A NEGRO EXPLORER AT THE NORTH POLE
A NEGRO EXPLORER AT THE NORTH POLE
MATTHEW A. HENSON
WITH A FOREWORD BY ROBERT E. PEARY REAR ADMIRAL, U. S. N., RETIRED
AND AN INTRODUCTION BY BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
NEW YORK FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY PUBLISHERS
Copyright, 1912, by FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian
Friends of Arctic exploration and discovery, with whom I have come in contact, and many whom I know only by letter, have been greatly interested in the fact of a colored man being an effective member of a serious Arctic expedition, and going north, not once, but numerous times during a period of over twenty years, in a way that showed that he not only could and did endure all the stress of Arctic conditions and work, but that he evidently found pleasure in the work.
The example and experience of Matthew Henson, who has been a member of each and of all my Arctic expeditions, since '91 (my trip in 1886 was taken before I knew Henson) is only another one of the multiplying illustrations of the fact that race, or color, or bringing-up, or environment, count nothing against a determined heart, if it is backed and aided by intelligence.
Henson proved his fitness by long and thorough apprenticeship, and his participation in the final victory which planted the Stars and Stripes at the North Pole, and won for this country the international prize of nearly four centuries, is a distinct credit and feather in the cap of his race.
As I wired Charles W. Anderson, collector of internal revenue, and chairman of the dinner which was given to Henson in New York, in October, 1909, on the occasion of the presentation to him of a gold watch and chain by his admirers:
"I congratulate you and your race upon Matthew Henson. He has driven home to the world your great adaptability and the fiber of which you are made. He has added to the moral stature of every intelligent man among you. His is the hard-earned reward of tried loyalty, persistence, and endurance. He should be an everlasting example to your young men that these qualities will win whatever object they are directed at. He deserves every attention you can show him. I regret that it is impossible for me to be present at your dinner. My compliments to your assembled guests."
It would be superfluous to enlarge on Henson in this introduction. His work in the north has already spoken for itself and for him. His book will speak for itself and him.
Yet two of the interesting points which present themselves in connection with his work may be noted.
Henson, son of the tropics, has proven through years, his ability to stand tropical, temperate, and the fiercest stress of frigid, climate and exposure, while on the other hand, it is well known that the inhabitants of the highest north, tough and hardy as they are to the rigors of their own climate, succumb very quickly to the vagaries of even a temperate climate. The question presents itself at once: "Is it a difference in physical fiber, or in brain and will power, or is the difference in the climatic conditions themselves?"
Again it is an interesting fact that in the final conquest of the "prize of the centuries," not alone individuals, but races were represented. On that bitter brilliant day in April, 1909, when the Stars and Stripes floated at the North Pole, Caucasian, Ethiopian, and Mongolian stood side by side at the apex of the earth, in the harmonious companionship resulting from hard work, exposure, danger, and a common object.
R. E. PEARY.
Washington, Dec., 1911.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I THE EARLY YEARS: SCHOOLBOY, CABIN-BOY, SEAMAN, AND LIEUTENANT PEARY'S BODY-SERVANT—FIRST TRIPS TO THE ARCTIC 1
CHAPTER II OFF FOR THE POLE—HOW THE OTHER EXPLORERS LOOKED—THE LAMB-LIKE ESQUIMOS—ARRIVAL AT ETAH 15
CHAPTER III FINDING OF RUDOLPH FRANKE—WHITNEY LANDED—TRADING AND COALING—FIGHTING THE ICE-PACKS 26
CHAPTER IV PREPARING FOR WINTER AT CAPE SHERIDAN—THE ARCTIC LIBRARY 35
CHAPTER V MAKING PEARY SLEDGES—HUNTING IN THE ARCTIC NIGHT—THE EXCITABLE DOGS AND THEIR HABITS 40
CHAPTER VI THE PEARY PLAN—A RAIN OF ROCKS—MY FRIENDS, THE ESQUIMOS 46
CHAPTER VII SLEDGING TO CAPE COLUMBIA—HOT SOLDERING IN COLD WEATHER 52
CHAPTER VIII IN CAMP AT COLUMBIA—LITERARY IGLOOS—THE MAGNIFICENT DESOLATION OF THE ARCTIC 62
CHAPTER IX READY FOR THE DASH TO THE POLE—THE COMMANDER'S ARRIVAL 70
CHAPTER X FORWARD! MARCH! 75
CHAPTER XI FIGHTING UP THE POLAR SEA—HELD UP BY THE "BIG LEAD" 78
CHAPTER XII PIONEERING THE WAY—BREAKING SLEDGES 93
CHAPTER XIII THE SUPPORTING-PARTIES BEGIN TO TURN BACK 103
CHAPTER XIV BARTLETT'S FARTHEST NORTH—HIS QUIET GOOD-BY 116
CHAPTER XV THE POLE! 127
CHAPTER XVI THE FAST TREK BACK TO LAND 140
CHAPTER XVII SAFE ON THE ROOSEVELT—POOR MARVIN 145
CHAPTER XVIII AFTER MUSK-OXEN—THE DOCTOR'S SCIENTIFIC EXPEDITION 153
CHAPTER XIX THE ROOSEVELT STARTS FOR HOME—ESQUIMO VILLAGES—NEW DOGS AND NEW DOG FIGHTS 161
CHAPTER XX TWO NARROW ESCAPES—ARRIVAL AT ETAH—HARRY WHITNEY—DR. COOK'S CLAIMS 170
CHAPTER XXI ETAH TO NEW YORK—COMING OF MAIL AND REPORTERS—HOME! 180
APPENDIX I—NOTES ON THE ESQUIMOS 189
APPENDIX II—LIST OF SMITH SOUND ESQUIMOS 196
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
MATTHEW A. HENSON Frontispiece
ROBERT E. PEARY IN HIS NORTH POLE FURS 76
THE FOUR NORTH POLE ESQUIMOS 77
CAMP MORRIS K. JESUP AT THE NORTH POLE 122
MATTHEW A. HENSON IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE SLEDGE JOURNEY TO THE POLE AND BACK 123
THE "ROOSEVELT" IN WINTER QUARTERS AT CAPE SHERIDAN 138
MATTHEW A. HENSON IN HIS NORTH POLE FURS, TAKEN AFTER HIS RETURN TO CIVILIZATION 139
One of the first questions which Commander Peary was asked when he returned home from his long, patient, and finally successful struggle to reach the Pole was how it came about that, beside the four Esquimos, Matt Henson, a Negro, was the only man to whom was accorded the honor of accompanying him on the final dash to the goal.
The question was suggested no doubt by the thought that it was but natural that the positions of greatest responsibility and honor on such an expedition would as a matter of course fall to the white men of the party rather than to a Negro. To this question, however, Commander Peary replied, in substance:
"Matthew A. Henson, my Negro assistant, has been with me in one capacity or another since my second trip to Nicaragua in 1887. I have taken him on each and all of my expeditions, except the first, and also without exception on each of my farthest sledge trips. This position I have given him primarily because of his adaptability and fitness for the work and secondly on account of his loyalty. He is a better dog driver and can handle a sledge better than any man living, except some of the best Esquimo hunters themselves."
In short, Matthew Henson, next to Commander Peary, held and still holds the place of honor in the history of the expedition that finally located the position of the Pole, because he was the best man for the place. During twenty-three years of faithful service he had made himself indispensable. From the position of a servant he rose to that of companion and assistant in one of the most dangerous and difficult tasks that was ever undertaken by men. In extremity, when both the danger and the difficulty were greatest, the Commander wanted by his side the man upon whose skill and loyalty he could put the most absolute dependence and when that man turned out to be black instead of white, the Commander was not only willing to accept the service but was at the same time generous enough to acknowledge it.
There never seems to have been any doubt in Commander Peary's mind about Henson's part and place in the expedition.
Matt Henson, who was born in Charles County, Maryland, August 8, 1866, began life as a cabin-boy on an ocean steamship, and before he met Commander Peary had already made a voyage to China. He was eighteen years old when he made the acquaintance of Commander Peary which gave him his chance. During the twenty-three years in which he was the companion of the explorer he not only had time and opportunity to perfect himself in his knowledge of the books, but he acquired a good practical knowledge of everything that was a necessary part of the daily life in the ice-bound wilderness of polar exploration. He was at times a blacksmith, a carpenter, and a cook. He was thoroughly acquainted with the life, customs, and language of the Esquimos. He himself built the sledges with which the journey to the Pole was successfully completed. He could not merely drive a dog-team or skin a musk-ox with the skill of a native, but he was something of a navigator as well. In this way Mr. Henson made himself not only the most trusted but the most useful member of the expedition.
I am reminded in this connection that Matthew Henson is not the first colored man who by his fidelity and devotion has made himself the trusty companion of the men who have explored and opened up the western continent. Even in the days when the Negro had little or no opportunity to show his ability as a leader, he proved himself at least a splendid follower, and there are few great adventures in which the American white man has engaged where he has not been accompanied by a colored man.
Nearly all the early Spanish explorers were accompanied by Negroes. It is said that the first ship built in America was constructed by the slaves of Vasquez de Ayllon, who attempted to establish a Spanish settlement where Jamestown, Virginia, was later founded. Balboa had 30 Negroes with him, and they assisted him in constructing the first ship on the Pacific coast. Three hundred slaves were brought to this country by Cortez, the conqueror of Mexico, and it is said that the town of Santiago del Principe was founded by Negro slaves who later rebelled against their Spanish masters.
Of the story of those earlier Negro explorers we have, aside from the Negro Estevan or "little Steve," who was the guide and leader in the search for the fabulous seven cities, almost nothing more than a passing reference in the accounts which have come down to us. Now, a race which has come up from slavery; which is just now for the first time learning to build for itself homes, churches, schools; which is learning for the first time to start banks, organize insurance companies, erect manufacturing plants, establish hospitals; a race which is doing all the fundamental things for the first time; which has, in short, its history before it instead of behind; such a race in such conditions needs for its own encouragement, as well as to justify the hopes of its friends, the records of the members of the race who have been a part of any great and historic achievement.
For this reason, as well as for others; for the sake of my race as well as the truth of history; I am proud and glad to welcome this account of his adventure from a man who has not only honored the race of which he is a member, but has proven again that courage, fidelity, and ability are honored and rewarded under a black skin as well as under a white.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON.
