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First Edition, 2 vols. 8vo, November 1890. 

New Edition, abridged, 1 vol. crown 8vo, March 

1892 - L Reprinted February 1893. 
Reissued in the " Silver Library," January 1895 ; 

Reprinted January 1895, July 1895, October 

1896, February 1897, September 1897 , October 

1898, April 1902, /z/Zj' 1906. 
Colonial Edition, July 1893 : Reprinted July 








I feel that I cannot send this book out to meet its fate with- 
out attaching to it a hearty expression of my gratitude to all 
those who gave their help to the expedition with which it is 

Among these I must assign a prominent place to Herr 
Augustin Gamel, in virtue of the ready liberality with which 
he offered his support to an undertaking which was very gene- 
rally considered to be the scheme of a lunatic. And after him I 
must thank the Committee of the Norwegian " Studentersam 
fund," or " Students' Union," who organised the collection ofj 
and the large number of my countrymen who contributed to, 
the considerable sum which I received on my return home in 
defrayal of the outstanding expenses of the expedition. And, 
lastly, I must acknowledge the kindness of all the Danish officials 
with whom we came in contact, both in Denmark and Green- 
land, as well as the unbounded hospitality with which we were 
treated on all sides. 

But my chief thanks are nevertheless owing to my five 
comrades, to whose combined efforts the successful result of 
our undertaking is of course mainly due. Every one who has 
conducted an expedition will know how ready the world is to do 
the great injustice of heaping the whole praise or blame for its 
success or failure on the shoulders of the leader alone. And 
this injustice is greater than usual in the case of an expedition 
like ours, in which each member serves as one of a team of 


its way up the east coast, have been retained intact. In 
vol. ii. the account of the crossing of the " Inland ice " until 
the expedition arrived in Godthaab is reprinted entire, while 
the chapters entitled "An Eskimo Narrative," "The Eskimo 
of Greenland," and "A Shooting Trip to Ameralikfjord,'- 
together with the appendix, have been omitted. Nearly all 
the illustrations given in the larger edition are included in 
the present one. 





in. "ski" and "skilobning' 1 

















4 8 
























56 54 52 50 48 46 44 42 40 3fl 36 34 

Shewing the Route of the Norwegian Expedition in 1888 

represents the outer edge of a belt of floe-ice skirling the east coast. 

♦ ♦»»»♦♦■ represents the route of the Expedition. 

Chapter I. 


{From a sketch and a photograph 
by the Author.) 

In the summer of 1882 I was on 
board the Viking, a Norwegian sealer, 
which was caught in the ice off that 
part of the east coast of Greenland 
which is still unexplored, or, more precisely, somewhere in the 
neighbourhood of lat. 66° 50' N. For more than three weeks 


we were absolutely fixed, and every day, to the terror of the 
crew, we drifted nearer to the rocky coast. Behind the fields 
of floating ice lay peaks and glaciers glittering in the day- 
light, and at evening and through the night, when the sun 
sank lowest and set the heavens in a blaze behind them, the 
wild beauty of the scene was raised to its highest. Many 
times a day from the maintop were my glasses turned west- 
wards, and it is not to be wondered at that a young man's 
fancy was drawn irresistibly to the charms and mysteries of 
this unknown world. Unceasingly did I ponder over plans for 
reaching this coast, which so many had sought in vain, and I 
came to the conclusion that it must be possible to reach it, if 
not by forcing a ship through the ice, which was the method 
tried hitherto, then by crossing the floes on foot and dragging 
one's boat with one. One day, indeed, I incontinently pro- 
posed to make the attempt and walk over the ice to shore 
alone, but this scheme came to nothing because the captain 
conceived that he could not in the circumstances allow any one 
to leave the ship for a length of time. 

On my return I was asked to write an article in the Danish 
"Geografisk Tidskrift" (vol. vii., p. 76), and in this I expressed 
it as my opinion that it would be possible to reach the east coast 
of Greenland without any very great difficulty if the expedition 
forced their way as far as practicable into the ice on board a 
Norwegian sealer, and then left the ship and passed over the 
floes to shore. I will not say that I had not at this time some 
notion more or less visionary of penetrating from the coast into 
the interior, but it was not till a later occasion that the idea 
took a definite form. 

One autumn evening in the following year, that is to say, 
1883 — I remember it still as if it were only yesterday — I was 
sitting and listening indifferently as the day's paper was being 
read. Suddenly my attention was roused by a telegram which 
told us that Nordenskiold had come back safe from his expedi- 
tion to the interior of Greenland, that he had found no oasis, 
but only endless snowfields, on which his Lapps were said to 


have covered, on their "ski," 1 an extraordinary long distance 
in an astonishingly short time. The idea flashed upon me at 
once of an expedition crossing Greenland on " ski " from coast 
to coast. Here was the plan in the same form in which it was 
afterwards laid before the public and eventually carried out. 

My notion, put briefly, was that if a party of good "skilobers" 
were equipped in a practical and sensible way, they must get 
across Greenland if they began from the right side, this latter 
point being of extreme importance. For if they were to start, 
as all other expeditions have done, from the west side, they 
were practically certain never to get across. They would have 
all the flesh-pots of Egypt behind them, and in front the un- 
explored desert of ice and the east coast, which is little better. 
And furthermore, if they did get across, they would have the 
same journey back again in order to reach home. So it struck 
me that the only sure road to success was to force a passage 
through the floe-belt, land on the desolate and ice-bound east 
coast, and thence cross over to the inhabited west coast. In 
this way one would burn all one's ships behind one, there 
would be no need to urge one's men on, as the east coast 
would attract no one back, while in front would lie the west 
coast with all the allurements and amenities of civilisation. 
There was no choice of routes, " forward " being the only 
word. The order would be : — " Death or the west coast of 
Greenland " 

1 As these implements and their use will be treated of at length in Chap. 
III., it will only be necessary here to introduce the terms to the reader. 
•♦Ski" (pi. "ski" or "skier"), literally a "billet" or thin slip of wood, 
and connected etymologically with the Eng. "skid" and "shide," is the 
Norwegian name for the form of snowshoe in general use among the 
northern nations of the Old World. The pronunciation of the word in 
Norway may be considered practically identical with the Eng. "she." 
The compounds of the word which will occur in the course of the narrative 
are "skilober," a snowshoer, and "skilobning," snowshoeing, both formed 
from the verb "lobe," to run. The only reason why the established 
English term "snowshoe" should not have been employed throughout 
is that this course would have led to inevitable confusion with the very 
dissimilar Indian snowshoe, of which also frequent mention is made. 


Not till the autumn of 1887 did I resolve to give my serious 
attention to the scheme. My original idea had been to carry 
out the expedition with private means, but, as I was strongly 
urged on more than one side to apply to the Norwegian 
University for the necessary funds, in order to give the 
expedition a more public and national character, I consented, 
and sent to the authorities an application for a grant of 5000 
kroner, or rather more than ^275, in aid of a journey on the 
lines I have already described. My application received the 
warmest support from the University Council, and was passed 
on to the Government for their consideration, and in order 
that the proposal might be laid by them before the " Storthing," 
or National Assembly, in the regular manner. The Govern- 
ment, however, answered that they could not see their way to 
give the scheme their support, and one of the newspapers even 
went so far as to maintain that there could be no conceivable 
reason why the Norwegian people should pay so large a sum 
as 5000 kr. in order to give a private individual a holiday trip 
to Greenland. Most people who heard of the scheme con- 
sidered it simple madness, asked what was to be got in the 
interior of Greenland, and were convinced that I was either 
not quite right in the head or was simply tired of life. Luckily 
it was not necessary for me to procure help from Government, 
" Storthing," or any one else. 

At this time I received an offer from a gentleman in Copen- 
hagen to provide the sum for which I had applied to Govern- 
ment. This was Herr Augustin GameU, who had already 
contributed to the cause of Arctic research by the equipment 
of the " Dijmphna " expedition. This offer, coming as it did 
from a foreigner, and one quite unacquainted with me person- 
ally, and in aid of an expedition which was generally considered 
to be the scheme of a madman, seemed to me so truly generous 
that I could not for a moment hesitate to accept it. 

I first published my pian in January 1888 in the Norwegian 
magazine Naturen, in an article entitled "Gronlands Ind- 
landsis." Having given some account of the earlier attempts to 


plan, described briefly, is as follows : With three or four of 
the best and strongest 'skilobers' I can lay my hands on, 
I mean to leave Iceland in the beginning of June on board 
a Norwegian sealer, make for the east coast of Greenland, 
and try in about lat. 66° N. to get as near to the shore as 
possible. I should have liked to land farther north in the 
unknown regions of Scoresby Fjord, but for this it would be 
necessary to hire a special vessel, and, as it would probably 
be difficult to raise funds for this purpose, I have for the 
present given up this idea. If our vessel is not able to reach 
the shore, though the sealers, who have often been close in under 
this unexplored coast, do not consider such a thing improbable, 
the expedition will leave the ship at the farthest point that can 
be reached, and will pass over the ice to land. In the summer 
of 1884, for instance, there was extremely little ice, and the 
seal were taken almost close under the shore. For the pur- 
pose of crossing the open water which will probably be found 
near the coast, a light boat will be dragged on runners over the 
ice. That such a crossing of the ice is possible, I feel I can 
assert with confidence from my previous experience. When 
I was in these regions in 1882 on board the Viking, and we 
were caught in the ice, and drifted for twenty-four days along 
the very coast where I now intend to land, I had numerous 
opportunities while out shooting and for other purposes of be- 
coming familiar with the nature of the ice and conditions of 
snow, and besides, we were often obliged by sudden ' nips,' or 
jamming of the ice, to drag our boats over the floes for consider- 
able distances. I therefore think there is every probability of 
our being able to reach land in this way. I should like it to be 
for preference somewhat north of Cape Dan, where the coast 
has never yet been explored by Europeans, and offers in itself 
much of interest to the traveller. To the south the coast is 
now comparatively well known, as the Danish 'Konebaad' 
expedition, under Captain Holm, in 1884 reached a point 
to the north of Cape Dan, and wintered at Angmagsalik, a 


colony of heathen Eskimo, in the neighbourhood of the cape. 
After having examined the coast as far as the time at our 
disposal will allow, we shall begin the crossing of the 'Inland 
ice ' at the first opportunity. If we reach land to the north of 
Cape Dan, we shall begin the ascent from the end of one of 
the fjords close by ; if we land farther south, we shall push up 
to the end of Sermilikfjord before we take to the ice. 

