New Land: Four Years in the Arctic Regions.

Volume I:

p. 82: on Fram at Christmas: Then came the mental part of the festivity. Assisted by the wittiest of the expedition as contributors, the doctor had started a paper, the Friendly One, named after the leader in Baumann’s team, of which the first number was read aloud that evening. Some portions of it are reproduced on the following pages, though much of it must necessarily be unintelligible to the great majority of my readers. The wit and sarcasm of the Friendly One resulted in the publication of a rival paper, the Arctic Fox, which appeared on New Year’s Day, but was withdrawn the same evening for want of subscribers; and therewith ended our journalistic efforts on board the ‘Fram’ for that winter. [p. 84-87 are reproductions from the Friendly One (Den Venligsindede)—they are in German gothic type.]

p. 102-03: Herewith I turn the matter over to [Ivar] Fosheim, making an extract from his account of the visit:—

‘As I was standing at the turning-bench in the ‘tween decks, on March 18, the doctor came running in through the door, radiant with delight, and exclaimed, “We have got a visitor! There is an Eskimo outside by the smithy.” I ran out to look, and, sure enough, there he was, with his dogs and sledge and the usual gear, surrounded by a ring of curious spectators. They soon came on board, Sverdrup first, and the Eskimo after him, with short elastic steps.

‘At dinner our unusual visitor sat at the end of the table, handling his knife and fork in a more civilized fashion than might have been expected. He was short in stature, but well-knit and unusually well proportioned, and looked very intelligent considering that he was a “savage.” His little dark eyes shone with understanding and good humour. His nose was slightly aquiline, and on his upper lip was a thin, black moustache. His skin was of the dark red-skin type, with a slight tinge of sallowness, and his face was surrounded by a thick mane of coarse, glossy black hair, which fell far down on his shoulders, and quite hid his eyes and the adjoining parts of his face. When he bent his head, it fell over his eyes in a thick veil.

‘That the man was from the east side of Smith Sound we found out at once; but from what particular part he came, or whither he was bound, we did not so readily discover. We showed him some pictures in Astrup’s book, among others the one depicting the author and Kolotengva bear-shooting in Melville Bay. Our friend at once pointed to Astrup’s companion, and then to himself, exclaiming proudly, “Eh, Kolotengva! Eh, Kolotengva!” So he was the well-known Hurragut himself; the first Eskimo to cross Inglefield Gulf in a kayak, and the daring hero of so many exciting adventures bear-shooting and walrus-catching!

‘By the help of a map, with which he seemed as much at home as a professor of geography, a few Eskimo words which we had acquired, and, last but not least, by pantomime, we got out of him that he was from the island of Kama, in Inglefield Gulf, that he had been four days on the journey, and that he was on his way north to Peary’s ship, the “Windward.” It came out by degrees that two Eskimo from the “Windward” had already been home that spring to fetch more dogs for Peary, who had lost from sickness during the course of the winter thirty-seven out of sixty dogs. In this manner the Smith Sound Eskimo had got information as to the whereabouts of the “Windward” and the “Fram; and, needless to say, Kolotengva would not lose such a favourable opportunity of visiting the rich Kablunaks, who, according to an innuit’s views, are in possession of so many wonderful things, from sewing-needles and pocket-knives to powder, shot, and guns.

p. 145, Norwegian Independence Day celebrated aboard the Fram: N.B.

—No newspaper will be issued in honour of the day. — Ed.

p. 165, on the death and burial of Dr. Svendsen: We gathered from his diary that he had overrated his strength. The great mistake had been that, whereas all the other members of the expedition had undergone strict medical examination, the doctor had never been examined.

After the experience which I have had, it is my very strong advice to future explorers to be particularly careful in their choice of a doctor. Almost before the other members of the expedition, he must have a sound and resisting constitution. The responsibility he has undertaken must not be overlooked; he it is who must watch over the health of each individual, and on him the welfare of the expedition may, in certain circumstances, be almost wholly dependent. If one or other member of the expedition should fail, there is always another who can take his place, but a doctor is not to be replaced, for, as a rule, he is the only medical man on board.

In my diary for Sunday, June 10, I wrote:—‘This, then, was to be the end here—here where we have spent so many happy hours, and where for so long we have had our second home. There is nothing to be done. We must be reasonable and submit to what has happened, be it never so heavy.’ And again on Monday I write:—‘The sun is shining as usual, everything looks bright and peaceful. The birds twitter as joyously as ever; they, at any rate, are happy; they do not feel anything of that which is affecting us human beings….’

p. 167: The body was placed down in the cable-tier until the funeral could take place. On June 16 I wrote:—‘The flag is flying at half-mast from the peak to-day. It is the first time it has been in this position on board the “Fram,” let us hope it will indeed be the last.’