Principal, Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute.
A NEGRO EXPLORER AT THE NORTH POLE
THE EARLY YEARS: SCHOOLBOY, CABIN-BOY, SEAMAN, AND LIEUTENANT PEARY'S BODY-SERVANT—FIRST TRIPS TO THE ARCTIC
When the news of the discovery of the North Pole, by Commander Peary, was first sent to the world, a distinguished citizen of New York City, well versed in the affairs of the Peary Arctic Club, made the statement, that he was sure that Matt Henson had been with Commander Peary on the day of the discovery. There were not many people who knew who Henson was, or the reason why the gentleman had made the remark, and, when asked why he was so certain, he explained that, for the best part of the twenty years of Commander Peary's Arctic work, his faithful and often only companion was Matthew Alexander Henson.
To-day there is a more general knowledge of Commander Peary, his work and his success, and a vague understanding of the fact that Commander Peary's sole companion from the realm of civilization, when he stood at the North Pole, was Matthew A. Henson, a Colored Man.
To satisfy the demand of perfectly natural curiosity, I have undertaken to write a brief autobiography, giving particularly an account of my Arctic work.
I was born in Charles County, Maryland, August 8, 1866. The place of my birth was on the Potomac River, about forty-four miles below Washington, D. C. Slavery days were over forever when I was born. Besides, my parents were both free born before me, and in my mother's veins ran some white blood. At an early age, my parents were induced to leave the country and remove to Washington, D. C. My mother died when I was seven years old. I was taken in charge by my uncle, who sent me to school, the "N Street School" in Washington, D. C., which I attended for over six years. After leaving school I went to Baltimore, Md., where I shipped as cabin-boy, on board a vessel bound for China. After my first voyage I became an able-bodied seaman, and for four years followed the sea in that capacity, sailing to China, Japan, Manilla, North Africa, Spain, France, and through the Black Sea to Southern Russia.
It was while I was in Washington, D. C., in 1888, that I first attracted the attention of Commander Peary, who at that time was a civil engineer in the United States Navy, with the rank of lieutenant, and it was with the instinct of my race that I recognized in him the qualities that made me willing to engage myself in his service. I accompanied him as his body-servant to Nicaragua. I was his messenger at the League Island Navy Yard, and from the beginning of his second expedition to the Arctic regions, in 1891, I have been a member of every expedition of his, in the capacity of assistant: a term that covers a multitude of duties, abilities, and responsibilities.
The narrative that follows is a record of the last and successful expedition of the Peary Arctic Club, which had as its attainment the discovery of the North Pole, and is compiled from notes made by me at different times during the course of the expedition. I did endeavor to keep a diary or journal of daily events during my last trip, and did not find it difficult aboard the ship while sailing north, or when in winter-quarters at Cape Sheridan, but I found it impossible to make daily entries while in the field, on account of the constant necessity of concentrating my attention on the real business of the expedition. Entries were made daily of the records of temperature and the estimates of distance traveled; and when solar observations were made the results were always carefully noted. There were opportunities to complete the brief entries on several occasions while out on the ice, notably the six days' enforced delay at the "Big Lead," 84 deg. north, the twelve hours preceding the return of Captain Bartlett at 87 deg. 47' north, and the thirty-three hours at North Pole, while Commander Peary was determining to a certainty his position. During the return from the Pole to Cape Columbia, we were so urged by the knowledge of the supreme necessity of speed that the thought of recording the events of that part of the journey did not occur to me so forcibly as to compel me to pay heed to it, and that story was written aboard the ship while waiting for favorable conditions to sail toward home lands.
* * * * *
It was in June, 1891, that I started on my first trip to the Arctic regions, as a member of what was known as the "North Greenland Expedition." Mrs. Peary accompanied her husband, and among the members of the expedition were Dr. Frederick A. Cook, of Brooklyn, N. Y., Mr. Langdon Gibson, of Flushing, N. Y., and Mr. Eivind Astruep, of Christiania, Norway, who had the honor of being the companion of Commander Peary in the first crossing of North Greenland—and of having an Esquimo at Cape York become so fond of him that he named his son for him! It was on this voyage north that Peary's leg was broken.
Mr. John M. Verhoeff, a stalwart young Kentuckian, was also an enthusiastic member of the party. When the expedition was ready to sail home the following summer, he lost his life by falling in a crevasse in a glacier. His body was never recovered. On the first and the last of Peary's expeditions, success was marred by tragedy. On the last expedition, Professor Ross G. Marvin, of Cornell University, lost his life by being drowned in the Arctic Ocean, on his return from his farthest north, a farther north than had ever been made by any other explorers except the members of the last expedition. Both Verhoeff and Marvin were good friends of mine, and I respect and venerate their memories.
Naturally the impressions formed on my first visit to the Land of Ice and Snow were the most lasting, but in the coming years I was to learn more and more that such a life was no picnic, and to realize what primitive life meant. I was to live with a people who, the scientists stated, represented the earliest form of human life, living in what is known as the Stone Age, and I was to revert to that stage of life by leaps and bounds, and to emerge from it by the same sudden means. Many and many a time, for periods covering more than twelve months, I have been to all intents an Esquimo, with Esquimos for companions, speaking their language, dressing in the same kind of clothes, living in the same kind of dens, eating the same food, enjoying their pleasures, and frequently sharing their griefs. I have come to love these people. I know every man, woman, and child in their tribe. They are my friends and they regard me as theirs.
After the first return to civilization, I was to come back to the savage, ice- and rock-bound country seven times more. It was in June, 1893, that I again sailed north with Commander Peary and his party on board the Falcon, a larger ship than the Kite, the one we sailed north in on the previous expedition, and with a much larger equipment, including several burros from Colorado, which were intended for ice-cap work, but which did not make good, making better dog-food instead. Indeed the dogs made life a burden for the poor brutes from the very start. Mrs. Peary was again a member of the expedition, as well as another woman, Mrs. Cross, who acted as Mrs. Peary's maid and nurse. It was on this trip that I adopted the orphan Esquimo boy, Kudlooktoo, his mother having died just previous to our arrival at the Red Cliffs. After this boy was washed and scrubbed by me, his long hair cut short, and his greasy, dirty clothes of skins and furs burned, a new suit made of odds and ends collected from different wardrobes on the ship made him a presentable Young American. I was proud of him, and he of me. He learned to speak English and slept underneath my bunk.
This expedition was larger in numbers than the previous one, but the results, owing to the impossible weather conditions, were by no means successful, and the following season all of the expedition returned to the United States except Commander Peary, Hugh J. Lee, and myself. When the expedition returned, there were two who went back who had not come north with us. Miss Marie Ahnighito Peary, aged about ten months, who first saw the light of day at Anniversary Lodge on the 12th of the previous September, was taken by her mother to her kinfolks in the South. Mrs. Peary also took a young Esquimo girl, well known among us as "Miss Bill," along with her, and kept her for nearly a year, when she gladly permitted her to return to Greenland and her own people. Miss Bill is now grown up, and has been married three times and widowed, not by death but by desertion. She is known as a "Holy Terror." I do not know the reason why, but I have my suspicions.
The memory of the winter of 1894 and 1895 and the summer following will never leave me. The events of the journey to 87 deg. 6' in 1906 and the discovery of the North Pole in 1909 are indelibly impressed on my mind, but the recollections of the long race with death across the 450 miles of the ice-cap of North Greenland in 1895, with Commander Peary and Hugh Lee, are still the most vivid.
For weeks and weeks, across the seemingly never-ending wastes of the ice-cap of North Greenland, I marched with Peary and Lee from Independence Bay and the land beyond back to Anniversary Lodge. We started on April 1, 1895, with three sledges and thirty-seven dogs, with the object of determining to a certainty the northeastern terminus of Greenland. We reached the northern land beyond the ice-cap, but the condition of the country did not allow much exploration, and after killing a few musk-oxen we started on June 1 to make our return. We had one sledge and nine dogs.
We reached Anniversary Lodge on June 25, with one dog.
The Grim Destroyer had been our constant companion, and it was months before I fully recovered from the effects of that struggle. When I left for home and God's Country the following September, on board the good old Kite, it was with the strongest resolution to never again! no more! forever! leave my happy home in warmer lands.
* * * * *
Nevertheless, the following summer I was again "Northward Bound," with Commander Peary, to help him secure, and bring to New York, the three big meteorites that he and Lee had discovered during the winter of 1894-1895.
The meteorites known as "The Woman" and "The Dog" were secured with comparative ease, and the work of getting the large seventy-ton meteor, known as "The Tent," into such a position as to insure our securing it the following summer, was done, so it was not strange that the following summer I was again in Greenland, but the meteorite was not brought away that season.
It is well known that the chief characteristic of Commander Peary is persistency which, coupled with fortitude, is the secret of his success. The next summer, 1897, he was again at the island after his prize, and he got it this time and brought it safely to New York, where it now reposes in the "American Museum of Natural History." As usual I was a member of the party, and my back still aches when I think of the hard work I did to help load that monster aboard the Hope.
It was during this voyage that Commander Peary announced his determination to discover the North Pole, and the following years (from 1898 to 1902) were spent in the Arctic.
In 1900, the American record of Farthest North, held by Lockwood and Brainard, was equaled and exceeded; their cairn visited and their records removed. On April 21, 1902, a new American record of 84 deg. 17' was made by Commander Peary, further progress north being frustrated by a lack of provisions and by a lane of open water, more than a mile wide. This lead or lane of open water I have since become more familiarly acquainted with. We have called it many names, but it is popularly known as the "Big Lead." Going north, meeting it can be depended upon. It is situated just a few miles north of the 84th parallel, and is believed to mark the continental shelf of the land masses in the Northern Hemisphere.
During the four years from 1898 to 1902, which were continuously spent in the regions about North Greenland, we had every experience, except death, that had ever fallen to the lot of the explorers who had preceded us, and more than once we looked death squarely in the face. Besides, we had many experiences that earlier explorers did not meet. In January, 1899, Commander Peary froze his feet so badly that all but one of his toes fell off.
After the return home, in 1902, it was three years before Commander Peary made another attack on the Pole, but during those years he was not resting.