" We shall try at once to climb as high as possible on the 
bare rock, even if the gradient be considerably steeper ; for, 
when we are eventually obliged to take to the ice, we shall 
thus find it flatter and smoother, and shall escape the worst 
ice-falls of the glaciers, which with their crevasses and general 
roughness would be likely to prove troublesome and dangerous. 
Once upon the ice, we shall set our course for Christianshaab, 
on Disco Bay, and try to reach our destination as soon as 
possible. The advantage of making for Disco Bay instead 
of taking a point farther south is that we shall probably find 
the snow in better condition farther north. And besides, by 
Disco Bay, where the land is not much cut up by fjords, it 
will be comparatively easy for us to find our way to habita- 
tions, while Disco Island, which lies off the coast, and will be 
visible to us with its terraced basalt cliffs, will prove a good 
landmark and help us to find one of the two colonies, Jakobs- 
havn or Christianshaab, which lie on Disco Bay about thirty- 
five miles apart. 

"The distance from the point on the east coast where I 
intend to land in Disco Bay is about 670 kilometres or 420 
miles. If we calculate that we shall be able to cover on a 
daily average from fifteen to twenty miles, which is exceedingly 
little for a 'skilober,' the crossing will not take more than a 
month, and if we carry with us provisions for double that time 
there seems to be every probability of our success. 

" The provisions will have to be hauled on sledges of one 
kind or another, and besides the ' ski ' we shall also take 
'truger,' the Norwegian counterpart of the Canadian snow- 
shoe, which may serve our purpose better when the snow is 


wet and soft. We shall also, of course, take the instruments 
necessary for observations . . . &c. &c." 

It is not to be wondered at that several more or less 
energetic protests against a plan of this kind appeared in the 
newspapers, but they were one and all distinguished by an 
astonishing ignorance of the various conditions of, and the 
possibility of passage over, extensive tracts of ice and snow. 

In this connection I cannot deny myself the pleasure of 
reproducing some portions of a lecture delivered in Copen- 
hagen by a young Danish traveller in Greenland, and printed in 
the Danish magazine Ny Jord for February 1888. "Other 
plans," the lecturer says, "have never passed beyond the 
stage of paper, like the proposals to cross the ' Inland ice ' in 
balloons, which were brought forward at the end of the last 
century. And among these paper-schemes we must include 
the proposal which has just emanated from the Norwegian 
zoologist, Fridtjof Nansen, of the Bergen Museum." . . . 
" There is much that is attractive in the fundamental idea of 
Nansen's scheme, in his proposal to start from the east coast, 
and cross to the colonies on the other side instead of taking the 
reverse way, and in his intention, he being a good 'skilober' 
himself, to make 'ski' his means of conveyance. But all 
who acknowledge the merits of the fundamental idea must, 
if they know anything of the real condition of things, refuse 
any further sanction to the scheme. The very method by 
which Nansen proposes to reach the coast, that is to say, by 
abandoning the firm ship's-deck and creeping like a polar bear 
from one rocking ice-floe to another on his way to the shore, 
shows such absolute recklessness that it is scarcely possible to 
criticise it seriously." 

. . . "Let us suppose, however, that fortune favours the 
brave, and that Nansen has reached the east coast of Green- 
land. How will he now set about getting up on to the real 
flat expanse of the ' Inland ice,' or, in other words, how will 
he pass the outer edge, where peak upon peak rise through 
the ice-mantle, and in all probability present at nearly every 


point an impenetrable barrier?" . . . "Nansen's proposal to 
climb the high mountains of the coast and from their summits 
step upon the expanse of ice which is dammed up against them 
thus betrays absolute ignorance of the true conditions." . . . 
" With what can be seen from the shore my experience ends, 
and I will not attempt to criticise the idea of crossing the inner 
tract of ice on ' ski,' or the possibility of taking enough pro- 
visions, or any similar questions. But I think that there is a 
probability that this part of the scheme may be carried out if 
Nansen can once pass the outer edge of the ice. 

" But there is one very different question on which I think 
I am not only qualified but bound to speak. And I say that, 
in my opinion, no one has the moral right, by setting out upon 
a venturesome and profitless undertaking, to burden the Eskimo 
of Danish East Greenland with the obligation of helping him 
out of the difficulty into which he has wantonly thrust himself. 
The few of us who know anything of the condition of things 
in East Greenland have no doubt that if Nansen's scheme be 
attempted in its present form, and the ship does not reach the 
coast and wait for him till he has been obliged to abandon his 
design, the chances are ten to one that he will either uselessly 
throw his own and perhaps others' lives away, or that he will 
have to take refuge with the Eskimo and be conducted by 
them along the coast down to the Danish colonies on the 
western side. And I say that no one has a right to force upon 
the East Greenlanders a long journey, which will be in many 
ways injurious to them." 

There is no doubt that these passages were written with 
every good intention, but they are, nevertheless, characteristic 
specimens of the almost superstitious terror with which many 
people, and among them some who pose as authorities, and 
claim to have special knowledge of the subject, have regarded 
the " Inland ice " of Greenland and the passage of tracts of 
ice and snow generally, even in these latter days. The writei 
of the above article had himself in the course of several years' 
exploration passed along the edge of the " Inland ice," but it 


seems never to have entered into his head to make a little 
incursion into the interior. The first few steps would certainly 
have cleared his mind of some of his absurd hallucinations, 
and he would eventually have learned what an "absolute 
ignorance of the true conditions " really means. 

In another article, which betrays, if possible, even less know- 
ledge of the subject, the writer declared that even if Nansen 
himself were mad enough to make any such attempt he would 
not get a single man to accompany him. 

In England, too, the press delivered itself of several articles 
adverse to the plan of the expedition. 

But, in spite of these warning voices and in spite of the 
general opinion that the whole scheme was simple madness, 
there were, nevertheless, plenty of men who wished to join 
me. I received more than forty applications from people 
of all sorts' of occupations, including soldiers, sailors, apothe- 
caries, peasants, men of business, and University students. 
There were many others, too, who did not apply, but who 
said they were more than eager to go, and would have sent 
in their names, had it been of the slightest use. Nor were 
these applicants all Norwegians, for I received many letters, 
too, from Danes, Dutchmen, Frenchmen, and Englishmen. 

I could, however, take none who were not thoroughly 
accustomed to the use of "ski," and men, too, of proved 
energy and endurance. Finally, I chose three Norwegians : 
Otto Sverdrup, a retired ship's captain; Oluf Dietrichson, 
first-lieutenant in the Norwegian infantry; and Kristian 
Kristiansen Trana, a peasant from the north of Norway. 

As I had originally thought of taking reindeer, and ima- 
gined, besides, that some Lapps would be of use to me, as 
possessing that sense of locality and power of adaptation to 
all sorts of circumstances which such children of nature have 
as a common birthright, I had written to two well-known men 
living in Finmarken, asking them if they could find me a 
couple of Mountain-Lapps l willing to join the expedition. I 

1 As many who have travelled in the north of Norway and Sweden will 


stipulated that they should be plucky men, who were known 
to be clever mountaineers and to possess powers of endurance 
above the average; that they should be made fully aware 
beforehand of the dangerous nature of the undertaking, and 
that the fact must be clearly impressed upon them that there 
was just as much probability of their never returning home 
again as of surviving. And I further added that they must 
be unmarried men of an age between thirty and forty, as I 
considered that at this time of life the powers of both body 
and mind are best prepared to meet the trials of such an 

•It was a long time before I received an answer to my 
inquiry. The post among the inland districts of Finmarken 
is leisurely, and is taken across the mountains in reindeer 
sledges every fortnight. At last when the time fixed for our 
start was approaching, I received an answer telling me that 
I could have two good men from Karasjok, if I was willing 
to pay them handsomely. I accepted their terms and tele- 
graphed to them to come at once. The next thing I heard 
was that they were on the way and would arrive on such and 
such a day. I was exceedingly anxious to see them, of course. 
They were expected one Saturday evening, and I had some 
people down at the station to meet them and take them to 
their lodgings. But no Lapps arrived that day or on Sunday 
either, and we all wondered what had become of them. Then 

know, the Lappish population falls into several more or less distinct divisions. 
The most interesting section, the real nomadic Lapps of the reindeer-herd 
and skin-tent, form as a matter of fact a small part of the whole. They are 
commonly known in Norway as " Fjeldlapper " (" Mountain-Lapps "), and 
it was from among them that I had intended to take my two men. Far 
the greater number of the Lapps are settled either on the Norwegian coast 
as " Solapper " (" Sea- Lapps "), where they maintain themselves chiefly by 
fishing ; or in the interior, at such villages or centres as Karasjok, Kauto- 
keino, Jokkmokk, Kvickjock, and Karesuando, as well as in most of the 
upper valleys of northern Sweden. The " Elvelapper " ( " River-Lapps "), 
to whom I refer below in connection with Balto's origin, are merely a small 
colony settled by the river Tana, and are, as I have said, supposed to be 
of mixed Lappish and Finnish blood. 



Monday I was told that they really had come, and so 
indeed they had, but by a goods train instead of the ordinary 
express for passengers. I hurried down to their lodgings at 
once, found their door, and, as I entered, saw standing in the 
middle of the room a good-looking young fellow, but more like 
a Finn than a Lapp, and away in the corner an old man with 
long black hair hanging about his shoulders, small in stature, 
and looking more stunted still as he sat huddled up on a 
chest. He had a much more genuine Lappish look about 
him than the other. As I came into the room the elder man 
bent his head and waved his hand in the Oriental manner, 
while the younger greeted me in the ordinary way. The old 
fellow knew very little Norwegian, and most of my conversa- 
tion was with the younger. I asked them how they were, and 
why they came by the goods train. " We do not understand 
trains," answered he, "and, besides, it was a little cheaper." 
" Well, how old are you both ? " "lam twenty-six, and Ravna 
is forty-five," was the answer. This was a pretty business, for 
I had stipulated that they should be between thirty and forty. 
" You are both Mountain-Lapps, I suppose ? " " Oh no ! 
only Ravna ; I am settled at Karasjok." This was still worse, 
as I had made a point of their being Mountain- Lapps. " But 
are not you afraid to go on this trip ? " said I. " Yes, we are 
very much afraid, and people have been telling us on the way 
that the expedition is so dangerous that we shall never come 
home alive. So we are very much afraid, indeed 1 " This 
was really too bad, for the poor fellows had never even been 
told what they had undertaken to do. I was very much 
inclined to send them back, but it was too late to get any one 
else to take their place. So, as I had to keep them, it was 
best to console them as well as I could, and tell them that 
what people had been saying was all rubbish. It was no 
manner of use to discourage them at the outset, for they 
were likely to lose their spirits quite quickly enough anyhow. 
Though they did not perhaps look quite so strong and wiry 
as I could have wished, still they seemed to be good-natured 


and trustworthy fellows. These qualities, indeed, they have 
shown to the utmost, and in endurance they have proved little, 
if at all, inferior to us. In other respects I found them of no 
particular use, as far as the accomplishments which I expected 
to find in them are concerned, and, as a matter of fact, they 
were never used for reconnoitring purposes. 