The funeral was a seaman’s one. With the body and bier covered by flags, we walked out to Rice Strait, where a large hole was opened in the ice. It was an affecting moment. The doctor’s lifeless body was lowered to the water-side, the prayers read, and a hymn sung. Then followed the moment when he slowly slipped into the deep. We shall never forget it. We sang a hymn, and said the Lord’s Prayer.

p. 200, in winter quarters, when they met one of Peary’s ships, and met with Bob Bartlett: They gave us some newspapers, and told us that one of Peary’s ships, which had come from America, had a mail on board for us, but that she had left it at Payer Harbour.

p. 306-307: reading from cook book after finding a pastry creation had frozen: Our hopes of a successful baking sank in a disquieting degree; and they sank even lower when Schei, who had been intently studying the cookery-book, read out in a trembling voice: ‘Pastry must not be exposed to a temperature so low that it will freeze.’ There then, was our fate, sealed in clear incontrovertible terms!

p. 311—Christmas menu: We set to work to over-eat ourselves in true Norwegian fashion.

p. 312—New Year’s Eve 1899: When we were settled round the punch-bowl, Isachsen read aloud the first and last number of the Friendly One for 1899. Again this year Baumann had taken the initiative with regard to the paper. Last year the doctor had edited it; for 1899 Baumann was the responsible editor as well, and brought out, as aforesaid, the first copy on the last day of the year, and that, too, as an ‘Extra Number.’ The reading took some time, for the contents were important and varied; one volley of laughter succeeded another; nobody got off scot-free, and all the others hugely enjoyed the good-natured hits at their comrades.

At last, about twelve o’clock, we reached what the editor called the ‘ice-foot of the paper,’ and he was rewarded with such applause as has seldom or never fallen to the lot of a newspaper editor from his subscribers.

p. 452: ‘Now passed a long and monotonous period, broken only by visits from passers-by, for no more bears came to the hut itself. I cannot say that I ever felt really dull. I must confess that I slept a great deal, and, secondly, always made myself some work to do outside the house, and went, in addition, regulation walks. If the weather was bad, which it generally was, I lay in the bag as much as possible and read.

p. 454: When some visitors brought new books he felt better: ‘The following period was short, but the pleasantest I spent at Björneborg—new books to read, good food and good weather.’

Volume II:

p. 338, while seeking winter food: ‘Of this my second hermit life there is really—though with one exception—nothing to say, and, besides, it did not last very long. The days passed uniformly in reading and short walks on the point, where I was invariably, though vainly, on the look-out for game. September 26 was marked by my shooting a raven of a kind which I had not yet been able to add to the zoological collection of the expedition. I began to feel rather dull, and hoped somebody would turn up from the “Fram”—a visit had been suggested, but did not take place. It did not seem either as if the meat could soon be taken on board, for the fjord was still free of ice. Now and then a little brash formed, but it always drifted away after a shorter or longer time. But then something happened which enlivened me considerably, and made an end of my hermit life.

‘On September 30 I lay reading till late in the evening, and, when eventually I put out the light, I remained awake for some time. Just as I was falling asleep, I was suddenly aroused—without any kind of preparation—by a series of frightful howls from “Susamel.” I have often heard dogs howl from pain or fear, but such terror as this expressed I had never heard before. At the same time I heard a wild turmoil going on at the place where the dog was tied up. “Susamel,” apparently, was rushing round and round the length of her chain, followed by some animal with much heavier steps. That something was going on was very evident, and I therefore made all the haste I could to light the lamp and get out of the bag. But the bag was very narrow, and it was therefore some time before I was clear of it; during this performance I overturned the lamp, which at once went out, but I would not stop to light it again.

Outside the howls continued, and the dog and its enemy, whatever it might be, ran round and round till I could hear the pebbles scattering far and wide. But then I heard that the dog had got loose, and was running as hard as it could go, still howling and with the chain dragging behind it, in a northerly direction, towards the lowest part of the point. In this way “Susamel”—called later the “Heroine of Ytre Eide”—left the seat of war, and left me to pull the chestnuts out of the fire as best I might.

Meanwhile, I had got out of the sleeping-bag, and seized my gun, which was lying ready loaded beside me. I then managed—still in the dark—to unhook a couple of hooks in the tent-door so that I could see out. Being cloudy weather, it was very dark, and I could only see the meat-stack in a confused mass. I could just distinguish the outlines of a bear, which was standing by it, with its head down, but without eating, as if it were listening. I very cautiously stuck the barrel of the gun out of the tent-door.

p. 449-50: So the “Fram’s” Second Polar Expedition was at an end. An approximate area of one hundred thousand square had been explored, and, in the name of the Norwegian King, taken possession of. If the members of the expedition have been able to do anything, this is owing in the first instance to the sacrifices of generous Norwegians: that we have not done more is, at any rate, not owing to want of will.