said
Jack, "and I don't know what you can do, unless you go with me."

"There's no need of that; of course I can't make my way far, while the
night lasts, but I remember that we penetrated some way beyond this
place before camping for the night; I'll try it."

"Keep a sharp lookout, my hearty, or there'll be another lad lost, and
then what will become of Jack Cosgrove?"

"Have no fear of me," replied Rob, setting out on the self-imposed
expedition.

He paused a few steps away and turned to watch the sailor, who was
carefully descending the incline, at the base of which they had
landed.

"I hope he won't find Fred, or rather that he won't find any signs of
his having gone that way," said Rob to himself with a shudder.

As the figure of the man slowly receded, it grew more indistinct until
it faded from sight in the gloom. Still the youth looked and listened
for the words which he dreaded to hear above everything else in the
world.

Jack Cosgrove received a good scare while engaged on his perilous
task. He was half-way down the incline, making his way with the
caution of a timid skater, when, like a flash, his feet flew from
under him, and, falling upon his back, he slid rapidly toward the
waves at the base of the berg.

But the brave fellow did not lose his coolness or presence of mind.
His left hand grasped his rifle, and, throwing out his right, he
seized a projection of ice, checking himself within a few feet of the
water and near enough for the spray from the fierce waves to be flung
over him.

"This isn't the time for a bath," he muttered, carefully climbing to
his feet and retreating a few paces; "it would have been a pretty hard
swim out there with my heavy clothing, though I think I could manage
it."

After all, what could he hope to accomplish by this hunt for Fred
Warburton? If he had wandered in that direction and fallen into the
sea, he had left no traces that could be discovered in the gloom of
the night. He could not have gone thither and stayed there that was
certain.

The sailor having withdrawn beyond the reach of the waves, sat down in
as disconsolate a mood as can be imagined. A suspicion that Rob might
follow caused him to turn his head and look over his shoulder.

"I don't see anything of him, and I guess he'll stay up there; I hope
so, for Jack Cosgrove isn't in the mood to see or talk with any one
'cepting that lad which he won't never see nor talk to agin."

Convincing himself that he was safe against a visit from the elder
youth, the sailor bowed his head, and, for several minutes, wept like
one with an uncontrollable grief.

When his sorrow had partially subsided, he spent a brief while with
his head still bowed in communion with his Maker.

"I don't know but what the lad is luckier than me or Rob," he added,
reviewing the situation in his mind; "for we've got to foller him
sooner or later. It isn't likely that any ship will come as nigh to
this thing as the 'Fox' did awhile ago, and I can't see one chance in
ten thousand of our being took off. We haven't a mouthful of food,
and there's no way of our getting any. After a time we will have to
lay down and starve or freeze to death, or both. Poor Fred has been
saved all that--"

He checked his musings, for at that moment a peculiar sound broke upon
his ear. It resembled that caused by the exhaust of a steamer at low
pressure. One less experienced than he would have been deceived into
the belief that such was its source, but Jack did not hold any such
false hope for a minute even. He understood it too well.

It was made by a whale "blowing." One of those monster animals was
disporting himself in the vicinity of the iceberg, and the sailor had
heard the same sound too often to mistake it.

Shifting his position so as to bring him nearer the sea, he stooped
and peered out in the gloom, in the direction whence came the noise.
There was enough starlight for him to trace the outline of the
mountainous waves, as they arose against the sky, though they were
dimly defined and might have misled another.

While gazing thus, a huge mass took vague form. It was the head of a
gigantic leviathan of the deep, which for a moment was projected
against the sky and then sank out of sight with the same noise that
had attracted Jack's notice in the first place.

The blowing was heard at intervals, for several minutes, until the
distance shut it from further notice.

"I wonder if Rob noticed it," the sailor asked himself; "for if he
did, he will make the mistake of believing the 'Fox' has come to take
us off, and we're done with this old berg."

But nothing was heard from the youth, and the sailor remained seated
on the shelf of ice, a prey to his gloomy reflections. He had made up
his mind to stay where he was until the coming of day, when the
question of what was to be done would be speedily settled.

Meanwhile, he wanted no company but his own thoughts. He had kept up
with the elder youth, and carefully withheld his fears and beliefs
from him. He felt that he could do so no longer. The farce had been
played out, and the truth must be spoken.

It was impossible to note the passage of time. Jack carried no watch,
but each of the boys owned an excellent timepiece. He probably fell
into a doze, for, when he roused himself once more, he saw that the
night was nearly over.

"I wonder what Rob is doing," he said, rising to his feet, stretching
his arms, and looking in the direction where he expected to see his
friend; "I hope nothing hain't happened to him."

This affliction was spared the sailor, for while he was peering
through the increasing light, he caught sight of the figure of Rob
making his way toward him.

"Hello, Jack, have you found anything?"

"No; have you?"

"I think I have; come and see."



CHAPTER IX

A STARTLING OCCURRENCE


As may be supposed, Jack Cosgrove was all excitement on the instant.
He had not expected any such reply, and he was eager to learn the
cause. As he started forward, he instinctively glanced down in quest
of evidence that Fred had passed there. There was none so far as he
could see, and, if there had been, it is not likely he would have been
able to identify it, since all the party had been over the same spot,
and some of them more than once.

"What is it?" he asked, as he reached his friend.

"It may mean nothing, but a little distance beyond where we camped the
ice is broken and scratched as though some one has been that way."

"So there has, we were there yesterday afternoon."

"I haven't forgotten that, but these marks are at a place where we
haven't been, that is unless it was Fred."

"How did you manage to find them in the dark?"

"I didn't; I groped over the ice as far as I could, and then sat down
and waited for day. I must have slept awhile, but when it was growing
light I happened to look around, and there, within a few feet of me,
on my right hand, I noticed the ice scratched and broken, as though
some one had found it hard work to get along. I was about to start
right after him, when I thought it best to tarry for you. It is now so
much lighter that we shall learn something worth knowing."

Even in their excitement they paused a few minutes to gaze out upon
the ocean, as it was rapidly illumined by the rising sun. Before long
their vision extended for miles, but the looked-for sight was not
there. On every hand, as far as the eye could penetrate, was nothing
but the heaving expanse of icy water.

Whether they were within a comparatively short distance of Greenland
or not, they were not nigh enough to catch the first glimpse of the
coast.

Several miles to the eastward towered an iceberg, apparently as large
as the one upon which they were drifting. Its pinnacles, domes,
arches, plateaus, spires, and varied forms sparkled and scintillated
in the growing sunlight, displaying at times all the colors of the
spectrum, and making a picture beautiful beyond description.

To the northward and well down in the horizon, was another berg,
smaller than the first, and too far off to attract interest. A still
smaller one was visible midway between the two, and a peculiar
appearance of the sea in the same direction, Jack said, was caused by
a great ice field.

Not a ship was to be seen anywhere. Their view to the southward was
excluded by the bulk of the iceberg, on which they were floating.

"There's nothing there for us," remarked Rob with a sigh.

"You're right; lead the way and let's see what you found."

It took them but a few minutes to reach the place the lad had in mind,
and they had no sooner done so than the sailor was certain an
important discovery had been made.

Where there was so much irregularity of shape as on an iceberg, a
clear description is impossible; but, doing the best we can, it may be
said that the spot was a hundred feet back from where the three
huddled together with an expectation of spending the night until
morning. It was only a little higher, and was attained by carefully
picking one's way over the jagged ice, which afforded secure footing,
now that day had come.

Adjoining the place, from which the party diverged to the left, was a
lift or shelf on the right, and distant only two or three paces. It
was no more than waist high, and, therefore, was readily reached by
any one who chose to clamber upon it.

It is no easy matter to trace one over the ice, but the signs of which
Rob had spoken were too plain to be mistaken. There were scratches,
such as would have been made by a pair of shoes, a piece of the edge
was broken off, and marks beyond were visible similar to those which
it would be supposed any one would make in clambering over the flinty
surface.

Jack stood a minute or two studying these signs as eagerly as an
American Indian might scrutinize the faint trail of an enemy through
the forest.

"By the great horned spoon!" he finally exclaimed; "but that does look
encouraging; I shouldn't wonder if the chap did make his way along
there in the night, but why he done it only he can tell. Howsumever,
where has he gone?"

That was the question which Rob Carrol had asked himself more than
once, and was unable to answer. The ice, for a distance of another
hundred feet, looked as if it might be scaled, but, just beyond that,
towered a perpendicular wall, like the side of a glass mountain. There
could be no progress any farther in that direction, nor, so far as
could be judged, could any one advance by turning to the right or
left.

There must be numerous depressions and cavities, sufficient to hide a
dozen men, and it was in one of these the couple believed they would
find the dead or senseless body of their friend.

"Jack," said Rob, "take my gun."

"What for?"

"I'll push on ahead as fast as I can; I can't wait, and the weapon
will only hinder me."

"I've an idee of doing something of the kind myself, so we'll leave
'em here. I don't think they'll wash away like the boat," he added, as
he carefully placed them on the shelf, up which they proceeded to
climb.

But Rob was in advance and maintained his place, gaining all the time
upon his slower companion, who allowed him to draw away from him
without protest.

"There's no need of a chap tiring himself to death," concluded Jack,
as he fell back to a more moderate pace; "he's younger nor me, and it
won't hurt him to get a bump or so."

Rob was climbing with considerable skill. In his eagerness he slipped
several times, but managed to maintain his footing and to advance with
a steadiness which caused considerable admiration on the part of his
more sluggish companion.

He used his eyes for all they were worth, and the signs that had
roused his hope at first were still seen at intervals, and cheered him
with the growing belief that he was on the right track.

"But why don't we hear something of him?" he abruptly asked himself,
stopping short with shuddering dread in his heart; "he could not have
remained asleep all this time, and, if he has been hurt so as to make
him senseless, more than likely he is dead."

The youth was now nearing the ice wall, to which we have referred, and
beyond which it looked impossible to go. The furtive glances into the
depressions on his right and left showed nothing of his loved friend,
and the evidences of his progress were still in front. The solution of
the singular mystery must be at hand.

Unconsciously Rob slowed his footsteps, and looked and listened with
greater care than before.

"What can it mean? Where can he have gone? I see no way by which he
could have pushed farther, and yet he is not in sight--"

He paused, for he discovered his error. The path, if such it may be
termed, which he had been following, turned so sharply to the right
that it could not be seen until one was upon it. How far it penetrated
in that direction remained to be learned.

Rob turned about and looked at Jack, who was several rods to the rear,
making his way upward with as much deliberation as though he felt no
personal interest in the business.

"I'm going a little farther, Jack, but I think we're close upon him
now. Hurry after me!"

"Ay, ay," called the sailor, in return; "when you run afoul of the lad
give him my love and tell him I'm coming."

This remark proved that he shared the hope of Rob, who was now acting
the part of pioneer, and it did not a little to encourage the boy to
push on with the utmost vigor at his command.

The sailor was somewhat winded from his unusual exertions, and,
believing there was no immediate need of his help, sat down for a few
minutes to regain his breath.

"He'll yell the moment he catches sight of anything, and he can do
that so well that he don't need any help from me--by the great horned
spoon! what's the meaning of that?"

Rob Carrol, who had been out of sight but a few seconds, now burst to
view again, the picture of terror. He was plunging toward the sailor
with such desperate haste that he continually stumbled and bruised
himself. But he instantly scrambled up again, glancing in mortal
fright over his shoulder, and barely able to gasp as he dashed toward
the sailor:

"O Jack! we're lost! we're lost! Heaven help us!"



CHAPTER X

AN UGLY CUSTOMER


Rob Carrol had good cause for his panic. Full of high hope, he hurried
along the ice between crags which shut him out of sight, for the time,
from Jack Cosgrove, who was resting himself after his hard climb. The
youth was thinking of no one and nothing else, except his friend Fred
Warburton, who had vanished so mysteriously the night before.

The signs in the icy track he was following convinced him that he was
close upon the heels of his chum, who could not have wandered much
farther in advance. His hope was tinged with the deepest anxiety, for
it was impossible to account for Fred's long absence and silence,
except upon the theory that some grievous injury had befallen him.

The searcher's nerves were strung to the highest point, and he was
pushing forward with unabated vigor, when his heart almost stood
still, as he caught a peculiar sound among the masses of ice.

"That's Fred," he concluded; "he's alive, thank God!" and then he
called to his friend:

"Fred! Fred, old fellow, where are you? Speak, I beg of you."

The words were trembling on his lips, when what seemed to be a huge
pile of snow just in advance, arose from the ice and began swinging
toward him.

Paralyzed for the moment by the amazing sight, and wondering whether
his senses were not betraying him, Rob stood motionless, as if rooted
to the spot.

But the next minute that same mass of snow assumed more definite
shape, and an unmistakable growl issued from somewhere within the
interior.

That was enough. Rob knew what it was that was sweeping down upon him
like a young avalanche. He had almost stumbled over a huge polar bear,
ravenous and fierce with hunger, and with a courage that made him
afraid of neither man nor beast.

He must have been half asleep when roused by the approach and the
voice of the lad. Opening his great eyes, he saw before him a fine
breakfast in the shape of a plump lad, and he proceeded to go for him
with a vim and eagerness that would not be denied.

It was about this time that Rob whirled on his heel and started on the
back track, with all the desperate hurry at his command. It will be
remembered that he had no gun with him, he and Jack having left the
weapons on the ice a considerable distance away. Both were without any
means of defense, unless the sheath knife which the sailor always
carried may be considered a weapon, and the only possible hope for
them was to secure their rifles before the monster secured them.

When the lad's frenzied cry broke upon Jack, he sprang from the seat
where he had been resting, and stood staring and wondering what it all
could mean. He saw the boy's cap fly from his head, and he noted his
terrified glances behind him. The next moment the polar bear plunged
into sight, and the sailor grasped the situation.

Even then he failed to do the wisest thing. Instead of realizing that
but one course could save them, and that was by dashing back to the
guns, he hastily drew his knife and awaited the coming of the brute
with a view of checking his attack upon the lad.

It was more creditable to Jack's chivalry than to his sagacity that he
should do this thing.

Even Rob, despite his extreme fright, saw the mistake his friend was
making, and called to him:

"Quick, Jack! Get the guns and shoot him!"

"I shouldn't wonder now if that was a good idea," reflected the
sailor, shoving his knife back, and whirling about to do as urged.

The situation was so critical that even his sluggish blood was
stirred, and he never moved so fast as he did for the succeeding
seconds. Indeed, it was altogether too fast, for he fell headlong with
such violence that he was partially stunned, and by the time he
regained his feet Rob was upon him.

Meanwhile the polar bear was making matters lively. He was hustling
for his breakfast, and he kept things on the jump. He was at home amid
the snow and ice, and, with little effort, got forward faster than the
fugitives possibly could; he was overhauling Rob hand over hand.

To continue his flight, even for the brief remaining distance, was to
insure his certain death. Rob saw him, and, when the ponderous beast
was almost upon him, he made a desperate leap from the icy path,
landing on his hands and knees several feet to the left, and instantly
scrambling up again.

The manoeuvre was so unexpected by the pursuer that he passed
several paces beyond before he could stop. Turning his head, with his
huge jaws so far apart that his red tongue and long white teeth
showed, he prepared to continue his pursuit of the lad who had escaped
him for the moment by such an exceedingly narrow chance.

But it so happened that Jack Cosgrove just then was also climbing to
his feet from his thumping fall, and, being but a short way from the
brute, he drew his attention to himself.

The bear's appetite was in that rugged state that he was not
particular as to whether his meal was made from a boy or full-grown
man, and, since the latter was within most convenient reach, he
shifted his design to him.

"By the great horned spoon!" muttered the sailor, quick to see how
matters had turned; "but it's Jack Cosgrove that is to have all this
fun to himself, and he's enjoying it."

The single recourse still presented itself; nothing could be done to
check the furious beast until one of the rifles was turned against
him, but it did seem for a time as if fate itself was fighting in
favor of the brute.

Jack's tumble and flurry had so mixed him up that the rifles were
forgotten, until he took several steps on his flight, when he recalled
the fatal oversight, and hastily turned to rectify it; but the
precious moments wasted made it too late. The bear was actually
between him and the weapons, and, to attempt to reach them, except by
a roundabout course, was to fling himself into the embrace of those
resistless claws.

He was too wise to attempt it. The first thing to do was to get
himself out of reach of the terror that was bearing down upon him with
the certainty of death.

"If there was only a tree that I could climb," he reflected, leaping,
tumbling, and laboring forward as best he could; "he couldn't nab me,
but I don't see any tree, and that chap's hungry enough to eat a
stewed anchor."

In the fearful hurry and panic some moments passed before Rob Carrol
comprehended the abrupt change in the plan of campaign. At the moment
he expected to feel the claw of the brute, he looked back and saw he
was pressing Jack hard. Furthermore, the latter, instead of hurrying
for the guns, was drawing away from them.

That was a bad outlook, but it suggested to the youth that the chance
had come for him to do something effective.

He lost no time in seizing the chance. He turned again in his course,
and moved around toward the spot where the weapons had been left near
at hand. Could he have been sure of a few minutes there would have
been no trouble in managing it, but events were going with such a rush
that there was not a spare second at command.

The guns being near and lower in elevation than themselves, were in
plain sight. Rob saw the barrels and the iron work gleaming in the
morning sunlight, so that he could make no mistake in locating them,
but his attention was so riveted on the prizes that he paid no heed to
his footsteps, or, rather, he paid less heed than was necessary.

He was within fifty feet, and was counting upon the quickness with
which he would end the sport of the brute when he discovered that he
was on the brink of an irregular depression in the ice. He tried
desperately to check himself or turn aside, but it was beyond his
ability and over he went.



CHAPTER XI

LIVELY TIMES


Rob's fall was not far, and his heavy clothing saved him from the
bruises that otherwise might have disabled him. He stared about him
and saw that he had fallen into a rough depression of the ice from six
to eight feet in depth, and of about the same diameter.

"Here's a go," he reflected; "I wonder whether the bear will follow me
here, but he's giving his full attention to poor Jack, and won't hunt
for me until he is through with him."

It was characteristic of the lad that, knowing the imminent peril of
his friend, he should feel more anxious about him than himself. All
thought of the missing Fred was shut out for the moment.

The first thing for Rob to do was to get out of the hole into which he
had fallen. He did not wait, but, throwing off his outer coat, flung
it upon the edge of the depression, and then, leaping upward, caught
the margin with his mittened hands. As I stated at the beginning, he
was a fine athlete, but the task was almost impossible. The purchase
was so slight that when he put forth his strength and attempted to
draw himself upward, his mittens slipped, as though they were oiled.

Then he snatched off the mittens, threw them upon his coat, and again
made the attempt; he failed as before.

"I've got to stay here while the bear kills poor Jack," was his
despairing thought; "I can do nothing, when, if I were up there, I
could lay hold of one of the guns and save him."

The reflection was so bitter that he could not rest. Walking rapidly
around the depression, he jumped upward at every step or two and
repeated the effort. Failure followed failure, and he was once more in
despair.

Again he made the attempt, and his hand struck a knob-like projection,
which afforded just the purchase wanted. Grasping it with all his
might, he quickly drew himself upward, and was once more on what might
be considered the surface proper of the iceberg.

At the moment of climbing into sight he heard the report of a gun.

"Ah, Jack has managed to reach his rifle, and has given the brute a
shot--no, he hasn't, either!"

To his unbounded amazement, he saw the sailor fleeing and dodging for
life, with the bear still at his heels. But he had no gun in his hand,
and, casting his eye below him, Rob observed both weapons lying where
they were placed by the owners a short time before.

Who had fired that gun whose report he just heard?

It was an absorbing question, indeed, but there was no time just then
to give it a thought. Rob was much nearer the rifles than either Jack
or the bear, and he now hastened thither, taking care that his last
mishap was not repeated.

From what has been told it will be understood that Jack Cosgrove found
no time for the grass to grow under his feet. He had pulled himself
through many a narrow peril, but he was sure he was never quite so
hard pressed as now. He tried dodging and sudden turns in the line of
his flight, and doubtless saved himself more than once by such means;
but the discouraging fact was ever with him that his relentless enemy
could travel tenfold faster and better than he over the ice, and
sooner or later was certain to run him down unless turned aside by
some one else.

Jack naturally wondered what had become of Rob, who was so active only
a short time before. His furtive glances showed him nothing of his
friend, but he had no chance to speculate, nor did he call upon him
for help, as the lad had appealed to him but a short time before.

The sorely pressed fugitive drew his knife to be prepared for the
final struggle that was at hand. He had met polar bears before, and he
knew what such a conflict meant.

He was wise enough, too, not to postpone the struggle until his own
strength was exhausted by running. He whirled about, when the brute
was no more than ten feet distant, and grasping his knife by the tip
of the blade, drove it with all the vicious fury at his command
straight at the head of the bear.

The sailor was an adept at this species of throwing, and had often
given exhibitions of his skill on shipboard. It was not to be expected
that he could kill such a gigantic animal by flinging his sheath knife
at him, but it sped so true and with such power, that, striking his
neck, it inflicted a deep wound, sinking so deep, indeed, that it
remained in the wound.

At this juncture the rifle, whose report Rob heard, was fired. The
sailor supposed, as a matter of course, that Rob discharged it, for
there could be no doubt the bear was the target. The bullet struck him
near the junction of the left leg, and there could be no mistake about
his being hit hard. He uttered a peculiar whining moan, stopped for
the moment, and then resumed his pursuit with such a marked limp that
his progress was perceptibly decreased.

Seeing his own advantage, Jack was wise enough to use it. In his
desperation he had deprived himself of his only weapon, and he was
defenseless. But with a limping bear lumbering after him, and with the
short respite he had gained, he fancied he could hold his own in a
foot-race. So he wheeled and went at it again.

By this time, and, indeed, a minute before, Rob had reached the spot
where the two guns lay, and with both in his grasp he set off in hot
haste to overtake the brute. He meant to get so near that when he
fired there could be no miss.

To his exasperation, he stumbled and came within a hair of going into
the very hole from which he had extricated himself with so much
difficulty. But he escaped, and finding neither weapon injured, he
resumed his pursuit, cheered by the apparent fact that the bear was no
longer able to gain upon the fugitive.

Jack had run as close to the edge of the iceberg as possible, and to
venture nearer would be at the imminent risk of going into the icy
sea. He perforce turned, and sped in the direction of the lad, who was
hastening to his help.

This suited Rob, for there was no call for him to continue his
pursuit, since the bear was approaching "head on." The youth stopped
as soon as he saw the change, and prepared to close matters.

The opening could not have been better, and, dropping one rifle at his
feet, Rob steadied himself and took careful aim at the beast. He
pointed the gun not at his head, but at a point just below, hoping to
reach his heart.

He saw the snowy coat stained crimson from the wound made by Jack's
knife, and he limped heavily.

"Look out you don't hit me!" called the panting sailor, whose grim
humor showed itself at the most inopportune times.

"Get out of the way, then!" called Rob, in turn; "you're right in
front of me."

Jack dodged to one side, being at the moment about midway between his
friend and pursuer, and less than twenty feet from either.

The next instant the lad pulled trigger.

But the bear did not stop, and showed no evidence of having been so
much as harmed.

"You missed him, you lubber! Let me have the other gun, and show you
how to bring down game."

There was no time for any such proceeding, and, dropping the
discharged weapon, Rob instantly stooped and caught up the second.