Balto, my younger Lapp, on his return home wrote a short 
account of his experiences while he was away. This has been 
translated into Norwegian from the original Lappish by Pro- 
fessor Friis, of Christiania, and I propose to include in my 
narrative those passages of his which seem to me most charac- 
teristic and likely to afford most interest to the general reader. 
After describing his voyage from Finmarken and telling how 
people on the way discouraged them, and informed them, among 
other things, that I was a simple maniac, he continues : — " On 
April 14th we left Trondhjem and reached Christiania on the 
1 6th. Nansen had sent a man to the railway station to meet 
us. This was Sverdrup, who came up to us and asked : ' Are 
you the two men who are going with Nansen ? ' We answered 
that we were the two. Sverdrup then told us that he was 
going with Nansen too, and had come on purpose to meet us. 
1 Come along with me,' he said ; and he took us to a hotel, 
which is in Toldbodgaden, No. 30. An hour afterwards 
Nansen and Dietrichson came to see us. It was a most 
glorious and wonderful thing to see this new master of ours, 
Nansen. He was a stranger, but his face shone in our eyes 
like those of the parents whom we had left at home ; so lovely 
did his face seem to me, as well as the welcome with which 
he greeted us. All the strange people were very kind and 
friendly to us two Lapps while we were in Christiania town, 
and from this time we became happier and all went well 
with us." 

As through the whole course of my narrative we shall have 
the company of the five men I have already mentioned, the 
most fitting thing I can do will be to present them duly to 
the reader, with some short account of the antecedents of each. 



I will begin with my own countrymen and take them in the 
order of their age. 

Otto Sverdrup was born on October 31, 1855, at the farm 
of Haarstad, in Bindalen, in Helgeland. His father, Ulrik 
Sverdrup, a member of an old Norwegian family, was an owner 
of farm and forest property. Accustomed from childhood to 
wander in the forest and on the mountains on all kinds of 
errands and in all sorts of weather, he learned early to look 
after himself and to stand on his own legs. Early, too, he 
learned to use his "ski," and a rough and impracticable 
country like that of Bindalen naturally made him an active 
and clever " skilober." 

At the age of seventeen he went to sea, and sailed for many 
years on American as well as Norwegian vessels. In 1878 he 
passed the necessary examination in Christiania and sailed as 
mate for several years, being during this period once wrecked 
with a Norwegian schooner off the west coast of Scotland. On 
this occasion he showed to the full the sort of stuff he was 
made of, and it was mainly his coolness and perseverance 
which saved his crew. Since this he has sailed as captain 
on a schooner and a steamer, and one year spent the fishing 
season with a smack on the banks off the coast of Nordland. 
Of late years he has for the most part remained at home with 
his father, the latter having meanwhile sold his property in 
Bindalen and moved southwards to the farm of Trana, near 
Stenkjer. Here he has spent his time at all sorts of work, in 
the forest, on the river, floating timber, in the smithy, and 
fishing at sea, where as boat's-captain he was unsurpassed. 

Some years ago a man was wanted at Gothenburg to take 
charge of the Nordenfeldt submarine boat which was to be 
taken across the North Sea to England. A reward was offered, 
but no one was found willing to undertake this risky task. 
Sverdrup at this juncture accidentally appeared, and he offered 
his services at once. He prevailed upon a relative to go with 
him as engineer, and the two proposed to navigate the strange 
craft across the North Sea without further help. The prospect 



to Sverdrup was one of pure sport, but at the last moment the 
authorities changed their minds, and the boat was eventually 
towed across. 

It is plain that a man of this type was specially created for 
such an expedition as ours. In the course of his vagrant and 
chequered life he had learned to find his way out of all kinds 
of difficult situations, and I need scarcely add that we never 
found him wanting in either coolness or resource. 

Oluf Christian Dietrichson was born in Skogn, near 
Levanger, on the 31st of May 1856, and was the son of 
Peter Wilhelm Krejdal Dietrichson, the official doctor of 
the district. He was educated at Levanger, Trondhjem, 
and Christiania, entered the military school as a cadet in 
1877, and received a commission as second lieutenant in 
the Trondhjem brigade in 1880, being promoted to the rank 
of first lieutenant in 1886. During the present summer he 
has received his captaincy. 

He has all his life been a keen sportsman, and by good 
physical training he has hardened and developed his naturally 
strong and well-built frame. Of late years he has every winter 
gone long tours on " ski " through the greater part of Southern 
Norway, has passed through most of our valleys, from Skien 
in the south to Trondhjem in the north, and there are not 
many who have seen so much of the country in its winter 
aspect as he. 

The acquirements of his military education stood the ex- 
pedition in good stead. He undertook our meteorological 
diary practically single-handed, and the results of our surveys 
and our maps are due to him. He discharged these duties 
with an amount of zeal and self-denial which are more than 
admirable, and the merit of such work as he produced in 
such circumstances will only be appreciated by those who 
have had a similar experience. To take observations and 
keep a meteorological diary with the usual exactitude and 
punctuality, when the temperature is below - 20 F., when 
one is dead-tired, or when death and destruction are at hand ; 



or to write when the fingers are so injured and swollen by the 
frost that it is almost impossible to hold a pencil, needs an 
amount of character and energy which is far from common. 


Kristian Kristiansen Trana was no more than twenty-four 
years old when he joined the expedition. This was con- 
siderably below the age which I considered most suitable for 
such a task ; but, as he was plucky and strong and exceedingly 



eager to go with us, I did not hesitate to take him on Sver- 
drup's recommendation, and I had no reason whatever to 
regret my choice. 

He was born on February 16, 1865, at a cottage on the 
farm of Trana, which is now the property of Sverdrup's father. 
At his home he has been chiefly engaged in forest work, but 
had been to sea once or twice, and was therefore likely to be 
a handy man. He proved steady and trustworthy, and when 
Kristian said that he was going to take anything in hand, I 
always knew that it would be done. 

Samuel Johannesen Balto is a Lapp settled at Karasjok, and 
was twenty-seven when he joined us. He is of average height, 
and has none of the outer Lapp characteristics ; he belongs, in 
fact, to the so-called " River-Lapps," who are generally people 
of some size and have much Finn blood in them. He has 
spent most of his time at forest work, but for several years he 
has been out in the fishing season, and for a while, too, he 
has helped to tend reindeer among the Mountain-Lapps, being 
for a part of the time in the service of Ravna. He is a lively, 
intelligent fellow ; he did everything he undertook with great 
energy, and in this respect was very different from his com- 
panion Ravna. He showed some powers of endurance too, 
was always willing to lend a hand at any job, and was thus 
of great 'use to us. And, lastly, his ready tongue and broken 
Norwegian constituted him to a great extent the enlivening 
spirit of the expedition. 

Ole Nielsen Ravna is a Mountain-Lapp from the neighbour- 
hood of Karasjok, and when he joined the expedition was 
forty-five or forty-six, he not being quite sure of the year 
himself. He has spent all his nomadic life in a tent, and 
wandered with his reindeer about the mountain wastes of 
Finmarken. His herd, when he left it for Greenland, was of 
no great size, and contained from 200 to 300 deer. He was 
the only married member of the expedition, and left a wife 
and five children behind him at home. As I have already 
said, I did not know this beforehand, as I had insisted upon 



all my companions being unmarried. Like all Mountain- 
Lapps, he was pre-eminently lazy, and when we were not 
actually on the move no occupation pleased him so much as 
to sit quietly in a corner of the tent with his legs crossed, 


doing absolutely nothing, after he had once brushed himself 
clean of snow. Rarely indeed was he seen to undertake any 
work unless he were directly called upon to do so. He was 
very small, but surprisingly strong, and capable of any amount 


of endurance, though he always managed to save his strength 
and reserve his powers. When we started he knew very little 
Norwegian, but for this very reason his remarks were extremely 
comical and provided us with plenty of amusement He 
could not write, and had no acquaintance with so modern an 
apparatus as a watch. But he could read, and his favourite 
book was his Lappish New Testament, from which he was 
never parted. 

Both the Lapps had come, as they declared themselves, 
merely to gain money, and interest and adventure had no 
place in their minds. On the contrary, they were afraid of 
everything, and were easily scared, which is not to be wondered 
at when it is remembered how very little they understood of 
the whole business at the outset That they did not come back 
so ignorant as they went will be seen from some of Balto's 
observations, which I shall subsequently quote. 

Ravna and Balto were good-natured and amiable ; their 
fidelity was often actually touching, and I grew very fond of 
them both. 

Chapter II. 


It was my original intention to take, if possible, dogs or 
reindeer to drag our baggage. Plainly the advantage of such 
a course is considerable if one can only get the animals to the 
spot where the sledging will begin. Many men of experience 
have maintained that neither dogs nor reindeer are really any 
help for long sledging expeditions, because they can only drag 
their own food for a limited period This argument I do not 
understand, for, surely, if one cannot use the animals for the 
whole journey, one can take them as far as their provender 
lasts and then kill them. 

If one has a sufficient number of dogs or deer, and takes as 
much food for them as they can drag over and above the 
baggage of the expedition, then one can advance rapidly at 
the beginning without taxing one's own powers to any extent 
At the same time, too, there is this advantage, that one can 
always procure a supply of fresh meat by slaughtering the 
animals one by one. For this reason so large a quantity of 
other food will not be necessary. And so, when one is at last 
obliged to kill the remaining animals, the expedition ought to 
have advanced a considerable distance without any exhaustion 
of the strength of its members, while they the whole time will 
have been able to eat their fill of good fresh meat This is an 
important point gained, for they will thus be able to take up 
the work as fresh and strong as when they started It will no 
doubt be urged that these advantages will not be gained if 
dogs are taken. But I can answer, from my own experience 
that hunger is a sufficiently good cook to render dog's flesh 


anything but unpalatable. The Eskimo indeed reckon it a 
delicacy, and it is certain that any one who could not in the 
circumstances bring himself to eat it would not be a fit person 
to accompany such an expedition at all. 

If I could have obtained good dogs, I should therefore 
have taken them. Dogs are in some important points prefer- 
able to reindeer, because they are much easier to transport 
and much easier to feed, since they eat much the same as the 
men ; while reindeer must have their own provender, consist- 
ing mainly of reindeer-moss, which would be a bulky and 
heavy addition to the baggage. However, it was quite im- 
possible for me to obtain dogs which I could use in the time 
at my disposal, and I had to give up this idea. I then thought 
of reindeer, and not only wrote to Finmarken to make inquiries, 
but even bought moss for them in the neighbourhood of Roros. 
But then I found that there would be so many difficulties in 
connection with their transportation, and still more when we 
should have to land them in Greenland, that I abandoned 
the scheme altogether, and determined to be content with 
men alone. 

