[Frontispiece: LIEUTENANT SCHWATKA]
SLEDGING IN THE ARCTIC IN QUEST OF THE FRANKLIN RECORDS
WILLIAM H. GILDER SECOND IN COMMAND
On the 25th of September, 1880, the leading English newspaper published the following words:—
"Lieutenant Schwatka has now resolved the last doubts that could have been felt about the fate of the Franklin expedition. He has traced the one untraced ship to its grave beyond the ocean, and cleared the reputation of a harmless people from an undeserved reproach. He has given to the unburied bones of the crews probably the only safeguard against desecration by wandering wild beasts and heedless Esquimaux Which that frozen land allowed. He has brought home for reverent sepulture, in a kindlier soil, the one body which bore transport. Over the rest he has set up monuments to emphasize the undying memory of their sufferings and their exploit. He has gathered tokens by which friends and relatives may identify their dead, and revisit in imagination the spots in which the ashes lie. Lastly, he has carried home with him material evidence to complete the annals of Arctic exploration."
The record of Schwatka's expedition is written in these pages. Much of it has already been published in detached letters by the 'New York Herald', which engaged the author to act as its correspondent during the journey. Other hands than his have reduced it to its present shape, for his restless energy has again driven him toward the North, and has enlisted him among the crew of the 'Rodgers', which is seeking the lost 'Jeannette'. Beyond a mere concatenation of the chapters it has been nowhere altered with a view to literary effect or sensational color. The notes from which it is drawn were made from day to day; and if critics find in it facts which are either improbable or unpalatable, they may, at least, have the satisfaction of knowing that it is a faithful narrative of carefully sifted evidence.
This needs to be said because the statements of the writer have already been questioned in one or two details. He says that the party experienced such cold weather as was almost without precedent in Arctic travel, the temperature falling to seventy-one degrees below zero. He says that the party killed more than five hundred reindeer, besides musk-oxen, bears, walrus, and seal, in regions where Rae and McClintock could scarcely find game at all, and where the crews of the 'Erebus' and 'Terror' starved to death. He says that of the last survivors of Franklin's party the majority were officers, arguing that the watches and silver relics found with their skeletons go far to prove their rank. These statements have been doubted. The accuracy of the thermometers being questioned, they were tested and found to be curiously exact. The facilities for procuring game were assisted by the use of improved weapons; and besides, as Sir Leopold McClintock has justly shown, it was merely a tradition, not an ascertained fact, that these sub-arctic regions were destitute of animal life. The method by which the official position of the bodies was determined is indisputably open to objection. "Watches and silver relics," writes Vice-admiral Sir George Richards, "do not necessarily indicate a corresponding number of officers. Such light valuable articles would naturally be taken by the survivors."
But the point which has provoked more criticism than all the rest is the native evidence that the distressed crews were in the last resort reduced to cannibalism. This is set down just as it was heard, being worth neither more nor less than any testimony on an event which happened so many years ago. Between the risk of giving pain to living relatives, and the reproach of having suppressed essential parts of the story, no traveller should hesitate for an instant. Dr. John Rae, the veteran of Franklin search parties, writes to the author in the following words: "As my name is mentioned in connection with the subject of cannibalism, I must state that when I came home in 1854 I felt bound to report in as condensed a form as possible all the information given us by the Esquimaux, including the most painful part. I would have felt it my duty to do this even had my dearest friends been among the lost ones, for had I withheld any part of the sad story, it would have come to light through my men, and I should have been accused, with some show of justice, of garbling my report. I consider it no reproach, when suffering the agony to which extreme hunger subjects some men, for them to do what the Esquimaux tell us was done. Men so placed are no more responsible for their actions than a madman who commits a great crime. Thank God, when starving for days, and compelled to eat bits of skin, the bones of ptarmigan up to the beak and down to the toe-nails, I felt no painful craving; but I have seen men who suffered so much that I believe they would have eaten any kind of food, however repulsive."
On the other hand, Sir George Richards shows strong reasons why the Esquimaux should not be believed. "They are said to give as their reasons," he writes, "that some of the limbs were removed as if by a saw. If this is correct, they were, probably, the operators themselves. We learn from the narrative that they were able to saw off the handles of pickaxes and shovels. At all events the intercourse between the natives and such of Franklin's crews as they met is surrounded by circumstances of grave suspicion, as learned from themselves, and this suspicion gathers strength from various circumstances related on Schwatka's journey. Be this as it may, I take my stand on far higher ground. Of course such things have happened. Strong, shipwrecked mariners, suddenly cast adrift on the ocean, have endeavored to extend life in this way when they were in hourly expectation of being rescued. But how different the case in point! The crews of the 'Erebus' and 'Terror', when they abandoned their ship, were, doubtless, for the most part, suffering from exhaustion and scurvy; death had been staring them in the face for months. The greater part of them probably died from exhaustion and disease long before they got a hundred miles from their ships, and found their graves beneath the ice when it melted in summer, or on the beach of King William Land. It is possible that no more than half a dozen out of the whole crew ever reached the entrance to the Great Fish River. We need not call in starvation to our aid. I fully believe that by far the greater portion perished long before their provisions were consumed. The only thing that would have restored men to convalescence in their condition would have been nursing and the comforts of hospital treatment, not a resort to human flesh."
Apart from these objections, of which the reader is only forewarned, the importance of the results achieved by Lieutenant Schwatka's expedition has not been gainsaid by any one possessing the least acquaintance with Arctic matters. It made the largest sledge journey on record, having been absent from its base of supplies for eleven months and twenty days, and having traversed 2,819 geographical, or 3,251 statute miles. It was the first expedition which relied for its own subsistence and for the subsistence of its dogs on the game which it found in the locality. It was the first expedition in which the white men of the party voluntarily assumed the same diet as the natives. It was the first expedition which established beyond a doubt the loss of the Franklin records. McClintock recorded an opinion that they had perished: Schwatka recorded it as a fact.
The success of this latest Arctic journey has been attributed to small, as well as to greater causes. The advantages of summer exploration were manifest. The Esquimaux of the party gave invaluable aid, building snow-huts with the skill to which none but natives attain, coating the sledge-runners with ice according to a method which only natives understand, and by their good offices enabling the expedition to hold communication and have dealings with the wild tribes with whom they came in contact. The dogs were chosen with the utmost circumspection, and justified this care by their wonderful endurance. Game was abundant. Such minor devices as the use of blue lights proved efficacious in the dispersal of wolves. Woolen foot gear, made by friendly natives, supplied a need which has often proved fatal in the Arctic. Good management kept all the Esquimaux loyal, and Schwatka's strong will helped the travellers to live while the dogs were falling exhausted and dying by the way.
Among the relics that were brought home was the prow of the boat seen by Sir Leopold McClintock in Erebus Bay, the sled on which it had been transported, and the drag-rope by which the sled was drawn. There were also two sheet-iron stoves from the first camp on King William Land, a brush marked "H. Wilkes," some pieces of clothing from each grave, together with buttons, canteens, shoes, tin cans, pickaxes, and every thing that could in any way tend to identify the occupants of the different graves or those who died without burial. They were offered to the British Admiralty, and, having been gratefully accepted, were added to the relics already deposited at the Museum in Greenwich Hospital, and at the United Service Institution in London.
CHAPTER I. NORTHWARD
CHAPTER II. THE WINTER CAMP
CHAPTER III. OUR DOGS
CHAPTER IV. IN THE SLEDGES
CHAPTER V. NATIVE WITNESSES
CHAPTER VI. THE MIDNIGHT SUN
CHAPTER VII. RELICS
CHAPTER VIII. IRVING'S GRAVE
CHAPTER IX. ARCTIC COSTUMES
CHAPTER X. OVER MELTING SNOWS
CHAPTER XI. AMATEUR ESQUIMAUX
CHAPTER XII. WALRUS DIET
CHAPTER XIII. THE RETURN
CHAPTER XIV. FAMINE
CHAPTER XV. ESQUIMAU HOME-LIFE
CHAPTER XVI. HOMEWARD
CHAPTER XVII. THE GRAVES OF THE EXPLORERS
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
LIEUTENANT SCHWATKA CAMP DALY IN SUMMER ESQUIMAUX GOING TO THE HUNTING-GROUND A CAIRN CAIRN MARKING DEPOSIT OF PROVISIONS THE SHIPS IN WINTER QUARTERS ESQUIMAU PLAYING THE KI-LOWTY CAMP DALY IN WINTER DOWN-HILL WITH THE SLEDGES HUNTING MUSK-OXEN THE GREAT BEND IN HAYES RIVER THE SOURCES OF THE HAYES RIVER MEETING WITH THE OOKJOOLIKS THE NETCHILLIK AMBASSADRESS THE COUNCIL WITH THE NETCHILLIKS SNOW-HUTS ON CAPE HERSCHEL CROSSING EREBUS BAY CURIOUS FORMATION OF CLAY-STONE CLAY-STONE MOUNDS THE BREAKING UP OF THE ICE THE MARCH SOUTHWARD SCHWATKA'S PERMANENT CAMP HENRY KLUTSCHAK'S CAMP VIEW ON BACK'S RIVER THE DANGEROUS RAPIDS, BACK'S RIVER THE MARCH IN EXTREME COLD WEATHER VIEW ON CONNERY RIVER ESQUIMAUX BUILDING A HUT SECTION AND PLAN OF ESQUIMAUX HUT ESQUIMAU WOMAN COOKING
[Map: THE OVERLAND ROUTE OF THE Exploring Expedition of Lieut. Schwatka to and from KING WILLIAM'S LAND. 1879-1880.]
