Astrup participated in two of Peary’s early Greenland expeditions.
p. 5: LITTLE did I think when, a few years ago, sitting at the school-table striving laboriously with my Norwegian exercises, which were so limited in length and range, that I should ever attempt the writing of a whole book; for I was by nature a sun-worshipper, and loved a life in the open air far beyond books and writing-desks.
But wonderful are the ways of fate.
It happened that for a couple of years I passed beyond the pale of civilisation, and visited places where none had ever been. These things I had, of course, to describe; and so I wrote some letters telling of my travels to the Morgenbladet, after which I considered all necessary results of my strange adventures had been attained.
p. 11-12, in preparing for his job interview with Peary, Astrup was concerned with his imperfect knowledge of English: However, in order to be able to express myself with ease and elegance during our conversation, I had cunningly furnished my two largest coat-pockets with an English and a Norwegian dictionary; armed with these, and the required doctors’ certificates and testimonials, I entered the corridors of the dockyard’s office, certain of victory.
A young man of African origin, the afterwards illustrious “Matt,” showed me into Lieutenant Peary’s working-room, where I was most heartily received by the explorer. His whole appearance inspired me with absolute confidence… [but] Scarcely had our conversation begun before I found myself obliged to pull the friendly textbooks out of my pocket. With feverish quickness I ran over the leaves during the remainder of my visit, hardly ever finding the words I wanted, but managing at last, in rather laconic sentences, to give expression to what was in my mind.
In the course of conversation I noticed that Mr. Peary’s black servant now and then disappeared through a side door with strange grimaces, returning soon after with an uncomfortaby serious and distorted face. He afterwards admitted that this happened whenever he lost control over his risible muscles as he saw me consult my dictionary.
p. 16: As a matter of course we were all volunteers; and “Matt,” the nigger, who for several years had been Mr. Peary’s servant, did not hesitate to follow his master as our excellent cook. Our small company was also cheered by the presence of Mr. Peary’s wife—a fact which, in America, added not a little to the prestige of our enterprise.
p. 24: Much of our leisure time during the winter was spent in reading newspapers and periodicals a year old, and also in studying scientific notes and books on travel in the Arctic regions, with which we were amply provided. The evenings were usually passed in gossip with the Esqimaux, telling them tales about the distant southern countries, to which they would listen eagerly for hours. But if we asked them whether they would go back with us in our ship, they answered gravely that they would never leave their own country of mountains and ice.