He was preparing to launch his final and "sincerely to be hoped" successful expedition, and in July, 1905, in the newly built ship, Roosevelt, we were again "Poleward-bound." The following September, the Roosevelt reached Cape Sheridan, latitude 82 deg. 27' north, under her own steam, a record unequaled by any other vessel, sail or steam.
Early the next year, the negotiation of the Arctic Ocean was commenced, not as oceans usually are negotiated, but as this ocean must be, by men, sledges, and dogs. The field party consisted of twenty-six men, twenty sledges, and one hundred and thirty dogs.
That was an open winter and an early spring, very desirable conditions in some parts of the world, but very undesirable to us on the northern coast of Greenland. The ice-pack began disintegrating much too early that year to suit, but we pushed on, and had it not been for furious storms enforcing delays and losses of many precious days, the Pole would have been reached. As it was, Commander Peary and his party got to 87 deg. 6' north, thereby breaking all records, and in spite of incredible hardships, hunger and cold, returned safely with all of the expedition, and on Christmas Eve the Roosevelt, after a most trying voyage, entered New York harbor, somewhat battered but still seaworthy.
Despite the fact that it was to be his last attempt, Commander Peary no sooner reached home than he announced his intention to return, this time to be the last, and this time to win.
However, a year intervened, and it was not until July 6, 1908, with the God-Speed and good wishes of President Roosevelt, that the good ship named in his honor set sail again. The narrative of that voyage, and the story of the discovery of the North Pole, follow.
The ages of the wild, misgiving mystery of the North Pole are over, to-day, and forever it stands under the folds of Old Glory.
OFF FOR THE POLE—HOW THE OTHER EXPLORERS LOOKED—THE LAMB-LIKE ESQUIMOS—ARRIVAL AT ETAH
July 6, 1908: We're off! For a year and a half I have waited for this order, and now we have cast off. The shouting and the tumult ceases, the din of whistles, bells, and throats dies out, and once again the long, slow surge of the ocean hits the good ship that we have embarked in. It was at one-thirty P. M. to-day that I saw the last hawse-line cast adrift, and felt the throb of the engines of our own ship. Chief Wardwell is on the job, and from now on it is due north.
Oyster Bay, Long Island Sound: We are expecting President Roosevelt. The ship has been named in his honor and has already made one voyage towards the North Pole, farther north than any ship has ever made.
July 7: At anchor, the soft wooded hills of Long Island give me a curious impression. I am waiting for the command to attack the savage ice- and rock-bound fortress of the North, and here instead we are at anchor in the neighborhood of sheep grazing in green fields.
Sydney, N. S., July 17, 1908: All of the expedition are aboard and those going home have gone. Mrs. Peary and the children, Mr. Borup's father, and Mr. Harry Whitney, and some other guests were the last to leave the Roosevelt, and have given us a last good-by from the tug, which came alongside to take them off.
Good-by all. Every one is sending back a word to some one he has left behind, but I have said my good-bys a long time ago, and as I waved my hand in parting salutation to the little group on the deck of the tug, my thoughts were with my wife, and I hoped when she next heard of me it would be with feelings of joy and happiness, and that she would be glad she had permitted me to leave her for an absence that might never end.
The tenderfeet, as the Commander calls them, are the Doctor, Professor MacMillan, and young Mr. Borup. The Doctor is a fine-looking, big fellow, John W. Goodsell, and has a swarthy complexion and straight hair; on meeting me he told me that he was well acquainted with me by reputation, and hoped to know me more intimately.
Professor Donald B. MacMillan is a professor in a college in Massachusetts, near Worcester, and I am going to cultivate his acquaintance.
Mr. George Borup is the kid, only twenty-one years old but well set up for his age, always ready to laugh, and has thick, curly hair. I understand he is a record-breaker in athletics. He will need his athletic ability on this trip. I am making no judgments or comments on these fellows now. Wait; I have seen too many enthusiastic starters, and I am sorry to say some of them did not finish well.
All of the rest of the members of the expedition are the same as were on the first trip of the Roosevelt:—Commander Peary, Captain Bartlett, Professor Marvin, Chief Engineer Wardwell, Charley Percy the steward, and myself. The crew has been selected by Captain Bartlett, and are mostly strangers to me.
Commander Peary is too well known for me to describe him at length; thick reddish hair turning gray; heavy, bushy eyebrows shading his "sharpshooter's eyes" of steel gray, and long mustache. His hair grows rapidly and, when on the march, a thick heavy beard quickly appears. He is six feet tall, very graceful, and well built, especially about the chest and shoulders; long arms, and legs slightly bowed. Since losing his toes, he walks with a peculiar slide-like stride. He has a voice clear and loud, and words never fail him.
Captain Bartlett is about my height and weight. He has short, curly, light-brown hair and red cheeks; is slightly round-shouldered, due to the large shoulder-muscles caused by pulling the oars, and is as quick in his actions as a cat. His manner and conduct indicate that he has always been the leader of his crowd from boyhood up, and there is no man on this ship that he would be afraid to tackle. He is a young man (thirty-three years old) for a ship captain, but he knows his job.
Professor Marvin is a quiet, earnest person, and has had plenty of practical experience besides his splendid education. He is rapidly growing bald; his face is rather thin, and his neck is long. He has taken great interest in me and, being a teacher, has tried to teach me. Although I hope to perfect myself in navigation, my knowledge so far consists only of knot and splice seamanship, and I need to master the mathematical end.
The Chief Engineer, Mr. Wardwell, is a fine-looking, ruddy-complexioned giant, with the most honest eyes I have ever looked into. His hair is thinning and is almost pure white, and I should judge him to be about forty-five years old. He has the greatest patience, and I have never seen him lose his temper or get rattled.
Charley Percy is Commander Peary's oldest hand, next to me. He is our steward, and sees to it that we are properly fed while aboard ship, and he certainly does see to it with credit to himself.
From Sydney to Hawks Harbor, where we met the Erik, has been uneventful except for the odor of the Erik, which is loaded with whale-meat and can be smelled for miles. We passed St. Paul's Island and Cape St. George early in the day and through the Straits of Belle Isle to Hawks Harbor, where there is a whale-factory. From here we leave for Turnavik.
We have been racing with the Erik all day, and have beaten her to this place. Captain Bartlett's father owns it, and we loaded a lot of boots and skins, which the Captain's father had ready for us. From here we sail to the Esquimo country of North Greenland, without a stop if possible, as the Commander has no intention of visiting any of the Danish settlements in South Greenland.
Cape York is our next point, and the ship is sailing free. Aside from the excitement of the start, and the honor of receiving the personal visit of the President, and his words of encouragement and cheer, the trip so far has been uneventful; and I have busied myself in putting my cabin in order, and making myself useful in overhauling and stowing provisions in the afterhold.
July 24: Still northward-bound, with the sea rolling and washing over the ship; and the Erik in the distance seems to be getting her share of the wash. She is loaded heavily with fresh whale-meat, and is purposely keeping in leeward of us to spare us the discomfort of the odor.
July 25 and 26: Busy with my carpenter's kit in the Commander's cabin and elsewhere. There has been heavy rain and seas, and we have dropped the Erik completely. The Roosevelt is going fine. We can see the Greenland coast plainly and to-day, the 29th, we raised and passed Disco Island. Icebergs on all sides. The light at midnight is almost as bright as early evening twilight in New York on the Fourth of July and the ice-blink of the interior ice-cap is quite plain. We have gone through Baffin's Bay with a rush and raised Duck Island about ten A. M. and passed and dropped it by two P. M.
I was ashore on Duck Island in 1891, on my first voyage north, and I remember distinctly the cairn the party built and the money they deposited in it. I wonder if it is still there? There is little use for money up here, and the place is seldom visited except by men from the whalers, when their ships are locked in by ice.
From here it is two hundred miles due north to Cape York.
August 1: Arrived at Cape York Bay and went ashore with the party to communicate with the Esquimos of whom there were three families. They remembered us and were dancing up and down the shore, and waving to us in welcome, and as soon as the bow of the boat had grazed the little beach, willing hands helped to run her up on shore. These people are hospitable and helpful, and always willing, sometimes too willing. As an example, I will tell how, at a settlement farther north, we were going ashore in one of the whale-boats. Captain Bartlett was forward, astraddle of the bow with the boat-hook in his hands to fend off the blocks of ice, and knew perfectly well where he wanted to land, but the group of excited Esquimos were in his way and though he ordered them back, they continued running about and getting in his way. In a very short while the Captain lost patience and commenced to talk loudly and with excitement; immediately Sipsoo took up his language and parrot-like started to repeat the Captain's exact words: "Get back there, get back—how in —— do you expect me to make a landing?" And thus does the innocent lamb of the North acquire a civilized tongue.
It is amusing to hear Kudlooktoo in the most charming manner give Charley a cussing that from any one else would cause Charley to break his head open.
For the last week I have been busy, with "Matt! The Commander wants you," "Matt do this," and "Matt do that," and with going ashore and trading for skins, dogs, lines, and other things; and also walrus-hunting. I have been up to my neck in work, and have had small opportunity to keep my diary up to date. We have all put on heavy clothing; not the regular fur clothes for the winter, but our thickest civilized clothing, that we would wear in midwinter in the States. In the middle of the day, if the sun shines, the heat is felt; but if foggy or cloudy, the heavy clothing is comfortable.
All of the Esquimos want to come aboard and stay aboard. Some we want and will take along, but there are others we will not have or take along on a bet, and the pleasant duty of telling them so and putting them ashore falls to me. It is not a pleasant job to disappoint these people, but they would be a burden to us and in our way. Besides, we have left them a plentiful supply of needfuls, and our trading with them has been fair and generous.
The "Crow's-Nest" has been rigged upon the mainmast, and this morning, after breakfast, Mr. Whitney, three Esquimos, and myself started in Mr. Whitney's motor-boat to hunt walrus. The motor gave out very shortly after the start, and the oars had to be used. We were fortunate in getting two walrus, which I shot, and then we returned to the ship for the whale-boat. We left the ship with three more Esquimos in the whale-boat, and got four more walrus.
