A chatty and often witty account of the 1881 Jeannette search aboard the Rodgers by a reporter for the New York Herald.
p. 10: The routine on board the Rodgers is conducted with all the regularity of a man-of-war, and cheerfulness predominates under the most trying circumstances. The evenings in the cabin are passed pleasantly in games of cards, chess, back gammon, and the like, and in reading works of scientific interest or lighter literature.
p. 49: describes a house in St. Michael’s on Stuart Island: His wife [Lorenz, a native of Maine] is a cultivated and intelligent lady, and a small, but well selected library gave token of refined taste in literature. One would naturally be surprised, here, beyond the limit of civilization, to find a house with walls covered with Morris paper, and carpet and chairs in keeping with that style of decoration, so that I scarcely felt at each there in my coarse sailor garb.
p. 120, when the Rodgers was lost by fire, the shipwrecked comrades were sent substantial supplies including: some reading matter, and about a hundred pounds of tobacco and cigarettes….
p. 149-50, in March 1882 Gilder met a Russian named “Wanker”, who agreed to be his guide: I knew he was a liar, because he said he could read, and when I handed him a letter in the Russian language from the Russian Consul in San Francisco he read it all through with the deepest interest and most intense satisfaction depicted upon his countenance, occasionally smiling over some official pleasantry of the Consul’s, or stumbling over a particularly hard word, and all the time held the letter upside down. I righted it once, but he immediately turned it again, with a look as much as to say, “I always prefer to read my letters that way.” He then returned the letter after having carefully inspected the black border and the watermark on the paper, and said it was “All right;” an opinion for which I was truly grateful.
p. 154: When forced to lie over on account of storms or some notion of Wanker’s, with nothing to do and nothing to read, it seemed to me that all I did was to lie on my back and watch for indications of the next meal. It was all there was to break the monotony, unless my pipe needed cleaning.
p. 196-97, on sledge journey approaching the Lena, Gilder was with a Cossack who spoke only Yakout and Russian: This seemed at first a serious drawback, but I was not discouraged…. I had also a polyglot dictionary of the French, Russian, German and English languages, with the French as the initial language; which was rather a drawback, as first I must know the French equivalent for what I desire to explain in Russian. It fortunately happened that my Cossack, besides being unusually intelligent for one of his class in that country, was able to read and write, though by no means a scholar—so, with my dictionary and the universal sign language we got along quite well…. My dictionary was never packed away; it was always placed under my pillow in the sled, and always brought into the povarnniars and stations with the cooking utensils. Here we would pore over that book until the meal was ready.
p. 201, March 24, 1882, G. W. Melville to Secretary of the Navy: I found De Long’s note book alongside of him, a copy of which please find enclosed, dating from October 1, when at Usterday, until the end. Under the poles were found the books, records, &c., and two men. The rest of the people lie between the place where De Long was found … a distance of five hundred yards.
p. 203, March 25, 1882, G. W. Melville to Secretary of the Navy: When I had read these letters I turned to the papers which accompanied them and found them to be the diary kept by De Long from October 1st till October 30th, 1881. It was the most horrible tale of agonizing, lingering death.
p. 211, after H. H.Ericksen’s death on October 6, 1881, and the reading of the burial service: His clothing was divided up among his messmates. Iverson has his Bible and a lock of his hair. Supper at 5 p.m. , half a pound of dog meat and tea.
p. 215, in mid October, close to the end of De Long’s ordeal he is still reading prayers for the sick.