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"Haul in the gang-plank;" "Let go the tow-line," shouted the captain of the 'Fletcher'. Then he signalled the engineer to go ahead, and the little schooner 'Eothen' was abandoned to her own resources and the mercy of the mighty ocean. The last frantic handshaking was over, and only wind-blown kisses and parting injunctions passed back and forth as the distance between the voyagers and their escort kept continually increasing, until nothing could be heard but the hearty cheers that wished for us a pleasant journey and unbounded success. There was no time now for regrets, for if we would be comfortable we must direct our thoughts seaward and get our bunks ready for sleeping. So we were paired off and went immediately to work. As Lieutenant Schwatka was not only the senior officer of the expedition, but at the same time taller than I by several inches, I willingly yielded him the top bunk of our state-room, and waited patiently outside until he had prepared his lair, for it would be impossible for two to work at the same time in such very narrow space. He at last arranged his two buffalo robes to his perfect satisfaction, and I soon spread my humbler blankets to the best advantage. So much accomplished we retired to our first sleep on shipboard.
We had left New York on the 19th June, 1878, a party of five, none of us unaccustomed to hardship and adventure. Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka, of the Third United States Cavalry, Polish by descent, American by birth, had been distinguished in the war; and I, who was second in command, had seen a good deal of active service. Henry Klutschak, a Bohemian by birth, a civil engineer by profession, brought us the advantage of his previous experiences in the Arctic; Frank E. Melms was an experienced whaleman; and Joseph Ebierbing, well known as "Esquimau Joe," had been with Captain Hall and Captain Hayes in their journeys, and with the 'Pandora' expedition from England. The 'Eothen', that carried us, was commanded by Captain Thomas F. Barry. Her crew included a first, second, and third mate, a carpenter, blacksmith, cooper, steward and cook, three boat-steerers, and twelve men before the mast. To prepare her for encounters with the ice, the hull had been overlaid to the chain-plates with oak planking an inch and a half thick, and the stem had been covered with oak about two feet thick, over which was iron plating to the depth of three-quarters of an inch. She was a stout vessel of one hundred and two tons. The stock of provisions laid in on board of her for the use of the party included hard bread, Indian-meal, flour, molasses, pemmican, canned meats, preserved vegetables, preserved fruits, coffee, tea, and chocolate. Horseradish was taken as a preventive against scurvy, and tobacco was stored in abundance for the use of such Esquimaux as might have stories to tell or assistance to offer. Arms and ammunition had been generously presented to us by several manufacturers, and to individual bounty we also owed many of our books, night-signals, instruments, and the timber for our sledges.
The commander of the 'Eothen' was, indirectly, the originator of the expedition. Everybody knows that for more than twenty years explorers had been sailing from English and American ports in search of the bodies or the papers of Sir John Franklin and his party. The partial success which attended the investigations of Sir Leopold McClintock had served to whet the public appetite. A story which Captain Barry brought home from the Arctic made the curiosity still greater. He said that in 1871-73, while on a whaling expedition, he was frozen in with the 'Glacier' in Repulse Bay, and was there visited by several Esquimaux who brought their families on board his vessel. They had lost their way while hunting, and were anxious to see the ships of white men. While on board the 'Glacier' they spoke of a stranger in uniform who had visited them some years before, and who was accompanied by many other white men. All of the party had afterward died, but the chief had meanwhile collected a great quantity of papers. He had left these papers behind him in a cairn, where, among other things, some silver spoons had since been found. In the winter of 1876, while the captain was with the bark 'A. Houghton' before Marble Island, another set of Esquimaux visited him, and while looking at his logbook said that the great white man who had been among them many years before had kept a similar book, and having told him this one of them gave him a spoon engraved with the word "Franklin."
This was enough to arrest the attention and stir the adventurous spirit of Lieutenant Schwatka. He became eager to organize a search party and find the cairn where the papers were supposed to be still buried. He obtained leave of absence, went to New York, and proposed to Judge Daly, of the Geographical Society, to take charge of an expedition. After listening to the lieutenant's offer, Judge Daly gave him all the information in his possession concerning the whereabouts of the supposed cairn, so far as its site could be ascertained from the history of the relics already said to be found, and commended him to General Sherman, indorsing his application to be detailed to command the exploring party. The lieutenant also conferred with Messrs. Morrison & Brown, the shipping merchants of South Street, New York, who owned the whaling vessel on which the supposed clew was brought home, and they readily accepted his offer, and with the help of private subscriptions fitted out the 'Eothen'. Their instructions to Lieutenant Schwatka were as follows: "Upon your arrival at Repulse Bay you will prepare for your inland journey by building your sledges and taking such provisions as are necessary. As soon as sufficient snow is on the ground you will start for King William Land and the Gulf of Boothia. Take daily observations, and whenever you discover any error in any of the charts you will correct the same. Whenever you shall make any new discoveries you will mark the same on the charts; and important discoveries I desire to be named after the Hon. Charles P. Daly and his estimable wife, Mrs. Maria Daly. Any records you may think necessary for you to leave on the trip, at such places as you think best, you will mark ''Eothen' Franklin Arctic Search Party, Frederick Schwatka in command;' date, longitude, and latitude; to be directed to the President of the American Geographical Society, New York, United States of America. Should you be fortunate in finding the records, remains, or relics of Sir John Franklin or his unfortunate party, as I have hopes you will, you will keep them in your or Joe's control, and the contents thereof shall be kept secret, and no part thereof destroyed, tampered with, or lost. Should you find the remains of Sir John Franklin or any of his party, you will take the same, have them properly taken care of, and bring them with you. The carpenter of the 'Eothen' will, before you start on your sledge journey, prepare boxes necessary for the care of relics, remains, or records, should you discover the same. Whatever you may discover or obtain you will deliver to Captain Thomas F Barry, or whoever shall be in command of the schooner 'Eothen', or such vessel as may be despatched for you. You are now provisioned for eighteen months for twelve men. I shall next spring send more provisions to you, so that in the event of your trip being prolonged you shall not want for any of the necessaries of life. You will be careful and economical with your provisions, and will not allow anything to be wasted or destroyed. Should the expedition for which it is intended prove a failure, make it a geographical success, as you will be compelled to travel over a great deal of unexplored country."
Thus manned, equipped, and instructed, we sailed from New York. It was nearly a month before we saw our first iceberg. During the night of July 11th I heard the order given to wear ship, and was called on deck to see an iceberg dead ahead; but so great was the distance and so foggy the weather that it was some time before I could make it out, and then it appeared only as a thin, faintly bluish line. The eagle eyes of the second mate had discovered it in time to avoid any danger of collision; but the captain thought it more prudent to heave to and wait until dawn before continuing on our course. The following morning a regular old veteran berg could be seen from the deck, about twenty miles away. It was apparently about a mile long, and could have supplied the city of New York with ice for many years, were there any way to preserve it for that purpose. During the 13th we saw four large icebergs, which passed close by the ship. While writing in the cabin, about eleven o'clock of the 15th, the mate on watch called me on deck to see a magnificent aurora, the first we had seen. It was truly a grand spectacle. At the same time the moon was shining brightly and the sea was as smooth as glass. Near by an immense iceberg looked black against the red twilight along the horizon, while in the distance another berg was white in the light of the full moon. The air was filled with the voices of wild-ducks, who could be heard, but not seen. On Friday, the 19th, in latitude 59 deg. 54 min. north, and longitude 60 deg. 45 min. west., thirteen icebergs were to be seen during the morning, and were of the most varied and picturesque description. One appeared like a huge circus tent, with an adjoining side-show booth; while near by another was a most perfect representation of a cottage by the sea, with gables toward the observer, and chimneys rising at proper intervals along the roofs. On the other side of the vessel a huge monster presented a vast amphitheatre, with innumerable columns sparkling in the sunlight and dazzling the spectator with their intense brilliancy. I made a few sketches of the most remarkable in view; but as twenty-three could be seen from the deck at three o'clock I gave up in despair. At six o'clock thirty-three were in sight, and the sun set beautifully, eight minutes past nine, surrounded by fourteen of these monsters of the deep. On the night of the 19th I went on deck to see an iceberg, which was a perfect counterpart of Newstead Abbey. One could almost fancy he saw the ivy creeping over its sides, so deceptive were the shadows that fell upon it from pinnacles and horizontal projections innumerable.