  [Illustration: JUST THEN THE REPORT OF ANOTHER GUN SOUNDED

  (See page 106)]

Just then another gun sounded from a point higher up the berg, and the
huge brute stopped. He seemed dazed, and, half-rearing on his
haunches, picked at the wound, as though he fancied a splinter was
there, which he could draw from his flesh.

"He's going to attack us with the knife!" called Jack, who saw that
the danger was over; "and I shouldn't wonder if he knows how to do it
better than you can manage your gun."

"Keep out of the way, Jack, and I'll finish him."

Rob had brought the second weapon to a level, and the opening was, if
possible, more favorable than before.

Again he pulled trigger, and this shot did the business. The monster,
one of the largest and fiercest of his species, went down in a
helpless mass, and expired before their eyes.

"Hello, you chaps would be in a pretty scrape if it wasn't for me!"

Jack and Rob turned toward the point whence the voice came and saw
Fred Warburton hastening toward them with his smoking rifle in hand.



CHAPTER XII

FRED'S EXPERIENCE


Both Jack Cosgrove and Rob Carrol could have shouted with joy at the
sight of the missing boy, and the sound of his voice. More than once,
during the stirring minutes that they were trying to save themselves
from the irrestrainable bear, they thought of the shot that was fired
by neither of them, and which, therefore, they naturally attributed to
their friend.

The second shot left no doubt of its source, and here now was the
youth hurrying down from some point near where the brute had come,
laughing like his own natural self.

It need not be said that his hand was shaken heartily by the sailor
and his companion, and that he was overwhelmed with questions as to
his singular action.

The story of Fred was curious, and yet it had been partially
discounted by his chum.

It was not to be supposed that he would leave the comparative comfort
he enjoyed when huddled close to his friends without good cause, and
in that case he would have notified them of his intention, to save
them from alarm.

The experience of the day disturbed him, and caused him to dream
dreams of the most vivid nature. Several times, during the preceding
years, he had walked in his sleep, and his departure from the camp, as
they called it, was as unknown to himself as to his friends.

It was evident that he managed the business with great skill, since
neither of the others was disturbed. He picked up his gun and went off
in the direction followed by Rob, clambering farther up the side of
the iceberg than was supposed possible.

"I think," said Fred, "that I can read the cause for what I did while
unconscious. You remember we had much to say about the 'Nautilus'
being driven out of sight by the gale, and I recall that, before going
to sleep, I wondered whether we could not climb to a higher portion of
the berg and signal to them.

"I suppose that was what set my mind and muscles to work when
unconscious, and impelled me to try what I never would have tried with
my full senses about me.

"When I came to myself I was in a cavity in the ice, where the
protection against the gale was much better than our camp. It was a
regular bowl or hollow, which would have been just the place for us
three. But daylight had come, the weather was so moderate that I did
not suffer from cold, and there was nothing, therefore, to be feared
from that cause.

"As you may suppose, it took me sometime before I could recall myself,
but I was not long in suspecting the truth. I was so comfortable in
the position involuntarily assumed that I lay still while pondering
matters. When ready, I was on the point of rising, when I heard a
slight noise on the ice above me.

"'That's Jack or Rob,' I thought; 'they are looking for me, and I will
give them a scare.'

"I lay still, expecting one of you to pass so close that you would
discover me, but though I could follow the movement by sound, and
though the object passed close to me it was not quite close enough to
be seen, I rose softly to my feet and peered over the edge of the
cavity in which I was resting.

"Well, Rob was startled when he stumbled over that polar bear, but he
was no more frightened than I, when I discovered that instead of it
being one of you, it was that frightful brute which had swung by
within a few feet of where I lay.

"You can see the curious shape of matters. The bear had come from some
point beyond where I lay, and, making his way down the ice, had now
placed himself between me and you. The only means of my reaching you
was by passing close to him. That meant a fight to the death.

"I noticed his tremendous size, and from what I have heard they are
among the most dangerous beasts in the world--"

"You're right there, my hearty," interrupted Jack; "if there was ever
any doubt in my mind, which there wasn't, it was settled by that
little scrimmage awhile ago."

"I had my gun, and, at first, was half-disposed to take a shot, but
the chance was a poor one, for he was walking straight away, and it
was impossible to do more than sound him. That would render him
furious and cause him to attack me. Our rifles were not repeating
ones, and before I could get another charge ready, he would be upon
me, and it might be that several well-aimed shots would be necessary
to finish him."

"You had good sense," said Rob; "he would have made mince-meat of you
in a fight."

"You must remember that while I could see the bear from where I peered
over the edge of the ice, I could not catch the first sight of you.
The brute seemed to be following some sort of a path, while the masses
of ice were so piled upon both sides and beyond him that all farther
view was shut off.

"While I was watching the enormous white body swinging along, it
stopped, and then to my dismay, he turned about and started back.

"'He's coming for me!' was my conclusion, 'and now there will be a row
sure.'

"I braced myself to receive him, but, inasmuch as he had not yet seen
me, and, inasmuch as he had once passed my shelter, without
discovering me, there was hope that he would do the same again. So
'Brer rabbit, he lay low,' and I listened for him to go by. As soon as
he was at a safe distance, I intended to climb out and hurry to you.
We three ought to be enough for him, and I had no fear but that you
might manage him between you without my help."

"That was my opinion at that time," added Fred, with a twinkle of his
eye, "but it isn't now. While I was crouching there I heard you
calling me. You can understand why I didn't answer. I preferred to
remain mum so long as that bear was between me and you and coming
toward me."

"We did a lot of shouting last night," said Rob.

"That's the first I knew of it. But the minutes passed without the
bear being heard. I listened as intently as I knew how, but no sound
reached me.

"'I wonder if he intends to promenade back and forth,' was my thought,
as I ventured to peep out once more, with great caution; 'this is
getting interesting.'

"Well, I was surprised when I saw him. He was less than a dozen yards
off, and lying down, with his head still turned away from me. His
action was just as if he had learned that his breakfast was going to
come up that path, and he intended to wait until it walked into his
arms."

"And that is pretty nearly what I did," said Rob, with a smiling
glance at the carcass.

"His head being still away I dared not fire, nor would it have done
for me to call to you or answer your signals. It was plain to me that
he had no suspicion that the choicest kind of meal was right near him,
and it wouldn't have been wise for me to apprise him of the fact; it
might have made things unpleasant all around.

"You needn't be told what followed. I watched him a few minutes,
during which he was as motionless as the iceberg itself, and then I
settled down to await developments.

"While seated, of course I saw nothing of him, and the first notice I
received of what was going on was when I heard Rob shouting. I sprang
out of my shelter, and, as you will remember, saved you both from
being devoured by the monster. Isn't he, or, rather, wasn't he a big
fellow?" added Fred, stepping over to the enormous carcass and
touching it with his foot.

"He's the biggest I've ever seen," assented Jack, "and I'm thankful
that we got off as well as we did. It's no use of denying that your
shots helped us through."

"Possibly, but it was Rob after all who wound up the business," Fred
hastened to say, lest he might be thought of wishing to take undue
credit to himself.

"There's worse eating, too, than bear meat."

It was Jack who made this remark, and the others caught its
significance. They were thus provided with the means of living for a
long time on the iceberg, and might hope for some means of rescue in
the course of a week or two.

Rob was about to make some characteristic reply, when the sailor
pointed out to sea.

"Do you obsarve that?" he asked. "It's just what I was afeared of, and
I don't like it at all."



CHAPTER XIII

THE FOG


It will be recalled that when Jack and Rob awoke, during the preceding
night, they noticed a marked change in the temperature, and the sailor
prophesied an unwelcome change in the weather. Following the direction
pointed by him, his friends saw what he meant. The rise had caused one
of those fogs that have been fatal so often to ships off the banks of
Newfoundland, and which frequently wrap the southern coast of
Greenland in a mist as impenetrable as that which overshadows at times
the British metropolis.

"You see," added Jack, "it might be that some whaler or other vessel
is cruising in these latitudes, and will come close enough for us to
observe 'em and they us, provided the sun was shining, but, the way
matters are turning out, they might pass within a biscuit's toss 'out
either of us knowing it."

"Well," was the philosophical comment of Fred, "we have so much to be
thankful for that I can't complain over a small matter like that."

"It may be a bigger matter than you think, but I'm as thankful as you,
all the same."

"Gracious!" exclaimed Rob, with a sigh; "I'm hungry."

"There's your supper."

Both boys, however, shook their heads, and Rob replied:

"I'm not hungry enough to eat raw bear's meat."

"It's a thousand times better than starving to death."

As the sailor spoke, he walked to the carcass and withdrew his knife
from the wound.

"You'll come to it bime-by; I've seed the time when I was ready to
chaw up a pair of leather breeches, but that isn't half as bad as
being in an open boat under the equator, with not a drop of water for
three days."

"We can never suffer from that cause so long as this iceberg holds
out. How is it with you, Fred? Are you ready for bear steak?"

"I would be too glad to dine on it, if there was some means of cooking
it, but that is out of the question. I think I'll wait awhile."

"I'll keep you company," remarked Jack, who felt no such repugnance
against the primitive meal, but was willing to defer the feast out of
regard for them.

The party watched the fog settling over the sea, until, as the sailor
had told them it would do, it shut out all vision beyond a hundred
feet or less.

"I would give a good deal to know one thing," said Fred, after several
minutes' silence, as he seated himself, "and that is just where we
are."

"I can tell you," said Rob.

"Where?"

"On an iceberg in the Greenland Sea."

"I am not so sure of that, my hearty," put in Jack; "there's no doubt,
of course, that we're on the berg, but I wouldn't bet that we're
drifting through the Greenland Sea."

"Why, the 'Nautilus' was so far north when we left it, and this
iceberg was moving so slowly that we couldn't have gone as far as all
that."

Jack saw that his meaning was not understood.

"What I was getting at is this: Of course, when them bergs slip off
into the ocean, most of them start southward for a more congen'l
clime, but all of 'em don't do it by any means. There is a current off
the western coast of Greenland which runs toward the North Pole, and
we may be in that."

"But this extends so far down that it must strike the other current,
which flows in the opposite direction."

"That may and may not be, and it may be, too, that if it does, the
upper current is the stronger. I've been calling to mind the bearing
of the ship and berg, and I've an idee we're going northward. Bime-by
the berg may change its mind and flop about and start for New York or
South America, but I don't believe it's doing so now."

This was important information, provided it was true, and there was
good reason to believe that Jack Cosgrove knew far better than they
what he was talking about.

"Then if we keep on we'll strike the North Pole," remarked Rob,
gravely.

"Yes, if we keep on, but we're pretty sure to stop or change our
course before we get beyond Davis Strait or Christianshaab or Ivignut.
Anyway, this old berg will keep at it till she fetches up in southern
waters."

The words of Jack had opened a new and interesting field for
discussion. Its ending had not been thought of by the boys in their
calculations; and, despite their faith in their more experienced
companion, they believed he was mistaken. They had never heard of
anything of the kind he had mentioned, and it did not seem reasonable
that such a vast mass, after heading southward, should change its
direction. Even though it was drifting north when first seen, it must
have started still farther north in order to reach the latitude where
first observed.

By this time all hope of being rescued by the "Nautilus" had been
given up, unless some happy accident should lead it to come upon the
iceberg. The party, therefore, began considering other means of escape
from their unpleasant quarters.

As is well known, there are a number of Danish settlements scattered
along the west coast of Greenland, the bleak, desolate eastern shore
being inhabited only by wandering Esquimaux. It might be that the berg
would sweep along within sight of land, and the friends would be able
to attract the attention of some of the native fishing boats, or
possibly larger craft. It was a remote hope, indeed, but it was all
they saw before them. At any rate, the polar bear had provided them
with the means of postponing starvation to an indefinite period, for
there was enough meat in his carcass to afford nourishment for many
days to come.

"I wonder whether there are more polar bears on this craft?" remarked
Rob, rising to his feet and looking around as if he half expected to
discover another of the monsters making for them.

"Little danger of that," replied Jack, "and it's so mighty seldom that
any of 'em are fools enough to allow themselves to be carried off like
this one did that I never dreamed of anything of the kind. It does
happen now and then, but not often, though you may read of such
things."

"I suppose he would have stayed here until he starved to death," was
the inquiring remark of Fred.

"He might and he might not; when he had got it through his skull that
there was nothing to eat on the berg he would have plunged into the
sea and started for land, provided it was in sight, and he would have
reached it, too. When he landed he would have been hungry enough to
attack the first saw-mill he came to, and I wouldn't like to be the
first chap he met."

"I don't see how he could have been fiercer than he was."

"He meant business from the first; and, if he had caught sight of you
when you lay asleep in that cavity in the ice he would have swallowed
you before you could wake."

"Well, he didn't do it," replied Fred, with a half-shudder and laugh,
"so what's the good of thinking about it? Rob, it strikes me," he
added, with a quizzical look at the boy, "that raw bear's meat might
not be so bad after all."

"Of course it isn't!" Jack was quick to say, springing to his feet and
stepping forward, knife in hand.

It was evident from the manner in which he conducted the business that
he had done it before. He extracted a goodly-sized piece from near the
shoulder, and dressed it as well as he could with the only means at
command.

Rob had hit upon what might be called a compromise. When one of the
three slices, into which the portion was divided, was handed to him,
he struck match after match from the rubber safe he carried, and held
the tiny flame against different portions of the meat.

Anything like cooking was out of the question, but he succeeded in
scorching it slightly, and giving it a partial appearance of having
seen the fire.

"There!" he exclaimed, in triumph, holding it aloft; "it's done to a
turn, that is the first turn. It's cooked, but it's a little rare,
I'll admit."

Meanwhile, Fred imitated him, using almost all the matches he
possessed.



CHAPTER XIV

A COLLISION


Jack scorned everything of the kind, and he ate his piece with as much
gusto as if it had passed through the hands of a professional cook.
The boys managed to dispose of considerable, so that it may be said
the little party made a fair meal from the supply so unexpectedly
provided them.

The primitive meal finished, the three friends remained seated and
discussed the future, which was now the all-important question before
them.

"How long is this fog likely to last?" asked Fred.

"No one can answer that," replied Jack; "a brisk wind may drive it
away, a rain would soon finish it, or it may go before colder weather,
or it may last several days."

"Meanwhile we can do nothing but drift."

"That's about all we can do any way," was the truthful remark of the
sailor; "we'll make the bear last as long as we can."

"I think he will last a good while," observed Rob, with a
half-disgusted look at the carcass; "it will do when there's nothing
else to be had, but I never can fancy it without cooking."

At that moment they received a startling shock. A peculiar shiver or
jar passed through the iceberg, as though from a prodigious blow that
was felt through every part--an impossible occurrence.

"What can that mean?" asked the lads, in consternation.

"By the great horned spoon!" was the reply of the frightened Jack; "I
hope we won't feel it again."

"But what is it?"

"The berg scraped the bottom of the sea just then. There it goes
again!"

A shock, fully as violent as before, went through and through the vast
mass of ice. It lasted only a second or two, but the sensations of the
party were like those of the housekeeper who wakes in the night, to
feel his dwelling swaying under the grasp of the earthquake.

None needed to be told of the possible consequences of drifting into
shallow water. If the base of the iceberg, extending far down into the
depths of the ocean, should strike some projecting mountain peak of
the deep, or a plateau, the berg was liable to overturn, with an
appalling rush, beyond the power of mind to conceive. In such an event
there was no more chance of the party saving themselves than there
would be in the crater of a bursting volcano.

Well might they look blankly in each other's faces, for they were
helpless within the grasp of a power that was absolutely resistless.

They sat silent and waiting, but, as minute after minute passed,
without the shock being repeated, hope returned, and they ventured to
speak in undertones, as though fearful that the sound of their voices
would precipitate the calamity.

"That satisfies me I was right," said Jack, compressing his lips and
shaking his head.

"In what respect?" asked Fred.

"We're drifting toward the North Pole, and we are not far from the
Greenland coast."

"But are there not shallow places in the ocean, hundreds of miles from
land, where such a great iceberg as this might touch bottom?"

"Yes, but there are not many in this part of the world. The thing may
swing out of this current, or get into another which will start it
southward, but I don't believe it has done it yet."

"Sailing on an iceberg is worse than I imagined," was the comment of
Rob; "I'm more anxious than ever to leave this; it isn't often that a
passenger feels like complaining of the bigness of the craft that
bears him over the deep, but that's the trouble in this case."

"If the capsize does come," said Jack, "it will be the end of us; we
would be buried hundreds of fathoms under the ice."

"There can be no doubt of that, but I say, Jack, isn't there something
off yonder? I can't make it out, but it seems to me that it is more
than the fog."

While the three were talking, Fred Warburton was seated so as to face
the open sea, the others being turned sideways and giving no heed to
that point of the compass.

It will be remembered that at this time they were inclosed in the
all-pervading fog, which prevented them seeing as far as the length of
the mountain of ice on which they were seated. Turning toward the
water and peering outward, they saw the cause of the boy's question.
The vapor itself appeared to be assuming shape, vague, indistinct,
undefined, and almost invisible, but nevertheless perceptible to all.

The sailor was the first to see what it meant. Leaping to his feet he
emitted his favorite exclamation:

"By the great horned spoon! it's another berg!"

With awful slowness and certainty the mass of fog disclosed more and
more distinctly the misty contour that had caught the eye of Fred
Warburton. At first it was like a pile of denser fog, rolling along
the surface of the sea, but the outlines became more distinct each
moment, until the form of an iceberg was clearly marked in the wet
atmosphere.

The new one was much smaller than that upon which they were afloat,
but it was of vast proportions for all that, enough to crush the
largest ship that ever floated, as though it were but a toy in its
path.

But the fearful fact about its appearance was that the two bergs were
approaching each other, under the influence of adverse currents!

A collision was inevitable, and the boys contemplated it with hardly
less dismay than they did the overturning of the larger one a short
time before.

"This is no place for us!" called out Jack, the moment after his
exclamation; "let's get out!"

He started up the path from which the polar bear had come, with his
young friends at his heels. They did not stop until they could go no
farther, when they turned about and shudderingly awaited the
catastrophe that was at hand.

Their withdrawal from the edge of the iceberg to a point some distance
away dimmed their vision, but the smaller berg was easily
distinguished through the obscurity.

The two continued to approach with a slowness that could hardly have
caused a shock in a couple of ships, but where the two masses were so
enormous the momentum was beyond calculation.

The frightful crisis was not without its grim humor. The boys braced
themselves against the expected crash as if in a railway train with a
collision at hand. They lost sight of the fact that no force in nature
could produce any such sudden jarring and jolting as they apprehended.

The two bergs seemed to be lying side by side, within a few inches
really, but without actually touching.

"Why don't they strike?" asked Rob, in an awed whisper.

"There it comes!" exclaimed Fred; "hold fast!"

The smaller berg was seen to sway and bow, as if that, too, had swept
against the bottom of the sea, and it was shaken through every part.

But amazing fact to the lads! they felt only the slightest possible
tremor pass through the support upon which they had steadied
themselves against the expected shock.

The smaller berg acted like some monster that has received a mortal
hurt. It seemed to be striving to disentangle itself from the fatal
embrace of its conqueror, but was unable to do so. Nearly conical in
shape, a peak rose more than a hundred feet in air, ending in a
tapering point almost as delicate as a church spire.

The crash of the immense bodies caused the breaking off of this icy
monument a couple of rods from the top, and the mass, weighing many
tons toppled over and fell upon the larger berg with a violence that
shattered it into thousands of fragments, bits of which were carried
to the feet of the awed party. Then, as if the smaller one saw that it
was idle to resist longer, it began moving with the larger, which
forced it along its own course as a tug pushes a floating chip in
front of it.

The danger was over, if, indeed, there had been any danger. It was a
minute or two before the boys comprehended it all, but when Rob did,
he sprang to his feet and swung his cap over his head.

"Hurrah for our side! We beat 'em hands down!"

"I fancy it is quite safe to count on our keeping the right of way,"
added Fred, whose mental relief at the outcome was as great as his
companion's. "I thought we would be tumbled about when the two came
together, as if we were in an overturned wagon, but I can understand
now how that could never be."

"But wait till we butt against an iceberg bigger than ours," said Rob,
with a shake of his head.



CHAPTER XV

THE SOUND OF A VOICE


For hours the fog showed no signs of lifting. The three remained
seated near the carcass of the polar bear, discussing the one question
that had already been discussed so long, until there really seemed
nothing left to say.

Not long after the collision between the icebergs a singular thing
took place. It was evident that the two were acted upon each by a
diverse current, but the preponderating bulk of the greater was not
disturbed by the smaller. The latter, however, as if anxious to break
away from its master, began slowly grinding along the face, until,
after awhile, it swung clear and gradually drifted out of sight in the
misty vapor.

"She will know better than to tackle one bigger than herself," was the
remark of Rob Carrol, "which reminds me that if there should happen to
be a bigger iceberg than this floating around loose we sha'n't be in
any danger."

"And why not?"

"Because being so big it will be under the influence of the same
current as this and going in the same direction, so there won't be
much chance of our coming together."

"Unless the big one should overtake us," suggested Fred.

"Even then it would find it hard to run over us, so there isn't much
to be feared from that; what I do dread is that we shall strike some
shallow place in the sea that will make this thing turn a somersault."

"It would be a terrible thing," said Fred, unable to drive it from his
thoughts.

"Is it possible for the berg to strike something like that and stick
fast, without shifting its centre of gravity?"

The question was addressed to Jack Cosgrove, but he did not attempt to
answer until the last clause was explained to him.

"Oh! yes; that has been seen many times. A berg will ground itself
just like a boat, and stay for days and weeks until a storm breaks it
up, or it shakes itself loose. I don't believe if we do strike bottom
again that there's much danger of capsizing."

"Why didn't you tell us that before?" asked Rob, reprovingly; "we
might have been saved all this worry."

"It's only guesswork, any way, so you may as well keep on worrying,
for, somehow or other, you seem to enjoy it."

"I think there is a thinning of the fog," remarked Fred, some time
later.

"A little, but not much; it's growing colder, too; we'll run into keen
weather afore reaching the Pole."

"I shouldn't wonder if it came pretty soon. Hello!" added Rob, looking
at his watch; "it is past noon."

"Do you want your dinner?" asked Jack, with a grin.

Both lads gave an expression of disgust, the elder replying:

"I can stand it for twenty-four hours before hankering for another
slice of bear steak, and I shouldn't be surprised if Fred feels the
same way."

"You are correct, my friend."

"Ah, you chaps can get used to anything!" was the self-complacent
remark of the sailor, as he assumed a comfortable attitude on the ice.

While the boys talked thus, Jack was carefully noting the weather. He
saw with pleasure that the fog was steadily clearing, and that, before
night, the atmosphere was likely to be wholly clear again. That fact
might avail them nothing, but it was a thousand-fold better than the
mist, in which they might drift within a hundred feet of friends
without either party suspecting it.

From what has been told, it will be understood that no one of the
three built any hope of a rescue by the "Nautilus." The violent gale
had driven her miles away, and a search on her part for this
particular iceberg would be like the hunt of one exploring party for
another that had been lost years before.

But it was not to be supposed that Captain McAlpine would quietly
dismiss all care concerning the lads from his mind. One of them was a
son of a leading director of the Hudson Bay Company, and the other was
a favorite of the son and his father. For the skipper to return to
London at the end of several months with the report that he had left
them on an iceberg in the Greenland Sea would be likely to subject him
to unpleasant consequences.