Sunday, at Kangerdlooksoah; the land of the reindeer, and the one pleasant appearing spot on this coast. Mr. Whitney and his six Esquimo guides have gone hunting for deer, and I have been ashore to trade for dogs and furs, and have gotten twenty-seven dogs, sealskin-lines for lashings, a big bearskin, and some foxskins. I try to get furskins from animals that were killed when in full fur and before they have started to shed, but some of the skins I have traded in are raw, and will have to be dried.
I have had the disagreeable job of putting the undesirable ashore, and it was like handling a lot of sulky school children.
Seegloo, the dog-owner, is invited to bring his pack aboard and is easily persuaded. He will get a Springfield rifle and loading-outfit and also a Winchester, if he will sell, and he is more than willing.
And this is the story of day after day from Cape York to Etah Harbor, which we reached on August 12.
FINDING OF RUDOLPH FRANKE—WHITNEY LANDED—TRADING AND COALING—FIGHTING THE ICE-PACKS
At Etah we take on the final load of coal from the Erik and the other supplies she has for us, and from now on it will be farewell to all the world; we will be alone with our company, and our efforts will be towards the north and our evasive goal.
At Etah, on going ashore, we were met by the most hopelessly dirty, unkempt, filth-littered human being any of us had ever seen, or could ever have imagined; a white man with long matted hair and beard, who could speak very little English and that only between cries, whimperings, and whines, and whose legs were swollen out of all shape from the scurvy. He was Rudolph Franke and had been left here the year before by Dr. F. A. Cook, an old acquaintance of mine, who had been a member of other expeditions of the Commander's.
Franke was in a bad way, and the burden of his wail was, "Take me away from this, I have permission, see, here is Dr. Cook's letter," and he showed a letter from Dr. Cook, authorizing him to leave, if opportunity offered. Dr. Goodsell looked him over and pronounced him unfit to remain in the Arctic any longer than it would take a ship to get him out, and the Commander had him kindly treated, cleaned, medicated, and placed aboard the Erik. The poor fellow's spirits commenced to rise immediately and there is good chance of his recovery and safe return home.
We learn that Dr. Cook, with two Esquimo boys, is over on the Grant Land side, and in probably desperate circumstances, if he is still alive. The Commander has issued orders in writing to Murphy and Billy Pritchard to be on the lookout for him and give him all the help he may need, and has also instructed the Esquimos to keep careful watch for any traces of him, while on their hunting trips.
There is a cache of Dr. Cook's provisions here, which Franke turned over to the Commander, and Mr. Whitney has agreed to help Murphy and Billy to guard it.
Mr. Harry Whitney is one of the party of men who came here on the Erik to hunt in this region, and he has decided to stay here at Etah for the winter and wait for a ship to take him out next summer. The other two members of the hunting-party, Mr. Larned and Mr. Norton, returned on the Erik. If Mr. Whitney had asked me my advice, I would not have suggested that he remain, because, although he has a fine equipment, there will not be much sport in his experience, and there will be a great deal of roughness. He will have to become like the Esquimos and they will be practically his only companions. However, Mr. Whitney has had a talk with the Commander in the cabin of the Roosevelt, and the Commander has given his consent and best wishes. Mr. Whitney's supplies have been unloaded and some additions from the Erik made, and there is no reason to fear for his safety.
August 8, 1908: My forty-second birthday. I have not mentioned it to any one, and there's only one other besides myself who knows that to-day I am twice three times seven years of age. Seventeen years ago to-day, Commander Peary, hobbling about on his crutches with his right leg in a sling, insisted on giving me a birthday party. I was twenty-five years old then, and on the threshold of my Arctic experience. Never before in my life had the anniversary of my birth been celebrated, and to have a party given in my honor touched me deeply. Mrs. Peary was a member of the expedition then, and I suppose that it was due to her that the occasion was made a memorable one for me. Last year, I was aboard the Roosevelt in the shadow of the "Statue of Liberty" in New York Bay, and was treated to a pleasant surprise by my wife.
Commander Peary gave me explicit instructions to get Nipsangwah and Myah ashore as quick as the Creator would let them, but to be sure that their seven curs were kept aboard; these two huskies having exalted ideas as to their rights and privileges. Egingwah, or Karko as we knew him, and Koodlootinah and his family were to come aboard.
Acting under orders, I obeyed, but it was not a pleasant task. I have known men who needed dogs less to pay a great deal more for one pup than was paid to Nipsangwah for his pack of seven. The dogs are a valuable asset to this people and these two men were dependent on their little teams to a greater extent than on the plates and cups of tin which they received in exchange for them.
August 8-9, 1908: Have been trading with the natives without any trouble; they will give anything I want for anything that I have that they want. "It's a shame to take the money," or, as money is unknown up here and has no value, I should say that I should be ashamed to take such an advantage of them, but if I should stop to consider the freight-rates to this part of the world, no doubt a hatchet or a knife is worth just what it can be traded in for.
The ship has been rapidly littering up until it is now in a most perfect state of dirtiness, and in order to get the supplies from the Erik, coal, etc., the movable articles, dogs, Esquimos, etc., will have to be shifted and yours truly is helping.
The dogs have been landed on a small island in the bay, where they are safe and cannot run away, and they can have a glorious time, fighting and getting acquainted with each other. Some of the Esquimos' goods are ashore, some aboard the Erik, and the rest forward on the roof of the deck-house, while the Roosevelt is getting her coal aboard.
The loading of the meat and coal has been done by the crews of the ships, assisted and hampered by some of the Esquimos, and I have been walrus-hunting, and taxidermizing; that is, I have skinned a pair of walrus so that they can be stuffed and mounted. This job has been very carefully, and I think successfully, done and the skins have been towed ashore. The hearts, livers, and kidneys have been brought aboard and the meat is to be loaded to-morrow. Two boat-loads of bones have been rowed over to Dog Island for dog-food.
Coaling and stowing of whale-meat aboard the Roosevelt was finished at noon, August 15, and all day Sunday, August 16, all hands were at the job transferring to the Erik the boxes of provisions that were to be left at the cache at Etah. Bos'n Murphy and Billy Pritchard, the cabin-boy, are to stay as guard until the return of the Roosevelt next summer. A blinding storm of wind and snow prevented the Roosevelt from starting until about two-thirty P. M., when, with all the dogs a-howling, the whistle tooting, and the crew and members cheering, we steamed out of the Harbor into Smith Sound, and a thick fog which compelled half-speed past Littleton Island and into heavy pack-ice.
Captain Bartlett was navigating the ship and his eagle eye found a lane of open water from Cape Sabine to Bache Peninsula and open water from Ellesmere Land half-way across Buchanan Bay, but this lead closed on him, and the Roosevelt had to stop. Late in the evening, the ice started to move and grind alongside of the ship, but did no damage except scaring the Esquimos. Daylight still kept up and we went to sleep with our boots on!
From Etah to Cape Sheridan, which was to be our last point north in the ship, consumed twenty-one days of the hardest kind of work imaginable for a ship; actually fighting for every foot of the way against the almost impassable ice. For another ship it would have been impassable, but the Roosevelt was built for this kind of work, and her worth and ability had been proven on the voyage of 1905. The constant jolting, bumping, and jarring against the ice-packs, forwards and backwards, the sudden stops and starts and the frequent storms made work and comfort aboard ship all but impossible.
Had it been possible to be ashore at some point of vantage, to witness the struggles of our little ship against her giant adversaries would have been an impressive sight.
I will not dwell on the trying hours and days of her successful battle, the six days of watching and waiting for a chance to get out of our dangerous predicament in Lincoln Bay, the rounding of the different capes en route, or the horrible jams in Lady Franklin Bay. The good ship kept at the fight and won by sheer bulldogged tenacity and pluck. Life aboard her during those twenty-one days was not one sweet song, but we did not suffer unusually, and a great deal of necessary work was done on our equipments. The Esquimo women sewed diligently on the fur clothing we were to wear during the coming winter and I worked on the sledges that were to be used. Provisions were packed in compact shape and every one was busy. Two caches of provisions were made ashore in the event of an overland retreat, and the small boats were fully provisioned as a precaution against the loss of the ship. We did not dwell on the thought of losing it, but we took no chances.
Meeting with continual rebuffs, but persistently forging ahead and gaining deliberately day by day, the Roosevelt pushed steadily northward through the ice-encumbered waters of Kane Basin, Kennedy and Robeson Channels, and around the northeast corner of Grant Land to the shelter of Cape Sheridan, which was reached early in the afternoon of September 5, 1908.
PREPARING FOR WINTER AT CAPE SHERIDAN—THE ARCTIC LIBRARY
Now that we had reached Cape Sheridan in the ship, every one's spirits seemed to soar. It was still daylight, with the sun above the horizon, and although two parties had been landed for hunting, no one seemed to be in any particular hurry. The weather was cold but calm, and even in the rush of unloading the ship I often heard the hum of songs, and had it not been for the fur-jacketed men who were doing the work, it would not have been difficult for me to imagine myself in a much warmer climate.
Of course! in accordance with my agreement with some other members of this expedition I kept my eye on the Commander, and although it was not usual for him to break forth into song, I frequently heard him humming a popular air, and I knew that for the present all was well with him.
With the ship lightened, by being unloaded, to a large extent, of all of the stores, she did not very appreciably rise, but the Commander and the Captain agreed that she could be safely worked considerably closer to the shore, inside of the tide-crack possibly; and the Roosevelt was made fast to the ice-foot of the land, with a very considerable distance between her and open water. Her head was pointed due north, and affairs aboard her assumed regulation routine. The stores ashore were contracted, and work on getting them into shape for building temporary houses was soon under way. The boxes of provisions themselves formed the walls, and the roofing was made from makeshifts such as sails, overturned whale-boats, and rocks; and had the ship got adrift and been lost, the houses on shore would have proved ample and comfortable for housing the expedition.
A ship, and a good one like the Roosevelt, is the prime necessity in getting an expedition within striking distance of the Pole, but once here the ship (and no other boat, but the Roosevelt could get here) is not indispensable, and accordingly all precautions against her loss were taken.