When every scrap of food on which a man is going to live 
will have to be dragged by himself, it is a matter of course 
that good care will be taken to make everything as light as 
possible, and to reduce food, implements, and clothing to a 
minimum of weight. When one is busy with an equipment of 
this kind one begins instinctively to estimate the value of a 
thing entirely with reference to its lightness, and even if the 
article in question be nothing but a pocket-knife, the same con- 
siderations hold good. But care must be taken, nevertheless, 
not to go too far in the direction of lightness, for all the imple- 
ments must be strong, since they will have to stand many a 
severe test. The clothing must be warm, since one has no idea 
what amount of cold it will have to meet ; the food must be 
nourishing and composed of different ingredients in suitable 
proportion, for the work will be hard — harder, probably, than 
anything to which the workers have hitherto been accustomed 


I One of the most important articles of equipment for a sledge 
pedition is, of course, the sledge. Considering that in the 
»urse of time so many Arctic expeditions have been sent 
it, and especially from England, one would suppose that the 
perience thus gained would have led to a high develop- 
ed in the form of the sledge. This is, however, not the 
case; and it is a matter for wonder, indeed, that polar ex* 
peditions so recent as the Second German Expedition of 
1869 and 1870 to the east coast of Greenland, the Austrian 
and Hungarian expedition of 1872-1874 to Franz Joseph 
Land, and even the great English expedition of 1875 an d 
1876 under Nares to Smith's Sound, set out with such large., 
clumsy, and unpractical sledges as they actually took. Cer- 
tainly the two latest expeditions, that of Greely in 1881-1884, 
and the rescue party led by Schley and Soley, were better 
equipped in this respect The general mistake has been that 
the sledges have been too heavily and clumsily built, and at 
the same time too large. And as in addition to this the 
runners were usually narrow, it is not difficult to understand 
that these sledges sank deep into the snow and were often 
almost immovable. Some expeditions have certainly made 
use of the Indian toboggan, which consists of a single board 
curved upwards in front. It is generally of birch or some 
similar wood, and is about eight feet long by eighteen inches 
or more broad. 

Even in the beginning of this century these toboggans were 
used for Arctic purposes, and Franklin had some on his first 
expedition. The English traveller, Dr. Rae, and after him 
Greely, used similar sledges with very low and narrow runners, 
one on each side. Of course, sledges of this type ride well 
and high in loose snow, and are so far good and practical; 
but when the surface is not very loose they give rise to too 
much friction, and are comparatively heavy to pull. 

Strangely enough, the organisers of a few expeditions have 
thought of placing their sledges on broad runners. Payer, 
however, in his book upon the Austrian and Hungarian expedi- 



tion, says that "broad runners make progress in deep snow 
much easier"; and he speaks of having them 2f inches in 
breadth. We Norwegians look upon this expedient as simply 
natural, as we are accustomed to our old-fashioned " skikjaelke," 
which is a low hand-sledge on broad runners, resembling our 
ordinary " ski." This was my model for the form of sledge 
which we actually adopted. Our sledge seemed to possess 
all desirable qualities : it was strong and light, rode high in 
loose snow, and moved easily on all kinds of surfaces. I 
based my design partly, too, upon that of the sledge which 
is described in the narrative of the Greely Expedition, and was 
used by the rescue party. 


All the woodwork of the sledges except the runners was of 
ash, and of as good and tough material as could be procured. 
And, as picked ash possesses such wonderful strength, we 
were able to make the upper parts of the sledge light and 
slender, without reducing their strength too much. The 
runners of two of the sledges were of elm, and those of the 
rest of a kind of maple (Acer platanoides), as these two woods 
glide remarkably well upon the snow. This, as it happened, 
was not a point of much importance, because I had the 
runners shod with thin steel plates, which I had intended to 
take off when we were once upon the loose snow, but which 
were nevertheless used the whole way except in the case of 
one sledge. 


The accompanying drawing will no doubt give a sufficiently 
good idea of the structure of our sledge, and not much further 
description will be necessary. No nails or pegs were used, 
but all the joints were lashed, and the sledges were thus more 
elastic under shocks and strains, which would have often caused 
nails to start. As a matter of fact, nothing whatever was 
broken the whole journey through. The sledges were about 
9 feet 6 inches long by 1 foot 8 inches broad, while the runners, 
measured from point to point along the steel plate, were 9 feet 
5 1 inches. The fact that they were turned up behind as well 
as in front gave the whole sledge more strength and elasticity, 
and there was this advantage besides, that, had the fore end 
of a sledge been broken, we could have turned it round and 
dragged it equally well the other way. The chair-back-like 
bow which is shown in the drawing was made of a slender bar 
of ash bent into position. It proved of great service for push- 
ing and steering purposes, especially when we were passing 
over difficult ground, and were obliged to take two men to 
each sledge. 

The weight of each sledge without the steel runners was 
about 25 lbs., and with them rather more than 28 lbs. Along 
the central line of these plates were attached narrow bars of 
steel with square edges, which were meant to serve as a kind 
of keel, and to make the sledges steer better on ice and to 
prevent them from swerving. This is an important point, for 
when one is passing along the crevasses of a glacier the 
swerving of a sledge may take it and its load, and even 
possibly one or more of the party, down into the depths of 
the ice. These bars were of excellent service while they lasted ; 
but, as they were exposed to continual shocks and hard wear 
among the rough ice near the east coast, they were soon torn 
off, and this was especially the case when we climbed into low 
temperatures, as the steel then became as brittle as glass. 
Future expeditions, therefore, which make use of these keels 
under their runners, ought to have them attached in a different 
way. The strongest method would be, of course, to have them 


made in one piece with the steel plates, but in this case there 
would be the disadvantage that they could not be taken off 
at will. 

As the drawing shows, there was a ridge running along the 
upper surface of each runner. The runners were made com- 
paratively thin for the sake of lightness, and these extra ridges 
gave them the necessary stiffness and elasticity. 

I had calculated that each sledge should be sufficient work 
for one man j but, as it is a good thing, when one is on diffi- 
cult ground, to send one of the party on ahead to explore, 
and as in loose snow the leader has the hardest work to do, I 
thought it most practical to take only five sledges, and always 
put two men to the first. 

The advantage of having a number of small sledges instead 
of one or two larger ones is this. On difficult ground, where 
the work is hard, it is very troublesome to have to manoeuvre 
large sledges with their heavy loads, and, in fact, we should 
have often found it a sheer impossibility to advance without 
unloading and making portages. We, on the contrary, could 
always put two or three of the party to each sledge, and thus 
push on without any such delay or inconvenience. Some- 
times, indeed, we had to carry them bodily, loads and all. 

When we proposed to sail our sledges, as we had several 
opportunities of doing, we placed two or three of them side by 
side, laid some "ski" or long staffs across them, and lashed 
the whole fast. For masts we had bamboo poles brought for 
the purpose, and for sails the floor of our tent and two tar- 
paulins. With another bamboo out in front, somewhat after 
the fashion of a carriage-pole, we could hold a good course 
and make fair progress. Any one who should equip himself 
specially for sailing would of course be able to manage things 
much more easily and successfully than we did. Sailing as a 
mode of progression was first tried on the " Inland ice " of 
Greenland by the American traveller Peary, and I think that 
future expeditions will do well to give more attention to the 
subject than has hitherto been done. I feel sure, too, that 



is method of getting over the ground may be adopted with 
advantage on the great snowfields of the Antarctic continent. 

The construction of our "ski," on which we so much de- 
pended, was of as much importance as that of our sledges ; 
but, as I intend to devote an entire chapter to the subject 
of " skilobning " generally, as well as to the part these instru- 
ments played in the expedition, I will say no more about them 
for the present. 

We took with us also Indian snowshoes, and their Norwegian 
counterpart, the so-called "truger." As most of my readers 


no doubt know, the Indian snowshoe consists of a kind of 
plaited network of moose- or other sinews stretched upon a 
frame of ash, or some equally tough wood, the whole construc- 
tion somewhat resembling that of an ordinary tennis-bat. Ours 
were some 42 inches in length by 15 J inches in breadth. 

The Norwegian " truger " are of much less elaborate struc- 
ture, and are made of simple osier-work, in the form shown by 
the accompanying illustration. Ours were small, being only 
15 J inches in length and 10J inches across. These "truger" 
are used not infrequently in different parts of Norway both in 


winter and spring, and on the snow which one finds in the 
latter season, when "ski" are scarcely so good for practical 
purposes, they may be very serviceable. In many districts, 
however, they are employed more for the aid of horses than 
men. These " hestetruger," as they are called, are of exactly 
the same pattern, though the manner of attachment of course 
diners in the two cases. Our little mountain ponies soon 
become accustomed to these aids to progress, and can there- 
fore be used when the amount or condition of the snow would 
render the employment of less accomplished animals quite 

It will be understood from what follows hereafter that all 
these forms of snowshoe are, for general use, much inferior to 
our " ski " on the feet of any one who is accustomed to the use 
of the latter. The reason why I took these other implements 
was because I thought they would be of more service when we 
had to drag our heavy sledges uphill. We used them for this 
purpose too — that is to say, I myself and two of the others 
used the Indian snowshoes ; our fourth man could never learn 
to manage these and took to the " truger," though they let him 
considerably deeper into the snow, while the Lapps expressed 
a lofty contempt for both kinds, and would have nothing what- 
ever to say to them. But it was not long before we all took to 
our " ski " for good, and found them preferable even for uphill 
work. These snowshoes have, however, two advantages as 
compared with " ski." When the latter are not covered with 
skin beneath they are more troublesome to use than snowshoes 
in mild weather, when the snow is sticky, and they are in any 
case considerably heavier to carry. 

To make sure of getting a serviceable boat, which should be 
light enough to drag over the rough sea-ice and yet not weak 
enough to succumb to the violent shocks and sudden strains 
which it was sure to be exposed to among the capricious floes, 
I had one specially built in Christiania. Its length was 19 
feet, its greatest breadth 6 feet, and its depth inside 2 feet. 
The boarding was double, each jacket being \ inch thick, the 


inner of pine, the outer of the best Norwegian oak, the two as 
carefully riveted together as possible, and the intervening space 
filled by a layer of thin canvas. The ribs were of bent ash 1 
inch broad and \ inch thick, and were placed at intervals of 
6 inches. Below the boat I had, besides the keel, runners of 
pine added to support it while it was being hauled over the 
ice. The boat proved a great success ; it was strong and 
elastic enough to resist the pressure of the floes ; but for the 
future I should be inclined to recommend single boarding in- 
stead of double, not only because in the former case the boat 
is easier to repair, but because the intervening space is liable 
to hold water and increase the weight. Again, I found that 
the added runners were really of very little use, while they 


were always liable to get nipped in the ice, and thus help to 
destroy the whole boat. 