The most natural course of the captain, as it seemed to the sailor,
after making the best search he could, was to put into some of the
towns along the coast, and organize several parties to go out in
search of them.

"He is no fool," thought Jack, as he turned the subject over in his
mind without speaking, "and he must have took the bearings of the ship
and the berg as I did. He won't be able to keep track of us, but he
will know better than to sail exactly in the wrong direction, as most
other folks would do. Yes," he remarked to his friends, as he looked
off over the sea, "the weather is clearing and the fog will be all
gone before night."

This was gratifying information, though neither youth could tell
precisely why it should give them special ground for hope.

You will understand one of the trials of the boys when adrift on the
iceberg. The latter was moving slowly, and, though in a direction
different from the surface current, yet it was barely perceptible. No
other objects were in sight than the berg itself, which gave the
impression to the passengers that it was motionless on the vasty deep.
You know how much harder it is to wait in a train at a station than it
is in one in motion. If they could have realized that the berg was
actually moving, no matter in what direction, the relief would have
been great. As it was, they felt as though they were simply waiting,
waiting for they knew not what.

The afternoon was more than two-thirds gone when the last vestige of
the fog vanished. The sun shone out, and, looking off to sea, the
power of the eye itself was the only limit to the vision.

Without explaining the meaning of his action, Jack Cosgrove made his
way down the path to the place where they had spent most of the
preceding night, and climbing upon a slight elevation, stood for a
full minute looking fixedly off over the sea. He shaded his eyes
carefully with his hand, and stood as motionless as a stone statue.

"He either sees or expects to see something," said Rob, who, like his
companion, was watching him with much interest.

"He is so accustomed to the ocean that his eyes are better than ours,"
said Fred.

"I can't make out anything."

Suddenly Jack struck his thigh with his right hand and wheeled about,
showing a face aglow with feeling.

"By the great horned spoon, I knowed it."

"What have you discovered, Jack?"

"You chaps just come this way," he said, crooking his stubby
forefinger toward them, "and put yourself alongside of me and take the
sharpest squint you can right over yonder."

Doing as directed, they finally agreed, after some hard looking, that
they saw what seemed to be a long, low, white cloud in the horizon.

"That's Greenland," was the astonishing reply; "I don't know what
part, but it's solid airth with snow on it."

This was interesting, indeed, though it was still difficult to
understand what special hope the fact held out to them.

It seemed to grow slightly more distinct as the afternoon advanced.
Since it was hardly to be supposed that the iceberg was approaching
land, this was undoubtedly caused by the contour of the coast.

When night began closing in the party fired their guns repeatedly,
thinking possibly the reports might attract notice from some of the
natives fishing in the vicinity. The chance, however, was so
exceedingly slight that they made preparations for spending the night
as before--that is, huddled together against the projecting ice. There
was hardly a breath of air stirring, though the temperature continued
falling.

"I hear it!" exclaimed Fred, starting to his feet, within five minutes
after seating themselves as described.

"What's that?" asked the amazed Rob; "are you crazy?"

"Listen!"

They did so. There was no mistake about it. They caught the sound of a
vigorously moved paddle, and, had any doubt remained, it was
dissipated by the loud call in a peculiar voice, and with an odd
accent:

"Holloa! holloa! holloa!"



CHAPTER XVI

LAND HO!


The boys could hardly credit their senses. Just as they had settled
themselves to spend another long, dismal night on the iceberg, the
sound of a paddle broke upon their ears, followed, the next moment, by
a hail in unmistakable English.

"It's Captain McAlpine or one of the men!" exclaimed Rob, breaking
into such a headlong rush down the incline that it threatened to
precipitate him into the sea before he could check himself.

Fred was at his heels, and Jack tumbled against him. He knew that that
voice was no Caucasian's. Despite the English word, he recognized it
as belonging to a native Esquimau.

"We're coming!" called back Jack, in turn; "just hold on a few minutes
and we'll be there--by the great horned spoon!"

He bumped flat on his back, and shot down the incline so fast that he
knocked the heels from under Fred, and the two, impinging against Rob,
prostrated him also, the three shooting forward like so many sleighs
going down a toboggan slide.

"Never mind, lads; we'll stop when we strike water," called the
sailor, so pleased that he recked little of the consequences. All the
same, however, each exerted himself desperately to stop, and, barely
succeeded in doing so, on the very edge of the incline.

Then they perceived one of the long, narrow native boats, known as a
kayak, drawn up alongside the wharf, as it may be called, with the
Esquimau in the act of stepping out.

He contemplated the sight in silent wonderment, for, it is safe to
say, he had never been approached in that fashion before.

Jack was the first to recover the perpendicular, and he impulsively
reached out his mittened hand to the native, who was clad in furs,
with a short jacket and a hood, which covered all his head, excepting
the front of his face.

"How do you do, my hearty? I never was so glad to see any one in my
life as I am to see you."

"Glad to meet you," replied the Esquimau, somewhat abashed by the
effusive greeting; "where you come from?"

"From the iceberg," and then reflecting that this good friend was
entitled to a full explanation, the sailor added:

"We visited this berg, yesterday, from the ship "Nautilus;" our boat
was carried away before we knew it, and the gale drove the ship so far
out of her course that we haven't seen a thing of her since. How came
you to know we were here?"

"Heard gun go off--didn't know where it be--hear it again--then know
it here--then come to you."

"Were you ashore?"

"Started out to fish--you go ashore with me?"

"You can just bet we will; your kayak is strong enough to take us all,
isn't it?"

"If sit still--make no jump," was the reply of the native, who was
plainly pleased at the part of the good Samaritan he was playing.

"These are my friends, Rob Carrol and Fred Warburton," said Jack,
introducing the lads, each of whom shook the hand of the native, whom
they felt like embracing in a transport of pleasure.

Since the native had come out for the purpose of taking them off,
there was no delay in embarking. The long boat, which the Esquimau
handled with such skill, was taxed to carry the unusual load, and Jack
suggested that he should wait till the boys were taken ashore, when
the native could return for him, but their friend said that was
unnecessary, and, inasmuch as the land was fully three miles distant,
the task would have been a severe one. The sea was not ugly, and the
Esquimau assured them there would be no trouble in landing them
safely, if they "dressed" carefully and guarded against any sudden
shifting of position.

All understood the situation too well to make any mistake in this
respect, and, in a few minutes, everything was in readiness. The
native sat in the middle of the boat and swayed his long paddle with a
dexterity that aroused the admiration of his passengers. It was not
the kind of paddling to which Jack Cosgrove was accustomed, though he
could have picked it up with readiness, and he was just the one to
appreciate work of that kind.

Rob was nearest the prow, and, as the craft whirled about and headed
toward land, he caught a shower of spray which was dashed over his
clothing and in his face. That, however, meant nothing, and he gave no
heed to it. Immediately the craft was skimming over the waves at a
speed of fully five knots.

The occasion was hardly one for conversation, and Rob cautiously moved
sideways and turned his head, so as to watch the advance. The weather,
as will be remembered, was perfectly clear; the stars were shining and
he could see for a considerable way over the water.

It was trying to the nerves of so brave a lad as he to observe a huge
wave rushing like a courser straight toward them and looking as if
nothing could save the boat from swamping; but, under the consummate
handling of its owner, it arose to meet the wall of water and rode it
easily. Then, as it plunged into the trough on the other side, it
seemed as if about to dive into the depths of the sea, but immediately
arose again with inimitable grace and readiness.

Then, perhaps, would follow a short distance of comparatively smooth
water, quickly succeeded by the plunging and rising as before.

All at once the surface became smooth. Before Rob could guess its
meaning something grated against the front of the kayak and slid along
the side, followed by another and another. The native slowed his
paddling and pushed on with extreme care.

He had entered a field of floating ice, through which it was necessary
to force his way with all caution. This was proven by the many turns
he made, and it was then that his skill showed in a more striking
light than before.

He sat facing the prow and was obliged to look over the head of Rob
and along each side of him. His quick eye took in the size and contour
of the drift ice, and, hardly checking his own progress, he shot to
the right, then to the left, turning so quickly that the bodies of his
passengers swayed under the sudden impulse, but all the time he
continued his advance, apparently with undiminished speed.

Meanwhile Jack Cosgrove, from his seat at the rear, was looking still
farther ahead in the effort to gain sight of the welcome land, which
never was so dear to him as when on the iceberg. Once he fancied he
caught the twinkle of a light so low down that it was on shore, but it
vanished quickly and he believed he was mistaken.

It was not long, however, before his penetrating vision discovered
that for which he was yearning. The unmistakable outline of the coast
arose to view, rising gradually from the edge of the water until lost
in the gloom beyond. It was white with snow, as a matter of course,
the depth probably being several feet. The sight of any considerable
portion of Greenland free of its snowy mantle would be a sight,
indeed.

The floating ice continued all the way to land, and the closer the
latter was approached the more difficult became the progress. But the
native was equal to the task. He had been through it too often to
hesitate more than a few seconds when some larger obstacle than usual
interposed across his path. It was very near land that the greatest
peril of all was encountered. The kayak glided over a cake of ice, the
Esquimau believing it would pass readily underneath the craft and out
beyond the stern, but its buoyancy was greater than he supposed, and
it swayed the boat with such force that it came within a hair of
capsizing.

"All right!" he called, cheerily, righting the craft with several
quick, powerful strokes of his paddle. Then he shot between two other
enormous cakes, wedged his way through a narrow passage, and the prow
crunched into the snow that came down to the water's edge.

"Here we are, and thank the Lord!" called out Rob, leaping with a
single bound upon the solid earth; "I feel like giving three cheers,
for if ever Providence favored a lot of scamps, we are the ones."

Fred followed as the kayak turned sideways, so as to permit all to
step out, but Jack paused, opposite the native, and peered into his
face. Something in the Esquimau's voice struck him as familiar.

"What's your name?" he asked, still scrutinizing him as closely as he
could in the gloom.

"Docak," was the reply.



CHAPTER XVII

DOCAK AND HIS HOME


"By the great horned spoon, I suspected it! Docak, I'm mighty glad to
see you; I'm Jack Cosgrove, and put it there!"

The native was not so demonstrative as his English friend, but he
certainly was as delighted and surprised to meet him in this
extraordinary manner as was the sailor to meet him.

They shook hands heartily, and Docak indulged in his peculiar laugh,
which was accompanied by little, if any noise, but was indicative of
genuine pleasure.

The reader will recall that this was the second time Docak had rescued
Jack Cosgrove, the other instance having occurred a number of years
before, when Captain McAlpine's ship was destroyed by collision with
an iceberg.

"You're my guardian angel!" was the exclamation of the happy sailor;
"I might have known that if anybody was to save us you was the chap to
do it. Come up here, boys, and shake hands with Docak ag'in, for he's
one of the best fellows living."

Rob and Fred were only too glad to do as invited, and cordial
relations were at once established.

"Is your home where it was when I was here last?" Jack asked.

"Yes, off dere," replied Docak, turning about and pointing inland;
"not far--soon get dere."

Jack gave a low whistle expressive of astonishment.

"Now, lads," he said, addressing the youths, "I rather think you'll
own that Jack Cosgrove knows a thing or two about icebergs."

"I think Fred and I have also learned something, but what are you
driving at?"

"We're well up toward Davis Strait, and there's more than a hundred
miles of Greenland coast to the south of us. That old berg has struck
a bee line for the North Pole, but it won't reach there, eh, Docak?"

"No; soon turn around--go back."

"Now, isn't that one of the strangest things you ever heard of, lads?
The place where the 'Mary Jane' went down, afore that berg, three
years ago, was mighty nigh the very spot where Docak found us. I
remember he brought us ashore in his kayak--"

"Dis same boat," interrupted the native with a grin, perceptible in
the twilight.

"There you are, and, if he keeps on, I'll begin to think that one of
you chaps is Captain McAlpine himself, and the other Bill Hardin, who
was saved with us."

"It is a most remarkable coincidence," said Fred, and Rob added that
he had never read or heard anything like it.

But it occurred to Docak that he was not acting the part of hospitable
host, by keeping his friends standing on the edge of the sea, while
the reminiscences went on. He stooped and drew his boat far up the
bank. The tide was at its height, so there was no fear of its playing
the trick our friends had suffered. Then he turned about and started
inland, the others following in Indian file.

He was treading a path, a foot or more deep in the snow, and worn as
hard as a rock. The ascent was gentle, and a hundred yards from the
shore he arrived at the entrance to his home, where a surprise awaited
the boys.

When seen for the first time the hut of the Esquimaux suggest the sod
houses common on the Western plains of our country, except that the
homes of the far North are entered by means of a burrow. Where such
frightful cold reigns for months every year the first consideration
with the native is to secure protection against it; everything is
sacrificed to that.

The walls are of alternate layers of stone and sod, and are about
three feet in thickness. The highest clear space within is from four
to five feet. The building contains an entry-way, a kitchen, and a
living room. The entry is four or five yards in length, two feet or
less wide, and no more than a yard in height. It will thus be seen
that even a small boy would have to stoop to pass through it, while
the interior of the hut itself will not allow a full-grown Esquimau to
stand erect. To this fact may be attributed in some degree the stoop
shoulders so common among the men.

Half-way between the beginning of the entry and the main rooms was an
opening leading to the kitchen. This was small, shaped like a
bee-hive, and with a hole at the apex for the escape of the smoke. The
floor was bare ground, the hearth consisting of a number of stones
placed close together, on which the iron kettles sat, while the fire
of driftwood burned beneath. The height of the kitchen is less than
that of the main room, so that only the women can stand erect in the
highest portion.

When the weather is very severe the cooking is done in the main room,
by means of the big oil-lamp, while the thick walls and the heavy furs
of the inmates enable them to laugh at the raging blizzard outside.

It was along such a passage as the one described that Docak led the
way, followed by Jack Cosgrove, Rob, and Fred, each trailing his
rifle, and happy beyond measure that everything with them had turned
out so well.

The main room into which the little party entered was about four yards
square. It had a board floor and a ceiling--luxuries not generally
found in the native homes except in the settlements. The walls were
furred off and ceiled, and the spaces closely stuffed with moss. The
wall on the right of the main room had a single window with twelve
panes of glass.

The main room was the most interesting part of the structure. Along
the front of the window ran a wooden bench, near the end of which,
toward the entrance, stood a Danish stove. In the corner beyond the
other end of the bench was a table. To the left of that was the
lamp-stand, directly opposite to which on the other side of the room
was a second and shorter bench.

The whole left-hand side of the room, as you entered, consisted of a
platform, about six feet long. It was elevated a foot above the floor,
the side next to the wall being a few inches higher. At night it was
covered with feather beds, which are rolled back during the day, so
that the front may be used for other purposes. The lamp used in the
Esquimau houses is simply a large, green stone, with a hollow scooped
in the top. This contains seal oil, a piece of moss serving as a wick.

It may be well to tell you something in this place about the dress of
the Esquimaux, referring now to those who live near the settlements,
most of whom are of mixed blood. In the interior, and, along the east
coast of Greenland, are met the wild natives, who are muffled in the
thickest furs, and bear little resemblance to the class to which Docak
and his acquaintances belonged.

These men wore jackets, trousers, moccasins, and generally
undershirts, drawers, and socks. The rule is for them to go
bareheaded, though a hat or cap is frequently seen. The clothing,
except the moccasins, is made from woolen or cotton stuff, bought off
the Danish Governor.

The jacket is of gingham, with sleeves and a hood that can be drawn
over the head, and fitted in place by drawing and tying a string that
passes under the chin. When venturing out in his kayak, or in severe
weather, Docak, like most of his friends, wore a jacket and hood
combined. This was of sealskin, with the leather side out. The
trousers are constructed of the same material with the hair out.
Sometimes they are lined with sealskin, with the hair in.

The moccasins are well-shaped sealskin boots, reaching nearly to the
knees. When the socks are not woolen, the hair is turned toward the
skin. The mittens are of seal leather, with no hair on either side,
and are much inferior to many of our own country, for purposes of
warmth and comfort.

The Esquimau women are shorter of stature than the men, and walk with
short, mincing steps, showing a stoop similar to their husbands. They
have small hands and feet, with faces that any one would pronounce
good looking. They comb their hair to an apex, which, if the woman is
married, is tied with a blue ribbon; if a widow, with black; and if a
maiden, with green.

The females generally wear collars of beads, with lace-work patterns
and vivid colors. The waist is generally of woolen stuff, and here the
same fondness for bright colors displays itself. It has no buttons,
and is donned and doffed by passing over the head, and is fastened at
the waist with a belt. Then come a pair of short trousers of sealskin,
which are tastefully ornamented. Below these are the long-legged
moccasins, also ornamented by the deft handiwork of the native owners.
The dress of the children is the same as the parents.



CHAPTER XVIII

A NEW EXPEDITION


Docak had no children, the single son born to him ten years before
having died in infancy. His wife was about his age, and had noticeably
lighter skin and bright brown eyes. It was evident that she had more
white blood in her veins than her husband, who was of mixed breed.

Docak did not knock before entering. His wife was trimming the lamp at
the moment, and looked around to see whom he had brought with him. She
must have felt surprised, but, if so, she concealed all evidence of
it. She smiled in her pleasant way, showing her fine white teeth, and
said in a low, soft voice, "Con-ji-meet," which is the native word for
welcome.

Her first curiosity was concerning the boys, with whom she shook
hands, but, when she turned to the grinning Jack, she made no effort
to hide her astonishment, for he had addressed her by name.

"Crestana, I guess you haven't forgot Jack Cosgrove?"

"Oh! oh! oh! dat you--much glad! much glad!" she said, laughing more
heartily than her husband had done.

She was very vivacious, and, though she could not speak the English
tongue as well as he, she made it up by her earnestness.

"So glad--much glad--whale kill vessel ag'in? Docak bring no ice?
Where capen? How you be? Crestana glad to see you--yes, heap much
glad."

"By the great horned spoon," said Jack, holding the small hand of
Crestana in his hearty grasp, and looking around at the others with
one of his broadest grins; "the women are the same the world over;
they can talk faster than a Greenland harrycane, and when they're glad
they're glad all over, and clean through. Docak, you're a purty good
chap, but you aint half good enough for such a wife as Crestana, and
that reminds me we're as hungry as git out."

The wife evidently thought the sailor was a funny fellow, for she
broke into merry laughter again, and, disengaging her hand, hurried
into the kitchen, where she had been busying herself with her
husband's supper.

The visitors, knowing how heartily welcome they were, seated
themselves on the benches, doffed their heavy outer clothing, and made
themselves as much at home as if in the cabin of the "Nautilus." They
leaned their rifles in the corner near the table, alongside of the
long muzzle-loader and several spears belonging to Docak.

A large supply of dry driftwood was piled near the window, and from
this the native kept such a glow in the stove that the whole interior
was filled with grateful warmth.

In the course of a few moments Crestana bustled in, her pretty teeth
showing between her lips as she chatted with Jack and her husband. She
drew the table out near the middle of the room, and quickly brought in
some fish, "done to a turn." She furnished coffee, too, and the three
guests who partook of her hospitality insist to this day that never in
the wide world will they ever taste such fragrant coffee and such
delicately-flavored fish as they feasted upon that night in Docak's
hut. But we must not forget that they had the best sauce ever
known--hunger.

The meal was enlivened by lively conversation, in which Jack managed
to tell the story of the mishap that had befallen himself and
companions. She showed less interest in the boys than in the sailor,
though, as may be supposed, Rob and Fred were charmed with her
simplicity and good-nature. She placed spoons, knives and forks, cups,
saucers, and plates before them, and there was a neatness about
herself and the room which added doubly to its attractiveness, and did
much to enlighten the youths about these people, whom they supposed to
be barely half civilized.

When the meal was finished, and the wife occupied herself in clearing
away things, Docak brought out a couple of pipes, filled with tobacco,
and offered one each to Rob and Fred. They, declining with thanks, he
did the same to Jack, who accepted one, and a minute later the two
were puffing away like a couple of veteran devotees of the weed.

The boys felt some curiosity to learn how it was that Docak, whose
manner of living proved that he knew the ways of the more civilized
people among the settlements, made his home in this lonely place, far
removed from all neighbors. They could not learn everything that
evening but they ascertained it afterward.

Docak had lived awhile in Invernik, and then took up his residence at
Ivigtut, where he lived until four or five years before Rob and Fred
met him. It was in the latter place he married Crestana, and it was
there that his only child died.

The loss of the little one made him morose for awhile, and he got into
a difficulty with one of his people, in which, in the eyes of the law,
Docak was wholly to blame. He was punished, and, in resentment, he
withdrew to a place on the west coast, about sixty miles north of the
famous cryolite mines. There he lived, alone with his wife, as
serenely contented as he could be anywhere. He made occasional visits
to Ivigtut, to Invernik, Julianshaab, and other settlements, but it
was only for the purpose of getting ammunition and other supplies
which could be obtained in no other way.

Docak was not only a skilled fisherman, but, what is rare among his
class of people, he was a great hunter. He was sometimes absent for
days at a time in the interior, traveling many miles on snow-shoes,
forcing his way over the icy mountains and braving the Arctic blasts
that had driven back many a hardy European from his search for the
North Pole.

While he was absent his wife went about her duties with calm
contentment, where a more sensitive person would have gone out of her
mind from very loneliness and desolation.

Our friends having effected their escape from the iceberg, it was time
to decide what next should be done.

The most obvious course was to go to Ivigtut, where they could obtain
the means of returning to England, most likely by way of Denmark, and
possibly might hear something of the "Nautilus," if she had survived
the gale which caused her to part company with Jack and the boys.

The kayak was strong enough to carry them, and Docak could make the
voyage in a couple of days. This Rob and Fred supposed would be the
plan adopted, but the native put another idea into their heads which
caused in a twinkling a radical change of programme, and brought an
experience to the two of which neither dreamed.

While Docak and Jack sat beside each other on the longer bench,
smoking and talking, the native frequently cast admiring glances at
the rifles leaning against the wall in the corner. Finally he rose,
and, walking over, examined the three weapons, taking up each in turn
and holding it so the light from the lamp fell upon it. He was most
struck with Rob's, which had more ornamentation than the others. It
was a modern loader, but not a repeater.

"He berry good," he remarked, setting it down again in the corner and
resuming his place on the bench beside his friend; "why you not go
hunting with me 'fore go to Ivigtut?"

Jack saw the eyes of the boys sparkle at the suggestion. Why not,
indeed, go on a hunting excursion into the interior before they
returned to the settlement? What was to prevent? It would take but a
few days, and there is royal game to be found in Greenland.

Docak explained that this was the time of the year when he was
accustomed to indulge in a long hunt. Twelve months before he had
brought down some animals rarely ever encountered in that portion of
the country, and he was hopeful of doing the same again, when he could
have his friends to help.

So the matter needed only to be broached to be settled. The whole
party would go on a hunt, and they would start the following morning,
returning whenever they deemed best, and then making their way to
Ivigtut at a leisurely rate, set about their return home, if that
should be deemed the best course.

The warmth and smoke in the room led the boys to decide to step
outside a brief while, to inhale the crisp air, and, inviting Fred to
follow, Rob sprang up and hurried in a stooping posture through the
long entry-way. Fred stopped a minute in the road to peep through the
opening into the kitchen, where the thrifty housewife was busy.