It is a fact that Arctic expeditions have lost their ships early in the season and in spite of the loss have done successful work. The last Ziegler Polar Expedition of 1903-1905 is an example. In the ship America they reached Crown Prince Rudolph Island on the European route, and shortly after landing, in the beginning of the long night, the America went adrift, and has never been seen since. It is not difficult to imagine her still drifting in the lonely Arctic Ocean, with not a soul aboard (a modern phantom ship in a sea of eternal ice). A more likely idea is that she has been crushed by the ice, and sunk, and the skeleton of her hulk strewn along the bottom of the sea, full many a fathom deep.
* * * * *
However, the depressing probabilities of the venture we are on are not permitted to worry us. The Roosevelt is a "Homer" and we confidently expect to have her take us back to home and loved ones.
In the meantime, I have a steady job carpentering, also interpreting, barbering, tailoring, dog-training, and chasing Esquimos out of my quarters. The Esquimos have the run of the ship and get everywhere except into the Commander's cabin, which they have been taught to regard as "The Holy of Holies." With the help of a sign which tersely proclaims "No Admittance," painted on a board and nailed over the door, they are without much difficulty restrained from going in.
The Commander's stateroom is a state room. He has a piano in there and a photograph of President Roosevelt; and right next door he has a private bath-room with a bath-tub in it. The bath-tub is chock-full of impedimenta of a much solider quality than water, but it is to be cleared out pretty soon, and every morning the Commander is going to have his cold-plunge, if there is enough hot water.
There is a general rule that every member of the expedition, including the sailors, must take a bath at least once a week, and it is wonderful how contagious bathing is. Even the Esquimos catch it, and frequently Charley has to interrupt the upward development of some ambitious native, who has suddenly perceived the need of ablutions, and has started to scrub himself in the water that is intended for cooking purposes. If the husky has not gone too far, the water is not wasted, and our stew is all the more savory.
On board ship there was quite an extensive library, especially on Arctic and Antarctic topics, but as it was in the Commander's cabin it was not heavily patronized. In my own cabin I had Dickens' "Bleak House," Kipling's "Barrack Room Ballads," and the poems of Thomas Hood; also a copy of the Holy Bible, which had been given to me by a dear old lady in Brooklyn, N. Y. I also had Peary's books, "Northward Over the Great Ice," and his last work "Nearest the Pole." During the long dreary midnights of the Arctic winter, I spent many a pleasant hour with my books. I also took along with me a calendar for the years 1908 and 1909, for in the regions of noonday darkness and midnight daylight, a calendar is absolutely necessary.
But mostly I had rougher things than reading to do.
MAKING PEARY SLEDGES—HUNTING IN THE ARCTIC NIGHT—THE EXCITABLE DOGS AND THEIR HABITS
I have been busy making sledges, sledges of a different pattern from those used heretofore, and it is expected that they will answer better than the Esquimo type of open-work sledge, of the earlier expeditions. These sledges have been designed by Commander Peary and I have done the work.
The runners are longer, and are curved upwards at each end, so that they resemble the profile of a canoe, and are expected to rise over the inequalities of the ice much better than the old style. Lashed together with sealskin thongs, about twelve feet long, by two feet wide and seven inches high, the load can be spread along their entire length instead of being piled up, and a more even distribution of the weights is made. The Esquimos, used to their style of sledge, are of the opinion that the new style will prove too much for one man and an ordinary team to handle, but we have given both kinds a fair trial and it looks as if the new type has the old beaten by a good margin.
The hunting is not going along as successfully as is desired. The sun is sinking lower and lower, and the different hunting parties return with poor luck, bringing to the ship nothing in some cases, and in others only a few hares and some fish.
The Commander has told me that it is imperative that fresh meat be secured, and now that I have done all that it is positively necessary for me to do here at the ship, I am to take a couple of the Esquimo boys and try my luck for musk-oxen or reindeer, so to-morrow, early in the morning, it is off on the hunt.
This from my diary: Eight days out and not a shot, not a sight of game, nothing. The night is coming quickly, the long months of darkness, of quiet and cold, that, in spite of my years of experience, I can never get used to; and up here at Sheridan it comes sooner and lasts longer than it does down at Etah and Bowdoin Bay. Only a few days' difference, but it is longer, and I do not welcome it. Not a sound, except the report of a glacier, broken off by its weight, and causing a new iceberg to be born. The black darkness of the sky, the stars twinkling above, and hour after hour going by with no sunlight. Every now and then a moon when storms do not come, and always the cold, getting colder and colder, and me out on the hunt for fresh meat. I know it; the same old story, a man's work and a dog's life, and what does it amount to? What good is to be done? I am tired, sick, sore, and discouraged.
The main thing was game, but I had a much livelier time with some members of the Peary Arctic Club's expedition known as "our four-footed friends"—the dogs.
The dogs are ever interesting. They never bark, and often bite, but there is no danger from their bites. To get together a team that has not been tied down the night before is a job. You take a piece of meat, frozen as stiff as a piece of sheet-iron, in one hand, and the harness in the other, you single out the cur you are after, make proper advances, and when he comes sniffling and snuffling and all the time keeping at a safe distance, you drop the sheet-iron on the snow, the brute makes a dive, and you make a flop, you grab the nearest thing grabable—ear, leg, or bunch of hair—and do your best to catch his throat, after which, everything is easy. Slip the harness over the head, push the fore-paws through, and there you are, one dog hooked up and harnessed. After licking the bites and sucking the blood, you tie said dog to a rock and start for the next one. It is only a question of time before you have your team. When you have them, leave them alone; they must now decide who is fit to be the king of the team, and so they fight, they fight and fight; and once they have decided, the king is king. A growl from him, or only a look, is enough, all obey, except the females, and the females have their way, for, true to type, the males never harm the females, and it is always the females who start the trouble.
The dogs when not hitched to the sledges were kept together in teams and tied up, both at the ship and while we were hunting. They were not allowed to roam at large, for past experience with these customers had taught us that nothing in the way of food was safe from the attack of Esquimo dogs. I have seen tin boxes that had been chewed open by dogs in order to get at the contents, tin cans of condensed milk being gnawed like a bone, and skin clothing being chewed up like so much gravy. Dog fights were hourly occurrences, and we lost a great many by the ravages of the mysterious Arctic disease, piblokto, which affects all dog life and frequently human life. Indeed, it looked for a time as if we should lose the whole pack, so rapidly did they die, but constant care and attention permitted us to save most of them, and the fittest survived.
Next to the Esquimos, the dogs are the most interesting subjects in the Arctic regions, and I could tell lots of tales to prove their intelligence and sagacity. These animals, more wolf than dog, have associated themselves with the human beings of this country as have their kin in more congenial places of the earth. Wide head, sharp nose, and pointed ears, thick wiry hair, and, in some of the males, a heavy mane; thick bushy tail, curved up over the back; deep chest and fore legs wide apart; a typical Esquimo dog is the picture of alert attention. They are as intelligent as any dog in civilization, and a thousand times more useful. They earn their own livings and disdain any of the comforts of life. Indeed it seems that when life is made pleasant for them they get sick, lie down and die; and when out on the march, with no food for days, thin, gaunt skeletons of their former selves, they will drag at the traces of the sledges and by their uncomplaining conduct, inspire their human companions to keep on.
Without the Esquimo dog, the story of the North Pole, would remain untold; for human ingenuity has not yet devised any other means to overcome the obstacles of cold, storm, and ice that nature has placed in the way than those that were utilized on this expedition.
THE PEARY PLAN—A RAIN OF ROCKS—MY FRIENDS THE ESQUIMOS
The story of the winter at Cape Sheridan is a story unique in the experience of Arctic exploration. Usually it is the rule to hibernate as much as possible during the period of darkness, and the party is confined closely to headquarters. The Peary plan is different; and constant activity and travel were insisted on.
There were very few days when all of the members of the expedition were together, after the ship had reached her destination. Hunting parties were immediately sent out, for it was on the big game of the country that the expedition depended for fresh meat. Professor Marvin commenced his scientific work, and his several stations were all remote from headquarters; and all winter long, parties were sledging provisions, equipment, etc., to Cape Columbia, ninety-three miles northwest, in anticipation of the journey to the Pole. Those who remained at headquarters did not find life an idle dream. There was something in the way of work going on all of the time. I was away from the ship on two hunting trips of about ten days each, and while at headquarters, I shaped and built over two dozen sledges, besides doing lots of other work.
Naturally there were frequent storms and intense cold, and in regard to the storms of the Arctic regions of North Greenland and Grant Land, the only word I can use to describe them is "terrible," in the fullest meaning it conveys. The effect of such storms of wind and snow, or rain, is abject physical terror, due to the realization of perfect helplessness. I have seen rocks a hundred and a hundred and fifty pounds in weight picked up by the storm and blown for distances of ninety or a hundred feet to the edge of a precipice, and there of their own momentum go hurtling through space to fall in crashing fragments at the base. Imagine the effect of such a rainfall of death-dealing bowlders on the feelings of a little group of three or four, who have sought the base of the cliff for shelter. I have been there and I have seen one of my Esquimo companions felled by a blow from a rock eighty-four pounds in weight, which struck him fairly between the shoulder-blades, literally knocking the life out of him. I have been there, and believe me, I have been afraid. A hundred-pound box of supplies, taking an aerial joy ride, during the progress of a storm down at Anniversary Lodge in 1894, struck Commander Peary a glancing blow which put him out of commission for over a week. These mighty winds make it possible for the herbivorous animals of this region to exist. They sweep the snow from vast stretches of land, exposing the hay and dried dwarf-willows, that the hare, musk-oxen, and reindeer feed on.
The Esquimo families who came north to Cape Sheridan with us on the Roosevelt found life much more ideal than down in their native land. It was a pleasure trip for them, with nothing to worry about, and everything provided. Some of the families lived aboard ship all through the winter, and some in the box-house on shore. They were perforce much cleaner in their personal habits than they were wont to be in their own home country, but never for an instant does the odor or appearance of an Esquimo's habitation suggest the rose or geranium. The aroma of an East Side lunch-room is more like it.
