A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
A short distance north, an immense
ice pack stopped the ship which repeatedly tried in vain to butt its way
through. It was compelled to drift with the pack until the 11th of
August, when an opening appeared and the _Proteus_ forced a passage to
Bellot Island, at the entrance to Discovery Harbor.


AT LADY FRANKLIN BAY.

The steamer had now reached Lady Franklin Bay, which was its
destination, and near which Fort Conger, a signal station, was to be
established. The ship was unloaded and a house built, the men living in
tents the meanwhile, and on the 19th of August, the _Proteus_ bade the
explorers good-by and started on her return to Newfoundland.

A number of musk oxen were shot in the vicinity, and now and then a
ptarmigan was bagged. The men moved into the house in the latter part of
August, and Lockwood directed the laying out of the observatory and the
digging of the foundation pier for the transit. The earth was frozen so
hard that it was like chipping solid ice. The house gave the men
comfortable quarters. On the first Sunday all work was stopped and
religious services held. The intention was to send an exploring
expedition along the northern coast of Greenland, and it was placed in
charge of Lockwood. It would have been given to Kislingbury, the senior
officer, but for the fact that he and Greely were not on good terms.

Men were sent to examine St. Patrick's Bay to the northeast, for a site
to establish a depot on the channel of exploration. Such a place was
found and the exploring parties were continually active, some of them
going a good many miles from camp. Game was plentiful, but the wolves
were fierce. Numbers were poisoned by means of arsenic mixed with meat
thrown in their way. It being the beginning of their Arctic experience,
the men enjoyed themselves to an extent that would hardly be supposed.
This was mainly because they were kept busy and the novelty of their
life had not yet worn off. One pleasant custom was that of celebrating
the birthdays of different members of the party, which was done with a
vigor that sometimes reached good-natured boisterousness.

When the sun sank far from sight on the 16th of October, every one knew
that it would not show itself again for four months. It will be
admitted, too, that the weather had become keen, for it registered forty
degrees below zero most of the time and the moisture within the house
was frozen to the depth of an inch on the window-panes.

With the coming of the long, dismal night the wolves became fiercer, and
prowled so closely around the building that no one dared venture far
from the door without firearms in his hands, and the men generally went
in company, ready for an attack that was liable to be made at any
minute.


INTOLERABLE LONELINESS.

Time always hangs heavy when one is forced to remain idle and the dismal
night stretches through a third or half of the year. On the 1st of
November, Lieutenant Lockwood, accompanied by seven men, left the
dwelling to try the passage of the straits, hoping to push his way to
the place where Captain Hall made his winter quarters. They dragged a
heavily loaded sled after them, upon which rested a boat, which they
expected to use in case they reached open water. The men set out bravely
and toiled hard, but were compelled to turn back, finding it impossible
to make any progress.

No one can describe the horrible loneliness of such a life as the party
were now compelled to lead. They played cards and games, told stories,
and held discussions until all such things palled on their taste. Then
they grew weary of one another's company, and hours would pass without a
man speaking a word. Dr. Hayes has related that, when thus placed, he
has dashed out of the dwelling in desperation and wandered for miles
through the frozen solitudes, for no other reason than that the company
of his friends had become unbearable. He stated further that a rooster
on his ship deliberately flew overboard and committed suicide out of
sheer loneliness.

One means resorted to by the explorers for relieving the frightful
monotony was the publication of a paper called the _Arctic Moon_. The
contents were written and copies made by the hektograph process. Then
Greely formed a class in arithmetic, and Lockwood taught a class in
geography and grammar. Matters were quite lively on Thanksgiving Day
(the party being careful to note the passage of the regular days), when
foot-races were run and shooting matches indulged in, Greely
distributing the prizes.

One of the many curious facts regarding life in the Arctic regions is
that its rigors are often withstood better by the inexperienced than by
the experienced. The two Eskemo guides were the most depressed of the
whole party, and one of them wandered off in a dazed condition. When
found miles away, he was running as if in fear of his life, and it was
with great difficulty he was persuaded to return. The second native
would have run off had he not been closely watched.

In the middle of February, the thermometer fell to sixty-five degrees
below zero, an intensity of cold which few living men have experienced.
At such a terrible temperature pure brandy and glycerine freeze hard,
and a man, though heavily clothed, will perish in a few minutes. The
Eskemo dogs by choice slept in the snow outside rather than within the
building.