She smiled pleasantly at him, and he might have lingered had he not
heard the voice of his friend.

"Hurry out, Fred! Here's the most wonderful sight you ever saw. Quick,
or you will lose it!"

Fred lost no time in rushing after Rob, whose excitement was fully
justified.



CHAPTER XIX

A WONDERFUL EXHIBITION


Unto no one, excepting him who journeys far into the Northland, is
given it to view such an amazing picture as was now spread out before
the enraptured gaze of Rob Carrol and Fred Warburton. In Northern
Siberia, the Scandinavian Peninsula, the upper portion of the American
Continent, and the Arctic Sea, the traveler learns in all its
wonderful fullness of glory the meaning of the Aurora Borealis or
Northern Lights.

The boys had had partial glimpses of the scene on their voyage through
the Greenland Sea, and there were flickerings of light which caught
their eye on the trip from the iceberg to the mainland, and the short
walk to Docak's hut, but it was during their short stay in the rude
dwelling that the mysterious scene-shifters of the skies unfolded
their magnificent panorama in all its overwhelming grandeur.

Radiating from a huge nucleus, which seemed to be the North Pole
itself, shot the streamers of light, so vast in extent that their
extremities struck the zenith, withdrawing with lightning-like
quickness, and succeeded by others with the same celerity and
displaying all the vivid hues of the rainbow.

At times these dartings resembled immense spears, and then they
changed to bands of light, turning again into ribbons which shivered
and hovered in the sky, with bewildering variation, turning and
doubling upon themselves, spreading apart like an immense fan, and
then trembling on the very verge of the horizon, as if about to vanish
in the darkness of night.

At the moment the spectators held their breath, fearing that the
celestial display was ended; the streamers, spears, bands of violet,
indigo, blue, orange, red, green, and yellow, with the innumerable
shades, combinations, and mingling of colors, shot out and spread over
the sky like the myriad rays of the setting sun.

This continued for several minutes, marked by irregular degrees of
intensity, so impressive in its splendor that neither lad spoke, for
he could make no comment upon the exhibition, the like of which is
seen nowhere else in nature.

But once both gave a sigh of amazed delight when a ribbon, combining
several vivid colors, quivered, danced, and streamed far beyond the
zenith, with a wary appearance that suggested that some giant,
standing upon the extreme northern point of the earth, had suddenly
unrolled this marvelous ribbon and was waving it in the eyes of an
awestruck world.

One of the most striking features of those mysterious electrical
phenomena known as the Northern Lights is the absolute silence which
accompanies them. The genius of man can never approach in the smallest
degree the beauties of the picture without some noise, but here nature
performs her most wonderful feat in utter stillness. The panorama may
unfold, roll together, spread apart again with dazzling brilliancy and
suddenness, but the strained ear catches no sound, unless dissociated
altogether from the phenomenon itself, such as the soft sighing of the
Arctic wind over the wastes of snow, or through the grove of solemn
pines.

There were moments when the effulgence spread over the earth, like the
rays of the midnight sun, and the lads, standing in front of the
primitive dwelling of the Esquimau, resembled a couple of figures
stamped in ink in the radiant field.

For nearly an hour the rapt spectators stood near the entrance to the
native dwelling, insensible to the extreme cold, and too profoundly
impressed to speak or stir; but the heavens had given too great a
wealth of splendor, brilliancy, color, and celestial scene-shifting to
continue it long. The subtle exchange of electrical conditions must
have reached something like an equipoise, and the overwhelming beauty
and grandeur exhausted itself.

The ribbons and streamers that had been darting to and beyond the
zenith, shortened their lightning excursions into space, leaping forth
at longer intervals and to a decreasing distance, until they ceased
altogether, displaying a few flickerings in the horizon, as though
eager to bound forth again, but restrained by a superior hand with the
command, "Enough for this time."

Fred drew a deep sigh.

"I never dreamed that anywhere in the world one could see such a sight
as that."

"It is worth a voyage from home a hundred times over, and I don't
regret our stay on the iceberg, for we would have been denied it
otherwise."

"If there are any people living near the North Pole, it must be like
dwelling in another world. I don't see how they stand it."

"I believe that the Northern Lights have their origin between here and
the Pole," said Fred; "though I am not sure of that."

"The magnetic pole, which must be the source of the display, is south
of the earth's pole, and I suppose that's the reason for the belief
you mention. But it is enough to fill one with awe, when he gazes on
the scene and reflects that the world is one great reservoir of
electricity, which, if left free for a moment by its Author, would
shiver the globe into nothingness, and leave only an empty void where
the earth swung before."

"I pity the man who says, 'There is no God,' or who can look unmoved
to the very depths of his soul by such displays of infinite power."

"There are no such persons," exclaimed Rob, impatiently; "they may
repeat the words, because they think it brave and smart before their
companions, but they don't believe themselves. It is impossible."

"Why didn't we think to tell Jack and Docak, that they might have
enjoyed the scene with us?"

"The native Esquimaux see it too often to care about it. It is hard to
understand how any one can become accustomed to it, but we know it is
so. As for Jack, he must have looked upon it many times before, when
he was in this latitude. Gracious! but it has become cold," added Rob,
with a shiver.

"It isn't any colder than it has been all the evening, but we forgot
about it while the exhibition was going on."

The boys turned about, and, ducking their heads, made their way along
the long entry, quickly debouching into the warmth and glow of the
living room, where Docak and the sailor, having laid away their pipes,
were talking like a couple of old friends who had not seen each other
for years and were exchanging experiences. Crestana had finished her
work in the kitchen and joined them. She was sitting on the shorter
bench, and, like a thrifty housewife, was engaged in repairing some of
her husband's bulky garments, with big needles and coarse thread.

She looked up with her pleasant smile, as the boys entered, their
bodies shivering and their teeth chattering from the extreme cold.

"You chaps must have found it mighty pleasant out-doors," remarked the
sailor.

"Ah! Jack, if you had been with us, you would have seen a sight worth
a journey around the world."

"What was it? Another polar bear, or two of them?"

"The Northern Lights, and O--"

"The Northern Lights," interrupted their friend, with a sniff of
disgust; "is that all?"

The boys looked at him, too horrified to speak.

"I'll own that they are rather purty, and the first two or three times
a chap looks onto 'em he is apt to hold his breath, and rub his eyes,
but, when you've seed 'em as often as me, it'll get to be an old
story. Besides Docak and me had more important bus'ness to talk
about."

"What was that?"

"This hunting trip; it's all fixed."

"When do we start?"

"To-morrow morning. There's no saying how long we'll be gone, and I've
told him that it doesn't make any difference to us, so we get back
some time this year."

"Can we travel without snow-shoes?"

"Luckily we can, for Docak has only two pair. This fog and a little
rain we've had have formed a crust on the snow hard enough to bear a
reindeer, so that we can travel over it as easy as if it were solid
ice. The only thing to be feared is another deep fall of snow afore we
can get back. That would make hard traveling, but then a hunter must
take some risk and who cares? We may see sights and meet fun that will
last us a lifetime."



CHAPTER XX

THE HERD OF MUSK OXEN


One of the most interesting animals found in the frozen regions of the
North is the musk ox, his favorite haunt being on the mainland of the
Continent in the neighborhood of the Arctic circle, though he is
occasionally met in Greenland.

The fact that the animal has no muzzle has led some naturalists to
separate him from the ox species and give him the name of Ovibos. He
is smaller in size than his domestic brother, very low on his legs,
and covered with a wealth of wool and dark brown hair, which, during
the cold weather, almost touches the ground. A whitish spot on the
back is called the saddle, though it is not to be supposed that it is
ever intended for that purpose.

One of the most striking features of the musk ox is his horns, which
sometimes weigh fifty or sixty pounds. They are flattened at the base,
the flat sides turned outward, and form a sort of shield or protection
for the face.

At certain seasons he is one of the most odoriferous animals in
creation. During the spring the musky odor is so strong that it can be
detected on the first knife thrust into his body. At other seasons it
is hardly perceptible, and the eating is excellent.

Although his legs are so short he can travel swiftly, and shows a
facility in climbing mountains that no one would suspect on looking at
the animal the first time. It suggests the chamois in this respect. He
feeds on lichens during a part of the year, and on grass and moss
during the rest.

Some distance back of the native Esquimau's hut, the land inclined
upward, becoming quite rough and mountainous not far from the coast.

It was among these wild hilly regions that a herd of musk oxen,
numbering eleven, were browsing one afternoon, with no thought of
disturbance from man or beast. Perhaps the last should be excepted,
for the oxen are accustomed to herd together for the purpose of mutual
protection against the ravening wolves who would make short work of
one or two of them, when detached from the main herd. But it is not to
be supposed that the thought of bipedal foes entered their thick
skulls, for the Esquimau is not a hunter as a rule, and confines his
operations to fishing in the waters near his home.

The herd referred to had gradually worked their way upward among the
mountains, until they reached a plateau, several acres in extent.
There a peculiar swirling gale had, at some time or other, swept most
of the space quite clear of snow, and left bare the stubby grass and
moss, which, at certain seasons, formed the only sustenance of the
animals.

It was a lucky find for the oxen, for in the far North, with its ice
and snow, it is an eternal battle between the wild animals and
starvation, the victory not infrequently being with the latter. It was
rare that the oxen found food so plentiful, and they were certain to
remain there, if permitted, until hardly a spear was left for those
who might come after them.

The largest ox of the party was grazing along the upper edge of the
plateau, some rods removed from the others. He had struck a spot where
the grass and moss were more abundant, and he was putting in his best
work.

Suddenly he caught a suspicious sound. Throwing up his head, with the
food dripping from the motionless jaws, he stared in the direction
whence it came, possibly with the fear of wolves.

Instead of seeing one of the latter he descried an object fully as
terrifying in the shape of a young man, clad in thick clothing from
head to foot, and with a rifle in his hands. The name of this young
man was Fred Warburton, and he had reached this advantageous spot
after long and careful climbing from the plain below. He was studying
the creatures closely, now that he had succeeded in gaining a nearer
view, for, on the way thither, Docak had told him much concerning
them, and they had become objects of great interest.

Fred was alone, and had spent several minutes in surveying the brutes
before he coughed with the purpose of attracting attention for a few
seconds. Then, slipping his mitten from his right hand, the lad
brought his rifle to his shoulder and sighted at the animal.

He had forgotten to inquire at what part to aim, but it seemed to him
that the head was the most vulnerable, and he directed his weapon at a
point midway between the eyes and near the centre of the forehead.

At the very instant of pressing the trigger the ox slightly lowered
his head, and, instead of boring its way through the skull, the bullet
impinged against the horny mass above, and glanced off without causing
injury.

Fred was startled when he observed the failure, for his friends were
too far away to give him support, and it was necessary to place
another cartridge in the chamber of his weapon before it could be
used. He proceeded to do so, without stirring a foot, and with a
coolness which no veteran hunter ever excelled.

But if Fred stood still the musk ox was very far from doing so.

One glance only at the youth was enough, when, with a snort, he
whirled about, galloped a few paces, and then wheeled with marked
quickness, and faced the young hunter again. While engaged in this
performance his snortings drew the attention of his companions, who,
throwing up their heads, galloped to him, and the whole eleven
speedily stood side by side, facing the point whence the attack had
come.

They were of formidable appearance, indeed, for, with lowered heads,
they pawed up the earth and began cautiously advancing upon the boy,
who had his cartridge in place and was ready for another shot. But
instead of one musk ox he was confronted by eleven!

"My gracious!" he said to himself; "this is a larger contract than I
thought of. If they will only come at me one at a time I wouldn't
mind. I wonder where the other folks are?"

He glanced right and left, but nothing was to be seen of Rob or Jack
or Docak. It looked as if a line of retreat should be provided, and he
ventured a glance to the rear.

He saw a mass of rocks within a hundred yards, against which a good
deal of snow had been driven, and he concluded that that was the only
available refuge, with no certainty that it would prove a refuge at
all.

"Being as I shall have to fetch up there to save myself, and being
that those beasts can travel faster than I, it wouldn't be a bad idea
to begin edging that way now."

He would have been glad to whirl about and dash off, reserving his
shot until he reached the rocks, but for his belief that such an
attempt would be fatal to himself. Nothing encourages man or animal so
much as the sight of a flying foe, and he was sure that he would
instantly have the whole herd at his heels, and they would overhaul
him too before he could attain his shelter.

It was a test of his nerves, indeed. There were eleven musk oxen,
heads lowered, eyes staring, with low, muttering bellows, pawing and
flinging the dirt behind them, while they continued advancing upon the
motionless lad, who, having but one shot immediately at command,
sought to decide where it could be sent so as to do the most good.

The fellow at which he fired was the largest of the herd, and it was
plain to see that he was commander-in-chief. Upon receiving the shot
on his horns he had summoned his followers about him, and no doubt
told them of the outrage and whispered in their ears the single word
"Vengeance."

It naturally struck Fred that the single shot should be directed at
the leader, for possibly, if he fell, the others would be thrown into
a panic and scatter. At any rate, it was the only hope, and, without
waiting a tenth part of the time it has taken us to tell it, he
brought his rifle to a level and aimed at the big fellow.

The distance was so short that there was no excuse for repeating his
blunder, or, rather, accident. He sighted the best he knew how, and,
while the fellow was still pawing and advancing, let fly, hitting him
fairly between the eyes.

The lad paused just long enough to learn that his shot was effective,
when he whirled on his heel, without waiting for more, and ran as he
never ran before.



CHAPTER XXI

CLOSE QUARTERS


At this moment, when it would be thought that the incident was at its
most thrilling crisis, it assumed a ludicrous phase, at which any
spectator must have laughed heartily.

Fred, as I have said, made for the protecting rocks, with all the
energy of which he was capable. On the way thither he dropped one
mitten, then his gun flew from his grasp, and a chill passed through
his frame, at the consciousness that he had lost his only means of
defense; but he dared not check himself long enough to pick it up, for
in fancy he heard the whole ten thundering after him and almost upon
his heels.

The distance to travel was short, but it seemed twice its real extent,
and he feared he would never reach it. He was running for life,
however, and he got over the ground faster than would be supposed.
Panting and half-exhausted, he arrived at last, and darted
breathlessly behind the rugged mass of boulders.

His heart almost gave way when he found it what he feared; a simple
pile of stones, partly covered with snow, but presenting nothing that
could be used for protection. The only portion was the top, but that
was too high for him to climb the perpendicular sides.

It was at this moment he cast a terrified glance behind him, and
uttered the single exclamation:

"Well, if that doesn't beat all creation!"

What did he see?

The whole ten musk oxen scampering in the opposite direction,
apparently in as great a panic as himself.

The truth of it is the musk ox is one of the most cowardly animals in
existence. All the pawing of dirt, the bellowing, and threatening
advance upon an enemy is simply "bluff." At the first real danger he
takes himself off like the veritable booby that he is.

As soon as Fred could recover his wind he broke into laughter at the
thought of his causeless scare. He might as well have stood his ground
and fired into them at his leisure.

"I'm glad Rob didn't see me," he reflected as he came from behind the
rock and set out to regain his lost weapon and mitten; "he would have
had it on me bad--"

A shiver ran through him, for he surely heard something like a chuckle
that had a familiar sound.

He looked around, but could discover no cause for it.

"No; it wouldn't have done for him or Jack to have had a glimpse of me
running away from the oxen that were going just as hard from me--"

"Hello, Fred, where's your gun?"

It was Rob Carrol and no one else, who stepped into sight from the
other side of the rocks and came toward him, shaking so much with
mirth that he could hardly walk.

"What's the matter with you?" demanded Fred, savagely; "you seem to
find cause for laughter where no one else can."

"O Fred! if you only could have seen yourself tearing for the rocks,
your gun flying one way, your mitten another, your eyes bulging out,
and you too scared to look behind at the animals that were going still
faster right from you, why you would have tumbled down and called it
the funniest sight in the world."

"If I had seen you with your life in danger I wouldn't have stopped to
laugh, but would have gone to your help."

"So would I have gone to yours, but the trouble was your neck wasn't
in danger, though I guess you thought it was."

"Why didn't you fire into the herd?"

"What for? They were too far off to take the chances of bringing them
down, and you had killed the leader."

"Why, then, didn't you yell to me to stop my running?"

"I tried to, but couldn't for laughing; then, too, Fred, it wasn't
long before you found it out yourself. If, when we get home, you want
to enter the races as a sprinter, I will back you against the field. I
tell you, old fellow, you surpassed yourself."

By this time the younger lad had rallied, and saw that his exhibition
of ill-temper only made him ridiculous. He turned toward his companion
with a smile, and asked, in his quaint way:

"What'll you take, Rob, not to mention this to Jack or any of the rest
of our friends?"

"I'll try not to do so, but, if it should happen to drop from me some
time, don't get mad and tear your hair."

"Never mind," said Fred, significantly; "this hunt isn't finished yet,
and I may get a chance to turn the laugh on you."

"If you do, then I'll make the bargain."

"Perhaps you will, but that will be as I feel about it. But, I say,
did you ever know of any such cowardly animals as the musk ox? If
they had gone for me, where would I have been?"

"I doubt whether they could have caught you, but they are stupid
cowards, who don't know their own strength."

"I wonder whether they always act this way."

"Most of the time, but not always. I heard Docak telling Jack how he
once put two bullets into a bull, which kept on for him like a steam
engine. He flung himself behind a lot of rocks, just as you did, when
the beast was right upon him. He struck the stones with such force
that he shattered his horns and was thrown back on the ground like a
ball. Before he could rise his wounds overcame him, and he gave it up,
but it was a narrow escape for the Esquimau."

"It might have been the same with me," added Fred, who could not
recall, without a shudder, those few seconds when he faced the leader
with his herd ranged alongside of him; "but all's well that ends well.
Where are Jack and Docak?"

As if in answer to the question the reports of the guns broke upon
their ears at that moment, and they saw the two hunters standing on
the lower edge of the plateau, firing into the terrified animals that
were almost upon them. Instead of turning to run, as Fred had done,
immediately after firing, they quietly held their places and began
coolly reloading their pieces.

There was good ground for their self-confidence. Their shots were so
well aimed that two of the oxen tumbled to the ground, while the
others, whirling again, came thundering in the direction of the rocks,
near which the lads were watching them.

"That sight is enough to scare any one," remarked Fred.

"If you want to turn and run again," said Rob, "I'll pick up your gun
and both of your mittens, if you drop them."

"Don't fret yourself; if I can beat you when you had that polar bear
at your heels no beast could overtake me."

"The difference between that and this was that the brute was at my
heels, while your pursuers were running the other way. However, we'll
drop the matter, old fellow, since I have had all the fun I want out
of it. It may be upon me next time."

"I hope it will, and, if so, I won't forget it; but, Rob, this begins
to look serious."

Although the youths were in plain view, the musk oxen continued their
flight straight toward them. Unless they changed very quickly or the
lads got out of the way a collision was certain.

"You may stay here if you think it smart," said Fred, a second later,
"but I don't."

Despite the exhibition he had made of himself a few minutes before he
moved briskly toward the rocks, behind which he whisked like one who
had no time to waste.

To show him how causeless was his alarm, Rob raised his gun, and,
taking a quick aim at the foremost, let fly.

"That'll settle them!" he called out; "see how quickly they will turn
tail."

But they did not adopt this course as promptly as Rob expected. He had
struck one of them, but without inflicting much hurt. There is a
latent courage in every beast, which, under certain stress, can be
aroused to activity, and this shot had done it.

Rob stood his ground for an instant or two. Then he awoke to the fact
that his shot was not going to turn a single one of the eight musk
oxen from his course. They thundered toward him like so many furies,
and were almost upon him before he realized that he had already waited
too long.



CHAPTER XXII

FRED'S TURN


At the moment Rob Carrol wheeled to run the foremost of the musk oxen
was upon him.

This animal was the largest of the herd, after the fall of the leader,
whose place he had undoubtedly taken by the unanimous wish of the
survivors.

Perhaps he was eager to prove to his companions his worthiness to fill
the shoes of the late lamented commander, for, although one of the
most dreaded of enemies stood directly in his path, and had just
emptied his gun at him, he charged upon him like a cyclone.

Meanwhile, Fred Warburton, having darted behind the rocks, lost no
time in slipping another cartridge in his gun. He would have assumed
any risk before permitting harm to come to his friend, but, somehow or
other, he yearned for the chance of saving him from just such a
disaster as was now upon him.

  [Illustration: THE OX BOUNDED DIRECTLY OVER HIS BODY

  (See page 199)]

Had Rob started a moment sooner he would have escaped, but in his
desperate haste he fell headlong, and the ox bounded directly over his
body, fortunately, without touching him.

The other animals were unequal to the draught upon their courage, and
diverged sharply, some to the right and the rest to the left, circling
back over the plateau on whose margin Jack Cosgrove and Docak were
waiting until they came within certain range.

"Fred, fire quick! my gun's unloaded!" called Rob from where he lay on
the ground; "don't wait a second or it'll be too late!"

Fred did fire, sending the bullet with such accuracy that it wound up
the business. Precisely the same catastrophe, described by the
Esquimau to the sailor took place. The ox, coming with such desperate
speed, was carried forward by its own terrific momentum. It may be
said that he was dead before he could fall; he certainly was
unconscious of what he was doing, for he crashed against the rocks, as
if driven from an enormous catapult and then collapsed, in a senseless
heap, with his flat horns smashed and broken to fragments.

Fred Warburton saw that his "turn" had arrived, and he made the most
of it. Rob had been merciless to him, and he was now ready to pay him
off in his own coin.

"I wouldn't lie down there, Rob," he said, gravely, "for the ground
must be cold."

"It does seem rather chilly--that's a fact," replied his friend, who,
knowing what was coming, slowly climbed to his feet; "I didn't think
of that when I lay down."

"What made you lie down at all?"

"You see I noticed that the creature didn't mean to turn about and
travel the other way as yours did; there was the difference. Then I
knew, too, that he must be tired from running so hard, and it struck
me as a kind thing to do to serve as a rug or carpet for him."

"You did so, and no mistake. If I'm not in error," continued Fred,
with a quizzical expression, "I heard you call out a minute ago
something about my hurrying up and firing so as to save your life."

"I say anything like that! What put such an idea in your head? It must
have been the echo of your voice, when you were running away from the
ox that was running away from you."

And Rob assumed an expression of innocent surprise that would have
convinced any one else than Fred of his mistake.

"It is singular, but no doubt I am in error," said he, resignedly. "It
must have been some one else that sprawled on the ground, and begged
me to shoot quick or he was a goner; it must have been another
vaunting young man, who looked up so pityingly, and was too scared to
try to get on his feet until I shot the ox for him, just as I did the
polar bear, when another minute would have finished him; but I'd like
to see that other fellow," added Fred, looking around, as if in quest
of him.

"I'll help you search," said Rob, in the same serious manner; "and as
soon as I run across him I'll introduce you two. You'll be congenial
to each other. Until then suppose we let the matter rest."

"I won't promise that," returned Fred, following up his advantage; "it
depends on whether certain other matters are referred to."

Rob now laughed outright and offered his hand, which his friend
readily took.

The words were uttered hurriedly, for it was hardly the time or place
for conversation. The popping of rifles was renewed from another part
of the plateau, and several other musk oxen had tumbled to the ground.
A half-dozen survivors managed to get it through their heads that they
had enemies on both sides, and, seeing an opening, they plunged
through it and were seen no more.