There were thirty-nine Esquimos in the expedition, men, women and children; for the Esquimo travels heavy and takes his women and children with him as a matter of course. The women were as useful as the men, and the small boys did the ship's chores, sledging in fresh water from the lake, etc. They were mostly in families; but there were several young, unmarried men, and the unattached, much-married and divorced Miss "Bill," who domiciled herself aboard the ship and did much good work with her needle. She was my seamstress and the thick fur clothes worn on the trip to the Pole were sewn by her. The Esquimos lived as happily as in their own country and carried on their domestic affairs with almost the same care-free irregularity as usual. The best-natured people on earth, with no bad habits of their own, but a ready ability to assimilate the vices of civilization. Twenty years ago, when I first met them, not one used tobacco or craved it. To-day every member of the tribe has had experience with tobacco, craves it, and will give most everything, except his gun, to get it. Even little toddlers, three and four years old, will eat tobacco and, strange to say, it has no bad effect. They get tobacco from the Danish missionaries and from the sailors on board the whaling, seal, and walrus-ships. Whisky has not yet gotten in its demoralizing work.
It is my conviction that the life of this little tribe is doomed, and that extinction is nearly due. It will be caused partly by themselves, and partly by the misguided endeavors of civilized people. Every year their number diminishes; in 1894, Hugh J. Lee took the census of the tribe, and it numbered two hundred and fifty-three; in 1906, Professor Marvin found them to have dwindled to two hundred and seven. At this writing I dare say their number is still further reduced, for the latest news I have had from the Whale Sound region informs me that quite a number of deaths have occurred, and the birth-rate is not high. It is sad to think of the fate of my friends who live in what was once a land of plenty, but which is, through the greed of the commercial hunter, becoming a land of frigid desolation. The seals are practically gone, and the walrus are being quickly exterminated. The reindeer and the musk-oxen are going the same way, for the Esquimos themselves now hunt inland, when, up to twenty years ago, their hunting was confined to the coast and the life-giving sea.
They are very human in their attributes, and in spite of the fact that their diet is practically meat only, their tempers are gentle and mild, and there is a great deal of affection among them. Except between husband and wife, they seldom quarrel; and never hold spite or animosity. Children are a valuable asset, are much loved, never scolded or punished, and are not spoiled. An Esquimo mother washes her baby the same way a cat washes her kittens. There are lots of personal habits the description of which might scatter the reading circle, so I will desist with the bald statement, that, for them, dirt and filth have no terrors.
SLEDGING TO CAPE COLUMBIA—HOT SOLDERING IN COLD WEATHER
If you will get out your geography and turn to the map of the Western Hemisphere you will be able to follow me. Take the seventieth meridian, west. It is the major meridian of the Western Hemisphere, its northern land extremity being Cape Columbia, Grant Land; southward it crosses our own Cape Cod and the island of Santo Domingo, and runs down through the Andes to Cape Horn, the southern extremity of South America.
The seventieth meridian was our pathway to the Pole, based on the west longitude of 70 deg.. Both Professor Marvin and Captain Bartlett took their observations at their respective farthests, and at the Pole, where all meridians meet, Commander Peary took his elevations of the sun, based on the local time of the Columbian meridian.
Cape Columbia was discovered over fifty years ago, by the intrepid Captain Hall, who gave his life to Arctic exploration, and lies buried on the Greenland coast. From the time of the arrival of the Roosevelt at Cape Sheridan, the previous September, communications with Cape Columbia were opened up, the trail was made and kept open all through the winter by constant travel between the ship and the cape. Loads of supplies, in anticipation of the start for the Pole, were sledged there.
The route to Cape Columbia is through a region of somber magnificence. Huge beetling cliffs overlook the pathway; dark savage headlands, around which we had to travel, project out into the ice-covered waters of the ocean, and vast stretches of wind-swept plains meet the eye in alternate changes. From Cape Sheridan to Cape Columbia is a distance of ninety-three miles. In ordinary weather, it took about three and a half marches, although on the return from the Pole it was covered in two marches, men and dogs breezing in.
On February 18, 1909, I left the Roosevelt on what might be a returnless journey. The time to strike had come. Captain Bartlett and Dr. Goodsell had already started. The Commander gave me strict orders to the effect that I must get to Porter Bay, pick up the cache of alcohol left there late in the previous week, solder up the leaks, and take it to Cape Columbia, there to await his arrival. The cause of the alcohol-leakage was due to the jolting of the sledges over the rough ice, puncturing the thin tin of the alcohol-cases.
I wish you could have seen me soldering those tins, under the conditions of darkness, intense cold, and insufficient furnace arrangement I had to endure. If there ever was a job for a demon in Hades, that was it. I vividly recall it. At the same instant I was in imminent danger of freezing to death and being burned alive; and the mental picture of those three fur-clad men, huddled around the little oil-stove heating the soldering-iron, and the hot solder dripping on the tin, is amusing now; but we were anything but amused then. The following is transcribed from my diary:
February 18, 1909: Weather clear, temperature 28 deg. at five A. M. We were ready to leave the ship at seven-thirty A. M., but a blinding gale delayed our start until nine A. M. Two parties have left for Columbia: Professor MacMillan, three boys, four sledges, and twenty-four dogs; and my party of three boys and the same outfit. Each sledge is loaded with about two hundred and fifty pounds of provisions, consisting of pemmican, biscuits, tea, and alcohol. The Arctic night still holds sway, but to-day at noon, far to the south, a thin band of twilight shows, giving promise of the return of the sun, and every day now will increase in light. Heavy going to Porter Bay, where we are to spend the night, and as soon as rested start to work soldering up the thirty-six leaky alcohol tins left there by George Borup last week. Professor MacMillan and his party have not shown up yet. They dropped behind at Cape Richardson and we are keeping a watch for them. Snow still drifting and the wind howling like old times. Have had our evening meal of travel-rations; pemmican, biscuits, and tea and condensed milk, which was eaten with a relish. Two meals a day now, and big work between meals. No sign of Professor MacMillan and his crew, so we are going to turn in. The other igloo is waiting for him and the storm keeps up.
February 19, 1909: It was six A. M. when I routed out the boys for breakfast. I am writing while the tea is brewing. Had a good sleep last night when I did get to sleep. Snoring, talk about snoring! Sleeping with Esquimos on either side, who have already fallen asleep, is impossible. The only way to get asleep is to wake them up, get them good and wide-awake, inquire solicitously as to their comfort, and before they can get to sleep fall asleep yourself. After that, their rhythmic snores will only tend to soothe and rest you.
Worked all day soldering the tins of alcohol, and a very trying job it was. I converted the oil-stove into an alcohol-burner, and used it to heat the irons. It took some time for me to gauge properly the height above the blue flame of the alcohol at which I would get the best results in heating the irons, but at last we found it. A cradle-shaped support made from biscuit-can wire was hung over the flame about an inch above it, and while the boys heated the irons, I squatted on my knees with a case of alcohol across my lap and got to work. I had watched Mr. Wardwell aboard the ship solder up the cases and I found that watching a man work, and doing the same thing yourself, were two different matters. I tried to work with mittens on; I tried to work with them off. As soon as my bare fingers would touch the cold metal of the tins, they would freeze, and if I attempted to use the mittens they would singe and burn, and it was impossible to hold the solder with my bearskin gloves on. But keeping everlastingly at it brings success, and with the help of the boys the work was slowly but surely done.
Early this evening Professor MacMillan and his caravan arrived. He complimented me on the success of my work and informed me that they camped at Cape Richardson last night and that the trail had been pretty well blown over by the storm, but that the sledge-tracks were still to be seen. Dead tired, but not cold or uncomfortable. The stew is ready and so am I. Goodnight!
February 20: Wind died down, sky clear, and weather cold as usual. Our next point is Sail Harbor and after breakfast we set out. The Professor has asked me the most advisable way; whether to keep to the sea-ice or go overland, and we have agreed to follow the northern route, overland across Fielden Peninsula, using Peary's Path. By this route we estimate a saving of eight miles of going, and we will hit the beach at James Ross Bay.
Five P. M.: Sail Harbor. Stopped writing to eat breakfast, and then we loaded up and started. Reached here about an hour ago and from the fresh tracks in the snow, the Captain's or the Doctor's party have just recently left. It was evidently Doctor Goodsell and his crew who were here last; for Captain Bartlett left the Roosevelt on February 15 and the Doctor did not leave until the 16th. The going has been heavy, due to loose snow and heavy winds. Also intense cold; the thermometers are all out of commission, due to bubbles; but a frozen bottle of brandy proves that we had at least 45 deg. of cold. The igloo I built last December 5 is the one my party are camped in. Professor MacMillan and his party kept up with us all day, and it was pleasant to have his society. Writing is difficult, the kettle is boiled, so here ends to-day's entry.
February 21: Easy wind, clear sky, but awful cold. Going across Clements Markham Inlet was fine, and we were able to steal a ride on the sledges most of the way, but we all had our faces frosted, and my short flat nose, which does not readily succumb to the cold, suffered as much as did MacMillan's. Even these men of iron, the Esquimos, suffered from the cold, Ootah freezing the great toe of his right foot. Perforce, he was compelled to thaw it out in the usual way; that is, taking off his kamik and placing his freezing foot under my bearskin shirt, the heat of my body thawing out the frozen member.
Cape Colan was reached about half past nine this morning. There we reloaded, and I fear overloaded, the sledges, from the cache which has been placed there. Our loads average about 550 pounds per sledge and we have left a lot of provisions behind.
We are at Cape Good Point, having been unable to make Cape Columbia, and have had to build an igloo. With our overloaded sledges this has been a hard day's work. The dogs pulled, and we pushed, and frequently lifted the heavily loaded sledges through the deep, soft snow; but we did not dump any of our loads. Although the boys wanted to, I would not stand for it. The bad example of seeing some piles of provision-cases which had been unloaded by the preceding parties was what put the idea in their heads.
We will make Cape Columbia to-morrow and will have to do no back-tracking. We are moving forward. I have started for a place, and do not intend to run back to get a better start.
February 22, 1909: Cape Columbia. We left Cape Good Point at seven A. M. and reached Cape Columbia at eight P. M. No wind, but weather thick and hazy, and the same old cold. About two miles from Good Point, we passed the Doctor's igloo. About a mile beyond this, we passed the "Crystal Palace" that had been occupied by the Captain. Six miles farther north, we passed a second igloo, which had been built by the Doctor's party. How did we know who had built and occupied these igloos? It was easy, as an Esquimo knows and recognizes another Esquimo's handwork, the same as you recognize the handwriting of your friends. I noted the neat, orderly, shipshape condition of the Captain's igloo, and the empty cocoa-tins scattered around the Doctor's igloo. The Doctor was the only one who had cocoa as an article of supply.