The sleeping-bag is, of course, a most important article of 
equipment for all Arctic expeditions. In our case, the nature 
of the material of which the bag should be made needed our 
best consideration, as it was necessary that it should be at the 
same time light and sufficiently warm. On previous expedi- 
tions sometimes wool and sometimes skins have been used. 
Wool, of course, lets the perspiration through much more 
readily, and there is not so much condensation of moisture 
inside as in the case of skin ; but, on the other hand, wool has 
the disadvantage of being very heavy in comparison with the 
amount of warmth which it affords. For a time I thought of 


trying woollen bags, but I came to the conclusion that they 
would not be warm enough, and I now think that if we had 
taken them we should have scarcely reached the west coast of 

Greenland alive. 

After several experiments I determined to use reindeer-skm, 
as the best material which I could procure in the circumstances. 
Reindeer-skin is, in comparison with its weight, the warmest of 
all similar materials known to me, and the skin of the calf, in 
its winter-coat especially, combines the qualities of warmth and 
lightness in quite an unusual degree. This particular skin, 
however, I could not procure in time, and I was obliged to 


be satisfied with that of the doe, which is considerably heavier. 
Reindeer-skin has this disadvantage, that the fur does not stand 
much wear, and the skin, if exposed much to wet, soon loses 
its hair. From this point of view, dog-skin is a good deal better 
and stronger, but it gives nothing like the warmth of reindeer- 
skin. Wolf-skin is still better than dog-skin, and the only 
objection to it is its cost. However, our reindeer-skin lasted 
well through the whole journey and the winter on the west 
coast. It was specially prepared for us by Brandt, the well- 
known furrier at Bergen, and I had every reason to be satisfied 
with it. 

We took two sleeping-bags, calculated to hold three men 


each. This proved a thoroughly practical arrangement, since 
one bag for three men is, of course, much lighter than three, 
each for a single occupant, and much warmer, too, because 
the three mutually profit by each other's heat. In this respect 
one bag for all of us would have been still better, but I dared 
not risk the arrangement, for, had the sledge carrying the one 
bag gone down a crevasse, we should have been left entirely 
without protection against the low temperature of the nights ; 
while, as it was, if we had been unlucky enough to lose one of 
our bags, we should still have had the other left, into which 
we could have put four men under pressure, and so taken 
turn and turn about. 

Our bags nad a hood-shaped flap, which could be buckled 
over our heads when necessary. As long as the cold was not 
extreme we found it warm enough with this flap just laid over 
us ; but when the temperature got lower we were glad enough 
to have it buckled as tight as the straps would allow, for the 
aperture still left gave us quite enough ventilation. Very 
little, indeed, of the cold night-air of the interior of Greenland 
inside a sleeping-bag is more than sufficient. To protect the 
bags against outside moisture I had had some covers made of 
thin oilcloth, but we abandoned these soon after we started 
across the " Inland ice." 

As our bags were of reindeer-skin, I did not think it neces- 
sary to take india-rubber air mattresses, and, as they are very 
heavy, it was a great advantage to be able to do without 

In the way of clothes we had, except for a few reserve things, 
very little but what we were actually wearing when we left 
Norway. With the exception of two tunics of reindeer-skin 
which the Lapps wore, and a little coat lined with squirrel-skin 
which I took, but scarcely used, we had no furs, but wore 
woollen things throughout. Next our skins we had thin 
woollen shirts and drawers, then thick, rough jerseys, and 
then our outer garments, which consisted of a short coat, 
knickerbockers, and gaiters. These were all made of a kind of 


Norwegian homespun, which gave every satisfaction. Whether 
the work be hard or not, woollen clothes are far the best, as 
they give free outlet to the perspiration, whereas cotton, linen, 
or skins would check it. Above all things, we had to take 
care that we did not get overheated, because the succeeding 
chill was so likely to lead to freezing. As we got warm we 
had, therefore, to gradually abandon one garment after another, 
and we might often have been seen in fifty and sixty degrees 
of frost working in our jerseys, and yet perspiring as on an 
ordinary summer's day. 

In wind, snow, and rain we generally wore outside our 
other clothes a light suit of some thin, brown, canvas-like 
stuff. This was reputed completely waterproof, but it turned 
out to be nothing of the kind. In wind and snow, however, 
it did excellent service, and we used it often on the " Inland 
ice," as it protected us well against the fine driven snow, 
which, being of the nature of dust, forces itself into every 
pore of a woollen fabric, and then, melting, wets it through 
and through. 

To these canvas coats were attached hoods for the head, 
which were large enough to project well in front of the face. 
These protected us excellently from the wind, which in a low 
temperature can be exceedingly trying, not to say dangerous, 
to one's cheeks and nose. 

For our feet we took, besides ordinary boots, the peculiar 
form known in Norway as "lauparsko." The soles of these 
latter consist of a piece of pliant leather turned up along the 
sides and at the toe, and sewn to the upper leather on the 
upper surface of the foot. Inside these " lauparsko " we wore 
first a pair of thick, well-shrunk woollen stockings, and over them 
thick, rough goat's-hair socks, which, in addition to being warm, 
have the excellent quality of attracting moisture to themselves, 
and thus keeping the feet comparatively dry. The two Lapps 
had two pair of "finnesko" each, as well as one pair which 
Balto insisted on presenting to me. These " finnesko " when 
good are made of the skin of the legs of the reindeer buck, 



the pieces with the hair on being laid for twenty-four hours 
or so in a strong decoction of birch or similar bark, or some- 
times tanned in tar-water The skin of the hind legs is used 
for the soles and sides, and tnat of the fore legs for the upper 
leather, the hair being left outside throughout the boot. 

These "finnesko," then, which, as I have said, are worn 
with the hair outside, and which the Lapps fill with sedge or 
" sennegraes," wrapping their bare feet in the grass and using 
no stockings, are a pre-eminently warm covering for the feet, 
and very suitable for use on " ski " or snowshoes. The reason 
why I had not taken them for our general use was because 


I supposed we should be much exposed to the wet, which 
these shoes will not stand. In this respect one has to take 
very great care of " finnesko," or they will soon be spoilt. As 
a matter of fact, we were not much in the wet, and the pair of 
shoes which Balto gave me T wore nearly the whole way across 
the "Inland ice," as well as during the following winter, and 
brought them back to Norway with a good deal still left in 
them. Nor was this all, for they were not new when I got 
them, as Balto had already used them for a winter. I can 
therefore speak with confidence as to the suitability of 
" finnesko " for such expeditions, and can give them the 
warmest recommendation. They weigh scarcely anything at 




all, and one can take a couple of reserve pairs for each of the 
members of an expedition without feeling the addition. 

On our hands we used large woollen gloves, as well as 
in extreme cold an extra pair of dogskin gloves with the 
hair outside, neither having any separate divisions for the 
fingers. The Lapps used their ordinary gloves of reindeer- 
skin, which also have the furry side outwards. When these 
gloves are filled, like the " finnesko," with "sennegrses," they 
are exceedingly warm. For use while writing, sketching, and 


taking observations, we also had ordinary woollen gloves with 

On our heads we wore caps of the costermonger pattern, 
with flaps for the ears and the back of the neck, and, besides 
these, hoods of cloth as well as those attached to our canvas 
jackets. With all these three on we were thoroughly well 
protected against the severest cold, even when the wind was 

The spectacles, for prevention of snow-blindness, are another 
important article of equipment for a sledge-expedition. We 


used spectacles of dark, smoke-coloured glass, some without 
and some with baskets of plaited wire to protect the eye 
against light coming from below and the sides. I myself 
chiefly used a pair of the latter, which had been given me 
by Nordenskiold, and which I found excellent. We also 
used spectacles or eye-protectors of wood with a narrow 
horizontal slit for each eye, like those commonly used by 
the inhabitants of Arctic regions. These are very serviceable, 
especially for the reason that there is no glass to collect 
moisture and obstruct the sight. They have, however, the 
disadvantage that the field of vision is very considerably 
reduced, and it is particularly inconvenient not to be able 
to see the ground at one's feet when one is travelling on 
"ski." But I should fancy that this defect might to some 
extent be met by making a vertical slit as well as a hori- 

Our tent, which was kindly procured by Lieutenant Ryder 
of Copenhagen, was constructed so that it could be taken 
into five pieces : two sides, two ends, and the floor, all of 
them of waterproof canvas, My notion had been that we 
should be able to use all these sections as sails for our 
sledges, but the ends and sides were of such thin material 
that I was afraid the wind would tear them to shreds. 
The canvas was otherwise most successful against the rain, 
, wind, and driving snow. But as it is necessary to have a 
thin material for the purpose of saving weight, I would 
recommend future expeditions to have their tents sewn in 
one piece with the floor; the whole would then have the 
construction of a bag with but one opening, which would 
serve as the tent-door, as well as two small holes in the 
floor for the poles, which would be put through them and 
rammed down into the snow. The strong canvas floor of 
such a tent can nevertheless be used as a sail, as the thinner 
pieces can be left to hang down and be gathered together in 
front. By this means one would avoid the inconvenience of 
having the fine snow driven in through the laced joins. Our 


tent was in this respect so imperfect that we would some- 
times wake in the morning and find our sleeping-bags com- 
pletely buried in snow. The floor-surface of our tent was 
just large enough to hold the two sleeping-bags when they 
were placed alongside one another, but in opposite ways. 
The tent-poles were three in number, two being used as 
uprights, and the other joining them at the top; they were 
all of bamboo and proved quite sufficient for the purpose, 
and the two smaller ones were used as staffs while we 
were on the move. The guy-ropes were fastened with broad 
iron crampon-like hooks, which gave a good hold. On the 
whole, the tent stood very well in the snow, though in several 
storms we were very much afraid that it would go, and I 
would therefore recommend others to have good storm-guys. 
We had some, indeed, but one or two of them gave at the 
point of attachment and were not easy to repair. 

The exact weight of the tent, after I had made considerable 
alterations and reductions, I do not quite remember, though 
I know that with guys, pegs, and poles it did not altogether 
exceed eighteen pounds. 

The value of a good cooking apparatus to the members of 
a sledge-expedition can scarcely be overrated, for often by 
its help every drop of drinking-water over and above that 
which can be melted by the heat of the body must be 
obtained. The most important qualification is that it shall 
make the most of the fuel, or, in other words, that it shall 
render combustion as complete as possible, and let none of 
the heat escape till it has done its work. In this way the 
weight of one of the most important articles of equipment 
is reduced to a minimum. 