The boys devoted some minutes to inspecting the two animals that had
fallen by the rifle of Fred Warburton. They were a couple of the
largest specimens of their kind, but the description already given
renders anything like a repetition unnecessary.

Although it was the favorable season of the year, the youths detected
a slight musky odor exhaling from the bodies, which was anything but
pleasant.

Docak and Jack were observed approaching across the plateau. Both were
in high spirits over the success that had marked this essay in hunting
the musk ox, and the Esquimau assured them that despite the odor to
which they objected, he would furnish them with one of the best
suppers they had ever eaten. The lads, however, could not feel quite
assured on that point.

It may as well be stated in this place that the spot where the animals
were shot was about thirty miles inland from the home of Docak, and
a great many leagues south of Upernavik, the most northernmost
settlement on the Greenland coast. It is beyond this quaint Arctic
town, in the neighborhood of Melville Bay, that the musk ox has his
true _habitat_. There, although the animals are diminishing in
number, he may be found by any one who chooses to hunt for him.

The fact that Docak had met them so far south was extraordinary, and,
up to the previous year, he had never known of such a thing, nor did
he believe there were any besides this particular herd within hundreds
of miles of the spot, nor that they were likely ever to be seen there
again.

It took our friends two days and a part of a night to reach this
portion of the Arctic highlands. They had looked for foxes, reindeer,
ptarmigan, hares, and other game on the way, but failed to run across
any game until they came upon the musk oxen. Had not the Esquimau been
thoughtful enough to bring a lunch of cold fish, they would have
suffered from hunger. As it was, all felt the need of food, and the
prospect of a dinner upon the game at their feet was inviting, indeed.

The Esquimau would not have bothered with the cooking had he been
alone, but, out of deference to his friends, he prepared to make a
meal according to their tastes.

Inasmuch as so much game had been bagged, they could afford to be
choice. They cut the tongues from the animals, together with some
slices from the tenderest portion of their bodies, and had sufficient
to satisfy all their appetites and leave something over.

No better place for camping was likely to be found than these hills,
but a shelter was desirable, and Docak set out to lead the way further
among them. His manner showed that he was familiar with the section,
for he did not go far before he came upon the very place for which
Fred Warburton longed when making his desperate flight from the bull
that he supposed was at his heels.

It was a cavern among the rocks, as extensive as his own living room
at home, and approached by an entrance, which if not so extended as
his own entry, was of still less dimensions, causing them to stoop and
creep for part of the way.

"Me be here 'fore," said he; "like de place?"

"I should say we did," replied the pleased Rob, echoing the sentiments
of his friends; "but we shall need some fuel to cook the food and keep
warm, and wood isn't very abundant in this part of the world."

"We git wood," was the rather vague reply, whose meaning was not
understood until they had penetrated into the cavern, which was
lightened by a crevice on one side of the entrance. This permitted
enough daylight to enter to reveal the interior quite plainly. It took
the boys a few minutes to accustom their eyes to the gloom, but when
they did so they were no less pleased than surprised at what they saw.



CHAPTER XXIII

IN THE CAVERN


That which the astonished visitors looked upon was a pile of wood at
one side of the cavern big enough to build a roaring fire that would
last for hours. This place must have formed the headquarters of Docak
when indulging in the occasional hunts that are anything but popular
among the coast natives.

The Esquimau did not carry lucifer matches with him, but, on the other
hand, he was not forced to use the primitive means common among
savages. He possessed a flint and tinder such as our forefathers used
and are still popular in some parts of the world.

But Rob and Fred did not exhaust their supply of matches in trying to
scorch the bear steak on the iceberg, and when everything was ready to
start the blaze they did so with little trouble. The smoke bothered
them at first, but it gradually wound its way through the opening, so
that breathing became quite comfortable.

Docak cooked the tongues with a skill born of long experience. There
was just the faintest trace of musk, but not enough to interfere with
the vigorous appetites, which could afford to disregard trifles. The
meal proved to be what he had promised--one of the most grateful they
had ever eaten.

There was a good deal left after the supper was finished, and this was
laid aside for future contingencies, since the experience of their
approach to this spot taught them to be prepared for an extended
deprivation of food. Indeed, the native Esquimau sometimes goes for
days, apparently with no craving in that direction, though it must be
there all the same. When he finally secures nourishment, he stuffs
prodigiously--so much so indeed that a civilized person would die of
gluttony. He calmly waits, however, until able to hold a little more,
when he resumes cramming the food down his throat, keeping it up until
at last he is satisfied. Then he sleeps, hour after hour, and, on
waking, is ready to resume his frightful gormandizing.

By the time the meal was finished the long Arctic night began closing
in. Looking through the crevice on the side, and the entrance, they
saw that the day was fast fading. The air was as clear as crystal and
very cold. The boys had no extra garments to bring with them, but
Docak, despite his cumbrous suit, carried the fur of a polar bear that
he had shot a couple of years before. This was not only warm, but had
the advantages over many pelts of being vermin proof.

When traveling over the snow Docak had a way of using this extra
garment, like a shawl, so that his arms were free. It was now spread
upon the solid rock, and, though it was not extensive enough to wrap
about the forms of the four, it furnished a couch for all, as they lay
with their bodies near together, and it was most welcome indeed.

It might seem that our friends ran an imprudent risk in venturing this
far from the coast without snow-shoes; for, in the event of a thaw,
the work of traveling the thirty miles would tax their endurance to
the utmost. The snow was several feet deep on a level, and was drifted
in places as high as a house. Who could make his way through instead
of over this?

But all misgivings on that score were ended by Docak telling his
friends there would be no thaw for days, weeks, and, perhaps, not for
months. It was more likely to be the other way.

The surface, as I have intimated, was as easily walked upon as the
floor of a house. So long as it remained thus there was no need of
snow-shoes or anything like artificial help.

The fire made it so cheerful and the warmth was so pleasant that it
was decided to keep it going for an hour or two, and then let it die
out after they fell asleep. There would be considerable fuel left for
morning, and the blaze was not really necessary, unless the weather
should take one of those appalling plunges during which a red-hot
stove seems to lose all power.

As was Docak's custom, when staying in an inclosed place like this, he
sauntered out doors before lying down to slumber, in order to take a
look at the weather and the surroundings. The life of the Esquimaux
makes them wonderfully skillful readers of impending changes of
temperature. Signs which are invisible to others are as intelligible
to them as the pages of a printed book to us.

The native remained absent a considerable while, until his friends
began speculating as to the cause.

"Maybe he has caught sight of another of those musk oxen, and wants to
bring him down," suggested Rob.

"There is no call to do that when so many of them lie on the frozen
ground, where they will keep for months unless the wolves find them."

"They'll be pretty certain to do that," continued Rob; "but then he
may have caught sight of a bull, and both may want to try a race by
starting in opposite directions and seeing which can travel first
around the world."

"That would be a sight worth seeing," Fred hastened to say, "unless he
fell down and bawled for some one to come to his help, after firing
his gun and missing the game by about a rod."

Jack Cosgrove looked wonderingly at his young friends, puzzled to know
what this curious talk meant. To him there was no sense in it. Rob and
Fred thought they had ventured as far upon forbidden ground as was
prudent, so they veered off.

While they were talking Docak reappeared. His feet were heard on the
crust of the snow for several seconds before he was visible, for there
was no call to guard against noise.

As he straightened up in the cavern he stood a moment without
speaking. Then, stepping to the wood, he threw a number of sticks on
the blaze, causing an illumination that made the interior as light as
day.

Jack was better acquainted with the native's moods than the boys could
be expected to be, and the first sight of the honest fellow's
countenance by the added light told him he was troubled over
something. Evidently he had made some unpleasant discovery.

"He'll let me know what it is," concluded the sailor, deeming it best
not to question him; "I can't imagine what would make him feel so
uneasy, but he's got something on his mind--that's sartin."

Docak was on the point of speaking more than once, but some impulse
led him to close his lips at the moment the all-important matter was
about to become known. He probably would have kept it to himself
altogether had not a question of Rob given him an opportunity too
inviting to be resisted.

"Which course will we take to-morrow, Docak?"

"Dat way--we trabel fast as can, too."

The astonishment of the three may be understood when they saw him
point directly toward his own home--that is, in the direction of the
seacoast, and over the course they had just completed.

Their purpose when they set out was to penetrate at least double the
distance in the interior, and now he declared for a withdrawal.

Not only that, but the manner of the native proved that he considered
the crisis imminent, and that no time was to be lost in carrying out
his unexpected decision.

Jack knew him so well that he was right in deciding that his hesitancy
of manner was caused by his doubt whether he should insist upon his
friends starting at once, or allow them to defer it until morning.

"What's the trouble, Docak?" asked the sailor, now that the subject
was broached; "I never saw you look so scared--"

At that moment the dismal cry of a wolf reached their ears, quickly
followed by others. The gaunt creatures that seem born ravenously
hungry, and always remain so, had scented the rich feast that awaited
them on the plateau, and were hurrying thither from all directions.
Soon nothing would be left but the bones of the game brought down by
the rifles of the hunters.

Rob and Fred naturally concluded the moment these sounds were
identified that it was because of them the native was frightened, he
having discovered them before the rest; but Jack knew it was from some
other reason. He saw nothing alarming in the approach of a pack of
wild animals. The four were well armed, they had a fire, were in a
cavern, and could stand off all the wolves in Greenland for a time at
least.

"No, it isn't that," muttered the sailor; "but if he doesn't choose to
tell I sha'n't coax him."



CHAPTER XXIV

UNWELCOME CALLERS


Within the following fifteen minutes it seemed as if a thousand wolves
had arrived on the plateau, and were fighting, feasting, snarling, and
rending the bodies of the musk oxen to fragments. They were far enough
removed from the cavern for the inmates to hear each other readily,
while discussing the curious occurrence.

The boys could not contemplate a visit from the ravening beasts with
the indifference of their companions. To them it seemed that the
brutes would be rendered ten-fold fiercer by their taste of blood, and
would not stop until they had devoured them.

"Do you think they will visit us?" asked Rob of Docak.

The latter was standing in the middle of the cavern, in the attitude
of listening. He nodded his head, and replied:

"Yes--eat ox--den come here."

"If that is so I think we ought to prepare for them," suggested Fred,
who shared the nervousness of his friend.

"How can we prepare more than we're prepared now?" asked Jack;
"they've got to come in that opening one at a time, and it will be fun
for us to set back here and pick 'em off."

"Provided they don't crowd in so fast that we can't do it."

"With four guns, I reckon we oughter take care of ourselves."

"Dere fire, too," remarked the Esquimau, jerking his head in the
direction of the flames.

"Ah, I forgot that," said Rob, with a sigh of relief, recalling the
dread which all animals have of fire. Indeed, he felt certain at the
moment that the burning wood would prove far more effective than their
weapons in keeping off the wolves.

It would be supposed that the bodies on the plateau were enough to
keep the brutes occupied for a long time, and to afford them a meal
sufficient to satisfy them for the night; but who ever saw a wolf when
not ravenously hungry? They howled, and snarled, and fought, and
pressed around the carcasses in such numbers that, when only the bones
remained, it may be said that their appetites were but fairly whetted,
and they were more eager than ever after additional prey.

Fully a score, in their keenness of scent, had been quick to strike
the trail of the surviving musk oxen that had fled from the hot fire
of the hunters. The scent was the more easily followed since a couple
of the animals had been wounded, and there can be little doubt that
all fell before the ferocity of their assailants, though the musk ox
makes a brave fight ere he succumbs to those cowardly creatures.

Darting hither and yon, with their pointed snouts skimming over the
ground, it was not Long before several struck the footprints of the
party that had taken refuge in the cavern. A dozen or, perhaps, a
score would not have dared attack them had they not been inflamed by
the taste of food already secured. As it was, they were aroused to
that point that they were ready to assail any foe that could help to
satisfy their voracity.

"Here they come!" exclaimed Rob Carrol, springing to his feet, with
rifle ready.

"Yes--dey come--dat so."

While the native was speaking he stood motionless, but with inimitable
dexterity brought his gun to a level, and, apparently without any aim
at all, let drive into the pack crowding toward the entrance to the
cavern.

No aim was necessary, for the wolves pressed so close that no one
person could fail to bring down one at least of them.

Amid the snarling and growling rang out a single sharp yelp, which
proved that some member of the pack was "hit hard." Whether struck
mortally or not made no difference, for the moment blood appeared upon
him his comrades fell upon him with unspeakable ferocity and tore him
limb from limb.

The shot had the effect, too, of driving them away from the entrance
for a brief while, but they speedily returned, crowding so far forward
that their eyes, lank jaws, and noses showed plainly in the reflection
of the firelight.

It was evident that the shot of the Esquimau produced no permanent
effect upon them. It may have been, indeed, that they wished for a
second that it might afford them the pretext for feasting upon another
of their fellow-citizens.

But the fire was burning brightly, and they dreaded that. So long as
it was going and the hunters kept close to the flame, they were safe
against the fangs of the wolves.

"That's too good a chance to be lost," remarked Rob, discharging his
rifle among the animals.

Fred was but a moment behind him, so that two, if not more, of the
brutes were slain and afforded an appetizer for the rest. Docak had
lost no time in ramming another charge into his gun, while Jack
Cosgrove held his fire, as if expecting some emergency, when a quick
shot was likely to be necessary.

"It don't strike me as a good thing for all our guns to be empty at
the same time," was his sensible remark, "so s'pose we take turns in
banging into 'em."

"Dat right--dat good," commented the Esquimau, and the boys promised
to follow the suggestion.

The scene at this time was striking. Looking toward the entrance to
the cavern, nothing could be observed but the fronts of the fierce
animals, all fighting desperately to get at the opening, all eager
beyond expression to reach the serene hunters within, but restrained
by the glowing fire beyond, to which they dared not go.

Quick to note their dread of this element, the boys became more
composed, though both could not help thinking how it would be if there
were no fire. The fuel if judiciously used was sufficient to last
until daylight, by which time the courage of the brutes would ooze
away to that extent that they would be likely to withdraw.

But the party could not spend all their time in the cavern, and, if
attacked on the open plain, it would require the hardest kind of
fighting to beat off their assailants.

"But what is the use of speculating about the future?" Rob asked
himself, as, seeing that it was his turn, he drove another bullet
among the brutes, doubling up one like a jack-knife, while his
comrades proceeded to "undouble" him in the usual style.

"Suppose," said Fred, "we should keep this up until we killed a
hundred, wouldn't the rest have enough to eat by that time?"

"No," replied Jack, who had seen the animals before; "the rest of 'em
would be as hungry as ever after eating 'em. You may keep the thing
going till there is only two left, and then shoot one of 'em; the
other will gulp him down in a dozen mouthfuls, and then lick his chops
and whine for more."

Docak looked at his friend and grinned at this graphic illustration of
the voracity of the lupus species.

However, it was quite clear that our friends were wasting a good deal
of ammunition, which might be needed before their return. So they
seated themselves on the floor of the cavern near the fire, that was
kept going with moderate vigor, and exchanging a few words now and
then as the turmoil permitted, they sent a shot into the pack, when
some of the foremost ventured to thrust their snouts too far into the
cavern.

"If they only had sense enough to combine into one rush," said Fred,
"they could wipe us out in a twinkling."

"That's just what they would do if it wasn't for the fire," was the
reply of his friend; "but it does seem to me that they must get tired
after awhile."

"I can't detect any signs of it yet. Let me try something."

Catching a brand from the fire, Rob whirled it about his head until it
was fanned into a roaring blaze, when he hurled it right among the
howling horde.

The scampering that followed was laughable. In a second or two not a
wolf was visible, and only the smoking torch lay on the ground where
it had fallen just outside the entrance.

It was expected they would soon return, and some of them did sneak
back within a short distance, but the smoldering brand was a terror to
them so long as it held any life, and they waited until it was utterly
extinguished before venturing closer.

Meanwhile, Docak showed such disquiet and concern over something else
that Jack Cosgrove, well knowing it must be serious, determined to
force him to an explanation, for he had racked his brain in vain to
think what grisly dread was looming in front of them.



CHAPTER XXV

THE COMING SHADOW


Docak, the Esquimau, had no wish to affect any mystery as to the cause
of his misgiving. He had not mentioned it of his own accord, because
he was debating in his mind which of two courses to adopt: to remain
longer in the cavern or to set out at once for his home on the coast.
It may be said that except for the appearance of the wolves he would
have insisted that the start should be made without delay, and pushed
with the utmost vigor until their destination was reached.

But this was not to be thought of under the circumstances. To venture
outside the cavern was to invite an instant attack by the brutes who
were in that state that they possessed a daring foreign to their
nature.

Docak explained that an alarming change of weather was at hand. He
knew the signs so well that there was no mistake on his part. As he
had promised, it was not in the nature of a thaw or rising
temperature, but may be explained by that expressive word with which
the reader is familiar--blizzard.

Whoever has gone through one of those frightful visitations will never
forget it. That one of a few years ago was so general throughout our
country that the memory must remain through life with us.

But a blizzard in the Arctic regions is a terror, indeed. It meant in
the present instance a snowstorm that might last for days, a hurricane
of wind, and a temperature of such fearful cold that would consume
almost like fire.

With several feet of snow on the surface of that which now covered the
ground, and too fine to bear the weight of the lightest animal, with
the air white with billions of particles, eddying, whirling, and
flying hither and thither, so that one could not see a step in
advance--with the gale careering like a demon across the snowy
wastes--the strongest hunter might well shrink from attempting a
journey one-tenth of that which lay between them and the coast.

When Jack suggested that Docak might be mistaken, he shook his head so
decisively that it sent a chill through the boys, who were watching
his dusky countenance and listening to his words. Such a man spoke
that whereof he knew. He would hold out hope, if he had justification
for doing so, but he saw none.

That the blizzard was at hand, that it was already careering from the
far North and must speedily arrive, was as good as demonstrated. The
only chance that Docak saw was that it might prove of shorter duration
than he feared. If it should last no more than twelve or possibly
twenty-four hours, they might struggle through it, without serious
consequences, but if beyond that (as he was almost certain it would
be), there was little hope.

However, since they must stay where they were until the following
morning, preparations were made for spending the night, which, it will
be borne in mind, was by no means as long as many which they have at
certain seasons in the high latitudes.

It was decided that Rob should sit up until midnight and then awake
Fred, who, after standing guard for several hours, would arouse Jack
to take charge until daylight. Inasmuch as this was the Esquimau's own
proposition, which, as will be perceived, relieved him of duty for any
part of the night, the others understood its significance. He was
reserving himself for the time when there was likely to be more urgent
need of his services.

No comment was made on the fact, and the simple preparations were
quickly finished. Docak added a caution to his friends that they
should be as sparing as possible in the use of the fuel. They had
already consumed a moiety of it, and the approach of the blizzard
would render it valuable beyond estimate. Enough only to hold the
wolves at a safe distance was to be burned.

Thus it came about that an hour later Rob Carrol was the only one
awake in the cavern. The others were huddled together on the bear
skin, quietly sleeping, while he kept off drowsiness by pacing slowly
back and forth over the brief space within.

"It's getting colder," he said to himself more than once; "I had a
hope that Docak might be wrong, but he isn't; we shall catch it within
a few hours. This is a bad place to be snowed up."

He glanced continually toward the entrance, for he could not forget
the wolves which were the indirect cause of their coming peril. They
seemed, in spite of the disgusted remarks of Jack, to have become
satisfied that nothing was to be gained by hovering about the refuge.
So many of their comrades had fallen, and the fire burned so
persistently, that the others must have felt a certain degree of
discouragement.

Now and then a howl echoed among the desolate hills, with a strange
power, and was immediately answered by scores from as many different
points, but there was no such eager crowding as marked the first
appearance of the brutes. Rob glanced repeatedly at the opening
without seeing one of them.

But the youth was too wise to be caught off his guard. He allowed the
fire to smolder until the figures of his friends were only barely
visible in the gloom, and his own form became shadowy, as it slowly
moved back and forth over the floor of the cavern, with his rifle
ready for instant use.

He heard a soft tip tipping on the snow, and there was no mistaking
its meaning.

"They're there," he said, peering outward in the gloom and listening
intently, "and are as watchful for a chance as ever."

Turning toward the crevice which admitted light, and was too straight
to allow the smallest wolf to pass through, he caught the glow of a
pair of eyes.

They were motionless, and the wolf evidently was studying the interior
with a view of learning the prospect for an excursion within.

The temptation to fire was strong, but the eyes noiselessly vanished
before the gun could be brought to a level.

Rob stood intently listening. He heard the stealthy footsteps pass
along the side of the cavern toward the front, and he moved in that
direction, but placed himself at one side, so as to be out of sight of
any one looking directly into the mouth. He had not long to wait, when
the same keenness of ear told him that the brute was cautiously
entering. The fire was smoldering lower than ever, the brand at the
entrance had died out long before, and no one could be seen on guard.
The brute must have made up his mind that he had "struck it rich." In
his selfishness he did not summon his friends to the feast, but
resolved to devour the four persons all by himself, and that, too,
after having had his full share of the musk ox and his fallen friends!

There was just enough light in the cavern for Rob to note everything.
Being at one side of the entrance, he could not be detected by the
sneaking brute, which also was invisible to him. He must come further
forward before they could discern each other.

The wolf, one of the largest of his species, stood just outside with
his ears pricked, his head raised, and his eyes roaming over the
interior. Everything looked promising, but he had learned to be
suspicious of those bipeds, whose hands were always against them.

He stood in this attitude for several minutes, as stationary as if
carved in stone. Then he lifted one of his fore-feet, held it
suspended, as though he were pointing game, and then advanced a couple
of steps. This brought him far enough into the cavern for the lad to
see the end of his nose, but the beast still failed to detect that
shadow at one side of the entrance that was calmly awaiting the
critical moment.

But he saw the dimly outlined forms near the smoldering fire, and
licked his chops in anticipation. Nothing could be more favorable for
the grandest feast of his life.

  [Illustration: THE WOLF LICKED HIS CHOPS IN ANTICIPATION

  (See page 232)]

At that moment a howl rent the air at no great distance. It must have
startled this prowler, and told him that, if he delayed his meal any
longer, he must share it with an unlimited number.

He started on a silent walk, straight for the forms, heedless of the
figure that had pointed the rifle at him, while he was yet out of
sight. All was like the tomb until the gun was fired. Then since the
muzzle almost touched the brute, why--enough has been said.



CHAPTER XXVI

WALLED IN


By daybreak, when all the party were awake, the blizzard foretold by
the native had fully arrived.

It was a terror, indeed. The cold was frightful, and the air outside
was white with snow, which was driven horizontally by the hurricane,
as though shot from the mouths of myriad pieces of ordnance. It
shrieked about the cavern, and drove the white particles so fiercely
through the narrow crevice that Docak hastened to shove his bear-skin
into it. This only partially filled the opening and the snow spun in
around it clean across the flinty floor.

The regular entrance was partly protected by its own projection, but,
at times, a blast entered that fairly took away their breath. The fire
was necessary to keep from freezing, but the supply of fuel was
growing low, and the last stick must soon be reached. What then would
be the fate of the party if the blizzard continued?

It was useless to discuss the future and no one did so; the present
was with them, and the question was how to live from hour to hour.