At half-past seven o'clock in the evening we sighted a brigantine off the weather beam, while thirty-one icebergs were around us. The vessel was going the same way that we were bound, and was about fifteen miles away. Sunday night, the 21st, was a splendid night. One could read distinctly on deck throughout the entire night. There were plenty of icebergs around. Those in front and on both sides of the ship were black against the sky, the moon being on the other side of them, while those we passed shone in all their virgin beauty in the bright moonlight. The red twilight still lingered along the horizon, graduating through a pale yellow tint to orange, and then deepening into intense blue that was almost black. The picture was fierce in color and startling in the contrasts it presented.
At a quarter before nine o'clock the next night we sighted Resolution Island in the dim distance. Spy-glasses were at once brought into requisition, and we could see that the mirage had fooled us, though there seemed little doubt of the land's being visible. The next morning the land was in plain sight, about thirty or thirty-five miles off the weather beam, and the water filled with small and dangerous pieces of ice. The land was covered with fog, and looked desolate enough, but nevertheless seemed acceptable after a tedious journey against head winds and calms. The wind was still directly out of the straits, and we had to beat backward and forward from Resolution to Button Island, and it seemed as if the straits were unapproachable. Toward night the wind blew a perfect gale, and added to the usual dangers was the risk of running upon the innumerable pieces of loose ice which appeared on every side, many of them having sharp points projecting below the surface of the water, and heavy enough to pierce the sides of any vessel going at the speed we were compelled to make in order to keep sufficient headway to steer clear of such obstacles as could be seen. The captain and first mate, who were on deck most of the night, said that disaster was imminent; that the danger was constant, and that the night was withal one of the most terrible ordeals they had ever experienced. I was tired and slept soundly, and consequently knew nothing about it until morning, which dawned brightly and with a light breeze, under which we passed up to the first ice-pack I had ever seen. While engaged in conversation an inexperienced hand at the wheel brought us so close to a small cake of ice, about the size of a schooner, that collision was inevitable. A long projection beneath the water had a most dangerous look, but fortunately was so deep that the keel of the 'Eothen' ran up on it and somewhat deadened her headway. Long poles were got out at once, and, all hands pushing, succeeded after a while in getting her clear without damage; but it was a perilous moment.
We worked over toward the south side of the straits, and found a channel through which we could make but slow progress. The wind increased and blew terrifically all night, forcing the vessels to beat back and forth in the mouth of the straits, and we had a similar experience on the night of the 22d, running the gauntlet under reefed mainsail and jib through loose ice and in imminent danger of shipwreck. Next day the ice appeared somewhat open, and Captain Barry concluded to venture into the pack. When we got into clear water we worked up to the bulkhead of ice and passed Resolution Island. We were almost as glad to get rid of it as we had been to see it, nearly a week before. All the icebergs we saw were aground, and several of them had arches cut into their sides, which looked as if our vessel might safely sail inside and secure a harbor. We worked up beyond the Lower Savage Islands, and in sight of the Middle Savage and Saddleback Rock.
When we went to bed the weather was a dead calm, and the water of glassy smoothness. Not a sound was to be heard save the distant thunder of bursting icebergs and the water swashing up against the field-ice that now and then passed with the current. It sounded for all the world like waves upon a rock-bound coast, or like the distant rumbling of a train of cars. About midnight Joe called me to announce that the natives were coming off to the ship in boats. I hastened to put on my clothes; but before I got dressed I could hear the captain's voice shouting "Kimo" (Welcome), from the quarter-deck, and when I joined him I could see two dark objects that seemed to be approaching rapidly, and could hear the confused sounds of voices in conversation coming up from the water. Presently it could be seen that one was a kyack and the other an omien, or women's boat, filled with women and children and a few men. By this time Joe had come on deck, and at Captain Barry's request invited them to come aboard. When they heard their native tongue from the stranger ship their surprise was unfeigned. The men bought a number of corlitangs and kummings (native boots), as well as other articles of apparel, and gave in exchange small pieces of tobacco, a few cases of matches, and articles of clothing that were not worth keeping. Captain Barry got a quantity of whalebone, reindeer and fox skins, walrus ivory, a bear-skin, and about a hundred and fifty pounds of fresh reindeer meat. We also bought three dogs for about a pound of powder, and a kyack for Joe, for which the captain gave an old broken double-barrelled gun and a handful of powder and shot. The owner was in ecstasy over the bargain and Joe was more than happy.
I could not help, however, feeling mortified that such advantage should be taken of their childish ignorance of values. I was not surprised, then, when Joe, who has been long enough in civilized lands to know what values are, came to me and said he thought it was wrong to rob these people. They were his own people, and from the same tribe, in fact, so that his interest was naturally with them. His own uncle was one of the chief men of this tribe, but at the time we arrived had gone inland with most of the men on a hunting expedition. Joe sent him his pocket-knife as a present, and also was liberal with needles among the women, who were very grateful for his generosity. The whalers seriously object to giving things away to the natives, as it renders their system of barter more difficult. It would be a greater benefit to all these tribes to send one or two of their most intelligent young men to the United States or to England for a few years, so that they could protect them against the rapacity of the masters and owners of whaling ships. They could then get something like a fair equivalent for the goods they have to dispose of. The natives are better whalemen than any of the seamen who come to this country, and they should certainly receive more than a handful of powder and a few bullets for hundreds of pounds of bone, worth about $2.50 a pound. Shortly after daylight the natives departed, and a breeze springing up we set sail upon our journey.
Most of the day we were in full sight of the land, which I regarded with keen interest. It certainly seemed the most desolate-looking region I ever saw—a succession of hills of bald rock, with occasional patches of snow and moss; not a house, nor a tree, nor, in fact, any sign of animal or vegetable life—and yet I longed to put my foot upon that barren soil and commence the work we had before us.
One of the principal annoyances of all sailing-masters in the Arctic regions is the sluggish action of the magnetic needle as they approach the magnetic pole, and it was a difficulty from which we were not exempt. The land all looks so much alike that even when running in plain sight of it it requires the greatest familiarity with the principal points to be able to steer by them. During the night of Friday, August 2, we, by some mysterious operation, got in between Nottingham and Salisbury Islands, when we thought we were beyond the Digges. We found a bad reef, just on a level with the water's edge, about eight miles north-west of the north-west point of Nottingham Island, which is not down upon the charts, and is situated just where a vessel running along at night, "handy to the land," as sailors say, would inevitably run upon it. We put it down upon our charts and called it Trainor's Reef, as it was discovered by the third mate from the mast-head. During a previous voyage Captain Barry discovered a similar reef, about the same distance off the easterly point of Salisbury Island, which we also noted and put down as Barry's Rock.
We reached Whale Point, at the entrance of Rowe's Welcome, during the morning of Wednesday, August 7, just seven weeks from New York, and about six o'clock a whale-boat reached the vessel's side, after having chased us all night. It was loaded with natives of the Iwillie tribe, two or three families of whom still remained at the Point, while the others had gone down to the vicinity of Depot Island, which is half-way between Cape Fullerton and Chesterfield Inlet. The visitors comprised two men, a woman, two boys, a little orphan girl, and a baby. The woman was a daughter of "Prince Albert," a man of considerable influence in his tribe, and I understood that his power was due to superior intelligence and sagacity. In fact, all those whom we met at this time seemed much superior in intelligence to those who came aboard at the Lower Savage Islands. They were cleaner, but by a mere trifle, and showed improvement from contact with civilization. They usually preferred to array themselves in some part of the costume of white people, though not by any means particular in wearing it as white people do. One of the men was a young fellow known as "Jim," who, the captain thought, would be a desirable acquisition to our party to go to King William Land, and Joe made the proposition to him. He regarded the matter favorably, and was particularly interested when he saw some of our fine rifles. His father was an old man, called "The Doctor," who was dependent upon his son. After giving our guests breakfast and a few presents we bade them good-by, and set sail for Depot Island, where we arrived about four o'clock in the afternoon.