For/ue/ there is, no doubt, nothing at all comparable with 
alcohol, which should be as pure as possible. In addition to 
other advantages, such as its cleanliness, it has the great merit 
of yielding more heat than anything else in comparison to its 
weight. It has certainly two defects, for. in the first place, as a i 
liquid it is easily spilt and wasted, though this may be avoided 



by using the very best of barrels and taps, and by only 
giving it into careful hands ; and, in the second place, it is 
drinkable, and at critical times may prove a strong tempta- 
tion to the best of men. But this, again, may be prevented 
by adding enough wood-naphtha to make it unpleasant, as we 
in fact did. 

The idea of our cooker was originally taken from that used 
by the Greely expediiion, and after a number of experiments 
made with the assistance of a friend, I determined finally to 
adopt the apparatus which is represented by the accompanying 
drawing. This drawing will, no doubt, make the construction 
quite intelligible. At the bottom is the heating-chamber, con- 
taining a spirit-lamp with several wicks. The air enters by a 
number of holes at the bottom in sufficient quantity to insure 
complete combustion, and, as it must itself pass through or 
near the flames, it is either consumed or heated to such an 
extent that no cold air can enter the apparatus. Should it be 
necessary, owing to the overheating of 
the lamp, to let some cold air in this 
can be done by holes in the sides of 
the hot chamber. This, I am sorry to 
say, we allowed to happen too often. 
The boiler, which is placed upon the 
hot chamber, was of copper and tin- 
lined. It was a tall cylindrical vessel 
with a copper flue running through the 
centre, by means of which the heated 
air is passed from the lower chamber 
up to the bottom of a broader and 
shallower copper vessel, which was 
placed over the boiler and used to 
our cooker. me ^ snow in. Thus the air, having 

delivered a great part of its warmth 
in the boiler flue and on to the bottom of the snow-melter, 
eventually escapes through holes in the sides just below the 


The boiler and the melter were both cased in thick felt, and 
the latter was also provided with a lid. 

With snow at about - 20 Fahr., and with the air at some- 
thing like the same temperature, it would take an hour or 
more before I had the boiler full of boiling chocolate, and the 
upper vessel full of water at a temperature a little above the 
melting-point of ice. The quantities would be a little more 
than a gallon of chocolate and rather less water, while to 
obtain this result I had to use about ten or eleven ounces of 
spirit; but careful management was necessary. Experiments 
made after our return home showed me that our cooker made 
use of only 52 per cent, of the alcohol consumed. This is, of 
course, a somewhat extravagant use of fuel, though previous 
expeditions do not seem to have been much more successful 
Yet there is no doubt that further improvements in this direc- 
tion will lead to a considerable reduction in the consumption 
of spirit. 

By way of making the heat of the body do some of the 
work of melting snow, each of us had a tin flask of a flat and 
slightly concave form, which could be carried at the breast 
without inconvenience. 

The provisions of a sledge-expedition must necessarily con- 
sist to a large extent of dried articles of food, as they contain 
most nourishment in proportion to their weight Preserved 
things in tins are no doubt more wholesome and easily 
digestible, but they are much too heavy and can be made 
little use of. 

I had previously reckoned that we should need per day 
rather more than half a pound of dried meat, about the same 
amount of fatty food, and a little more of dried bread or 
biscuit, and that with the addition of various things like 
chocolate, sugar, peptonised meat, pea-soup, and so on, the 
whole daily ration would reach two pounds and a quarter, or a 
little more. 

This amount would have proved sufficient if we had only 
had the proper quantities of each kind of food, but, owing to 


a misunderstanding, there was a want of fatty stuffs, which 
caused us a good deal of inconvenience. Herr Beauvais of 
Copenhagen, who was to provide our pemmican, informed 
me that he was accustomed to prepare it in the usual way. 
I had no opportunity of seeing him personally, but supposing 
that his pemmican, like the ordinary preparation, would con- 
sist of dried meat and fat in equal quantities, or would contain 
at least a third part of the latter, I ordered the necessary 
amount of him. As I was passing through Copenhagen just 
before we started I learned that his pemmican was carefully 
purified of all fat. This was an unpleasant surprise ; but, as 
we had a certain quantity of butter, as well as some liver 
" pate* " of a very fatty nature, I thought we should get on well 
enough. However, it proved a very short supply, and in the 
end we suffered from a craving for fat which can scarcely be 
realised by any one who has not experienced it. In other 
respects Beauvais' dried meat was excellent. 

On the advice of Captain Hovgaard, I tried the same 
manufacturer's " leverpostei," which I may say is not the 
Strasburg luxury, but a humbler preparation of calf-liver. 
However, I found it quite unsuited to our needs : in the 
first place, because it is much too heavy in comparison to 
its nutritive value; and, secondly, because it contains water, 
which freezes and makes it unconscionably hard. On ours we 
broke several knives, and we had eventually to take to the axe ; 
but then it was necessary to go round afterwards to gather up 
the fragments, which flew far and wide over the snow. 

We found Rousseau's meat-powder chocolate especially use- 
ful, as it is both nourishing and palatable. I took 45 lbs. of 
it, which I ordered of the manufacturer in Paris. The analysis 
of this chocolate shows that it contains as much as 20 per 
cent, of meat powder. It certainly had a particularly invigorat- 
ing effect upon us, and if a sufficient amount of fat were taken 
with it, and it were given in small quantities, it would prove a 
most excellent food for men while on the move. As compared 
with pemmican we found it very easy of digestion. This is a 

46 Across Greenland 

quality which has both advantages and disadvantages. If any 
substance is too easily digested, it is taken into the body at 
once, the stomach becomes empty again, and a feeling of 
hunger ensues. On the other hand, many people will find 
a substance like pemmican too hard to digest, and in such 
cases a large amount of nutriment will be passed through 
without doing its proper work. But easily digestible sub- 
stances have, on the whole, a greater nutritive value in pro- 
portion to their weight than such as are less readily assimilable, 
and therefore it must be considered that the possession of the 
former quality in an article of food is a strong recommendation 
for its use by Arctic travellers. 

As bread we used partly the Swedish biscuit known as 
"knakkebrod," which is very light and has not that dryness of 
taste which causes a feeling of thirst, and partly meat biscuits. 
These had to be specially ordered in England, and contained 
a certain percentage of meat powder as well as flour. They 
proved palatable as well as nourishing. 

For warm drink, which, though no necessity, is undoubtedly 
a great comfort, we generally used chocolate in the morning 
and pea- soup in the evening. 

We also took tea and coffee, the latter in the form of ex- 
tract, of which we had rather more than a quart. After 
having tried this two or three times in the afternoon and 
evening, and found that, though it made us feel better and 
cheered us up for the time, we got little or no sleep in the 
night afterwards, I confined its use to a morning every now 
and then. But, as it did not seem to suit us even at this time 
of day, it was finally tabooed altogether, till we had almost 
reached the west coast, much to the despair of the Lapps. 
Tea, as far as I can judge, does considerably less harm, and 
is besides a very refreshing drink. We often used weak tea 
with condensed milk or a little sugar, especially in the morn- 
ing, after all our chocolate was gone. 

My experience, however, leads me to take a decided stand 
against the use of stimulants and narcotics of all kinds, from 


tea and coffee on the one hand, to tobacco and alcoholic 
drinks on the other. It must be a sound principle at all 
times that one should live in as natural and simple a way 
as possible, and especially must this be the case when the 
life is a life of severe exertion in an extremely cold climate. 
The idea that one gains by stimulating body and mind by 
artificial means betrays in my opinion not only ignorance of 
the simplest physiological laws, but also a want of experience, 
or perhaps a want of capacity to learn from experience by 
observation. It seems indeed quite simple and obvious that 
one can get nothing in this life without paying for it in one 
way or another, and that artificial stimulants, even if they had 
not the directly injurious effect which they undoubtedly have, 
can produce nothing but a temporary excitement followed by 
a corresponding reaction. Stimulants of this kind, with the 
exception of chocolate, which is mild in its effect and at the 
same time nourishing, bring practically no nutritive substance 
into the body, and the energy which one obtains in antici- 
pation by their use at one moment must be paid for by a 
corresponding exhaustion at the next. It may, no doubt, be 
advanced that there are occasions when a momentary supply 
of energy is necessary, but to this I would answer that I cannot 
imagine such a state of things arising in the course of a protracted 
sledge-expedition, when regular and steady work is required. 

It is often supposed that, even though spirits are not in- 
tended for daily use, they ought to be taken upon an expedi- 
tion for medicinal purposes. I would readily acknowledge 
this if any one could show me a single case in which such a 
remedy is necessary j but till this is done I shall maintain that 
this pretext is not sufficient, and that the best course is to 
banish alcoholic drinks from the list of necessaries for an 
Arctic expedition. 

Though tobacco is less destructive than alcohol, still, whether 
it is smoked or chewed, it has an extremely harmful effect 
upon men who are engaged in severe physical exertion, and 
Dot least so when the supply of food is not abundant. Tobacco 


has not only an injurious influence upon the digestion, but it 
lessens the strength of the body, and reduces nervous power, 
capacity for endurance, and tenacity of purpose. With regard 
to the complete prohibition of tobacco in Arctic work, there is 
one circumstance to be borne in mind which has not to be 
considered in connection with spirits, as habitual hard drinkers 
are scarcely likely to take part in these expeditions : the circum- 
stance that most men are so accustomed to its use that they 
will keenly feel the want of it. For this reason it would pro- 
bably be advisable not to make the change too sudden, but to 
limit the use by degrees, and at the same time, perhaps, not 
to take excessive smokers and chewers of tobacco upon such 
expeditions at all. 

Among us, four were smokers, Ravna and I being the excep- 
tions, but our supply of tobacco was but small. During the 
crossing only one pipe was allowed on Sundays and other 
specially solemn occasions. 

Our other provisions, over and above those which I have 
already mentioned, consisted of butter, some "raekling," or 
dried strips of halibut, which is of a very fat nature, Gruyere 
cheese, the Norwegian " mysost " or whey-cheese, two boxes of 
oatmeal biscuits, some " tyttebaer " or red whortleberry jam, 
some dried " karvekaal " or caraway shoots, some peptonised 
meat, eight pounds of sugar, a few tins of condensed milk, and 
a few other things, all in small quantities. 

We were also presented by the Stavanger Preserving Com- 
pany with some tins of provisions, which we much enjoyed 
while we were drifting in the ice, and afterwards while we were 
working our way in the boats up the coast again. This extra 
supply we had to some extent to thank for the fact that our 
provisions, which were calculated to last for two months, 
actually held out for two months and a half, that is to say, 
from the time we left the Jason till Sverdrup and I reached 
Godthaab. Indeed, we really had a good deal left at the end, 
especially of dried meat, and some of us used these remnants 
long after we had reached our winter-quarters. Of the dried 


meat which had passed the " Inland ice " there was even some 
left at Christmas. 