On shooting the intruding wolf, Rob had flung his carcass away. The
report awakened the others, and, rising to his feet, Docak passed far
enough outside to bring it in again. He did not speak, but all
understood the meaning of the action; that body might be the means of
saving them from starvation.

Enough of the previous night's meal remained to afford a nourishing
breakfast, but they partook sparingly, preferring to use that in
preference to the new supply. Happily thirst was a torture that need
never be apprehended.

Jack Cosgrove braved the blast to that degree that he forced himself
through the opening and stood several minutes outside, shading his
eyes and striving to pierce the blinding turmoil.

All in vain. The gale almost carried him off his feet, and his vision
could no more penetrate the furious swirl of snow than if it were the
darkest night that ever covered the earth. The cold was so piercing
that he was glad to hasten back among his friends, and shiver and
crouch over the fire.

"By the great horned spoon, Docak! s'pose we had started for home last
night?"

"Wish had," was the sententious response.

"Why, we wouldn't have been half-way there by this time, and we would
have perished all together."

"We trabel fast--mebbe storm not dere yet."

This intimation that the blizzard might be less terrific at so slight
a distance was incredible, but the Esquimau was positive that it would
have been far better had they set out early in the evening. By rapid
traveling they might have covered the greater part of the distance
before morning, and could have fought the few remaining miles in the
teeth of the gale.

But it was equally useless to discuss what might have been. They were
imprisoned in the cavern, thirty miles from succor and with no
possibility that any friends would ever take the trouble to search for
their bodies. All they could do was to rely upon Heaven and their own
exertions.

Without any explanation as to his intentions, and leaving his gun
behind him, the native plunged through the opening and disappeared in
the blizzard outside.

Born and reared in Greenland, amid Arctic snows and appalling
tempests, the hardy Esquimau was far better fitted to undergo such
trials of endurance than could be any native of a temperate clime.

"Where do you suppose he has gone?" asked Rob, wonderingly.

"I don't know," replied Jack; "but if he goes far he'll never come
back again."

"It doesn't seem to me," said Fred, coming to the question of the
present for the first time, "that the outlook is as bad as he would
make us believe."

"Why not?"

"We have enough food to last a week or two, or even longer, and the
blizzard certainly won't keep it up that long."

"You can't be sartin about that," said Jack; "it may last for several
weeks, but s'pose it's only for three or four days, there are two big
things that we must face."

"What are they?"

"What to do after it stops; the snow will be several feet deep on top
of that which is now on the ground; it will be too fine and soft to
bear our weight, and can be traveled over only with snow-shoes which
we haven't got. How then are we going to fight our way thirty miles
through it?"

"It will be a hard job, but no greater than that which many explorers
have undergone. With Docak as our guide, I think we can pull through."

"But what is the other matter you refer to?" asked Rob.

"This wood will soon go, and then how are we going to keep from
freezing to death?"

"If we will huddle together as closely as we can with the bear-skin
wrapped about us I think we can stand it."

"I like the way you chaps talk," said the sailor, admiringly, "and if
we have to go down we'll do so with colors flying. It's the
downheartedness of Docak that knocks me askew; if he would show a
braver front I would feel better."

"Possibly he is more hopeful than he pretends."

"No, he isn't that sort of chap; he knows better than we just what all
this means. Whew!"

The exclamation was caused by a sudden outburst that sent the snow
whirling through the opening and the crevice, from which the bear-skin
dropped, as if struck a blow from the other side. Jack ran forward,
picked it up, and thrust it back, hardly able to breathe from the fury
of the gale in his face.

The snow shot through the opening, too, scattering the brands of fire
in every direction. Had the shelter been anything else excepting the
solid rock that it was, it must have been swept like chaff from its
foundations.

The explosion, as it may be called, lasted but a minute or so. The
boys hastily gathered up the scattered brands and flinging them
together they were fanned by the tempest into a vigorous flame, whose
warmth, slight as it was, was grateful beyond measure to the three
gathered around it.

"Docak is wrong in regretting that we did not start last night," said
Jack Cosgrove; "that style of storm is raging at this moment over
hundreds of miles, and it would have made short work of us."

"What about the 'Nautilus,' if she is in it?"

"She can manage it if she has plenty of sea room, but I hope she is
far enough off to dodge this blizzard. She ought to be at any rate."

The gale did the party an unexpected favor. It was a substantial one,
too, which they appreciated. It drove the snow against the troublesome
crevice with such fury that it quickly formed a solid bank, extending
far above it. This ended the drifting of the particles inside and
protected them from the cutting wind.

At the same time it did something of the same nature with the
entrance, where it soon became banked to that extent that little blew
within, and the gale hardly disturbed them.

Seeing what had taken place, Jack withdrew the bear-skin from where it
had been stuffed into the opening and spread it in the farthermost
corner of the cavern.

"Come, my hearties," said he, cheerfully, "we've got nothing to do but
to make ourselves comfortable. We won't burn any more wood till Docak
comes back."

They huddled together, and, though the cold made their teeth chatter
and their bodies shiver, they found considerable relief and were
willing to hope on.

They could feel no anxiety about the absent native. It was certain he
would not go far enough from the cavern to endanger his safety or to
imperil his return. Some definite object must have led him forth.

"I wonder if it is for food," suggested Fred.

"No; for there's no possibility that the wolves left anything,"
replied Rob; "and then, too, we have enough to last a good while."

At that moment there was a flurry at the entrance and the Esquimau,
resembling a snow man, stooped and pushed his way in.

Entering, he flung a half-dozen small sticks upon the tiny pile at the
side of the cavern. He had gone forth in quest of fuel and was able to
secure only that miserable supply, really not worth taking into
account.



CHAPTER XXVII

"COME ON!"


The Esquimau's depression continued. After flinging down the few bits
of wood he looked across the cavern to where the friends were huddled
together, but did not speak. Then he glanced at the crevice, now so
completely blocked with snow that they were protected against any more
drifting in upon them.

The three respected his silence, and held their peace. He stood a
minute or two, looking gloomily into the fire, which he replenished,
partly from the scant supply he had brought. While it was gaining
strength he drew his knife, deftly cut a number of pieces from the
frozen body of the wolf, and proceeded to cook them over the blaze.
Had he been alone he would have devoured them raw, but he knew the
sentiments of his companions.

"Well, Docak," said Jack, feeling that the silence ought not to
continue, "it looks as if we are in for a long stay. We shall have
enough to keep us alive a good while, and, when you're ready, you can
come and snuggle down beside us."

"Not now," he replied, continuing his culinary work, with what seemed
a wasteful disregard of fuel until he was through.

When nothing more remained worth attention he held up a piece,
considerably scorched, and, looking at the others, asked:

"Eat now?"

"No; we'll wait till morning," replied Rob, speaking for the rest.

"All right."

But he was not disposed to wait if they were. He made quite a meal,
with as much evident enjoyment as if it had been upon the choicest
part of the musk ox. He took care, however, to leave a good supply
against the "rainy day" that he felt no doubt would come to them all.

The dismal day wore slowly away, and with a feeling of unutterable
loneliness they saw the second night of their enforced stay in the
cavern close around them. The cold seemed to intensify with the
approach of darkness, and the supply of wood had grown so slight that
the warmth was barely perceptible.

The blizzard raged with unabated fury. The gale shrieked around the
rocks, the blinding snow whirled and eddied until it seemed that it
must bury them out of sight, and the outlook was woeful enough to
chill the bravest heart. The three in the corner adhered to their
resolution not to eat any of the food prepared before the morrow. They
might need it then to aid their systems in withstanding the terrific
strain, but, as in the case of the bear on the iceberg, it must be the
last resort.

The Esquimau declined their invitation to join them in the corner. He
was thickly clad, and was so accustomed to the rigors of the Arctic
winter that he needed no such help. He seated himself near by, and
talked a little, until, at a late hour, troubled sleep settled over
all.

A gleam of hope came with the break of day. Docak was the first to
awake, and, without disturbing the others, he forced his way through
the entrance and took a survey of the weather and his surroundings.

The blizzard was over. The fall of snow had ceased, little wind was
stirring, but the cold was terrible. Toughened as he was, he shrank
when first exposed to it. The party had been walled in so tightly that
the warmth of their bodies was of more help than would be suspected.

Quick to note the change in the weather the native studied the sky
with its numerous signs in the effort to learn what was likely to come
in the near future.

Great as was his skill at this it was now taxed to the utmost. The sun
was not visible, and the difficulty became the greater; but he tarried
until he had perfected his theory.

The discouraging feature which the native saw about the matter was
that the blizzard had ceased for a time only. He believed it would
soon resume its fury, fully as great, if not greater than before, and
it might continue for days and possibly weeks. If, when that time
should come, it found them in the cavern they were doomed beyond the
power of mortal man to save themselves.

But the prospect was equally hopeless, if the lull lasted only a few
hours, for, when it should break forth again it would overtake them in
the open plain (provided they made the start he had in mind), where no
screen against its resistless power could be secured.

It should be understood that Docak's solicitude was on account of his
friends. Had he been alone he would not have hesitated to set out for
the coast, and with every reason, too, to believe he could make it,
even, if the battle of the elements were renewed when but a small part
of the way thither.

But he had three others in charge, and it was hard to decide whether
to urge them to make the attempt now or wait awhile, in the hope that
he could settle with certainty the extent of the cessation of the
blizzard.

The additional snow was between two and three feet deep, where it had
not been drifted by the gale. With the help of snow-shoes it would
have been an easy matter to skim over it, but there were no snow-shoes
to be had, as has been shown, the new fall was of such fine character
that they would sink its full depth when essaying to walk upon it.

When he turned about and re-entered the cavern his friends were astir.
Their appetites had assumed that edge that they eagerly attacked some
of the meat prepared the night before. The few embers had been stirred
into a sickly blaze, but not another stick remained. The warmth was
only perceptible when the chilled hands were held almost against it.

The Esquimau smiled grimly when he saw what they were doing, but with
the reticence that had marked his course since refuge was taken in the
cavern, he held his peace. Jack greeted him pleasantly, and he nodded
in return, and then again passed outside.

The sailor and lads had peeped after him, and discovered that the fall
of snow was over, and the wind was not blowing. This gave them
considerable hope, inasmuch as they were unable to read its full
meaning like the native.

"It's easy enough to see what he has on his mind," remarked Jack.

"What is it?" queried Rob.

"He is considering whether we shall make a start now for the coast or
wait awhile longer."

"What's the use of waiting," asked Rob, "when it can't be any better
and may grow worse? The snow that has fallen will stay where it is for
months, so we can gain nothing there. I'm in favor of starting for
home while it is yet morning."

"That's the way it strikes me, but he'll make up his mind, and
whatever he says we'll do. He isn't in the mood to take any advice
from us; I never seed him so glum before."

"We're quite well protected," added Fred, who was eager to be off if
that should be the decision; "we have the thickest kind of clothing,
heavy shoes, and warm undergarments. Then we mustn't forget that when
we start through the snow the labor will help to warm us. Fact is, I
don't understand why Docak hesitates."

The Esquimau used less time than they supposed in reaching his
conclusion. But, with a view of giving him a hint of their wishes,
Jack and the boys prepared themselves as if it had been settled that
they should venture at once upon the perilous attempt. They carefully
adjusted their clothing, tying the lower parts of their trousers about
their ankles, so as to keep out the snow, buttoned their heavy coats
to their chins, pulled up the collars more carefully, and fixed their
caps in place, though all this had been done to a certain extent
before.

When nothing remained they ranged themselves in a row beside the
entrance and awaited the appearance of their guide.

He came in the course of a few minutes. He started slightly when he
read the meaning of it all.

"We're ready," said Jack, with a smile.

"All right--we go--foller me--come on!" and he led the way out, and
they turned their backs on the cavern forever.



CHAPTER XXVIII

A HOPELESS TASK


A fearful task confronted the little party. Thirty miles of snow,
several feet deep, lay between them and their only haven of refuge,
and they were without sled or snow-shoe. If they succeeded in their
prodigious task, it must be done by sheer strength and the power of
continued desperation.

But, with compressed lips and the resolution to do or die, they bent
to the work without faltering.

The Esquimau naturally took the lead to break the way so far as he
could; Jack Cosgrove came next, then Rob Carrol, while Fred Warburton
brought up the rear.

The first move that the native made proved he was a veteran. He
plunged in, following the decline down to the plateau, which was the
scene of their adventures two days before. He walked like one who had
only an ordinary tramp before him. In truth, he could have gone faster
and done better, but he accommodated himself to his friends, to whom
the labor was new and trying to a degree.

None spoke for a long time. It requires strength to do even so slight
a thing as that, and no one had an ounce to spare. The question that
was uppermost in the minds of the three was whether they would be able
to hold out to the end.

"I don't see why we can't," reflected Fred, who, being at the rear,
had an easier task than any of the others; "it would be well enough if
we had snow-shoes, but neither Jack nor Rob nor I can use them, and we
would flounder around a good deal worse than we are doing now and
likely enough wouldn't get ahead at all."

The meditations of Rob Carrol were of a similar strain.

"I've seen better fun than this, but it beats staying in the cavern
and freezing to death on wolf steak. I believe I'm strong enough to
see the business through; I hope Fred won't give out, for he isn't as
strong as Jack and I. I believe Docak enjoys it. Gracious! if I ever
live to get out of this outlandish country, I'll never set foot in it
again. I haven't lost any North Pole, and those that think they have
can do their own hunting for it."

The sun still remained obscured, and the wonder of the three was how
their guide kept his bearings, after debouching from the highlands and
entering upon the broad, undulating plain which stretched away to
Davis Strait and Baffin's Bay. There was no misgiving, however, in
that respect. Docak could not go astray, or, at least, if there was
any likelihood of his doing so, not one of his friends was able to
help him.

As the boys had anticipated, the labor of walking in this difficult
fashion soon generated a warmth in their bodies that was a vast
comfort, after sitting benumbed and shivering so long in the cavern.
Despite the extreme cold they felt no discomfort, for the air was
quite dry, and less trying, therefore, than a damp atmosphere would
have been, even though twenty-five degrees higher.

But it is in such an Arctic climate that one can have his limbs or a
portion of his body hopelessly frozen without suspecting it. All were
so effectually protected that only a small portion of their faces,
their eyes, and tips of their noses were exposed.

The bear-skin, which has been referred to as belonging to Docak, was
carried by him after his usual manner. He would have offered it to his
friends in turn, had he not known that it would soon have become a
burden which he could carry better than they.

Jack, who trod close on the heels of the Esquimau, was admiring the
sturdy manner in which he plowed through the snow, his labor being
much greater than any one of those who followed him, when the native
turned his head and scanned his face with curious intensity. Pausing
for the moment in his labor, he leaned to one side, and did the same
to the others. His act was all the more singular since he did not
speak. The lads smiled under their head-coverings, but their faces
were so wrapped up that the relaxation of the features could not be
perceived.

"I wonder why he did that," thought all three.

"The chap has been acting curious ever since this trouble began,"
continued the sailor, "and I wouldn't be s'prised if he's just a
little off."

"Can it be," asked Rob, following up a whimsical idea, "that he fears
we aren't ourselves? He has started out to take us to the seacoast,
and doesn't mean that anybody else shall rope himself in on him. I
guess he's satisfied, though we're so covered up that our nearest
friends wouldn't know us."

For fully an hour the party toiled on, and all, with the exception of
the leader, began to feel the effects of the severe exertion. Still,
no one protested or asked for rest; each determined to keep it up, if
possible, until the leader chose to halt.

But Docak did not forget them. At the end of the time named he turned
about, and, with something of his old pleasantry, said:

"Much tired--wait while--den go on."

Each of the boys longed to ask him what he thought of the prospect of
getting through, but forebore, recalling his moodiness, which might be
still upon him despite his present manner.

"I think we're doing quite well, Docak," said Jack; "it's a little
hard, but we can take a breathing spell now and then, and keep at it
till we strike your home."

Had the Esquimau made any response to this half-inquiring remark the
sailor would have followed it up, but he did not. On the contrary, he
was busy studying the sky and the surrounding landscape, doubtless
with a view of determining what weather changes impended.

The others did the same, but though Jack had learned a good deal of
the science at sea he was now at a loss. The dull, leaden sky, so
obscured that it was impossible to tell in what part of the heavens
the sun was, told him nothing beyond the fact that more snow was
likely to fall before many hours.

As the best thing that could be done, the friends studied the actions
of the Esquimau.

The result of his survey was not satisfactory--that was clear. He
shook his head and muttered something in his own language, which had
anything but a pleasant effect on the others.

The scene was one of utter loneliness and desolation. North, east,
south, and west stretched the snowy plain, unrelieved by tree, house,
or sign of a living creature. Far up in the sky sounded the honk of
some wild fowl, and, looking aloft, a line of black specks could be
seen, sailing swiftly southward through space, as if to escape the
Arctic cold that would soon smother everything in its icy embrace.

The rest was barely ten minutes, when Docak, looking at his
companions, asked:

"Be rested? We go on?"

"Yes; we're ready," replied Jack.

"All right--work hard now--don't get tired."

"I won't, if I can help it; but the only way I know of is to stand
still, which don't pay in this kind of business."

The Esquimau bent to his work, as if striving for a wager. He had a
way not only of stepping down in the soft snow, but of shoving it
partly aside from his path. It would have been the severest kind of
labor for anyone else, and it is hard to understand how he managed it
so well. It was a great help to the one immediately behind him. Jack
would have been glad to lighten the task for the boys, but that was
out of his power, and he wasted no strength in the attempt.

The party was becoming accustomed to the work. That the guide was
aware of this was proven when he kept at it fully twice as long as
before. They were going slowly--very slowly--but there was comfort in
the consciousness that every step taken was toward safety, and the
task before them was lessened, even to that small extent.

At the moment the boys were beginning to think it about time another
halt was called, Docak stopped in his former abrupt way, and, leaning
to one side, peered into each face in turn.

Something in Fred's appearance caught his attention, and, with an
exclamation, he sprang out of the path, and hurried back to where the
lad stood, wondering what was the matter with the fellow.



CHAPTER XXIX

TEN MILES


Docak, when flurried, generally forgot his broken English, and spoke
in his own tongue. Before Fred could divine his intention he had
slipped off one of his mittens, grasped a handful of snow, and
throwing one arm about the boy's neck, began rubbing his nose as
though he meant to rub it out of existence.

The watchful native was on the watch for the first sign of freezing in
the case of his companions, and, discovering that the youngest member
was becoming a victim without himself or friends suspecting it, he
resorted to heroic measures, with no unnecessary delay.

Fred understood what it all meant, and, like the sensible boy he was,
submitted with good grace, though the vigorous handling to which that
organ was subjected made it hard for him to keep from protesting. Not
only that, but, when the Esquimau, pausing to inspect his work, said:

"All right," Fred thanked him.

Jack and Rob, who looked grinningly on, while the performance lasted,
now asked Docak whether they were in need of a similar manipulation.
He took another look at the faces, and gave Rob's a slight rubbing,
but said nothing more was needed.

It was a piece of thoughtfulness on the part of the native, for which
he deserved to receive gratitude. But for him Fred Warburton, and
probably the others, would have suffered injuries from which they
never could have recovered.

Having rested but a brief while, Docak moved on, and the dismal
procession wound its way slowly through the snow, which clogged their
feet and obstructed their path to that extent that more than once the
hardy guide had to come to a full halt that he might decide in what
way to flank the obstacle.

The blizzard had played fantastic tricks with the snow. In many places
it was drifted to a depth of six or eight feet, through which, as may
be supposed, it was the severest labor to force a path. In others,
again, it had swept the crust entirely clear of the new layer, so that
they walked as easily as when making their way from the coast.
Unfortunately, these bare places, as they may be called, were not only
few and far apart, but of such slight extent that their aid counted
for little.

There is nothing more cheering than the certainty that we are
approaching our goal, even though the rate of progress is more tardy
than we wish. As the afternoon drew to a close Fred was positive they
had made fully twenty miles. Rob believed it was more, but, to be on
the safe side, fell in with his friend's figures. When Jack was
appealed to he declined to hazard a guess, saying he preferred to wait
till the halt for the night, when he would leave it to Docak.

"He'll tell you within a quarter of a mile," added the sailor, "and he
won't make a mistake. I can let you know one thing, howsumever, my
hearties, and that is that you'll find it a good deal less than you
think."

"I don't know about that," said Rob; "Fred and I have calculated the
matter pretty closely."

"You may think so, but you haven't. We have worked hard enough to
tramp a hundred miles, but we haven't been able to use it in the best
way."

Another fact, which might mean a good deal or little, was that a
marked moderation in the temperature took place in the course of the
afternoon. What this portended was left to the Esquimau to determine.
Toiling through the snow was not favorable to conversation, and it was
dropped.

With only short halts the party pushed onward, until night began
settling over the dreary landscape. They would have kept on had not
the darkness been impenetrable. The sun had not shown itself during
the day, and the obscurity was so dense that not a solitary star
twinkled overhead.

"Besides," as the boys concluded, "the rest of the distance is so
brief that we can afford to leave it until morning, by which time we
will be fully rested. Inasmuch as it is necessary to pass a night on
the road, one spot is as good as another."

Camping at such times is simple. They were in the middle of a snowy
waste, without tree or rock to shelter. Starting a fire, of course,
was out of the question. A slight wind was blowing, and though less
rigorous than that of the preceding night, it was necessary to protect
themselves from its force while they were idle.

For a few minutes Docak acted like a man seized with convulsions or
the St. Vitus' dance. He leaped about, kicked, and swung his arms, the
snow flying in a storm from him, until, at the end of a few minutes,
he had scooped out a bowl-like space, large enough to hold the party.
In doing this he cleared the way down to the lower crust only, which
was strong enough to bear their weight. To have dug to the ground
would have been too laborious, and no special advantage was to be
gained by doing so.

This completed, he carefully spread his bear-skin on the hard surface,
and the four seated themselves back to back. They had camped for the
night.

The discomforts of this primitive method were less than would be
supposed. There is warmth in snow, as you are well aware, cold being a
negative existence, and, so long as they were below the surface, they
could not be reached by the wind that swept across the dismal waste.
Then, too, the change in the temperature was in the right direction as
affecting their comfort, so there was little fear of suffering before
morning.

When they were adjusted for the night, Rob asked the question of Docak
which had been in his mind for hours:

"How far have we got toward home?"

Fred was confident the answer would be twenty miles; while Rob was
quite hopeful it would be more. Judge, therefore, their consternation
when the reply struck their ears:

"Purty near ten mile--not quite--purty near."

The hopes of the boys sank to zero. Jack, knowing they had placed
their estimate too high, still believed it greater than was the fact.

Ten miles! Barely a third of the distance between the cavern and the
first place that could offer refuge.

They had used a day in advancing thus far. At that rate two more days,
and possibly nights, remained ere the terrible task would be ended.
They had eaten the last mouthful before starting, leaving behind some
food which they might have brought, but which was not deemed
necessary.

It was not the prospect of hunger that appalled them. In such a severe
climate they could go a couple of days without food, and not suffer
greatly, though the draught upon their strength would be trying to the
last degree.

The great question was whether the task they had essayed was a
possible one. Recalling the terrific exertions of the day, their
exhaustion, and the repeated rests that were necessary, they might
well doubt their ability, though it need not be said there was no
thought of giving up so long as life and strength held out.

"Ten miles," repeated Fred Warburton; "are the Esquimau miles the same
as our English, or aren't they double their length?"

