Page images

makes insolent remarks almost in his ear, tinguished arctic discoverer who

was and the bear dashes round to retaliate. At said to have been found in his cabin the same moment two shots ring out, and weighing a pocket-handkerchief and depoor Mr. Bear rolls over dead.

bating whether he should take it with One of us then returns to the hut to him sledging or not. But it is only by bring out a sledge party to haul him in. careful attention to weights that the good We drag him into a canvas hut, reserved for bearskinning during the darkness, and remove his skin, and cut up the carcass into convenient joints. The dense atmosphere caused by the rising steam in the intensely cold air suggests a laundry in full swing.

As the end of the dark time approaches all becomes hurry and bustle in our little community. The hut becomes crowded up with sledges brought into it to be packed, and piles of equipment and rations in the course of being weighed out fill

every available foot of space. Across the



[blocks in formation]

and bamboo canoe is hung up to dry results can be attained—which the gentleafter being tarred – and many are the man in question was one of the first to jokes and much the laughter when one of demonstrate. our heads comes in contact with its very Early in March sees us on our journey sticky sides. The actual living space in with our team of dogs and pony, and one our hut was about thirteen feet by twelve. man besides myself.

We have been working all through the The temperature is about 35° below winter at these sledging preparations, zero, the sky is misty and overcast, a stiff upon the careful completion of which so breeze is blowing which carries before it much depends. Weight and bulk are of a cloud of snow as fine as flour, which the greatest consideration, and it is won- penetrates everything. In the distance derful how weights accumulate by ounces, on our left the cold, white, ill - defined so that the utmost care must be exercised outlines of the glaciated country on the to select only the most necessary and in- western side of the British Channel are dispensable articles, and to have the food dimly visible. rationed out in the smallest amounts per I lead the way with Brownie" (our day compatible with keeping men in pony) and her sledges, and Mr. Armitage health.

follows in my tracks with the dog team. An amusing tale is told of a very dis- The surface is much bummocked in




fellow, he will
not last much
longer, and oth-
ers are going in
his direction also.
The horrible wea-
ther incessant
gales, with tem-
peratures as low
as 40° below zero,
and blinding bliz-
zards-is rapidly
telling upon all
of them. It is
sorry work get-
ting along the
tures; but there
is no help for it.
We have now
been marching

for nearly twenconsequence of the repeated breaking up ty hours, with only two stops of an hour of the light ice of the channel in the au- to make a pot of tea, and to eat some bistumn before; and the snow lies deep and cuits, cheese, and fat bacon. I intend to soft over the trappy holes and crevices it go for another four hours yet; there is has caused.

every prospect of having to camp for the The pony has been going badly, owing next three days, for the weather grows to illness caused by a surfeit of dried vegetables, and it is with great difficulty that Armitage and I are beginving to feel a she can be induced to move along at all. little tired too, and several times when At every slight rise or ridge of hummocks the dogs have checked at a hummock we she comes to a full stop, and even on the have lain down in the snow, and all but flat a very slow walk is her best pace. fallen asleep. However, it is of no use Finally she throws herself down in the lying there, so on we push again; but snow, declaring as plainly as she can the labor of hauling the sledges out of speak, poor animal, that she cannot go a drifts, starting the team again, and uryard farther. The dogs too move along ging on the animals, combined with the with their tails between their legs, wear- wind and cold, will insure our sleeping ing a dejected expression on their faces. soundly-when the time comes that we Every now and then Armitage has to take advantage of the frequent stops to unravel the marvellous tangle into which they have contrived to get their traces, which, being fro

as hard as steel rods, is neither an easy nor a pleasant occupation in this charming weather. Poor “Joey," who has been going in a very tottering condition most of the day, at last falls down, and is released from his trace, and for a short distance tries to follow us.