The lookout from the mast-head saw some boats coming from the main-land, and presently three kyacks, an omien, and two whale-boats came alongside, bringing about fifty people, including men, women, and children. Among them were Armow and his two half-brothers, Ik-omer (Fire) and Too-goo-lan. "Papa" was there also, and he, too, is one of the few savages that are thoroughly reliable in every respect. He was one of Captain Hall's party when he visited King William Land in 1868. All these people seemed very friendly toward us, and upon a consultation over the charts we decided to go on to the main-land, near Depot Island, to spend the winter. We learned with deep regret that one of the Natchillis, who was said to have spoken to Captain Barry about the existence of books among the Franklin relics, had since died, and that nobody knew what had become of the other. We determined to make every effort to find the latter, for should he know where the books were hidden, and be willing to conduct us there, our labor would have been materially lessened. But in any case, whether we found him or not, we had great faith that, by staying at least one season on King William Land, when the snow was off the ground, we should be able to find the records, and complete the history of Sir John Franklin's last expedition.
[Map: LIEUT. SCHWATKA'S EXPED. to KING WILLIAM LAND to Discover the Remains of the FRANKLIN EXPEDITION.]
THE WINTER CAMP.
Meanwhile we had need of patience. Our camp, which was in latitude 63 deg. 51 min. north and 90 deg. 26 min. 15 sec. west of Greenwich, had been named by Lieutenant Schwatka after the president of the American Geographical Society. The tents that had been provided for the expedition proving quite inadequate for our wants, Captain Barry got Armow (the Wolf), one of the most influential natives, to let us have his tent, one that had been made by the crew of the brig 'A. Houghton', memorable to us as the vessel on which Captain Barry received his spoon. The Iwillie tribe moved up their tupics to the land nearest Depot Island, so as to be near us; but finding they were a considerable distance from any fresh water, moved again to the spot where our stores were landed. We had bidden adieu to the officers and crew of the 'Eothen', and had been rowed ashore by the Inuits. The solitude of our first day on land was enlivened by the visit of a ponderous young Natchilli, named Joe (or Natchilli Joe, to distinguish him from Esquimau Joe). He promised to accompany us in the spring. He was a fine-looking young man, with a big head, and a shock of raven-black hair, as massive-looking as a lion, and with none of the bloodthirsty look which I had been led to expect in the Natchilli features. He had been living with the Iwillie tribe for about two years, and they all liked him very much. We felt that it would tend to assure our favorable reception by his tribe to have one or two of their own people with our party.
Ten days after we landed all went to the hunting-grounds but Armow and his party, who were to go in a boat, but it was so stormy that they did not get off. When the others broke camp and started over the hills it was a novel and interesting spectacle. Each one had his load, the women, in addition to their other burdens, having to carry their children upon their backs. Behind them came their dogs, staggering under loads that almost hid them from view and getting into all kinds of trouble among the rocks. They were accompanied by "Jerry," a native for whom Esquimau Joe had a great liking. He took all his family except his son Koumania, who had been given to me as a body-servant. Koumania was an unusually bright, manly little fellow, and, though so young, had already killed a reindeer. We were all much interested in him, and his parents were much pleased that he had found favor with the Kodlunars. His father was one of Captain Hall's party in his King William Land journey, and was also to accompany us. He seemed like a good, honest, faithful fellow, and had the reputation of being a first-class hunter. Koumania came running to me, before his father's departure, with his face covered with smiles and soapsuds, and I found that Frank had given him some soap and told him I would like him better if he would wash. Poor fellow! he had done the best he could, and had at any rate shown a willing spirit.
It was not until Wednesday that the boat party could get away. Most of the time it rained and blew a perfect gale. We were then alone in the camp, with the exception of a tupic, which contained one old man, two old women, and three children. There were plenty of dogs, though, and we had concerted music every night. I spent some time in making over some civilized clothes for my boy. I had to take them in everywhere except around the waist. There he was as big as I am, though I weigh nearly two hundred pounds.
I returned from a hunting and exploring excursion Saturday night, August 31, and had come to the conclusion by that time, after satisfactory experience, that tuk-too hunting is not a pastime. It is good, solid work from beginning to end, with no rest for the weary. If any readers have meditated such a task as a divertisement, I would beg to dissuade them from the undertaking, for they know not what they do. Before attempting to follow tuk-too hunters over these hills and valleys, I would advise a severe course of training. We started on the morning of the 25th, in the midst of a strong gale, which had been blowing all night from the north-west, and was bitter cold. It rained, snowed, and hailed all at the same time, and the pelting hard stones cut our faces nearly all the morning. The party consisted of "Sam," another of Joe's friends, his two younger brothers, Koumania, and myself. I took a blanket and some little provisions, in case I should be out over night. We walked along, without stopping, a distance of about eight miles across the hardest country to travel over I had ever seen, and when we halted to rest I was indeed tired. The rocks and hills were hard enough to walk over, but the worst of all were the moss-covered meadows. Your foot would sink at every step, and it was as much like walking in loose, wet sand as anything with which I could compare it. I wore native boots, or kummings, as they are called, for I knew it would be impossible to get along with anything else; but the sharp edges and points of the stones could be felt through them almost as if one were barefooted. Do not think that the mossy meadows were a relief after the rocks. On the contrary, they were but a delusion and a snare, for beneath the velvet cushion was concealed the sharp and jagged rock that cut the foot all the same, and proved a more deadly, because a hidden foe. Though tired when I sat down to rest, I was more so when I got up to walk again; but, ashamed of my weakness, I kept on, gritting my teeth and determined to do or die.
It was getting late, and still we saw no deer—in fact, I was losing my interest in deer very rapidly, and only hoped I might soon see a tupic. After we had walked about fifteen miles, "Sam" pointed out a mountain that did not seem so very far off, and said, "Io wunga tupic sellow" (My tent is there). This was refreshing, and I plodded along still more determinedly. I would have given anything to have been back in my own tent, but that was out of the question. It was farther to go back than to go ahead, and though every bone in my body ached I plodded along, frequently stopping to rest. I thought we had passed the mountain that "Sam" had pointed out, and finally I ventured to ask him where the tupic was. His answer was invariably, "Con-i-tuk-vo-loo" (A little way), and I began to weary of the monotony of the answer, as probably he did of the question, until at last, in a valley farther off than I had originally thought the mountain, I saw the tupic. The approach was by a circuitous route, the wind still blowing so strongly against us that each took his turn in leading, the others crouching behind the slight shelter thus afforded. And this was a pleasure trip! When we finally did reach the tent, I received the kindly welcome of old "Molasses" and his wife, and dropped down on some deer-skins, completely used up. The hunters were naturally hungry after their long walk, and from a pile of fresh meat on the side of the tent "Sam" seized a large piece, half cooked, and taking a vigorous bite, cut off the mouthful with his disengaged hand and passed the rest to the one standing nearest him, who helped himself in the same way, and thus it kept circulating until it was all gone.
I awoke early the next morning, and went outside the tent and feebly attempted to walk; but it was a most excruciating effort. My hip-joints, that ached like a toothache the night before, now seemed to be made of old rusty iron, and grated and shrieked when I tried to move, as if they rebelled against it. I felt as if there was nothing left for me to do but to walk the soreness off; therefore I kept moving, though I was conscious that my step lacked its wonted firmness and grace. After bathing in the lake that spread out in the valley in front of the tupic, I returned to find the hunters ready for the day's sport. I took up my rifle and started off with the hunters. Presently the pain left my hips, or, more properly speaking, my feet got so sore from the constant walking over sharp rocks that my mind was diverted in that direction solely. While resting on the top of a high bluff overlooking the lakes, I heard a faint "halloo," which seemed to come on the wind from an immense distance. I called "Sam's" attention to it, and he immediately dropped behind a rock, out of the wind, until it was repeated several times, when saying, "Inuit ky-ete" (Somebody says come), he started off down the steep mountain side in the direction of the voice, and the boys and I followed him. We walked nearly three-quarters of an hour before we finally saw the object of our search, and then he appeared perched on a rock against the clear blue sky, but still too far off to be recognized even by my hawk-eyed guides. At last we were near enough to see that it was "Alex Taylor," one of the Inuits from our camp, who had left with the others for the hunting-grounds. He had with him his wife and two children, one a babe in the hood, and two bags packed with tupic and poles. He had a heavy back-load of skins, and his wife another big bundle. They seemed both surprised and pleased to see me. "Alex" told me that he had seen no deer that day, but had previously shot nine, and that there were "ama-suet" (plenty) farther on. He regaled us with some raw meat, and honored me with a nice raw deer tongue, which I ate with great relish after he had skinned it and eaten the skin.