In connection with the provision supply I may also mention 
our two double-barrelled guns with their ammunition. Each 
of them had a barrel for ball of about -300 calibre, and a shot 
barrel of 20-bore. 

The small calibre of these barrels allowed of a considerable 
reduction in the weight of the ammunition, and I found the 
guns perfectly satisfactory, whether for seal or sea-birds. They 
would have been quite sufficient for bear also in the hands of 
a good shot, for here, as at other times, the most important 
factor is the man behind the sights. Our guns were intended 
as well to procure us food on the east coast, especially if it 
had been necessary to pass the winter there — and with this in 
view I had thought of leaving a cache of ammunition with one 
gun on the eastern side — as to give us a supply of fresh meat 
on the west coast if we did not find people at once. For, 
given the sea-coast, a gun, and something to put in it, there 
need never be a lack of food. 

The scientific instruments of the expedition consisted first of 
a theodolite, an excellent instrument by a Christiania maker. 
It was certainly heavy, about 7 lbs. in itself, and had a stand 
which weighed little less ; but, on the other hand, it proved 
exceedingly trustworthy for both terrestrial and astronomical 
observations. In future I should prefer to have the theodolite, 
as well as other instruments, made of aluminium, which would 
save much in weight. 

The sextant was a nice little pocket instrument by Perken, 
Son, & Rayment, of London, which did excellent service. 
For the artificial horizon we used mercury, which never froze 
at mid-day. The great weight of mercury leads me to think 
that oil would be more serviceable for this purpose. 

The rest included an azimuth dial with three compasses, 
for the testing of magnetic deviation as well as for trigono- 
metrical observations ; five pocket compasses ; three aneroid 
barometers from the above-mentioned English makers; and 


a hypsometer, or boiling-point barometer, with the necessary 

The principle of this last barometer depends upon the 
accurate determination of the boiling-point of pure water, 
which, as is well known, varies with the atmospheric pres- 
sure, and therefore, of course, with the altitude. I found this 
a particularly convenient form of barometer, and its incon- 
siderable weight makes it especially suitable for an expedition 
like ours, whereas a mercurial instrument would be much too 
heavy and difficult to transport. 

Our thermometers consisted of six special instruments 
intended to be tied to strings and whirled rapidly round in 
the air. The bulb is thus brought into contact with so many 
particles of air that the effect of the sun's rays upon it may 
be almost disregarded, and the temperature of the air can 
thus easily be taken in the full sunshine. 

If the bulb of one of these sling-thermometers be covered 
with a piece of some thin stuff like gauze and then wetted, 
one can readily find the degree of moisture present in the 
air by comparison with a dry-bulb instrument 

We had, besides the above, a minimum and an ordinary 
alcohol thermometer, both presented us by a Christiania 

Our time-keepers were four ordinary watches of the half- 
chronometer movement. . The usual chronometer watches are 
scarcely suitable for such work, as in certain positions they 
are liable to stop. We were in fact exceedingly unlucky with 
our watches, as one of them, owing to a fall, stopped entirely ; 
another, for the same reason apparently, became somewhat 
inaccurate ; and a third, an old watch of my own, came to a 
stand-still, probably for want of cleaning. The fourth, how- 
ever, stood the whole journey well, and proved an excellent 

I consider that the expedition was particularly well equipped 
in the way of instruments, and this was to a large extent due 
to Professor H. Mohn, the Director of the Meteorological 


Istitute at Christiania, who gave the most unremitting atten- 
n to the question of our scientific outfit. 
At the request of Professor Pettersson, of Stockholm, I 
took on his behalf the necessary apparatus for obtaining 
samples of air during our journey. This consisted chiefly 
of a number of moderate-sized glass cylinders carefully ex- 
hausted of air and hermetically sealed. On being opened 
they were of course at once filled, and the vessels were so 
arranged that they could be easily sealed again by the help 
of a spirit lamp and a blow-pipe. The air obtained could thus 
be transported any distance in its original condition. 

A necessary addition to the outfit of a modern exploring 
party is, of course, a photographic apparatus. I took a little 
camera to use with the theodolite stand, two roll-holders for 
Eastman's American stripping films, and ten rolls of twenty- 
four exposures each. The camera alone weighed two and a 
quarter pounds. I made about 150 exposures, and on the 
whole was well satisfied with the apparatus and the results. 
Glass plates would, of course, have been much too heavy and 
inconvenient. I also had two red lamps, one of glass and 
the other of paper, for changing the rolls, and a few stearine 
candles to use in them. 

Our remaining instruments, tools, and other things included 
two pairs of aluminium glasses and a couple of pedometers ; 
an axe, with various smaller implements, such as knives, files, 
awls, pincers, screwdriver, small screws for the steel plates 
under the sledge-runners, a sailmaker's palm, sewing materials, 
and so on ; scales for weighing out the rations ; Tyrolese 
crampons or "steigeisen," ice-nails for our boots, Manilla-rope 
for the crevasses, as well as other cords for the sledges and 
various purposes; ice-axes with bamboo-shafts, which were 
also used as " ski "-staffs ; a spade for the snow, to screw on to 
one of these shafts; several bamboos for masts and steering 
purposes while our sledges and boats were under sail, and block- 
tackle for hoisting the boats and sledges when necessary; 
drawing materials, sketch- and note-books j a table of loga 


rithms; nautical almanacs for 1888 and 1889; burning-glass, 
flint and steel, and matches, which latter were partly packed 
in air-tight tin boxes, and kept here and there among the 
baggage in order that, if we lost some, we should still have 
enough left; three cans of methylated spirit holding rather 
more than two gallons apiece; tarpaulins, some of water- 
proof canvas, and others of oil-cloth, to cover the sledges; 
six bags intended for making portages over difficult ground, 
but really used as portmanteaus for each member's private 
effects; long boat-hooks of bamboo, as well as short ones, 
which could also be used as paddles, and proved exceedingly 
serviceable in narrow water-ways ; oars, reserve swivel-rowlocks, 
and a hand-pump and hose to bale the boats with when they 
were loaded. Finally, we had a little medicine-chest contain- 
ing splints and bandages for broken limbs, chloroform, cocaine 
in solution for the alleviation of pain from snow-blindness, 
toothache drops, pills, vaseline, and a few other things, all of 
course reduced to a minimum of weight. 

Finally, I may say that four of our sledges when fully loaded 
averaged some 200 pounds, while the fifth amounted to nearly 
double as much. 

In April we made a little experimental trip up into the 
woods near Christiania, all the members of the party except 
one being present. Balto's description of the excursion is 
worth reproducing : — 

" One afternoon we went out of the town up into the woods 
to spend the night there, and try the reindeer-skin sleeping 
bags. In the evening, when we had reached the wood where 
we were to pass the night, we put up our tent. Then it was 
said that we were going to make coffee in a machine to be 
heated by spirit. So the pot of this machine was filled with 
snow, and we lighted the lamp beneath. It went on burning 
for several hours, but never managed to produce a boil. So 
we had to try and drink the lukewarm water with coffee extract 
added to it. It did not taste of anything whatever, for it 


was almost cold. At night when it was time to sleep, the four 
Norwegians crawled into the bags, and Nansen offered us 
places there too, but we were afraid it would be too hot. We 
did not want bags to sleep in, we thought, and so we lay 
down outside. In the morning I woke about six and saw our 
men sleeping like bears in their sacks. So I lay down again 
and slept till nine, when I woke the others, for I knew that a 
horse had been ordered to take us back at ten." 

This description shows plainly enough that certain parts of 
our outfit, as our cooking-machine, for instance, were not so 
satisfactory as they might have been, but there was plenty of 
time left for improvements. We gave our best attention to 
the matter, and when we actually started at the beginning of 
May, after having procured several important things at the 
eleventh hour, we had nearly everything in the desired state of 
efficiency, and plenty of time during our voyage to finish all 
that was not yet ready. 

Chapter III. 


The expedition I am about to describe owed its origin entirely 
to the Norwegian sport of "skilobning." 1 I have myself been 
accustomed to the use of "ski" since I was four years old, 
every one of my companions was an experienced " skilober," 
and all our prospects of success were based upon the supe- 
riority of "ski" in comparison with all other means of loco- 
motion when large tracts of snow have to be traversed. I 
therefore think that I cannot do better than set apart a chapter 
for the description of " ski " and the manner of their use, since 
so little is known about the sport outside the few -countries 
where it is practised as such, and since a certain amount of 
familiarity with it and its technical terms will be necessary to 
the full comprehension of some part of the narrative which 

It is, of course, not unnatural that those who have never 
seen the performance should be surprised to learn that a man 
can by the help of two pieces of wood, shaped for the purpose, 
progress as rapidly over the surface of the snow as he really 

" Ski," then, are long narrow strips of wood, those used in 
Norway being from three to four inches in breadth, eight feet 
more or less in length, one inch in thickness at the centre 
under the foot, and bevelling off to about a quarter of an inch 
at either end. In front they are curved upwards and pointed, 
and they are sometimes a little turned up at the back end too. 
The sides are more or less parallel, though the best forms have 

1 See note to page 3. 

(From a photograph.) 


their greatest width in front, just where the upward curve begins, 
but otherwise they are quite straight and flat, and the under 
surface is made as smooth as possible. The attachment con- 
sists of a loop for the toe, made of leather or some other sub- 
stance, and fixed at about the centre of the " ski," and a band 
which passes from this round behind the heel of the shoe. 
The principle of this fastening is to make the " ski " and foot 
as rigid as possible for steering purposes, while the heel is 
allowed to rise freely from the " ski " at all times. 

On flat ground the " ski " are driven forward by a peculiar 
stride, which in its elementary form is not difficult of acquire 
ment, though it is capable of immense development. They 
are not lifted, and the tendency which the beginner feels to 
tramp away with them as if he were on mud-boards in the 
middle of a marsh must be strenuously resisted. Lifting causes 
the snow to stick to them, so they must be pushed forwards 
over its surface by alternate strokes from the hips and thighs, 
the way being maintained between the strokes by a proper 
management of the body. The " ski " are kept strictly parallel 
meanwhile, and as close together as possible, there being no 
resemblance whatever, as is sometimes supposed, to the motion 
employed in skating. In the hand most "skilobers" carry 
a short staff, which is used partly to correct deficiencies of 
balance, but by the more skilful chiefly to increase the length 
of the stride by propulsion. In many country districts this 
pole often reaches a preposterous length, and in some parts, 
too, a couple of short staffs are used, one in each hand, by the 
help of which, on comparatively flat ground, great speed can 
be obtained. When the snow is in thoroughly good condition 
the rate of progress is quite surprising, considering the small 
amount of effort expended, and as much as eight or nine miles 
can be done within the hour, while a speed of seven miles an 
hour can be maintained for a very considerable length of time. 