"I don't know about that," said Rob; "they must get their ideas from
the Danes, who have a system of measurement different from ours, but
it don't matter in this instance."

"Why not?"

"When we set out, and after reaching the hills, Docak told us we were
thirty miles from home; he tells us now that we are ten miles less."

"Not quite ten mile--purty near," interrupted the native.

"Well, calling it ten miles, we have come about one-third of the way
to the coast. No matter what system of measurement is followed we
can't figure out that we have gone further than that."

"And not quite that far," suggested Jack, who was not less
disappointed than they, but was quicker to rally.

"It isn't the thing calculated to make a chap feel good to learn a
thing like that," he added; "but all we've got to do is to buckle down
to it and we'll get there one of these days, with fair sailing and no
more squalls."

"It is those squalls or blizzards, Jack, that are the real danger
before us."

It was Rob who made this remark, and his friends knew he spoke the
truth.



CHAPTER XXX

THE LAST PAUSE


The night slowly settled over the snow waste, and the little party,
feeling no discomfort because of the cold, gradually sank into
unconsciousness.

Just before slumber weighed down their eye-lids the dismal howl of a
wolf echoed faintly across the plain. All heard it, and Jack and the
boys believed that one of the brutes had struck the trail of the
hunters, and would soon be hot upon it, with an eager pack at his
heels. Jack asked the Esquimau whether they ought not to prepare for a
fight, but he replied that there were no preparations to make. Each
had his loaded gun and a good supply of ammunition; they could fight
as well there as in any other place.

Docak showed no trepidation of voice and manner, and his coolness had
a good effect upon the others. They were sure that, if there was any
cause for alarm, he would feel it.

This confidence proved well placed; for that single cry was all that
reached their ears. They slept, and were not molested.

But sometime during the night the fine snow began sifting downward,
falling so gently that even the Esquimau was not disturbed. Through
the long gloomy hours it silently descended, until when the daylight
stole over the desolate plain, fully six inches had been added to the
mass that covered the earth long before.

Sitting nearly upright and back to back, the pressure upon the
sleepers was so slight and gradual that no discomfort resulted. All
were so worn out that their slumber was profound, doubtless lasting as
long as it would have done had no such snowfall taken place.

It was Jack Cosgrove who first opened his eyes, and his amazement may
be imagined when he saw their laps buried out of sight, only the
outlines of their limbs showing, while head and shoulders were
weighted down with the feathery mass.

"By the great horned spoon!" he called, shaking himself free and
rising to his feet, with such a flurry that the others were aroused;
"wake up, for we're all snowed under, and, if we wait a few minutes
longer, we'll be buried clean out of sight."

"What's the matter?" called Rob, being the next to climb to his feet;
"has the snow tumbled in on us?"

"Yes; and more of it is tumbling every minute."

Docak was astonished that he had not been the first to awake, for his
mind was burdened with anxiety for the rest. He forgot that, inasmuch
as his labors had been far greater than theirs, his weariness of body
was in more need of rest.

"What time be it?" he asked of the boys, who carried watches.

The answer showed that day had dawned more than two hours before. He
sighed at the knowledge of the precious time wasted. Harder work than
ever was before them, and when night came again they might count
themselves fortunate if one-half the remaining distance was
accomplished.

Rising to their feet, with their heads above the surface, they found
the snow falling so fast that they could not see fifty feet in any
direction.

"How can Docak keep his bearings?" asked Rob, in a low voice, of the
others, when the native, walking a few feet, paused and looked
earnestly about him.

"It doesn't seem to me that it is any harder for him to do so than it
was yesterday when there was no snow falling."

"There is a big difference. We couldn't have done any better in the
one case than the other, but he could see the sky. He knew where the
sun was, though we did not; and there must have been something in the
looks of the landscape to help, but there is none of that now."

"I can give you the right answer to Fred's question," said Jack, in
the same guarded undertone.

"What is it?"

"When you ask whether Docak can keep the p'ints of the compass in his
mind, and make sure that he is heading straight for home, the real
answer is--he can't."

There could be no denying that the sailor spoke the truth. The native,
like the Indians further south, may have possessed a subtle skill in
the respect named beyond the comprehension of his more civilized
neighbors, but, in all cases, there is a limit to such ability. Where
there is nothing to afford guide or clue no living man can walk in a
straight line--hour after hour, or hold his way undeviatingly toward a
fixed point of the compass.

But, admitting this unquestioned truth, nothing was more self-evident
than that it was sure death to stay where they were; the one and only
thing left to them was to push on while the opportunity was theirs.

The Esquimau was a man of deeds rather than words. He showed no
disposition to discuss the situation, and, beyond a few insignificant
words, said nothing to his companions, who were as eager to be on the
move as he. He stood a minute or two in study, and then, uttering the
words:

"Come on--work hard--neber stop," began pushing through the snow with
the vigor shown the day before.

The others followed in the order named, and with a resolution as
strong as his to keep it up to the last verge of endurance.

It was necessary. In no other way could they escape the frightful doom
that impended. Another condition was equally necessary; their efforts
must be rightly directed. The guide must lead them toward the
sea-coast. Had he the power to do so? The test was now going on, and
the question would soon be settled.

They were terrible words spoken by Jack, but the time had passed when
he felt it necessary to mince matters. He had done so at the
beginning, but his companions were not children unable to bear the
truth, however unpleasant it might be.

But, despite the good reason in what he said, neither Rob nor Fred
quite credited its full meaning. While they could not explain how any
person could guide himself unerringly, when there was no visible help
for the eye, they believed that somehow or other he would "get there
just the same."

They proved their own earnestness when Docak, after a long struggle
through the clogging snow, stopped, turned about, and said:

"You be tired--then rest awhile."

"No," responded Fred, "I want no rest."

"Push on, then," added Rob, "unless you are tired yourself, Docak."

The idea that the native needed rest caused him a half-smile, as he
faced forward and resumed his weary plowing through the snowy mass.

There was no call now to watch the countenances of the youths to
protect them against freezing. The weather was so moderate that they
would have felt more comfortable with their outer covering removed. If
the blizzard had come back, it was in such a mild form that it could
lay no claim to the name. It was simply snowing hard, and there was
only a breath of air at intervals. Had there been anything approaching
the hurricane of two days before, they could not have fought their way
for a single rod.

When the guide, after another long interval, proposed a brief rest, it
was acquiesced in by all. They had kept at it longer than before, and
the pause must have been grateful to Docak himself.

"We are not going fast," remarked Rob, "but I am sure we have covered
a good deal of ground since starting, and when we go into camp
to-night there ought not to be many miles between us and the sea."

"Remember the mistake we made in our calculations," said Fred,
warningly, "and don't count too much."

"How far have we come?" asked Jack, putting the question directly to
the Esquimau.

"Dunno," he answered, turning about and resuming his labor.

"That's the last time I will ask him anything," growled the sailor,
displeased at the curt treatment.

A sad story awaits our pen. The poor hunters toiled on, on, on, slower
and still more slowly, with the snow falling thicker and still more
thickly, and the uncertainty growing more intensified as the day wore
away. With short intervals of rest they kept at it with heroic
courage, until at last the shades of night began closing once more
around them. Then, all of a sudden, the Esquimau uttered a despairing
cry and threw himself down in the snow.

  [Illustration: THE ESQUIMAU UTTERED A DESPAIRING CRY AND THREW
  HIMSELF IN THE SNOW

  (See page 277)]

He had made a terrifying discovery. They had come back to the very
spot where they spent the previous night. All day long they had
journeyed in an irregular circle, as lost persons almost invariably
do, and the dreadful labor was utterly thrown away.

The Esquimau had essayed a task beyond his power, and he now threw up
his hands and would struggle no more.



CHAPTER XXXI

ANOTHER SOUND


The little party were overwhelmed with dismay. The very man on whom
they had relied from the beginning, the one who had conducted them
thus far, and the one who, under heaven, could alone guide them to
safety, had thrown up his hands and yielded the struggle. He lay on
the snow limp, helpless, and despairing.

The new fall of snow had almost obliterated their trail, but enough
remained to identify it beyond mistake. The cavity which Docak had
scooped out, and in which they slept, was recognized on the first
glance. The whole day, from the moment of starting, had been wasted,
in laboring to their utmost strength, in getting back to the very
point from which they set out, and which itself was twenty miles from
the sea-coast.

The tendency that every one shows to travel in a circle, when lost,
has been explained in various ways. It is probably due to the fact
that one side of every person is more developed than the other. A
right-handed individual gradually veers to the left, a left-handed one
to the right, while a really ambidextrous one ought to keep straight
ahead.

Jack and the boys remained silent for a moment. They looked down on
the prostrate figure, and finally Fred asked:

"What's the matter, Docak?"

"Gib up--no use--we die--neber see home 'gin."

The words were uttered with all the dejection that it is possible to
conceive, and the native did not move. He acted as if the power to do
so had gone from him.

Suddenly, to the astonishment of the others, Jack Cosgrove gave him a
thumping kick.

"Get up!" he commanded; "if you're such a lubber as all this, I'll
take you by the neck and boot you all the way across Greenland."

And as a guarantee of his good faith he yanked Docak to his feet, and
made ready for a still harder kick, when the fellow moved nimbly out
of the way.

"If you are too big a calf to go on, I'll take the lead, and when I
flop it'll be after all the rest of you've gone down."

The breezy style in which the sailor took hold of matters produced an
inspiriting effect on the others. Despite the grim solemnity of the
moments, both Rob and Fred laughed, as much at the quickness with
which Docak responded as anything else.

"Since we are here at the same old spot," said Rob, "and it is growing
dark, we might as well go into camp."

"That's the fact, as we won't have to scoop out a new place to sleep
in. I suppose, Docak, you're able to sleep, aint you?"

The native made no answer, and the party silently placed themselves in
position for another night's rest, Docak not refusing to huddle in
among them. But there was little talking done. No one could say
anything to comfort the others, and each was busy with his own
thoughts.

It need not be said that, despite the fearful gloom and these
forebodings, they were ravenously hungry. Their bodies were in need of
sustenance, and the probability that they could not get it for an
indefinite time to come was enough to deepen the despair that was
stealing into every heart.

It was unto Fred Warburton that something in the nature of a
revelation came in the darkness of that awful night. His senses
remained with him for some time after the others were asleep, as he
knew from their deep, regular breathing.

The snowfall had almost ceased, and he sat wondering whether, after
all, the end was at hand, and he was asking himself whether, such
seeming of a surety to be the fact, it was worth while to rise from
their present position and try to press on further. If die they must,
why not stay where they were and perish together?

These thoughts were stirring his mind, with many other solemn
meditations, which crowd upon every person who, in his right senses,
sees himself approaching the Dark River, when it seemed to him that
there was sounding, at intervals, an almost inaudible roar, so faint
and dull that for awhile he paid no heed to it, deeming it some
insignificant aural disturbance, such as causes a buzzing or ringing
at times in the head.

But it obtruded so continually that he began to suspect it was a
reality and from some point outside of himself.

It was a low, almost inaudible murmur, sometimes so faint that he
could not hear it, and again swelling out just enough to make it
certain it had an actuality.

Suddenly the heart of the lad almost stood still.

"It's the ocean!" he whispered; "the air has become so still that I
can hear it. The plain is open, there has been a big storm, and the
distance is not too great for it to reach us. But, no, it is from the
wrong direction; it can't be the sea."

The next moment he laughed at himself. Having fixed in his mind the
course to the home of Docak, and, hearing the roar from another point
of the compass, it did not at once occur to him that he himself might
be mistaken.

"If Docak, with all his experience could not keep himself from going
astray, what wonder that I should drift from my moorings? Yes, that is
the sound of the distant ocean or that part known as Davis' Strait and
Baffin's Bay. We can now tell which course to take to get out of this
accursed country."

He wished to awake his friends, and in view of their hungry condition,
urge that they should set out at once; but they were so wearied that
the rest would be grateful, and it was needed. And so, while not
exactly clear as to what should be done, he fell asleep and did not
open his eyes until morning.

Docak was the first to rouse himself. He found that the snow was
falling again, with the prospect worse than ever.

Fred sprang to his feet and quickly told what he had discovered the
evening before.

"It was the ocean," he added, with a shake of his head: "I have heard
it too often to make a mistake--listen!"

All were silent, but the strained ear could catch no sound like the
hollow roar which reached the youth a few hours before.

"I don't care; I was not mistaken," he insisted.

"Why don't we hear it now?" asked Rob, anxious to believe what he
said, but unable fully to do so.

"There was no snow falling at the time; the air was clearer then, and
what little wind there was must have been in the right direction."

"Where did sound come from?" asked the Esquimau, looking earnestly at
Fred and showing deep interest in his words.

"From off yonder," replied the lad, pointing in the proper direction.

"He right--dat so--he hear sea," said Docak, who, to prove the truth
of his words, pointed down at the dimly marked trail. It led in the
precise course indicated by Fred. In other words, when the Esquimau
resumed the journey on the preceding morning, at which time his
bearings were correct, he went of a verity directly toward his own
home, which was the route now pointed by Fred Warburton.

The others saw the point, and admitted that the declaration of the lad
had been proven to be correct beyond question.

And yet, while all this was interesting in its way, and for the time
encouraged the others, of what possible import was it? The conditions
were precisely the same as twenty-four hours before, except they were
less favorable, for the comrades in distress were hungrier and weaker.

But they could not hear the ocean, the snow was falling, and there was
no way of guiding themselves.

They could only struggle on as before, hoping that possibly before
wandering too far astray they might be able to catch the roar that
would be an infallible guide to them in their despairing groping for
home.

The three looked at Docak, expecting him to take the lead, as he had
done from the start. It may be said that Jack Cosgrove had kicked the
Esquimau into his proper place and he was prepared to stay there as
long as he could.

But the native, instead of moving off, stood with his head bent and
his ears bared in the attitude of intense attention.

They judged that he was striving to catch a sound of the ocean. But he
was not.

Truth to tell, Docak had detected another sound of a totally different
character, but far more important than the hollow roar of the far-away
Arctic Sea.



CHAPTER XXXII

THE WILD MEN OF GREENLAND


A sharp bark broke the stillness, a peculiar cry followed, and then,
out from the swirl and flurry of the eddying snow, came a string of
Esquimau dogs. There were six couples fastened to a rude sleigh, and
at the side of the frisky animals skurried one of the wild men of
Greenland on snow-shoes, and with a whip in hand having a short stock
and a very long lash.

Directly behind him followed two similar teams, and then a fourth
emerged with seven spans of dogs. There was a driver to each, and the
sleighs were loaded with pelts intended for the nearest settlement.
Not one of the Esquimaux was riding, though it was their custom to do
so for a goodly portion of the way.

This singular collection of men and animals were approaching in a line
that would have carried them right over the amazed party that were
about to start on their hopeless attempt to reach the sea coast, had
they not veered to one side.

When the foremost driver discerned the four figures through the snow
he emitted a sharp cry, not dissimilar to that of his own dogs, and
the obedient animals halted. The others did the same, and in a few
minutes the four teams, with their drivers, were ranged about the
others.

These individuals were genuine Esquimaux, the real wild men of
Greenland. Their homes were far in the interior, and only at rare
intervals did they venture forth with their dogs and sleighs to the
coast settlements, where they were welcome, for they never failed to
bring a good supply of peltries with them, for which they found ready
barter among the agents of the Danish government.

There was no mixed blood among these Esquimaux. They were
copper-colored, short, of stocky build, and with more muscular
development in the lower limbs than is seen among the coast natives.
The latter, giving most of their time to fishing and the use of the
paddle, have powerful arms and shoulders, but as a rule are weak in
the legs.

They were warmly clad in furs, their heads being covered with hoods
similar to that worn by Docak, but there was nothing in the nature of
the dress ornamentation which he displayed.

None of the party could speak English, but that made no difference,
since Docak understood their curious gibberish. An animated
conversation began at once between him and the four, who gathered
about him while Jack and the boys stood silently listening and looking
upon the singular scene.

What the guide said was in the nature of "business." They had talked
but a short while when one of the wild men went to his sleigh and
brought forth a big piece of cooked reindeer meat, evidently a part of
their own liberal supply of provisions, and offered it to Jack. The
latter accepted with thanks, shown more plainly by manner than his
words.

And didn't those three fellows have a feast, with Docak himself as a
participant? You need to be told no more on that point.

The guide, after the brisk interview, explained the meaning of the
conversation to his friends.

The Esquimaux were on their way to Ivigtut, some forty miles in a
southwest direction. They had come a long way from the interior,
having been three days on the road, and it was their intention to push
matters so vigorously that they would reach the famous mining town
that night.

But, best of all, they agreed to carry the three whites as passengers.
They could be stowed in the sleighs among the peltries, as the drivers
were accustomed to do at times, though they were capable of keeping
pace with the dogs hour after hour without fatigue. They would do so
now on their snow-shoes, and the three could ride all the way to
Ivigtut.

It meant the rescue and salvation of the party, who were in the
uttermost depths of despair but a few minutes before, and tears of
thankfulness came to the eyes of all three.

"We haven't much money with us," said Rob, addressing Docak, "but we
will pay them as well as we can when we reach Ivigtut."

"Don't want much," replied the grinning guide, "jes' little
money--two, t'ree bits."

"We'll give 'em all we've got," added Jack; "but what about you,
Docak?"

"Me go home," was the answer, accompanied by one of his pleasing
grins.

"Can you find the way?"

"Me all right now--hark! hear de water?"

He spoke the truth, it being a singular fact that the atmospheric
conditions had changed to that degree that the dull, hollow moaning
for which they had listened so long in vain was now audible to all. It
was like a beacon light, which suddenly flames out on the top of a
high hill, for the guidance of the belated traveler. There could be no
going astray, with that sound always in his ears, and strengthened by
his meal of venison, the hardy native would press on until he ducked
his head and passed through the entry of his home.

It might well be questioned how the wild men could maintain their
bearings, but they had come unerringly across the snowy wastes from
their distant homes, and the boom of the ocean was as sure an aid to
them as it was to Docak. No fear but that they would go as straight as
an arrow to Ivigtut.

There was no call for delay or ceremony. A long journey was before
them, and it being the season when the days were not unusually long,
they must be improved to the utmost. The wild men beckoned to the
three to approach the sleighs, where, with a little dexterous
manipulation of the bundles, they made room for each.

Jack found himself seated at the rear of one of the odd vehicles,
which consisted mainly of runners, but had a framework at the back
that gave grateful rest to the body. The peltries were fastened in
front and around him, some being used to cover his limbs, and a part
of his body, so that he could hardly have been more comfortable. The
runners were made very broad to prevent them sinking in the snow. But
for that, it would have been hard work for the nimble dogs to drag
them and their loads with any kind of speed. The situation of the boys
was similar to the sailor's.

The arrangement left one of the sleighs without an occupant. This was
well, since the wild men could take turns in riding, when they felt
the need, and the whites need not walk a step of the way to Ivigtut.

While the confab was going on, the dogs were having their own fun.
Quick to obey the order to halt they squatted on their haunches facing
in all directions, and for a time were quite motionless and well
behaved, but it was not long before their natural mischievousness
asserted itself, and they began frolicking with each other. They were
snapping, barking, snarling, and then half of them were rolling over
in the snow, fighting with good nature, the evil of which was that it
tangled the simple harness into the worst sort of knots, which
undoubtedly was just what the canines wanted to do.

The head driver spoke angrily to them, cracked his long whip, and,
bringing the knot down on their bodies, or about their ears, added
their yelps of pain to the general turmoil, while the confusion was
greater than before.

He was used to the dogs, knowing every one of the half-hundred, and
was quick to detect which was the ringleader. This canine belonged to
the rear team, and not only started the rumpus, but kept it going with
the utmost enthusiasm. He knew the driver would be after him, and he
dodged and whisked among the others so dexterously that the well-aimed
lash cracked against the side of some innocent spectator more than it
touched him.

But the driver was not to be baffled in that fashion. Dropping the
whip, he plunged after the criminal, and, seizing him with both hands,
gave him several vigorous bites on the nose, which made him howl with
pain. When released he was the meekest member of the party, all of
whom sat quiet, while the angry Esquimau devoted himself to unraveling
matters.

Rob Carrol had not forgotten the admiration which Docak showed more
than once for his rifle. When the native came over to the sleigh to
shake his hand, as he was bidding all good-bye, the boy said:

"Docak, I meant that you should have this on our return from the hunt.
I sha'n't need it any more; accept it as a reminder of this little
experience we had together."

The Esquimau was so taken aback that for a moment he could not speak.
Before he recovered himself, Jack and Fred added their requests that
he would not refuse the present. His gratitude was deep, and found
expression only in a few broken words as he turned away.

It had been on the point of the sailor's tongue several times to
apologize for the kick of the evening before, but he felt that the
result of it all was a sufficient apology of itself. Besides, there
are some matters in life which it is best to pass over in silence.

The wild men showed little sentiment in their nature. Seeing that all
was ready, they cracked their whips, called out to their dogs, and off
they went.

Jack and the boys turned their heads to take a last look at Docak, who
had served them so faithfully and well. As they did so, they observed
him plowing through the snow again to the westward, his form quickly
disappearing among the myriad snowflakes. They never saw him again.

The first thought that came to each of the passengers, after the start
was fairly made, was that the forty miles' journey could not be
accomplished before nightfall. The sleighs were so heavily loaded with
pelts and themselves that they formed quite a task for the dogs, which
of necessity sank deep in the snow. But they tugged and kept at it
with a spirit worthy of all admiration.

But one of the remarkable features of the blizzard and snow storm that
had come so near destroying our friends quickly made itself apparent,
and raised their hopes to the highest point.

The fall of snow decreased until at the end of half an hour not an
eddying flake was in the air. The sun, after struggling awhile,
managed to show itself, and the glare of the excessively white surface
fairly blinded the passengers for a time. They noticed, however, that
the depth of the last fall continued to grow less, until to their
unbounded amazement and relief it disappeared altogether. They struck
the hard surface, which was like a smooth floor, and capable of
bearing ten times the weight of the sleighs without yielding.

This proved that the blizzard was of less extent than supposed. The
wild men more than likely were beyond its reach, while Docak and his
companions were caught in its very centre. Its fury extended southward
but a short way, and the party had now crossed the line. The country
before them was like that over which Jack and the boys set out to
prosecute their hunt for game.

The travelers were like athletes, who, emerging from a struggle with
the angry waters, find themselves on solid land, free to run and leap
to their heart's content. They had shaken off the incubus, and now
sped forward with renewed speed and ease. The small feet of the dogs
slipped occasionally, but they readily secured enough grip, and the
sleighs, hardly scratching the frozen surface, required but a
fractional part of their strength. Several uttered their odd barks of
pleasure, at finding their labor so suddenly turned into what might be
called a frolic.

But the wild men were a source of never-ending wonder to the whites.
They sped forward through the soft snow, with no more apparent effort
than the skilled skater puts forth, and when they struck the smooth
surface, they became more like skaters than snow-shoe travelers. They
cracked their whips about the ears of the dogs, called sharply, and
made them yelp from the stinging bites of the whips handled with a
dexterity that would have flicked off a fly from the front dog's ears,
had there been one there.

(If we were not opposed to all forms of slang, we would be tempted to
say just here that there are no flies on the Esquimaux canines.)

The brutes were quick to respond, and galloped swiftly with their
drivers skimming by their side, holding them to the task by their
continued orders and cracking of whips. They gave no more attention to
the passengers than if they were not present.