After luncheon and a pipe, we gathered up the bundles and trudged along until nearly sundown, when we arrived at a tupic under a cliff and between two large lakes. Two young married women and an old palsied crone came out to meet us. "Alex Taylor" told me that I was to stay there all night. The next morning, after walking about nine or ten miles without seeing anything in the way of game except some deer tracks, we ascended a high bluff that had been on our right since leaving camp, when, to my infinite delight, I saw a large river, which "Alex," tracing the course with his finger, indicated as emptying into a large bay near our camp, opposite Depot Island. Its course was nearly straight for about three miles below and seven miles north of where we stood; then, as my guide indicated with a wave of his hand, flowed to the east and again to the south. It extended much farther to the west and north, and from what I have since learned from the natives, rises between the head of the Invich and Wager rivers, and is about ninety-five miles in length. To the south and west of where we stood it passed over a broad stony portage, and beyond that swelled out, as do most of the rivers in this country, into a series of broad lakes filled with islands.
This discovery appeared to me of inestimable value, as indicating an entirely new and feasible route to King William Land, and, since my return to camp, Esquimau Joe, who had been away with the hunters for about three weeks, was here for a few hours, and told me that his hunting-camp was on the east bank of this same river, and the inquiry he has already made of the Inuits in his party confirmed my judgment of the feasibility of this route. I named the river after Mr. Thomas B. Connery, of New York.
We resumed our walk, turning back along the bank of the river, which on the east side is high and almost perpendicular. We reached the portage, about three miles to the south, and crossed over to the west side, which is a low, rolling country, covered with moss, which at a distance looked like sun-burned grass. The portage was nearly a quarter of a mile wide, but by the exercise of some agility, where the current ran most swiftly through the large rocks, we got over without wetting our feet, and about a mile from the river bank stopped to rest on a rocky eminence. "Alex" pointed vaguely in the direction of some hills about two or three miles away, and said he thought there were some deer over there; but as I had been walking three days now without seeing a deer, and was desperately tired, I told him to go on if he wanted to, and take my rifle, and I would wait till he came back. He trotted along, and I sat under the lee of a rock, taking advantage of the opportunity to write up my journal and trace the course of the river. In the meantime the sun sank lower and lower, but no signs of "Alex Taylor." About three hours after he left me he reappeared, with his hat in his hand and a heavy bundle over his shoulder, trotting along so nimbly that I envied him. He had shot two deer, a "cooney" and an "isaacer"—that is, a doe and a buck—and he had their warm, bloody skins on his back. He said that there were plenty of deer over there, and to-morrow we would move the camp up to that spot. So we put the skins and some tenderloin in a cairn, and covered it up with heavy stones, and after eating some of the raw tenderloin we started for home. It was long after dark when we reached there, and I was glad to find Sam's tupic already up, with his old father and young mother, and my blankets and a little package of salt, which I had missed very much while eating so much raw meat.
The next day we broke camp at an early hour, and moved bag, and baggage, to the place where "Alex Taylor" had shot the deer the preceding afternoon. Notwithstanding my sore feet and tired limbs, I took a load on my shoulders out of sheer shame, for without that I would have been the only one, old or young, biped or quadruped, without something, so I made a martyr of myself. Just after leaving the spot where "Alex" and I had cached the skins yesterday afternoon, "Sam" dropped his burden from his shoulders, grasped his rifle, and, with the single word "tuk-too," started over the country on a run. Three others joined him, and the rest of us kept on until we reached the lake, where our new camp was to be located. The tents were soon put up, and the boys started off to carry in the two carcasses that "Alex" had shot and buried under stones. Presently the hunters who went off with "Sam" came back, saying they had seen nothing, and later "Sam" came in with the skin of a big buck which he had shot. He is quite young, but one of the best and most indefatigable hunters in the tribe.
I went out in the morning with "Sam" and "Roxy" to find some deer. After some wanderings, in which "Sam" got separated from us, and after several unsuccessful shots at the game, "Roxy" and I returned, I being too weary and footsore to find much interest in the sport, especially as it began to rain and was bitter cold. In fact, the first new ice I have seen this summer was around the shores of the lake that morning, and I had to break it when I went down to bathe. On our way home we passed, on the top of a high, barren hill, a cairn, which "Roxy" at once said had been built by the Kinnepatoos, a tribe which formerly occupied these lands, and the boys soon threw aside the stones to find the dried-up skeleton of a deer killed many years ago. "Sam" did not get back until dark, but he brought with him the skin of an isaacer that he had killed since he left us.
That night I proposed to "Sam" to bring me down to our tent at the salt water, and though I could see that he did not relish leaving the good hunting-grounds just as he had reached them, he consented, and finally seemed delighted when I promised him an old pair of pantaloons for his trouble. "Alex Taylor" also came to the tupic and said he would accompany us, and this made the prospect more cheerful, as I knew it would be at least two days' hard travelling. During the night we were visited by a severe thunder-storm, which frightened my tent-mates because unused to it, and they lighted an ikomer to take the sharp edge off the lightning; but I slept on peacefully while "Old Molasses" held a stick so that the shadow kept the light of the lamp from my eyes. It stopped raining toward morning, but it was still chilly and damp when we started, shortly after daylight, on our long journey.
"Sam" and "Alex" again got separated from us in pursuit of deer, and I became so chilly that we gave up waiting for them to rejoin us, and moved on. At last we could see Picciulok, as the natives call Depot Island, but it was at a considerable distance, and it was getting late. The sun was then below the horizon, and we hastened along to get sight of some familiar ground; but, alas! at every hill-top Picciulok seemed as far, if not farther off, and finally we could not see it all, it was so dark. My guides knew they were lost, and wanted to lie down until morning, but I kept them up, for I could see the stars and could keep the right course; but the walking was terrible. My feet were now so sensitive that I could feel every sharp stone through the soles of my kummings, and the stony portages between the lakes and over the little indentations of the coast seemed to increase in number all the time. It was so dark that I could not see where to step, and my feet would slip down and wedge in the angle between the sharp stones, or the point of a rock would come right in the hollow of my foot, until I stumbled and floundered and almost screamed with pain. And yet no familiar landmarks. I began to despair, or rather to doubt my physical ability to proceed, when the sharp-eyed Netchuk called my attention to the light from a tupic at a considerable distance, and a little to our right. This was indeed refreshing, so we kept on as well as we could, though we often fell, and I staggering with a strained cord in one foot and the skin worn off the sole of the other. But there were the lights ahead, and we kept right straight for them, though no matter how far we walked they seemed just the same distance off. It was certainly discouraging, and I could not help thinking of the will-o'-the-wisp, and wondering if the phenomenon was ever seen in the Arctic. I could not remember any instance in my reading, and determined to reach that light or perish in the effort. At last it did seem nearer. We could make out the shapes of the tents, and finally we could hear dogs barking and snarling, and before long we were there. We found the lights in the tupics that were occupied by the old folks left behind at Camp Daly by the hunters, and found "Alex Taylor," "Sam," and the boy had just got in; so, after learning that "Alex" had killed two deer with my gun, "Sam" and Koumania and I went up to our own tent, which was dark.
These were our diversions. Our business was to inquire into the truth of Captain Barry's story. Pursuing our investigation through the next three months, we learned that there had never been other than three families of Natchillis living with the Iwillik Esquimaux. One of those, the native who had died in the preceding winter, was an aged paralytic called "Monkey," whose tongue was so affected that even his own people could scarcely understand him. The second was Natchilli Joe, known to his own people as Ekeeseek, who was a child in his mother's hood at the time when he lived on King William Land, and only knew the story of the Franklin expedition from hearsay. The third, Nu-tar-ge-ark, a man of about forty-five or fifty years of age, gave us valuable information. His father, many years ago, opened a cairn on the northern shore of Washington Bay, in King William Land, and took from it a tin box containing a piece of paper with some writing on it. Not far from this same spot were the ruins of a cairn which had been built by white men and torn down by Inuits. The cairn had been built upon a large flat stone, which had the appearance of having been dragged to its present location from a stony point near by. The cairn itself was found to be empty, but it was generally believed by the Inuits that there was something buried beneath this stone. It was very heavy, and as they had only been there in parties of two or three at a time, they had never been able to overturn the stone, though they had repeatedly tried. Nutargeark also said he had brought a spoon with him from King William Land, which corresponded in description with the one Barry took to the United States. He said it was given to him by some of his tribe, and that it had come from one of the boat places, or where skeletons had been found on King William Land or Adelaide Peninsula, he could not remember exactly where. He had not given the spoon to Captain Barry, but to the wife of Sinuksook, an Iwillik Esquimau, who afterward gave it to a Captain Potter. We saw Sinuksook's wife a little later, and she distinctly remembered having given the spoon to Captain Potter. It was necessary, therefore, to find this officer.
