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At regular
points they cached their provisions against the return. If the reader
will locate on his map the intersection of the 55th meridian with the
parallel of 82 20', he will have a point close to Cape Bryant, where
the supports of the party withdrew and started on their return to camp.
All who were now left were Lieutenant Lockwood, Sergeant Brainard, and
the Eskemo Frederick.

Lockwood apportioned rations for twenty-five days among the three.
Consequently the northward journey and the return must be made within
that time, since they believed it impossible to obtain food in that
fearful region. Shaking hands with their companions, who wished them
good-speed, the little party broke into two divisions, one tramping
southward, while the other resumed its laborious journey toward the
northeast.

Before Lockwood left Cape Sabine, Lieutenant Greely gave it as his
belief that his brave assistant might succeed in reaching Cape
Britannia, which lies about 40 east and 82 45' north. The explorer
Beaumont saw this cape, but was unable to reach it. When Lockwood and
Brainard arrived there, however, they had no thought of stopping. A
cairn was built, a written account of their travels deposited, and five
days' rations left. Then the heroes bent to their herculean task again.

The Eskemo was left with the dogs, while the two white men, wrapped in
their furs, laboriously climbed an adjoining mountain, half a mile in
height. From the crest they scanned the snowy landscape, the very
picture of desolation. Twenty miles to the northeast, the direction they
were traveling, they made out a dark promontory, terminating in a rocky
headland and penetrating the Polar Ocean, while between it and them a
number of islands reared their heads and were separated by fiords. Half
of the remaining horizon was filled with the dismal ice of the Frozen
Sea.

They had no expectation of meeting with animal life in this world of
desolation, but they fired several times (and missed) at ptarmigan, and,
having wounded a rabbit, succeeded in running it down. It was a mystery
to them how this little animal found the means of sustaining life so
near the Pole.

It may be wondered how far these three men would have gone had it been
possible to travel. They became accustomed to the exhaustive work, but
the end of the journey was reached on the 13th of May, when they paused
on the edge of an immense fissure in the ice, extending indefinitely to
the right and left, and too broad to be crossed. They searched for a
long time, only to learn that it was utterly out of their power to go a
foot further. Nothing remained but to learn their exact location.

While Lockwood was preparing to take an observation, the sun was
obscured by fog. All the next day so furious a storm raged that they
could do nothing but huddle in their tent and wait for it to pass.
Finally, the conditions became favorable and Lockwood made his
observations with the utmost care. When they were completed the
astounding truth was revealed that their latitude was 84 24-1/2' north
and 40 46-1/2' west from Greenwich. This surpassed the achievement of
the Nares expedition sent out by England, in 1875-76, for the sole
purpose of reaching the furthest northern point possible. Lockwood and
Brainard, therefore, had attained the highest point, which up to that
time had never been reached by man. On the 7th of April, 1895, however,
Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, the Norwegian explorer, penetrated to 86 15',
which surpassed that of Lockwood and Brainard by 200 miles and was
within 225 miles of the Pole itself.

The return journey was as exhausting and trying as the outward one, but
the little party never lost courage. Fort Conger was reached early in
June, and, as may be supposed, the explorers received a royal welcome
from their comrades. The three men were suffering from snow blindness,
rheumatism, and various ills brought on by their exposure and terrific
labors, but all were in high spirits, as they might well be, when they
recalled the wonderful achievement they had made.


WEARY WAITING.

The brief summer was at hand. The snow melted during the middle of the
day and the first rain they had seen fell. On the 4th of July they had
shooting matches and engaged in a game of baseball. It can hardly be
said, however, that the American game has gained much of a foothold
north of the Arctic Circle.

All suffered from intense depression of spirits which could not be
shaken off. Again hours would pass without a man speaking a word. They
seemed mutually repellent and miserable. This sad condition resulted
from purely physical causes and no one could be blamed for it.

The company were now waiting for the _Proteus_ which was due. Several
reports that she was in sight threw all into pleasurable excitement, but
it need not be said they were doomed to disappointment, since the relief
ship was at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. The little steam launch had
been repaired and enabled the party to explore the neighboring coasts
for a distance of several hundred miles. A number of musk oxen were
shot, but, except at certain seasons, their flesh is so strongly
impregnated with musk that it is unpalatable for food.