THE GRAVE OF DR. HALL.

On the last day of February, Lieutenant Lockwood, accompanied by
Brainard, Jewell, Long, the two Eskemos, and a couple of dog teams,
started on a journey to Thank God Harbor, seventy-five miles away. The
journey was made without accident and the observatory was found still
standing, while near at hand was the grave of the Arctic explorer,
Captain C.F. Hall. The grave was marked by a metallic headboard, put up
by the English and the other by Hall's comrades. On the British board
are these words: "To Captain Hall, who sacrificed his life in the
advancement of science, November 8, 1871. This tablet has been erected
by the British Polar Expedition of 1875, which followed in his footsteps
and profited by his experience." The American inscription is as follows:

IN MEMORY OF
CHARLES FRANCIS HALL,
LATE COMMANDER U.S. STEAMER POLARIS, NORTH POLE EXPEDITION,
DIED NOVEMBER 8, 1871.
"I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE; HE THAT BELIEVETH IN ME,
THOUGH HE WERE DEAD, YET SHALL HE LIVE."

The great ambition of Lieutenant Lockwood was to lead an expedition
along the northern coast of Greenland, to which Arctic explorers
hitherto had paid comparatively slight attention. His intelligence,
daring, and skill caused Greely to give him his full confidence and to
leave the entire arrangement of the venture in his hands.

Lockwood's intention was to start about the 1st of April. Sergeant
Brainard was to go with the supporting parties in advance to Cape Sumner
and leave supplies. Then when Lockwood's party reached the same point,
with all the provisions they could carry with comfort, the explorers
would be well supplied.


LOCKWOOD'S EXPEDITION TO THE FAR NORTH.

Amid the firing of pistols, waving of flags, and cheers, the start was
made by Lockwood on the 2d of April. Three days later, the party
dragging a sled laden with pemmican reached a snow-house, where they
found Brainard and his friends returning. There were thirteen in all,
and they were crowded in their close quarters, but the fact gave them
additional warmth.

[Illustration: A FUNERAL IN THE ARTIC REGIONS.]

It will be remembered that the long Arctic night was about ended. In the
misty light, a dark object was discerned on the top of a neighboring
iceberg, which being scrutinized was recognized as an eagle. It was
accepted as a good omen by the men, who cheered the noble bird that
vividly reminded them of their distant home.

The direction was now to the northeast. They crossed the straits at Cape
Beechy, pushing to within a few miles of the eastern shore, whence they
were to proceed directly to Fort Sumner. In order to follow the course
of the party intelligently the reader needs to keep a reliable map of
the Arctic regions before him.

Fort Conger stood close to the intersection of sixty-fifth meridian and
the eighty-second parallel, being a little south of the latter and east
of the former. From this starting-point, the route of Lockwood was
slightly south of northeast to its termination. Almost from the
beginning, the traveling was so difficult that the bravest explorers
could not have been blamed for turning back.

The ice was tumbled together in irregular masses many feet in thickness,
through which they often had to cut the way with axes for their sledges.
The wind rose to a hurricane, and was of piercing coldness, and so
filled with fine particles that they cut the face like bird-shot. Most
of the time they could not see one another when separated by a few feet.
Muffled to their eyes, the brave explorers fought their-way onward,
often compelled to stop and turn their backs to the gale, which almost
swept them off their feet. Frequently they crouched behind the piles of
ice to regain their breath while the furious wind roared above their
heads.

Toughened, as were all the men, some of them succumbed under the fearful
work. These returned to camp, and the party was reduced to nine. This
occurred on the 10th of April, very near where the 82d parallel crosses
the 60th meridian. There Lieutenant Lockwood came to a halt, and turned
back with the dogs to Fort Conger. The round journey was a hundred
miles, but it was necessary to get supplies that could be obtained in no
other way, and to secure new runners for their sledges, which were
battered by their rough usage.

Accompanied by the two Eskemos, Lockwood made a new start on the 14th of
April, and averaged two miles an hour until he reached his new camp.
From that point the nine men had three sledges, which they dragged, and
a fourth that was drawn by the dogs. With indomitable pluck they
struggled onward, and all were thrilled on the 25th of the month by the
knowledge that they had reached a point further north than had ever been
attained by an American, and they hoped to surpass all others.

The heroic explorers had by no means finished their task.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.