During the first week in January, 1879, we learned that he was wintering at Marble Island, being now second in command on the whaler 'Abbie Bradford'. So Henry Klutschak and I made our way to Marble Island, with the first sled that had crossed from the main-land, being eight days on the road from Depot Island. We had reason to believe that Captain Barry and the 'Eothen' would also be at our destination, and that we could there replenish our stores. The trip was uneventful, except that when four days out I ran out of food through sharing my hard bread and pork with the natives, of whom there were twelve on my sled. They had plenty of tepee walrus meat, which was good food for them, but which I could not at that time eat. So for four days I had not a mouthful to eat, though I walked and ran nearly the whole distance travelled. I did not experience much inconvenience from weakness until the last day, which was that on which we came across the ice from Little Rabbit Island. When nearly half-way over, and moving rapidly over the new ice, the sled on which I was seated broke through, and all its occupants were precipitated into the water. The front part of the sled still hung by the ice, which bent beneath its weight. When I was struggling to get out the ice kept breaking off in huge cakes, and my clothing getting heavier and heavier all the time, I began to think that I would not be able to save myself; but at last I succeeded in rolling out upon the hard ice, and turning around to see if my help was needed in rescuing the women and children, found them already safely landed on the floe. The thermometer ranging thirty-eight degrees below zero, we were not long standing in the wind before our clothes were frozen stiff, so that it was almost impossible to bend a limb.
We succeeded in getting the sled out again, and started once more for Marble Island. I went ahead to pick out a route for the sled, and again the treacherous ice gave way under me, and I sank below the surface. It was with great difficulty that I regained the firm ice, and by this time my clothing was so heavy and stiff that I had to take off my outside tocklings, or trousers, in order to walk at all. It was now about ten o'clock in the morning, and in half an hour we reached about two miles distant from the island, but only to find an impassable channel of open water from a quarter to half a mile wide. We could see some one walking upon the shore of the island, but could hold no conversation with him. The natives who were with me said that when the tide turned perhaps the channel might close, and they proposed to wait; but in the meantime I was afraid I might freeze to death unless I kept moving. In the course of a few hours, during which I found out that I could not get back to Rabbit Island before dark, I became so faint for the want of food that I had to get some tepee walrus from the natives, and I ate it with a keen appetite. It did not taste as badly as I anticipated, so I ate a quantity, including some pieces of hide, about three quarters of an inch thick, which was cut into small pieces and looked like cheese. After eating several pieces I thought I would bite off the outside rind, which, on closer examination, I noticed to be the short stiff hair of the animal which I had been eating. Presently I began to feel warm all over my body, despite my frozen clothing—a condition attributable partly to the peculiar qualities of frozen food, and partly perhaps to the rasping in my interior, produced by the stiff walrus hair that I had eaten. It was now nearly dark, but we could see that the ice-floes were coming together, and crunching up a pudge of soft ice between them. At last the men started out over this pudge, stepping quickly from one piece of moving ice to another, until at last we reached firm footing again, though only by the exercise of considerable agility and looking sharply to where you went. It was a great relief to be again upon the shore; but we were still a considerable distance from the ships, and the Inuits proposed to lie down on the snow until daylight, as they could not see and did not know the route. I was afraid to stop moving, and proposed to keep walking in the direction of the harbor. All who came ashore, therefore, started with us; but the road at last became so difficult that I felt it necessary to rest quite often, wearied as I already was by previous hardships.
The route chosen by our guide was to follow the shore ice around until the harbor was reached. This was a very circuitous and dangerous road, as in the darkness one would frequently pitch headlong over a steep precipice upon the snow beneath. My trousers were so stiff that I could not bend my knee or lift my foot high enough to clear ordinary impediments, and I fell very often. It was fortunate for me that I never fell upon the shore ice beneath the cliff, for in many places it was very deep, and I could not see where I trod. When I commenced falling I never knew where I would alight, though I usually brought up in some friendly snow-drift. At last all the Inuits grew so impatient to reach the ships that they left Henry and me to find our way as best we could, and pushed on as rapidly as their better vision and greater familiarity with the country would permit. In half an hour from the time they left us they had reached the harbor; but with their accustomed indifference to the comfort of others they failed to say that two "kodlunars" (white men) were still out upon the island—one of them too weak and frozen to keep up with them. As soon as the officers learned the fact from them, Captain Barry despatched "Domino," one of the natives with his ship, to find us and bring us to the vessel. We saw a lantern which he carried, and, coming down from the cliff upon the smooth ice, were overjoyed to find ourselves in the harbor and but a few hundred yards from the ships. We shouted at the top of our voices, and "Domino" ran at once to us. I never was so glad to see any one in my life, for I felt that the terrible ordeal through which I had passed was at an end. We were soon in the warm cabin of the 'Eothen', where my frozen garments were removed and warm, dry "kodlunar" clothing substituted. Were it not for the previous training we had undergone in igloo life, I could not have survived the hardships of that day. As it was, I felt very little inconvenience, except from a severe cold, which always follows a change such as moving from an igloo into the heated air on shipboard. My appetite was enormous, and it seemed as if I could not eat enough of the generous fare of our hosts. I soon regained my usual robust health, and gained flesh at the rate of a pound a day for three weeks.
In the harbor, besides the 'Eothen', and the 'Abbie Bradford', the latter commanded by Captain Fisher, we found the 'Abbott Lawrence', Captain Mozier, and the 'Isabella', Captain Garvin, all except the 'Eothen' being from New Bedford. The ships were all comfortably housed with boards, and so banked up with snow that ordinary coal fires made them uncomfortably warm. It was painful to see, however, that scurvy had broken out in the fleet, and each vessel has had an average of half a dozen cases during our stay with them. They had more than the usual amount of fresh meat at this season, and it was difficult to account for the unusually large percentage of scurvy, unless Captain Fisher's theory were the correct one. He attributed it to the unusual severity of the fall and early winter-season, which, he said, was unprecedented in his experience of over fourteen years in these waters. The ships were driven into winter quarters nearly a month previous to the usual time by a succession of gales and heavy weather, which occasioned the loss of one vessel of the fleet—the brig 'A. J. Ross' of New Bedford, Captain Sinclair, which went ashore near Cape Kendall, on the eastern coast of Rowe's Welcome during the latter part of August. Though scurvy had been so prevalent it had not been so severe as usual, and as yet the graveyard on "Deadmen's Island," on the outer harbor, had received no accession from the crews. The successful treatment of the disease seems to be to compel the patient to eat abundantly of raw walrus or seal meat, and to take moderate exercise, at first under shelter and then in the open air.
The officers of the vessels treated us with the most unbounded generosity, and readily placed at our disposal whatever they could spare that we required. The wreck of the 'A. J. Ross' had thrown the care of another crew upon them, and yet they could find plenty to add to the comfort of those who have another season in this climate and a long and severe journey before them. Captain Sinclair, though himself so great a sufferer by the loss of a vessel in which nearly his whole means were invested, had been a large contributor toward the search party. They expected to be frozen in here till about the 1st of June, when they could saw a channel through the ice to the clear water beyond Deadmen's Island. Marble Island has been the winter quarters of whaling vessels for many years, though not altogether a safe harbor. In the winter of 1872 two vessels were wrecked here, the 'Ansel Gibbs' and the 'Oray Taft'. The hulk of the latter still lay upon the shore of the inner harbor, but the 'Ansel Gibbs' broke up outside and had long since gone to pieces. The graves of a number of their crews are in the graveyard by the sea. Upon the bald face of a rock near the outside harbor is a list of names written in red paint nearly a century ago; but whether a visitor's list or a gigantic tombstone to record those who perished here long ago by shipwreck is unknown. Upon the north-east end of the island, partly hidden by moss, is a quantity of soft coal, which was probably left here by one of the early Arctic explorers.