He drops behind, however, and to get him along at all he has to be carried on the sledge. Poor little plucky




may–let the condition of our couch be around for some time, at length find downy or otherwise.

hummock to which I can tie up the The wind has now grown into a fresh pony. gale, but the temperature has risen with it, The tent is then pitched-no easy matand the snow and mist have so increased ter for two men in a blizzard—the dogs that as we plod along we can hardly see and pony fed, and we proceed to make

[graphic][merged small]

the ice precipices of the glacier face sixty ourselves as comfortable as circumstances yards away; I can barely distinguish will allow. Armitage a dozen yards behind, occasion- Our socks and the grass in our boots, ally lose sight of him entirely, and have made wet with condensed perspiration, to stop for him to come up or I should are changed for others, and the moist lose him.

ones placed on our chests to dry, which To prevent constant frost-bites we have is the only means possible, as, of course, our wind-guards over our faces, leaving we have no fire; then, having put on our only apertures for the eyes and the mouth. furs, and cooked our dinner over a spiritThey give us very much the appearance lamp, we lie down to sleep. We have of Spanish inquisitors.

hardly done so when an ominous roar On we tramp, until, rounding a sudden close at hand, followed by two more, turn in the glacier, we suddenly find our- rouses us up, and we crane our necks out selves nearly out of the wind, but in a of the tent to endeavor to ascertain the perfect whirl of fine blinding snow and

Is the glacier discharging bergs darkness-in fact, in a kind of backwater close at hand? It sounds like it. of the storm.

our position close to it, to say the least, is To continue our march farther at pres- not a pleasant one! Ilowever, we can ent has become out of the question, so see nothing through the blinding snow, I decide to camp, and after searching so we lie down again and decide to chance


If so,

[ocr errors]

On the following morning we found that several avalanches of

had slipped off the glacier above us on to the floe beneath, twentyfive yards from our tent; and that the weight of the snow had so borne down the ice as to force the water up.

I found " Brown

ie" standing up BROWNIE,” OUR PONY.

to her knees in

it, and water perit. Once or twice this noise, like thun- meating through the snow upon which we der, is repeated.

were lying, soaking our belongings. On the recurrence of these sounds we The gale still raged with unabated fury, feel very uneasy, and are in momentary and the temperature stood at from 15° to expectation that a mass of ice, weighing 20° below zero. There was, however, less hundreds of tons, will crash down upon snow-drift. Our sledges had all but dis

However, it cannot be helped, as we appeared from sight, and the tent was cannot see to move our camp, and in such half buried; we could not, however, stay weather we feel we may easily step out of where we were, as a further snow-slip from the frying-pan into the fire.

the glacier might place us in the sea it



[graphic][merged small]
[graphic][merged small]

self, and our quarters were not the acme dogs broke down, and we carried bim on of comfort as it was. After three hours' our sledge in the endeavor to keep him digging we got the sledges out and under alive; but the poor little beast, faithful way. Armitage and I both got our noses and plucky to the last, gradually froze to and cheeks frozen in the process, and I death. Two or three days later two more both my wrists, upon which appeared dogs ended their days. We wrapped large blisters in the course of a few hours, them up in skins when we camped, and which later became tiresome sores. I gave them a nip of whiskey each in

After getting clear of the glacier face, the hope of reviving them, but to no and proceeding about a mile, we found a avail. spot on the lee side of some hummocks, It was a sad time for us thus to see our where we were partly protected from the animals die one after the other, to say gale, and there pitched our camp.

nothing of the loss of draught-power, which The weather throughout our first spring rendered progress at all very difficult. At journey in 1897 was severe in the ex- that time, too, we could not even guess at treme. During the two months we were the length of the journey in front of us. away we only enjoyed thirteen and a We had set out to go round the western half tolerably fine days— high gales, land, and meant to accomplish it. driving snow, thick mist, and often very The fluctuations in temperature, too, low temperatures comprised the fare pro- were very trying. Frequently with the vided for us. On the 28th of March, at onset of a southeast gale it rose from 40° our camp near the entrance of Crichton below zero to 28° above within thirtySomerville Bay, we were kept in our tent six hours-altering our garments, which by a severe gale. I examined the dogs had previously been frozen as bard as soon after we turned out of our furs, and sheets of galvanized iron, so that it took found them buried in the snow, but ap- us hours to get into them, to a state of parently all well. Three hours after- noisome moistness, and everything inside wards I found one dog frozen to death, the tent would be in a condition of drip. and its body as hard as a rock; another Down again would go the temperature, dog was frozen fast in the ice, and we had and the rockiness of our clothes and to hack it out with a small pick to get it equipment would be increased. This adfree. The following day another of our dition of moisture and ice in our clothes,

VOL. XCVII.-No. 580.-67

« PreviousContinue »