Following the trail four miles farther north, we passed the Captain's second igloo. He had unloaded his three sledges here and gone on to Parr Bay to hunt musk-oxen. We caught up with the Doctor and his party at the end of the ice-foot and pushed on to Cape Columbia. We found but one igloo here and I did the "after you my dear Alphonse," and the Doctor got the igloo. My boys and I have built a good big one in less than an hour, and we are now snug and warm.
IN CAMP AT COLUMBIA—LITERARY IGLOOS—THE MAGNIFICENT DESOLATION OF THE ARCTIC
Our heavy furs had been made by the Esquimo women on board the ship and had been thoroughly aired and carefully packed on the sledges. We were to discard our old clothes before leaving the land and endeavor to be in the cleanest condition possible while contending with the ice, for we knew that we would get dirty enough without having the discomfort of vermin added. It is easy to become vermin-infested, and when all forms of life but man and dog seem to have disappeared, the bedbug still remains. Each person had taken a good hot bath with plenty of soap and water before we left the ship, and we had given each other what we called a "prize-fighter's hair-cut." We ran the clippers from forehead back, all over the head, and we looked like a precious bunch but we had hair enough on our heads by the time we came back from our three months' journey, and we needed a few more baths and new clothes.
When I met Dr. Goodsell at Cape Columbia, about a week after he had left the ship, he had already raised quite a beard, and, as his hair was black and heavy, it made quite a change in his appearance. The effect of the long period of darkness had been to give his complexion a greenish-yellow tinge. My complexion reminded him of a ginger cake with too much saleratus in it.
February 23: Heavy snow-fall but practically no wind this morning at seven o'clock, when Dr. Goodsell left his igloo for Cape Colan to pick up the load he had left there when he lightened his sledges, also some loads of pemmican and biscuits that had been cached. We had supper together and also breakfast this morning, and as we ate we laughed and talked, and I taught him a few tricks for keeping himself warm.
In spite of the snow, which was still falling, I routed out my boys, and in the dark we left camp for the western side of the cape, to get the four sledge-loads of rations that had been taken there the previous November. Got the loads and pushed south to Cape Aldrich, which is a point on the promontory of Cape Columbia. From Cape Aldrich the Commander intends to attack the sea-ice.
After unloading the supplies on the point, we came back to camp at Cape Columbia. Shortly afterwards Captain Bartlett came into camp from his musk-ox-hunt around Parr Bay. He had not shot a thing and was very tired and discouraged, but I think he was glad to see me. He was so hungry that I gave him all the stew, which he swallowed whole.
MacMillan and his party showed up about an hour after the Captain, and very shortly after George Borup came driving in, like "Ann Eliza Johnson, a swingin' down the line." I helped Mr. Borup build his igloo, for which he was grateful. He is a plucky young fellow and is always cheerful. He told us that Professor Marvin, according to the schedule, had left the ship on the 20th, and the Commander on the 21st, so they must be well on the way.
While waiting in this camp for the Commander and Professor Marvin to arrive, we had plenty of work; re-adjusting the sledge-loads and also building snow-houses and banking them with blocks of snow, for the wind had eroded one end of my igloo and completely razed it to the level of the ground, and a more solidly constructed igloo was necessary to withstand the fury of the gale.
We kept a fire going in one igloo and dried our mittens and kamiks. Though the tumpa, tumpa, plunk of the banjo was not heard, and our camp-fires were not scenes of revelry and joy, I frequently did the double-shuffle and an Old Virginia break-down, to keep my blood circulating.
The hours preceding our advance from Cape Columbia were pleasantly spent, though we lost no time in literary debates. There were a few books along.
Out on the ice of the Polar ocean, as far as reading matter went, I think Dr. Goodsell had a very small set of Shakespeare, and I know that I had a Holy Bible. The others who went out on the ice may have had reading matter with them, but they did not read it out loud, and so I am not in a position to say what their literary tastes were.
Even on shipboard, we had no pigskin library or five-foot shelf of sleep-producers, but each member had some favorite books in his cabin, and they helped to form a circulating library.
* * * * *
While we waited here, we had time to appreciate the magnificent desolation about us. Even on the march, with loaded sledges and tugging dogs to engage attention, unconsciously one finds oneself with wits wool-gathering and eyes taking in the scene, and suddenly being brought back to the business of the hour by the fiend-like conduct of his team.
There is an irresistible fascination about the regions of northern-most Grant Land that is impossible for me to describe. Having no poetry in my soul, and being somewhat hardened by years of experience in that inhospitable country, words proper to give you an idea of its unique beauty do not come to mind. Imagine gorgeous bleakness, beautiful blankness. It never seems broad, bright day, even in the middle of June, and the sky has the different effects of the varying hours of morning and evening twilight from the first to the last peep of day. Early in February, at noon, a thin band of light appears far to the southward, heralding the approach of the sun, and daily the twilight lengthens, until early in March, the sun, a flaming disk of fiery crimson, shows his distorted image above the horizon. This distorted shape is due to the mirage caused by the cold, just as heat-waves above the rails on a railroad-track distort the shape of objects beyond.
The south sides of the lofty peaks have for days reflected the glory of the coming sun, and it does not require an artist to enjoy the unexampled splendor of the view. The snows covering the peaks show all of the colors, variations, and tones of the artist's palette, and more. Artists have gone with us into the Arctic and I have heard them rave over the wonderful beauties of the scene, and I have seen them at work trying to reproduce some of it, with good results but with nothing like the effect of the original. As Mr. Stokes said, "it is color run riot."
To the northward, all is dark and the brighter stars of the heavens are still visible, but growing fainter daily with the strengthening of the sunlight.
When the sun finally gets above the horizon and swings his daily circle, the color effects grow less and less, but then the sky and cloud-effects improve and the shadows in the mountains and clefts of the ice show forth their beauty, cold blues and grays; the bare patches of the land, rich browns; and the whiteness of the snow is dazzling. At midday, the optical impression given by one's shadow is of about nine o'clock in the morning, this due to the altitude of the sun, always giving us long shadows. Above us the sky is blue and bright, bluer than the sky of the Mediterranean, and the clouds from the silky cirrus mare's-tails to the fantastic and heavy cumulus are always objects of beauty. This is the description of fine weather.
Almost any spot would have been a fine one to get a round of views from; at Cape Sheridan, our headquarters, we were bounded by a series of land marks that have become historical; to the north, Cape Hecla, the point of departure of the 1906 expedition; to the west, Cape Joseph Henry, and beyond, the twin peaks of Cape Columbia rear their giant summits out to the ocean.
From Cape Columbia the expedition was now to leave the land and sledge over the ice-covered ocean four hundred and thirteen miles north—to the Pole!
READY FOR THE DASH TO THE POLE—THE COMMANDER'S ARRIVAL
The Diary—February 23: Heavy snow-fall and furious winds; accordingly intense darkness and much discomfort.
There was a heavy gale blowing at seven o'clock in the morning, on February 22, and the snow was so thick and drifty that we kept close to our igloos and made no attempt to do more than feed the dogs. My igloo was completely covered with snow and the one occupied by Dr. Goodsell was blown away, so that he had to have another one, which I helped to build.
The wind subsided considerably, leaving a thick haze, but after breakfast, Professor MacMillan, Mr. Borup, and their parties, left camp for Cape Colan, to get the supplies they had dumped there, and carry them to Cape Aldrich. I took one Esquimo, Pooadloonah, and one sledge from the Captain's party, and with my own three boys, Ooblooyah, Ootah, and I-forget-his-name, and a howling mob of dogs, we left for the western side of Cape Columbia, and got the rest of the pemmican and biscuits. On the way back, we met the Captain, who was out taking exercise. He had nothing to say; he did not shake hands, but there was something in his manner to show that he was glad to see us. With the coming of the daylight a man gets more cheerful, but it was still twilight when we left Cape Columbia, and melancholy would sometimes grip, as it often did during the darkness of midwinter.
Captain Bartlett helped us to push the loaded sledges to Cape Aldrich and nothing was left at Cape Columbia.
When we got back to camp we found Professor Marvin and his party of three Esquimos there. They had just reached the camp and were at work building an igloo.
Professor Marvin came over to our igloo and changed his clothes; that is, in a temperature of at least 45 deg. below zero, by the light of my lantern he coolly and calmly stripped to the pelt, and proceeded to cloth himself in the new suit of reindeerskin and polar bearskin clothing, that had been made for him by the Esquimo woman, Ahlikahsingwah, aboard the Roosevelt. It had taken him and his party five days to make the trip from Sheridan to Columbia.
February 26: This from my log: "Clear, no wind, temperature 57 deg. below zero." Listen! I will tell you about it. At seven A. M. we quit trying to sleep and started the pot a-boiling. A pint of hot tea gave us a different point of view, and Professor Marvin handed me the thermometer, which I took outside and got the reading; 57 deg. below; that is cold enough. I have seen it lower, but after forty below the difference is not appreciable.
I climbed to the highest pinnacle of the cape and in the gathering daylight gazed out over the ice-covered ocean to get an idea of its condition. At my back lay the land of sadness, just below me the little village of snow-houses, the northern-most city on the earth (Commander Peary give it the name Crane City), and, stretching wide and far to the northward, the irresistible influence that beckoned us on; broken ice, a sinister chaos, through which we would have to work our way. Dark and heavy clouds along the horizon gave indication of open water, and it was easy to see that the rough and heavy shore-ice would make no jokes for us to appreciate.
About an hour or so after the midday meal, a loud outcry from the dogs made me go outside to see what was up. This was on the afternoon of February 26. I quickly saw what the dogs were excited about.
With a "Whoop halloo," three Komaticks were racing and tearing down the gradient of the land to our camp, and all of us were out to see the finish. Kudlooktoo and Arkeo an even distance apart; and, heads up, tails up, a full five sledge-lengths ahead, with snowdust spinning free, the dog-team of the ever victorious Peary in the lead. The caravan came to a halt with a grandstand finish that it would have done you good to witness.