The loss of so many vessels in these waters is chiefly attributable to the imperfections in the admiralty charts. The coast line is altogether wrong, and Marble Island is laid down several degrees west of its actual position. Lieutenant Schwatka and Henry Klutschak made careful surveys from Cape Fullerton to the island, and made a chart which has already proved useful to the whalers.
But our more immediate business was with Captain Potter. I asked him if he remembered Captain Barry's getting a Franklin spoon while with him on the 'Glacier', and he said he had never heard anything about it until he read in the newspapers that Barry had sent one to Sir John Franklin's niece, Miss Craycroft, which surprised him very much. He further said that he (Potter) had received three spoons at that time, one of which mysteriously disappeared shortly afterward. The published description of Barry's spoon corresponded exactly with the one he had lost, even to its being broken off near the bowl and mended with copper, as was the one he had received from Sinuksook's wife. Captain Potter further said, that to one who had lived with the Esquimaux, and acquired the pigeon English they use in communicating with the whalers in Hudson's Bay, and contrasted it with the language they use in conversation with each other, the assertion of Captain Barry, that he overheard them talking about books and understood them, was supremely ridiculous. There is probably no white man in the Arctic, or who ever visited it, that would understand them under such circumstances unless it be one or two in Cumberland, who have lived with them for fifteen or twenty years.
In this crucible of fact the famous spoon melted. So far as Captain Barry and his clews were concerned, we had come on a fool's errand.
There being no cairn, as a matter of course there was no guide to conduct us to it; but instead of returning to New York from Camp Daly, as he would have been justified in doing, Lieutenant Schwatka determined to make the summer search in King William Land, in order to find the records, if possible; or, at any rate to so conduct the search as to make it final and conclusive of the Franklin expedition. Lieutenant Schwatka was much impressed with the statements made by Nutargeark, especially as this native's intelligence and veracity were tested by his pointing out correctly upon the map the location of cairns which he had seen, including one at Cape Herschel, built by Dease and Simpson in 1839, and the spot where McClintock saw a boat with skeletons. Both Hall and McClintock account for the fact of so few bodies being found, by the presumption that Captain Crozier and his men followed the shore ice down, and, dying there, fell through into the water when the ice melted during the summer. Nutargeark, however, said that there were plenty of bodies lying upon the ground on King William Land, which would be invisible in winter from being covered with snow. To verify these statements was the purpose of our journey.
The first thing necessary was to get dogs enough for our teams. To that end I made a visit to the land of the Kinnepatoos, which is about seventy miles west and north from Marble Island. I found them in igloos, upon a large lake on the western shore of Hudson Bay, and was the first white man who had been there. Many of this tribe had never seen a white man before, but all were exceedingly friendly. I found that they had but few available dogs, but succeeded in securing from them several fine animals by the exchange of ammunition, tobacco, and matches, which are the staples of trade with these people. I found their igloos to be much larger and better built than those of the northern natives. The entrance would usually be by a narrow passage-way, excavated from a snow-drift, six to eight feet below the surface, and perhaps twenty-five or thirty feet long. They had no fires for heating the igloos, and, consequently, there was a clammy, vault-like atmosphere indoors that was anything but pleasant. They use oil only for light, and, even in the depth of winter, cook what little food they do not eat raw with moss. As I approached the village I was walking ahead of my guides, who were with the sled. It was getting late, and we were endeavoring to trace the direction by following the tracks on the snow which covered the lake; but a high wind, which was blowing from the north, had nearly obliterated all signs and rendered the task a difficult one. Presently, however, I heard the barking of dogs and the voices of a number of children, who soon appeared approaching over a hill on the right bank of the lake, beyond which the village was built. I hastened toward them, and was shortly conducted into an igloo where all the men were seated, tailor fashion, around bones which showed that justice had been done to a hearty repast of frozen deer meat. They extended a rude but cordial welcome, and hospitably inquired if I was hungry; but as I had recently eaten a quantity of frozen salmon I declined further food. I had long ago learned to relish fish and meat which they call "topee," and which civilized people denominate "rotten". When frozen it does not taste any worse than some kinds of cheese smell, and is a strong and wholesome diet unless eaten in great quantities. It fortifies the system against cold, and, shortly after eating, causes a healthy glow of warmth to pervade the body, even in the coldest weather. I can now eat almost anything an Esquimau can, and almost as much. Though the weather during the four days of my journey out was intensely cold—the thermometer ranging from thirty to sixty degrees below zero most of the time, with a strong wind blowing—I did not suffer with the cold, except that my nose and cheeks would occasionally freeze. In fact, if I had no nose I believe I could stand the cold nearly as well as the natives. Even they are constantly freezing their noses and cheeks, and there seems to be no way of avoiding this very disagreeable contingency.
I was with the Kinnepatoos a week, during which I lived upon frozen meat and fish, and enjoyed myself studying their habits and customs. Every night they met in one large igloo, twenty-five feet in diameter at the base, and twelve feet high, where the men would play upon the ki-lowty while the women sung in unison. The ki-lowty is a drum, made by stretching a thin deerskin over a huge wooden hoop, with a short handle on one side. In playing, the man grasps the handle with his left hand, and constantly turns it, while he strikes it upon the wooden side, alternately, with a wooden drumstick shaped like a potato-masher. With each blow he bends his knees, and though there are various degrees of skill in playing, I have never yet learned to be critical. I can only see a difference in style. Some are dramatic, some classical, some furious and others buffo. The song is a monotonous, drawling wail, with which the drumming has no sort of connection, for it increases and diminishes in rapidity according to the pleasure or strength of the player. I am sure a concert, such as I witnessed nightly, would cause a sensation in New York, though I do not believe it would prove a lasting attraction to cultivated audiences. I frequently got very weary of it, and often slept during the performance without giving offence to my hosts by my lack of appreciation. One night the entertainment was varied by a dramatic performance that was exceedingly interesting. There were three players, who walked about the arena and conversed, occasionally passing off the stage, not by the right and left, but stooping down and darting in and out of the door of the igloo, an entrance two feet high and about the same width. As nearly as I could understand, while outside in the dark the players saw some supernatural horror, which on entering they would endeavor to explain to the audience; but words failing to convey all they felt, they resorted to pantomime, until at last one, who was more affected than the others, came in and expired in the arms of his comrades. I was intensely interested during this novel performance, and imagined I recognized considerable histrionic ability on the part of the players.
During the daytime those men who were not out hunting engaged in playing a game somewhat allied to gambling, which they call "nu-glew-tar." A small piece of bone is suspended from the roof by a line made of walrus hide, and a heavy weight dangles below it to keep it from swinging. The bone is pierced with four small holes, and the players, as many as choose to engage, stand around, armed with sharp sticks, with which they jab at the bone, endeavoring to pierce one of the holes. Some one starts the game by offering a prize, which is won by him who pierces the bone and holds it with his stick. The winner in turn offers something for the others to try for. It is perfectly fair, because unless one wins it costs him nothing. They are very fond of this game, and play almost incessantly. Another similar game is played by placing a prize in a bowl made out of a musk-ox skull, the players standing in a circle around the bowl, which is then set twirling rapidly. The one toward whom the handle points when the bowl stops moving is the winner, and replaces the prize with another. This game, like nu-glew-tar, has no end, and the players only stop when they get hungry and adjourn to eat. The men all dine together in one igloo, no women being allowed to be present, and generally demolish the whole of a carcass of reindeer at a meal. This may be called their dinner, but when they have plenty of food on hand they eat nearly all the time. In the morning, before getting out of bed, they eat; and at night, after getting into bed, or "sin-nek-pig," as they call it, they eat. A few whiffs from a pipe are always in order, and especially so after eating. The pipe is passed from mouth to mouth, without regard to any foolish civilized notions of cleanliness. Eating frozen fish or meat always makes one cold at first, but presently warm. So always, after eating the mid day repast, the men pull their hoods over their heads, draw their arms out of their sleeves and cross them over their warm, naked breasts, and wait patiently and in silence for the heated term to ensue; but during the silent period they resemble a group of mummies, and are about as cheerful. When they begin to feel warm their spirits rise, and they are soon like a parcel of good-natured children. When their stomachs are full they are contented and happy. The principal diet of the Kinnepatoos is deer meat, as that of the Iwilliehs is walrus and seal.