The latter were delighted, for there was every reason why they should
be. Their limbs still ached from the severe exertion through which
they had gone, and the sensation of being wrapped about with furs and
fixed in a comfortable seat was pleasant of itself. Then to know that
they were speeding toward safety--what more could be asked?

The sleigh containing Jack Cosgrove was in the advance; Rob came next,
then Fred, while the one loaded only with peltries held its place at
the rear.

When the smooth surface was reached, they drew quite near each other,
the friends finding themselves almost side by side.

"This is what I call ginooine pleasure," said the sailor, turning his
head and addressing the boys.

"Yes, I'm enjoying it," replied Rob.

"So am I," added Fred; "it makes up for what we suffered."

"We'll skim along in this style all day as if we was on the sea in a
dead calm; nothing like a capsize--"

At that very moment, the sailor's sleigh went over.



CHAPTER XXXIII

CONCLUSION


No one can question that many animals have the propensity to fun and
frolic. It may be absent in some, but it certainly is not lacking in
the canine species.

It didn't take three teams of dogs long to discover that their
passengers belonged to the most verdant specimens of their kind, and
when the brutes struck the smooth surface, where traveling was but a
pastime, they decided to have some sport at their expense.

At the moment Jack Cosgrove was uttering his words to his young
friends, he failed to notice a small hillock just ahead and at one
side of the course they were following. But the leading dogs saw it,
and, veering off, they made straight for it with increased speed,
heedless of the shouts and cracking of the driver's whip. Before he
could restrain them, the sleigh collided with the obstruction,
overturned in a twinkling and Jack found, as he after described it,
that his nose was plowing through the snow with the whole plaguey load
on top of him.

He was dragged a hundred feet before extricating himself, and before
the driver could check the animals, who looked so meek and sorrowful
that he visited them with slight punishment. Matters, however, were
soon righted and the journey resumed, amid the laughter of the boys in
which the sailor heartily joined.

Within the next hour Rob's sleigh went over and he had an almost
similar experience. But he was expecting something of the kind, and
prepared for it, so that he emerged from underneath before being
dragged far.

Fred got it, too, despite the apparent efforts of the drivers to
restrain the dogs. By the time matters were once more righted and
under way, the suspicion was confirmed among the passengers that the
wild men were in the plot and enjoyed the ludicrous turn of affairs as
much as did the brutes themselves. But Jack and the lads were the last
to complain, and were quite willing that such good allies should have
a little sport at their expense. It was noticeable that after all had
been capsized, nothing of the kind took place again.

At noon an hour's halt was made. The Esquimaux produced their cooked
venison and all ate. The snow, although it seems to add to one's
thirst, when first used, served excellently in the place of water.

As well as they could by signs, the passengers offered to walk and
allow the Esquimaux to ride. Where the surface was so favorable this
would have imposed no hard work, but the natives refused, even
declining to ride alternately in the rear sleigh.

The dogs were tired enough to give no trouble during the noon halt.
They sat around on their haunches and eagerly devoured the bits of raw
meat tossed to them. When one or two showed a disposition to stir up
matters, an angry warning and snap of the whip from one of the drivers
brought him to his senses, and he deferred the amusement to a more
convenient season.

The Esquimaux chatted volubly among themselves, and, although our
friends could not catch the meaning of anything said, they were sure
they had made good progress toward Ivigtut, which, barring accident,
would be reached by nightfall.

The journey was pressed with the same vigor through the afternoon, the
men seeming as tireless as the dogs, who trotted along as they might
have done over the bare ground without any load impeding their
movements.

The sun was still above the horizon when the party reached the crest
of the mountains near the coast, and saw before them, nestling at the
curve of a fiord, a collection of low, weather-beaten houses,
dispersed along the slope of the hills, with a wharf at the water's
edge, on which lay a large number of blocks of the peculiar white ore
known as cryolite.

"Vee-tut, vee-tut!" exclaimed one of the drivers, addressing the
passengers with great animation. This was the nearest he was able to
come to pronouncing the name "Ivigtut."

Yes, this was the mining town famous the world over as containing the
only cryolite mines so far discovered on the globe.

Ivigtut is in latitude sixty-one degrees and twelve minutes north, its
climate being severe at certain seasons, but comparatively moderate
during summer. Then there are one hundred and thirty picked men from
Copenhagen engaged in the quarries, the number being a little more
than one-half as great in winter. Only one or two Esquimaux are to be
found about the place, and the only family that of the superintendent,
who has his wife and her maid with him.

The principal work of the employees is in quarrying the cryolite and
piling it on the wharf, ready for shipment both to the Old and New
World. And now how many of my readers can tell me what cryolite is?
Shall I explain?

Do you know that most of the sal-soda, the bicarbonate of soda, the
alum, and the caustic soda used in your homes is dug out of a mountain
in Greenland?

In 1806, a German named Giesecke, believing that valuable minerals
might be found in Greenland, applied to the Danish Government for
permission to prospect the mountains. He did so, all the way from Cape
Farewell, living with the Danish governors or among the Esquimaux, as
circumstances required, until he reached Arsuk Fiord.

At this place he heard of a deposit of ice that never melted and which
was on the edge of the fiord. It was powdered, was used by the natives
in tanning skins, and acted on a greasy hide like soap. The prospector
gathered a number of specimens and started with them for Germany, for
the substance was entirely new and required analysis.

On the homeward voyage the Danish ship was captured by a British
man-of-war and the specimens of cryolite went to an English
institution, where they were analyzed for the first time. It was
interesting of itself, but pronounced comparatively worthless.

It remained for a distinguished chemist named Thomson to discover that
sal-soda and bicarbonate of soda can be made cheaply from the
substance. It is free from all impurities, and steps were taken to
develop the quarry. The first attempt was in 1852, but regular work
did not begin until six years later, and more years passed before any
money was made out of the mine.

Up to 1864 the entire product of the quarry went to Europe. In that
year the American firm known as the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing
Company, of Natrona and Philadelphia, began to import it. The ships
used are made as strongly as possible, for they have to force their
way through fields of floating ice, craunch into huge blocks, and keep
a sharp lookout for icebergs.

Small quantities of cryolite have been found in the Ural Mountains and
a trace was discovered at Pike's Peak, in our own country, some years
ago, but it did not pan out. A genuine cryolite mine within easy reach
would prove a bonanza to the discoverer.

Cryolite in appearance resembles white quartz or ice, with a mixture
of snow in it. Although generally white, it is not always so. It is
sometimes a light brown or a dark color, due either to vegetable
matter that has soaked into it or the presence of iron.

What I have related and considerably more, our friends learned during
their stay at Ivigtut.

Finding themselves at the end of their journey, the three climbed out
of the sleighs, their limbs considerably cramped from their
long-constrained posture. They shook hands with the Esquimaux, who
understood that form of salutation, and who grinned the delight they
could not form the words to speak.

To one of them Jack presented his gun and Fred gave his to another.
This quite overwhelmed them, but the whites divided nearly all the
money they had among them between the other two. The wild men were
paid triple what they expected for the inestimable service rendered
the party, who regretted that they could not do a good deal more for
them.

They parted on the edge of the town, and, just as night began settling
over Ivigtut, the three came down the slope and showed themselves
among the employees, where their appearance attracted considerable
curiosity.

Rob's first inquiry was for the superintendent of the mines. He was
directed to a one-story house painted blue, near the rear of which
rose a staff from which the flag of Denmark floated.

At the eastern end of the settlement was a somewhat similar house
painted black, where the comptroller, or representative of the king
lived, while near the centre were two other structures, from which
puffs of steam rose.

The visitors received the kindest hospitality from the superintendent,
whose name was G. E. Schmidt. He listened to their story with deep
interest, and insisted that they should make their home with him as
long as they could stay in Ivigtut. He brought in his wife and
introduced them to her.

They found her a most pleasant lady, and the three soon felt entirely
at home.

"By the way," he asked, as the preparations for supper progressed,
"what did you say was the name of the ship on which you left London?"

"The 'Nautilus,'" replied Rob; "we fear she foundered in the gale a
few days ago which separated us from her."

"I'm not so fearful about that," put in Jack; who felt that such
remarks were a slight upon the ship to which he was attached; "she has
rid out a good many tough storms, and I don't see why she couldn't
pull through that one."

"Let us hope that she did," said the superintendent, kindly, and with
a twinkle of his fine eyes which the others did not notice.

"I was hopeful that she had possibly made her way to Ivigtut," added
Fred, who continued, turning to the sailor, "we forgot to take a look
in the harbor."

"No use of that," replied Jack; "she might have come in at some of the
other ports, but not here."

"I suppose, Mr. Schmidt, that we can go home by way of Denmark?"

"There will be no trouble about that; the only inconvenience is that
it will extend the trip much longer than is pleasant, but I understand
that you contemplated a visit to one of the posts of the Hudson Bay
Company."

"Yes, the destination of the 'Nautilus' is York Factory."

"Then your friends at home will feel no alarm, since you will be the
first to carry the news there, unless possibly Captain McAlpine turned
immediately about and started for England."

It struck Rob Carrol as singular that the superintendent should
mention the name of the skipper of the "Nautilus" when no one of the
visitors had yet done so. Where could he have learned it? His
companions did not notice the odd fact and he was too polite to ask
their host to explain.

"We rarely receive a visit from the English vessels," continued Mr.
Schmidt, "though now and then one drops down on us, but there is an
American line, inasmuch as a good deal of cryolite goes to the United
States. How would you like to make a voyage to that part of the
country?"

"It would be pleasant, but hardly practicable," replied Rob, who could
not forget that the funds of the company were at a frightfully low
ebb. "We shall have to defer that treat to some more convenient
season."

"I cannot tell you how pleased I am to receive this visit," said the
superintendent; "you must stay several weeks with me, and visit the
mines and see all there is to be seen. I hardly suppose you would care
to make a hunting trip into the interior?" he added, with a smile.

"No, we have had enough of that to last several lifetimes," replied
Jack, uttering at the same time the sentiments of his friends.

"I don't wonder; there is too much snow and cold weather for real
sport, except at certain seasons. I must see the men who brought you
in. The real wild Esquimaux live on the east coast, where the climate
is so terrible that the whites rarely, if ever, visit them, and they
are beyond the control of all except their own. If these fellows of
yours make their homes in the interior, they are very different from
all the Esquimaux of which I know anything. I think there is some
mistake about it."

"We know nothing, of course, beyond what Docak told us."

"He is an unusually intelligent native, and I know him very well. He
is a little morose at times, and I understand has caused some trouble
at the other settlements, but he is a worthy fellow for all that. By
the way, I have a friend who is expected to supper with me this
evening. It will be a pleasure, I am sure, for you to meet him."

"It will be a pleasure to meet any of your friends," Rob hastened to
say, for his heart had already warmed to the genial and hospitable
gentleman.

"If I am not mistaken, he has arrived," added Mr. Schmidt, rising from
his chair and stepping to the door.

The next moment he admitted a stalwart, whiskered, sun-browned man, in
middle life, and, shaking his hand, turned to his other guests.

"Permit me, captain, to introduce you to Messrs. Cosgrove, Carrol, and
Warburton."

"Wal, by the great horned spoon!" exclaimed the sailor, springing to
his feet and striding across the room, "where did you come from,
captain?"

It was Captain McAlpine, of the "Nautilus," standing before them,
smiling, bewildered, and happy, as he gazed into the faces of his
friends whom he had mourned for days under the fear that they were
dead.

The laughing Rob and Fred were right behind Jack, and they shook the
hands of the good old sailor, and felt like throwing their arms about
his neck and hugging him.

"I must apologize for this little joke," said Superintendent Schmidt,
who enjoyed it fully, "but really I couldn't help it. Captain McAlpine
arrived at Ivigtut yesterday, and came straight to me with news of
what had happened. He was driven far away from the iceberg, as you
know, and had searched for it in vain. At a loss what to do, he put
into Ivigtut to consult with me."

By this time the excitement was about over, and all seated themselves
as the servant came in and lighted the lamps. Mr. Schmidt continued:

"The occurrence was so extraordinary that I was at a loss how to
advise him, and his purpose in coming here this evening was that we
might discuss the question and decide it."

"You see," observed the captain (and he thereby verified the words of
Jack Cosgrove, uttered several days before), "I observed that that
iceberg wasn't sailing straight for the Equator, and I got the idea
that it was to be looked for further up north, though as likely as not
it would change its course and head south again. The only thing for me
was to try to get another ship or two to jine me in a search for you.
I was going to find out whether that could be done, but now there
isn't any need of it."

"Thank Heaven, no!" fervently responded Rob Carrol; "we have had a
close call, and the only regret we shall feel in leaving Greenland is
that it will take us away from our friends."

"It is I who feel that, but it is one of the sure penalties of our
existence. Supper, I see, is ready; will you kindly walk out with me?"
he asked, rising to his feet, and leading the way.

And perhaps it is as well that we should say good-bye to the party,
now that they are seated around the board with keen appetites,
cheerful conversation, and happy hearts; for of the visit made to the
cryolite mines the next day, the sailing of the "Nautilus" two days
later, the voyage through Hudson Bay to York Factory, the visit there,
the safe return to England, and the settling down of Rob Carrol and
Fred Warburton to the sober business of life--why, all these may be
covered in a paragraph, and so we say, "Good-bye."


THE END



~The Young Boatman~

BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.

369 Pages      Illustrated

Cloth, $1.25

This is an interesting story of a boy who is obliged to support
himself and his mother by rowing passengers across the Kennebec River.
To add to his trials, his intemperate stepfather, after serving a term
of imprisonment, returns home and endeavors to compel the boy to pay
over his small earnings to him. This the boy, who was appropriately
nicknamed Grit, refuses to do, and after a struggle the stepfather
retires from the conflict and returns to his thieving habits.

Shortly after Grit discovers a conspiracy to rob the bank and promptly
communicates his knowledge to the president, who succeeds in
frustrating the plans of the robbers and secures their arrest.

Grit's cheerful manner and kindly good nature, coupled with the most
sterling honesty, cause him to be held in high esteem by all who know
him. His manly courage and self-reliance are often sorely tested, but
his indomitable pluck transmutes calamity into success.

The book is full of incident and adventure of just the right sort to
hold the attention of any bright boy.

Sold by all booksellers, or sent, prepaid, upon receipt of price.

~The Penn Publishing Company~

~1020 Arch Street, Philadelphia~



~The Moncasket Mystery~

~AND~

~How Tom Hardy Solved It~

BY SIDNEY MARLOW

375 pages       Illustrated

Cloth, $1.25

The tone of this book is earnestly and emphatically moral, and the
author understands that nothing makes morality so attractive to youth
as to find it coupled with ingenuity, energy, and pluck.

There is no "cant" and no "can't" about Tom Hardy, the decidedly
vigorous hero of this story. He is a safe and worthy companion of any
boy or girl, and it is predicted that he will not only win a warm
place for himself in the hearts of all who make his acquaintance, but
that he will gallantly retain it long after the covers shall have
closed upon this chronicle of his efforts and adventures. He is an
admirable boy, yet the author, in defiance of the usual method in
modern juvenile fiction, has refused to sacrifice all of the other
characters to the single hero. Even those whose parts are but the
slightest have been so attractively presented that the reader feels
that if the events had chanced to require it each one of them would
have become a hero.

Sold by all booksellers, or sent, prepaid, upon receipt of price.

~The Penn Publishing Company~

~1020 Arch Street, Philadelphia~



~Chasing a Yacht~

BY JAMES OTIS

Author of

"The Braganza Diamond," "Toby Tyler," etc.

350 pages      Illustrated

Cloth, $1.25

Two boys have engaged to run a steam yacht for the double purpose of
pleasure and profit, and after carefully fitting her up they launch
her, only to find the next morning that she is gone--stolen--as they
later discover, by two other boys who had been refused a half-interest
in her. The rightful owners start in hot pursuit, and in an attempt to
recapture the steamer are themselves made prisoners. It is the
intention of the thieves to hold the owners prisoners until the Hudson
River is reached and then put them ashore, but their plans miscarry
owing to the intervention of two rather rough citizens who find their
way aboard the yacht and make themselves generally at home.
Fortunately one of the owners manages to effect his escape, and
gaining the assistance of the authorities the little vessel is
speedily restored to them.

The story is full of adventure, and the heroes are both bright and
manly fellows, who make the best of their temporary hardships. The
story will be found to enlist the interest at the outset, and to hold
it until the last page is turned.

Sold by all booksellers, or sent, prepaid, upon receipt of price.

~The Penn Publishing Company~

~1020 Arch Street, Philadelphia~



~The Braganza Diamond~

BY JAMES OTIS

Author of

"Chasing a Yacht," "Toby Tyler," etc.

383 pages      Illustrated

Cloth, $1.25

Long before the opening events of this story the fragments of this
celebrated gem are supposed to have been taken from a wreck by an old
sea captain, and secreted by him on a lonely island in Roanoke Sound.

This aged captain, now quite feeble, sends for his niece and her
daughter. They invite two bright boys to accompany them, and engaging
a steam launch the four, in company with the owner--a trusty
sailor--set out for the lonely island. Arriving there they are
distressed at finding the captain already dead. To add to their
discomfort they also discover that the former owners of the diamond
have appeared upon the scene. The little party is forcibly made
prisoner, and their captors demand that they forthwith produce the
precious stone. This, of course, they are unable to do, but
discovering among the old captain's effects a curious cryptogram, they
are led to hope that its solution may reveal the secret hiding place
of the diamond, and thus restore to them their freedom. This theory
eventually proves correct, but not until after the party has endured
many hardships, and passed through many exciting experiences.

Sold by all booksellers, or sent, prepaid, upon receipt of price.

~The Penn Publishing Company~

~1020 Arch Street, Philadelphia~



~The Odds Against Him, or Carl Crawford's Experience~

BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.

350 pages      Illustrated

Cloth, $1.25

The hero of this story had to leave home on account of the
ill-treatment he received from his stepmother, who had a son of her
own about the same age. Dr. Crawford, a man of considerable wealth,
but of weak, vacillating mind, loved his son, but was afraid to show
his true feelings in the presence of his wife. After leaving home and
meeting with a number of adverse experiences, Carl eventually obtained
employment in a factory. He soon gained the confidence of his
employer, and after frustrating an attempt of the book-keeper to rob
the safe, he was appointed as a traveler, and, visiting Chicago, he
discovered that his stepmother had another husband living. Her success
in getting a will made in her own favor, an attempt on the life of her
husband, etc., are all defeated, and Carl came out victorious in the
end.

The book is full of bright, cheerful, and amusing incidents, showing
that a boy of good, honest, sterling, industrious habits can always
secure friends, and succeed in earning a good living.

Sold by all booksellers, or sent, prepaid, upon receipt of price.

~The Penn Publishing Company~

~1020 Arch Street, Philadelphia~



~The Story of the Iliad~

FOR BOYS AND GIRLS

BY DR. EDWARD BROOKS, A.M.

370 pages      Profusely Illustrated

Cloth Binding, $1.25

White and Silver Edition, $1.50

This is a story of absorbing interest both to young and old. It
relates in a simple prose narrative the leading incidents of one of
the greatest literary works of the world--the Iliad of Homer. Many of
its names are household words among educated people, and its incidents
are a constant source of allusion and illustration among the best
speakers and writers. No one with any claim to literary culture can
afford to be ignorant of them.

The object of the work is two-fold--first, to present to young people
an interesting story which will be read with pleasure and at the same
time cultivate a taste for good literature; second, to give a popular
knowledge of this famous work of Homer and thus afford a sort of
stepping-stone to one of the grandest poetical structures of all time.

It is thus a book for the home circle, and should be in every
household in the land. It is recommended especially for School
Libraries and young folks' Reading Circles, and also to schools as a
Supplementary Reader.

Sold by all booksellers, or sent, prepaid, upon receipt of price.

~The Penn Publishing Company~

~1020 Arch Street, Philadelphia~



~The Story of the Odyssey~

FOR BOYS AND GIRLS

BY DR. EDWARD BROOKS, A.M.

370 pages      Profusely Illustrated

Cloth Binding, $1.25

White and Silver Edition, $1.50

The Odyssey of Homer combines the romance of travel with that of
domestic life, and it differs from the Iliad, which is a tale of the
camp and battle-field. Although the ancient author concentrates the
attention on a single character--Ulysses--he refers to several
beautiful women, including some of the goddesses. After the siege of
Troy, Ulysses started on a voyage of discovery and adventure in
unknown lands, which, although described with poetic exaggeration,
"has been a rich mine of wealth for poets and romancers, painters and
sculptors, from the date of the age which we call Homer's down to our
own."

In this wonderful poem lie the germs of thousands of volumes which
fill our modern libraries. Without some knowledge of it, readers will
miss the point of many things in modern art and literature.

Ulysses was brave and valiant as a soldier, and was distinguished for
his wisdom and shrewdness which enabled him to extricate himself from
the difficulties which to others would seem insurmountable.

Sold by all booksellers, or sent, prepaid, upon receipt of price.

~The Penn Publishing Company~

~1020 Arch Street, Philadelphia~



~Harry Ambler, and How He Saved the Homestead~

BY SIDNEY MARLOW

350 Pages      Illustrated

Cloth, $1.25

This is a narrative of a bright, active, and courageous boy, suddenly
thrown upon his own resources and subjected to the malicious plots of
a powerful enemy. The effectual and yet not unnatural manner in which
the hero turns his enemy's weapons to his own defence, constitutes,
perhaps, the chief charm of the book.

The story abounds in humorous and exciting situations, yet it is in no
objectionable way sensational. There is nothing in it that will tend
to create or encourage a taste for mere reckless adventure.

The author has given more attention to the delineation of his
characters than is usual in juvenile literature, thus making the story
pleasant reading, even for those who have passed the outer line of
boyhood.

He believes in a "moral," but not in those bits of abstract virtue
which are so frequently forced into juvenile stories, only to be
"skipped" by the youthful reader. He would create a personal sympathy
with the best efforts of fallible boys and girls, rather than an
admiration for the mere name of virtue.

Sold by all booksellers, or sent, prepaid, upon receipt of price.

~The Penn Publishing Company~

~1020 Arch Street, Philadelphia~



~The Campers Out~

~OR~

~The Right Path and the Wrong~

BY EDWARD S. ELLIS, A.M.

363 pages      Illustrated

Cloth, $1.25

This is one of the most interesting works of an author whose
productions are widely read and deservedly popular on both sides of
the Atlantic. Mr. Ellis has in perfection the faculty of making his
stories not only entertaining in the highest degree but instructive
and elevating. A leading journal truthfully stated that no mother need
hesitate to place any story of which Mr. Ellis is the author in the
hands of her boy, for he is sure to be instructed as well as
entertained.

"The Campers Out" is bright, breezy, and full of adventure of just the
right sort to hold the attention of any young mind. It is clean, pure,
and elevating, and the stirring incidents with which it is filled
convey one of the most forceful of morals. It traces the "right path"
and the "wrong path" of several boys with such striking power that old
and young will be alike impressed by the faithful portrayal of
character, and be interested from beginning to end by the succession
of exciting incidents.

Sold by all booksellers, or sent, prepaid, upon receipt of price.

~The Penn Publishing Company~

~1020 Arch Street, Philadelphia~





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Among the Esquimaux - or Adventures under the Arctic Circle" ***

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