The Commander didn't want to stop. He immediately commenced to shout and issue orders, and, by the time he had calmed down, both Captain Bartlett and George Borup had loaded up and pushed forward on to the ice of the Arctic Ocean, bound for the trophy of over four hundred years of effort. The Peary discipline is the iron hand ungloved. From now on we must be indifferent to comfort, and like poor little Joe, in "Bleak House" we must always be moving on.
Commander Peary was an officer of the United States Navy, but there never was the slightest military aspect to any of his expeditions. No banners flying, no trumpets blaring, and no sharp, incisive commands. Long ago, crossing the ice-cap of North Greenland, he carried a wand of bamboo, on one end of which was attached a little silk guidon, with a star embroidered on it, but even that had been discarded and the only thing military about this expedition was his peremptory "Forward! March!" What flags we had were folded and stowed on Commander Peary's sledge, and broken-out only at the North Pole.
Captain Bartlett and Mr. George Borup were all alert and at attention, the command of preparation and the command of execution were quickly given in rapid succession, and they were off.
From the diary.
February 28, 1909: A bright, clear morning. Captain Bartlett and his crew, Ooqueah, Pooadloonah, and Harrigan; and George Borup and Karko, Seegloo, and Keshungwah, have set sail and are on their way.
Captain Bartlett made the trail and George Borup was the scout, and a rare "Old Scout" he was. He kept up the going for three days and then came back to the land to start again with new loads of supplies.
The party that stayed at Crane City until March 1, consisted of Commander Peary, MacMillan, Goodsell, Marvin, myself, and fourteen Esquimos, whom you don't know, and ninety-eight dogs, that you may have heard about.
The dogs were double-fed and we put a good meal inside ourselves before turning-in on the night of February 28, 1909. The next morning was to be our launching, and we went to sleep full of the thought of what was before us. From now on it was keep on going, and keep on—and we kept on; sometimes in the face of storms of wind and snow that it is impossible for you to imagine.
Day does not break in the Arctic regions, it just comes on quietly the same as down here, but I must say that at daybreak on March 1, 1909, we were all excitement and attention. A furious wind was blowing, which we took as a good omen; for, on all of Commander Peary's travelings, a good big, heavy, storm of blinding snow has been his stirrup-cup and here he had his last. Systematically we had completed our preparations on the two days previous, so that, by six A. M. of the 1st of March, we were ready and standing at the upstanders of our sledges, awaiting the command "Forward! March!"
Already, difficulties had commenced. Ooblooyah and Slocum (Esquimo name, Inighito, but, on account of his dilatory habits, known as Slocum) were incapacitated; Ooblooyah with a swelled knee, and Slocum with a frozen heel. The cold gets you in most any place, up there.
I and my three boys were ordered to take the lead. We did so, at about half past six o'clock in the morning. Forward! March! and we were off.
FIGHTING UP THE POLAR SEA—HELD UP BY THE "BIG LEAD"
Following the trail made by Captain Bartlett, we pushed off, every man at the upstander of his sledge to urge his team by whip and voice. It was only when we had perfect going over sheets of young ice that we were able to steal a ride on the sledges.
The trail led us over the glacial fringe for a quarter of a mile, and the going was fairly easy, but, after leaving the land ice-foot, the trail plunged into ice so rough that we had to use pickaxes to make a pathway. It took only about one mile of such going, and my sledge split.
"Number one," said I to myself, and I came to a halt. The gale was still blowing, but I started to work on the necessary repairs. I have practically built one sledge out of two broken ones, while out on the ice and in weather almost as bad as this; and I have almost daily during the journey had to repair broken sledges, sometimes under fiercer conditions; and so I will describe this one job and hereafter, when writing about repairing a sledge, let it go at that.
Cold and windy. Undo the lashings, unload the load, get out the brace and bit and bore new holes, taking plenty of time, for, in such cold, there is danger of the steel bit breaking. Then, with ungloved hands, thread the sealskin thongs through the hole. The fingers freeze. Stop work, pull the hand through the sleeve, and take your icy fingers to your heart; that is, put your hand under your armpit, and when you feel it burning you know it has thawed out. Then start to work again. By this time the party has advanced beyond you and, as orders are orders, and you have been ordered to take the lead, you have to start, catch up, and pass the column before you have reached your station.
Of course, in catching up and overtaking the party, you have the advantage of the well-marked trail they have made. Once again in the lead; and my boy, Ootah, had to up and break his sledge, and there was some more tall talking when the Commander caught up with us and left us there mending it. A little farther on, and the amiable Kudlooktoo, who was in my party at the time, busted his sledge. You would have thought that Kudlooktoo was the last person in Commander Peary's estimation, when he got through talking to him and telling him what he thought of him. The sledge was so badly broken it had to be abandoned. The load was left on the spot where the accident happened, and Kudlooktoo, much chastened and crestfallen, drove his team of dogs back to the land for a new sledge.
We did not wait for him, but kept on for about two hours longer, when we reached the Captain's first igloo, twelve miles out; a small day's traveling, but we were almost dead-beat, from having battled all day with the wind, which had blown a full-sized gale. No other but a Peary party would have attempted to travel in such weather. Our breath was frozen to our hoods of fur and our cheeks and noses frozen. Spreading our furs upon the snow, we dropped down and endeavored to sleep, but sound sleep was impossible. It was a night of Plutonian Purgatory. All through the night I would wake from the cold and beat my arms or feet to keep the circulation going, and I would hear one or both of my boys doing the same. I did not make any entries in the diary that day, and there was many a day like it after that.
It was cold and dark when we left camp number one on the morning of March 2, at half past six o'clock. Breakfast had warmed us up a bit, but the hard pemmican had torn and cut the roofs and sides of our mouths so that we did not eat a full meal, and we decided that at our next camp we would boil the pemmican in the tea and have a combination stew. I will say now that this experiment was tried, but it made such an unwholesome mess that it was never repeated.
The Captain's and Borup's trail was still evident, in spite of the low drifts of the snow, but progress was slow. We were still in the heavy rubble-ice and had to continuously hew our way with pickaxes to make a path for the sledges. While we were at work making a pathway, the dogs would curl up and lie down with their noses in their tails, and we would have to come back and start them, which was always the signal for a fight or two. We worked through the belt of rubble-ice at last, and came up with the heavy old floes and rafters of ice-blocks, larger than very large flag-stones and fully as thick as they were long and wide; the fissures between them full of the drifted snow. Even with our broad snow-shoes on, we sank knee-deep, and the dogs were in up to their breasts, the sledges up to the floors and frequently turning over, so it was a long time before we had covered seven miles, to be stopped by open water. I took no chances on this lead, although afterwards I did not hesitate at more desperate looking leads than this was. Instead of ferrying across on a block of ice, I left one of my boys to attend the dogs and sledges, and with Ootah I started to reconnoiter. We found that there were two leads, and the safest way to cross the first was to go west to a point where the young ice was strong enough to bear the weight of the sledges. We got across and had not gone very far before the other lead, in spite of a detour to the east, effectually blocked us. Starting back to the sledges, Ootah said he was "damn feel good," and in Esquimo gave me to understand that he was going back to the ship. I tried to tell him different, as we walked back; and when we reached camp we found the Commander and his party, who had just come in; and the Commander gave Ootah to distinctly understand that he was not going back just yet. Orders were given to camp, and while the igloos were being built, Marvin and MacMillan took soundings. There had been more daylight than on the day before, and the gale had subsided considerably, but it was dark when we turned in to have our evening meal and sleep.
March 3: Right after breakfast, my party immediately started, taking the trail I had found the day previous. Examining the ice, we went to the westward, until we came to the almost solid new ice, and we took a chance. The ice commenced to rafter under us, but we got across safely with our loads, and started east again, for two miles; when we found ourselves on an island of ice completely surrounded by the heavy raftered ice. Here we halted and mended sledges and in the course of an hour the whole party had caught up. The ice had begun to rafter and the shattering reports made a noise that was almost ear-splitting, but we pushed and pulled and managed to get out of the danger-zone, and kept going northwestward, in the hope of picking up the trail of the Captain and Borup, which we did after a mile of going. Close examination of the trail showed us that Borup and his party had retraced their steps and gone quite a distance west in order to cross the lead. It was on this march that we were to have met Borup and his party returning, so Marvin and his boy Kyutah were sent to look them up. The rest of the party kept on in the newly found trail and came to the igloo and cache that had been left there by Borup. The Commander went into the igloo, and we made the dogs fast and built our own igloos, made our tea and went to sleep.
March 4: Heavy snow fall; but Commander Peary routed out all hands, and by seven o'clock we were following the Captain's trail. Very rough going, and progress slow up to about nine o'clock, when conditions changed. We reached heavy, old floes of waving blue ice, the best traveling on sea ice I had ever encountered in eighteen years' experience. We went so fast that we more than made up for lost time and at two o'clock, myself in the lead, we reached the igloo built by Captain Bartlett. It had been arranged that I should stop for one sleep at every igloo built by the Captain, and that he should leave a note in his igloo for my instructions; but, in spite of these previous arrangements, I felt that with such good traveling it would be just as wise to keep on going, and so we did, but it was only about half or three-quarters of an hour later when we were stopped by a lead, beside which the Captain had camped. With Ootah and Tommy to help, we built an igloo and crawled inside. Two hours later, the Commander and his party arrived, and we crawled out and turned the igloo over to him. Tommy, Ootah, and I then built another igloo, crawled inside, and blocked the doorway up with a slab of snow, determined not to turn out again until we had had a good feed and snooze.
From my diary, the first entry since leaving the land; with a couple of comments added afterward:
March 5: A clear bright morning, 20 deg. below zero; quite comfortable. Reached here yesterday at two-forty-five P. M., after some of the finest going I have ever seen. Commander Peary, Captain Bartlett, and Dr. Goodsell here, and fourteen Esquimos. First view of the sun to-day, for a few minutes at noon, makes us all cheerful. It was a crimson sphere, just balanced on the brink of the world. Had the weather been favorable, we could have seen the sun several days earlier. Every day following he will get higher and higher, until he finally swings around the sky above the horizon for the full twenty-four hours.