I left the Kinnepatoo village, returning to Marble Island in two days' journey, though it took me four days to go. I returned by a shorter route, and travelled after the sun had gone down, the moon affording sufficient light to see our way. On my return I discovered another large lake between the one on which the Esquimau village was located and the salt-water ice. This smaller lake is probably twelve miles long and from two to four miles wide. The larger one is about forty-five miles long and fourteen wide at the widest point. It is known among the natives as "The Big Lake," and with the approval of Lieutenant Schwatka I named it Brevoort Lake, after Mr. James Carson Brevoort, of Brooklyn, N. Y., whose deep interest in Arctic research was felt by this as well as other expeditions. The other lake I named after General Hiram Duryea, of Glen Cove, a warm personal friend and comrade in arms, who was also a contributor toward the expedition. On my way back to Marble Island, instead of following the shore ice along to the narrow place where the pack is choked between Rabbit and Marble islands, I struck off in nearly a direct line for our destination, crossing most of the distance over the thin new ice. The advantage in this route was that, besides being much shorter, the ice was free from snow, and the dogs could run at nearly full speed. To be sure it was open to the objection of being dangerous; but moving as rapidly as we did there was scarcely time for the sled to break through, though the water oozed up along the track of the sled as we sped swiftly over the surface of smooth thin ice. It was pretty venturesome, perhaps, and I might be excused if I was nervous, for twice before I had broken through on a sled and bathed in the waters of Hudson's Bay. But I was anxious to reach the ships and finish what work I had to do, so as to get back to Depot Island in time to have all the dogs well fed before starting upon our long journey.
I should here say that the dogs of Hudson's Bay and contiguous territory do not resemble those usually pictured in the illustrated editions of Arctic works, which are the Greenland dogs. From what I gather by reading of the performances of the dogs in Greenland and North-eastern Asia, and comparing them with our experience in Hudson's Bay, I should judge the animals from the latter country to be immeasurably the superior in endurance and pluck, though perhaps inferior in speed for one or two days' travel. When food is plentiful the dogs are fed every other day while travelling; but if living in camp once in ten or twelve days is considered enough, and often twenty days will intervene between meals. Not but that they pick up a trifle now and then, and by a raid on an igloo will secure meat enough to last for several days. Their mode of life forces upon them the character of thieves, and all their waking moments are devoted to the one object of making a raid. Whether it be on the meat in the igloo or the storehouse, or the bag of blubber for the lamps, or the seal-skin clothing, it is all the same. They know from experience that the severest penalty will be enforced as a punishment for their offence but to them the pleasure of theft and the exquisite bliss of greasing their stomachs with a slice of blubber outweighs every other consideration.
Too often have they felt the cruel snow-stick across their defenceless heads, and the sting of the long-lashed whip cutting a morsel of flesh at each blow, to doubt the quality of their reception, and the howl of pain as they start upon the grand rush is in anticipation of the end. A raid can sometimes be brought to an end with a good stout club that will knock a dog senseless at each blow; but there is nothing like the ip-er-ow-ter, the Esquimau dog whip, to bring them to their senses. The ip-er-ow-ter has a handle made of wood, bone, or reindeer horn, about twelve or eighteen inches long, and a lash from eighteen to thirty feet in length. The lash is of seal-skin or oak-jook, that part of the thong near the handle being plaited or doubled to stiffen it, or give a spring that adds materially to its usefulness.
The men acquire considerable dexterity in the use of this whip, the lash of which is thrown forward or back with a quick turn of the wrist. That portion of the lash near the handle strikes the ground first, and then the long seal-skin thong unwinds, gaining rapidity and strength as the end is reached, and this strikes with such force as to make the snow fly, and with a report like a pistol. It is not a handy implement, for it requires time to get in position to swing the long lash. First it is thrown back, and then forward—this time for execution; and it is no unusual thing to see a dog with an eye gone or a piece of ear missing—a witness to the power of the ip-er-ow-ter in the practised hand of the Esquimau dog driver. Even the boys are quite skilful in the use of the whip, and dog driving is taught them almost from infancy. The driver sits on the front part of the sled or runs alongside, the long lash of the whip trailing behind him on the snow, so that when occasion occurs calling for the administering of punishment it is already in the proper position for delivering the blow.
The first effect of the whip is to retard the sled. The dog that is struck invariably draws back, and then usually pitches upon his neighbor, and for a while there is a row that threatens the sled with stoppage. The driver usually takes advantage of this occasion to administer a general chastisement, each dog receiving a share of the punishment, whether guilty of insubordination or not. The Esquimau theory is, that if not deserving of the whip this time he would be before long, and so might as well receive it now as any time.
The dogs are attached to the sled by harness made of either reindeer or seal-skin. One loop passes around the neck, while each leg is lifted through a loop, all three loops joining over the back and fastened to a long seal-skin line. These lines are of different lengths, so as to allow the dogs to pull to greater advantage than if all the traces were of the same length, causing the dogs to spread out like a fan. At every few miles the traces have to be unloosened and extricated from the most abominable tangle that it is possible to conceive. This comes from a habit the dogs have of constantly running under and over the other traces to avoid the whip, or in some cases merely from a spirit of pure deviltry.
The leader of the team is a dog selected for his intelligence, and is one known as setting an example of constant industry under all circumstances. You will always see the leader of a team of dogs working as if the load was being drawn by him alone. He goes along, his head bent over and tugging in his harness, his mouth open and tongue lolling out, while his ears are ever ready to hear the word of command from the driver. To go to the left, the command is given, "Ah'-root," and to the right, "Why-ah'-wah-ha." Then he sometimes, to encourage or urge to greater exertion, says, "Ah-wah-hagh-oo-ar." To stop the team he says "Woah," as one says when driving horses. It is the noisiest method of travel yet invented, for the driver is constantly talking to his team, calling each by name, and usually following the word with a blow of the whip, so that the next time that dog is spoken to, he will understand that it means "hurry up." The conversation with a dog team is incessant, and the work of the driver is not confined to his team alone. He has to constantly keep watch over the front of the sled, to turn it to the right or left in order to avoid hummocks or stones that would upset the load or tear the ice from the bottom of the runners.
Inuits are fond of riding on the sled while travelling, and as long as there is a spot that would hold one they will pile up there. But should there be no place for them, they will run alongside without apparent discomfort for almost any length of time or distance. This is equally true of the children of both sexes, and when any are compelled to walk, for lack of dogs or of room on the sled, it is the women and girls who have to give way to the men and boys. With a light sled, and from nine to fifteen good strong dogs, the Esquimaux of North Hudson's Bay will sometimes make a journey of from eighty to one hundred miles during the long days of spring. A light sled has reference to one with nothing on it except the skins for the beds, a lamp and small quantity of oil, with not more than one or two days' rations of food. The same number of dogs will drag a sled, with about fifteen hundred pounds of load, at the rate of three or four miles an hour over the smooth salt-water ice and snow. When travelling with light sleds all the party ride, except when necessary to run for the purpose of getting warm. In travelling, and especially when starting from a halt, some one runs ahead of the team so as to get them to pull together. When the sleds are heavily loaded the start is effected in the same way, and the driver, gathering the reins in his hands, pulls back with all his might until he sees every dog straining against his collar, when he lets go his hold and all spring forward together.
It often happens that there are not a sufficient number of dogs, or that they are poor and unable to travel with sufficient rapidity, and then the people have to put on harness and help. First the women and children engage in this labor, and, lastly, the men. And the drivers will sit on the sled and smoke, with the utmost composure, while their wives and daughters are tugging in the harness. The women do not mind this treatment, for they are accustomed to it and look upon it as the proper thing. In the summer the Esquimaux use their dogs while travelling as pack animals, and a stranger would be astonished to see what loads these dogs will carry. I have seen a fine large dog that would carry two saddles of reindeer meat, or the entire fore-quarters of two reindeer. His back would be bent low beneath the burden he bore, but still he would struggle along, panting the while and regarding his master with a look of the deepest affection whenever he came near him yet ever ready to fight any other dog that got in his way.
These, then, were the faithful comrades of our march. Before the day appointed by Lieutenant Schwatka they were ready. We were all eager to start. The projected journey was one which more than one expedition had undertaken without success since Sir Leopold McClintock's memorable sledge journey, which accomplished so much, and left so much to be desired. We were determined to bring it to a successful issue. Our igloo life at Camp Daly during the previous winter had inured us to the climate, so that, though we often found the cold intensely disagreeable, we were free from the evil consequences that have assailed many expeditions and make Arctic travel so dangerous, though few have been exposed to such low temperature as was our party, especially during the return trip in the winter of 1879-80. Previous sledge journeys had taught us how to clothe ourselves and otherwise provide against the cold, and we had already become acquainted with Inuit fare, so that when the emergency arrived when we were compelled to subsist entirely upon such food, we did not regard it with that repugnance that those would who had not become accustomed to it. In other words, we had become thoroughly acclimated during the eight months we had already lived in the country.