As the weary days passed without bringing the wished-for steamer, hope
sank. Many were sure some accident had befallen the ship and she would
never be seen again. If so (and of course such was the fact), more
months must pass before the news could be carried to the United States
and a new relief expedition be sent. It was hard thus to be forgotten by
their friends at home. As a last resort the party could retreat in their
boats, but all dreaded the almost hopeless recourse. Gradually the
summer drew to a close and once more they saw the low-sweeping sun dip
below the horizon not to appear again for months. The long, horrible
Arctic night again enveloped them in misery and gloom.

When the month of January came every member of the party, including
Greely himself, were convinced that their country had abandoned them and
they must look out for themselves. He announced that if no relief
appeared they would start for home not later than the 8th of August.

[Illustration: THE FARTHEST NORTH REACHED BY LIEUT. LOCKWOOD ON THE
GREELY EXPEDITION.]

Lieutenant Lockwood seems to have been about the only member of the
party who for a time kept up his high spirits. He was not satisfied with
what he had already done, and insisted upon another chance to push
northward. He had fixed upon the eighty-fourth parallel as the point
to reach, and he urged the matter so strongly that Greely, who greatly
admired his courage, gave his consent, though confident that he would
find it impossible to do as well as in the former instance.


A FAILURE.

Lockwood made his start on the morning of March 27, 1883, his companions
being the same as before. Two weeks later, as Greely was lying in his
tent, wondering how his friend was making out, Lockwood walked in with a
smile:

"Too much water," he said; "if it had only been ice, we could have
managed it, but we had no means of getting across the water. Better luck
next time."

The next time, however, never came. Greely, Lockwood, and Brainard
always remained on good terms, but it was not the case with some of the
others. Companionship, under such conditions, is a bore, and many a time
the three gentlemen named went off on explorations that occupied several
days, with no other object than to get away from those whose company was
distasteful beyond bearing.


THE START HOMEWARD.

Greely had given up all hope of receiving help from the United States
and determined to start for home as soon as his surroundings would
permit. His plan was to proceed to Littleton Island, where it was
possible they might find a vessel that would take them to Newfoundland.
The explorers, twenty-five in all, made their start southward, August 9,
1883. Their boats were the steam launch referred to, a whale boat, an
English boat, and a smaller one, which it was thought would prove useful
in the event of an accident.

For a time the progress was encouraging. The water was quite open, but
ice soon appeared. They saved their boats from being nipped by drawing
them up on a floe. When open water again showed, they took to the boats
and reached Sun Bay without mishap. Then they made their way to Cape
Lieber, twenty miles south from Fort Conger, where they were almost
overwhelmed in a blinding snowstorm. There they landed and waited for
the ice to move and open the way for them along the western shore of the
strait. A fog kept them there several days, and when they started again
it was in the midst of another blinding snowstorm. One of the incidents
of the struggle against ice and tempest was the falling overboard of
Lieutenant Greely and an accident to the launch. Scoresby Bay was
reached on the 22d of August, and found to be full of floating ice. It
was necessary again to save the boats by drawing them up on the floe. By
that time, too, the supply of coal had become so low that Greely held a
consultation with his officers over their situation, which was not only
dangerous but rapidly becoming more so. He proposed to abandon the
launch, and use the other boats with which to push along the western
shore, but the majority believed they had a chance of making Littleton
Island. Ere long it was found necessary to leave behind the smallest
boat, and when that was done most of the party believed all were doomed.
The elements and even the tides were against them.

The launch soon became useless and was abandoned. Resort was then had to
sledge travel, two carrying a boat between them, and all pulled by the
men. They had not gone far in this toilsome manner when another of the
boats had to be left behind, giving them only one. Even the courageous
Lockwood now expressed his belief that none of the party would escape
alive. Still it was better to die struggling than to sit down and fold
their hands.

Misfortunes crowded upon them. The current continued the wrong way and
the floe upon which they were drifting carried them toward Baffin Bay.
Sludge ice, the most troublesome of all, abounded, and their poor
rations grew scant.



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