Uphill the pace is, of course, very much slower, though here 
also the practised "skilober" has great advantages over all others. 
Here the " ski " must be lifted slightly, as the snow sticking to 



them counteracts the tendency to slip backwards. If the gradient 
be steep, various devices may be employed, the most effectual 
and characteristic being that shown in the annexed illustration. 

M; ft I 

V/l> '/' 

(By E. Nielsen, after a photograph. ) 

The " ski " are turned outwards at as wide an angle as the steep- 
ness of the slope renders advisable, and are advanced alternately 
one in front of the other, the track left in the snow exactly 
resembling the feather-stitch of needlewomen. This method 


requires some practice, and cannot be employed if the " ski I j 
are above a certain length, as the heels will then necessarily 
overlap. By its means a slope of any gradient on which the-j 
snow will lie may be ascended quickly and easily, but the i 
position is somewhat too strained to be maintained for long, , 
Another and easier, though much slower way, is to mount the j 
hill sideways, bringing the " ski " almost, if not quite, to a right i 
angle with the slope, and working up step by step. Or again, i 
especially on the open mountain, the "skilober" will work his] 
way upwards by tacking from side to side and following a 
zigzag course, taking instinctively the most advantageous line j 
of ascent. In any case, if he be up to his work he will cover j 
the ground quickly and without undue exertion, and, as a] 
matter of fact, as Olaus Magnus wrote in 1555, "there is no^ 
mountain so high but that by cunning devices he is able to j 
attain unto the summit thereof." 

Downhill, the " ski " slide readily and are left to themselves, j 
the one thing necessary being to maintain the balance andi 
steer clear of trees, rocks, and precipices. The steeper the^ 
slope the greater the speed, and if the snow be good the i 
friction is so slight that the pace often approaches within a} 
measurable distance of that of a falling body. The author 
of " Kongespeilet," an old Norse treatise, was speaking notj 
altogether at random when he described the "skilober" as out-J 
stripping the birds in flight, and declared that nothing which: 
runs upon the earth can escape his pursuit. 

The snow is not by any means always in a good condition 1 
for " skilobning," and its moods are very variable and capri- 
cious. Wet snow due to a mild temperature is particularly! 
unfavourable, as it sticks fast to the under surface of the "ski,": 
especially if they are not covered with skin, and will often4 
accumulate into a mass ten inches or a foot thick, the weight! 
of which makes progress terribly laborious or well-nigh im- 
possible. This is a fate which has befallen many an unlucky 
" skilober " when he has been out on the open mountain, or 1 
more especially in the deep loose snow of the forest, and a , 

11 SKI" AND "SK1L0BNING.'- S3 

sudden rise of temperature has surprised him when many 
miles distant from a habitation. 

Nor do the " ski " move readily on newly fallen snow the 
temperature of which is not sufficiently low, though even when 
it falls in extreme cold it has a tendency to stick. The same 
is the case with snow raised from the ground and driven by 
the wind. The particles are then as fine as dust, and as they 
pack into drifts they form a peculiar cloth-like surface on which 
ordinary wooden " ski " will scarcely move at all. This is 
worst of all when the snow has originally fallen at a low 
temperature, as the particles are then extremely fine in the 
first instance, before the wind has had any effect on them. 
This was the kind of snow we had to deal with during nearly 
the whole of our crossing of the "Inland ice," and was the 
reason why our progress was so very slow and wearisome. 

But besides being slippery the surface must also be tolerably 
firm, or the "ski" will sink too deep. Snow that has fallen 
during a thaw, has had time to sink and pack well together, 
and has then been exposed to frost, is in excellent condition 
for the purposes of the "skilober." Things are even more 
< favourable when a frost succeeding a rapid thaw has turned 
the surface into a hard icy crust, and if this is subsequently 
covered with an inch or so of newly-fallen snow, or preferably 
hoar-frost, the going reaches the pure ideal, and the pace which 
\ may then be obtained without effort is simply astonishing. If 
this crust lie, as it often does, bare of loose snow or rime, the 
"ski" slide fast enough, but have no proper hold on the 
surface, and the pace on rough and difficult ground may very 
soon become uncontrollable and dangerous. 

Of all the sports of Norway, "skilobning" is the most national 
and characteristic, and I cannot think that I go too far when I 
claim for it, as practised in our country, a position in the very 
first rank of the sports of the world. I know no form of sport 
i which so evenly develops the muscles, which renders the body 
so strong and elastic, which teaches so well the qualities of 
dexterity and resource, which in an equal degree calls for 

(From a drawing by A. Block.) 




nsion and resolution, and which gives the same vigour 
and exhilaration to mind and body alike. Where can one 
find a healthier and purer delight than when on a brilliant 
winter day one binds one's " ski " to one's feet and takes one's 
way out into the forest ? Can there be anything more beauti- 
ful than the northern winter landscape, when the snow lies 
foot-deep, spread as a soft white mantle over field and wood 
and hill ? Where will one find more freedom and excitement 
than when one glides swiftly down the hillside through the 
trees, one's cheek brushed by the sharp cold air and frosted 
pine branches, and one's eye, brain, and muscles alert and 
prepared to meet every unknown obstacle and danger which 
the next instant may throw in one's path ? Civilisation is, as 
it were, washed clean from the mind and left far behind with 
the city atmosphere and city life; one's whole being is, so 
to say, wrapped in one's " ski " and the surrounding nature. 
There is something in the whole which develops soul and not 
body alone, and the sport is perhaps of far greater national 
importance than is generally supposed. 

Nor can there be many lands so well fitted as ours for the 
practice of " skilobning," and its full development as a sport. 
The chief requisites are hills and snow, and of these we have 
indeed an abundance. From our childhood onwards we are 
accustomed to use our "ski," and in many a mountain valley, 
boys, and girls too for that matter, are by their very surround- 
ings forced to take to their " ski " almost as soon as they can 
walk. The whole long winter through, from early autumn to 
late spring, the snow lies soft and deep outside the cottage 
door. In such valleys, and this was especially the case in 
former times, there are few roads or ways of any kind, and 
all, men and women alike, whom business or pleasure takes 
abroad, must travel on their "ski." Children no more than 
three or four years old may often be seen striving with the 
first difficulties, and from this age onwards the peasant boys 
in many parts keep themselves in constant practice. Their 
homes lie, as a rule, on the steep slope of the valley-side, 



and hills of all grades are ready to hand. To school, which 
is generally held in the winter season, they must go on their 
"ski," and on their "ski "they all spend the few minutes of 
rest between the hours of work, their teacher often joining 
them and leading the string. Then, too, on Sunday afternoons 
comes the weekly festival, when all the youths of the parish, 




(By A. Block, after a photograph.) 

boys and young men alike, meet on the hillside to outdo one 
another in fair rivalry, and enjoy their sport to the full as long 
as the brief daylight lasts. At such times the girls are present 
as spectators, notwithstanding that they too know well how to 
use their "ski," and that many a good feat has been done ere 
now by Norwegian lasses and gone unrecorded. 

Such is the winter life of the young in many of our mountain 


valleys. The boy has scarcely reached the age of bieeches 
before he knows the points of a pair of " ski " : what a good 
bit of wood should look like, and how to twist a withy to make 
himself the fastenings. Thus he learns early to stand on his 
own legs and his own " ski," to rely upon himself in difficulty, 
and grows up to be a man like his father before him. May 
our sport long be held in honour, may its interests be cared 
for and advanced as long as there remain men and women in 
the Norwegian valleys ! 

But it is especially for the winter pursuit of game that •' ski " 
are an absolute necessity in Norway as well as the North of 
Europe generally and Siberia, and it is in this way that most 
of the clever "skilobers" of country districts have been 

In earlier times it was a common practice in Scandinavia to 
hunt the larger animals, such as the elk and reindeer, during 
the winter upon "ski." When the snow was deep the skilful 
" skilober " had no great difficulty in pursuing and killing 
these animals, as their movements, as compared with his, were 
naturally much hampered. It was an exciting sport, however, 

I and often required considerable strength and endurance on 
the part of the hunter, as well as a thorough familiarity with 
the use of " ski." Now, however, these animals are protected 
during the winter, and all pursuit of them is illegal, though 

1 doubtless there is still a good deal of poaching done in this 
way, especially in the case of elk, in the remoter forests of 
Sweden and Norway. 

Nowadays the Norwegian peasant has most use for his 
" ski " in the less exciting pursuit of the ptarmigan and willow- 
grouse, large numbers of which are shot and snared upon the 

1 mountains. The snaring in some districts is especially re- 
munerative, and is often the only channel through which the 
poor cottagers can attain to the rare luxury of a little ready 
money. The hare is also sometimes thus hunted and shot, 
the bear turned out of his lair or intercepted before he has 
finally taken to his winter quarters, and an occasional lynx 



or glutton pursued. It is, of course, on "ski" too that the 
nomad Lapps follow and destroy their inveterate enemy, the 

The Siberian tribes again do all their winter hunting upon 
"ski," and as with them the winter is the longest season of 
the year, the great importance, if not absolute necessity, of 
" ski " to the Arctic and sub-Arctic peoples will readily be seen. 

Of late years the sport of " skilobning " has been practised 
and developed in Norway to quite an astonishing extent. This 
has been no doubt largely due to the public competitions which 

{JFrom a drawing by E. Nielsen.) 

are now annually held, and above all to the great meeting of 
the year at Christiania. Here at their first institution the 
Telemarken peasants appeared and completely eclipsed the 
athletes of the capital by their masterly skill. In time, how- 
ever, their arts were learned by the townsfolk, and it has often 
happened in recent years that the tables have been completely 
turned, at least in certain parts of the competition. The pro- 
gress of the sport has on the whole been quite remarkable, 
and any one who has followed its development step by step, 
who can remember how empty and desolate the hillsides and 
forest paths round Christiania were some fifteen or even ten 
years ago, and who sees how the fields and woods are now 
thronged on a fine winter Sunday with " skilobers " of all ages, 




es, and conditions, cannot but regard the result of this 
healthy movement with gratification and pride. 

In old days the " skistav " or pole of which I have spoken 
ve was generally considered quite as necessary a piece of 
apparatus as the "ski" themselves. In those days, when the 
pace downhill became too hot to be comfortable, the "skildber" 
rode his pole like a witch's broomstick ; to it he had recourse 
in all difficulties ; it was his guide, comforter, and friend in all 
moments of danger and perplexity. It was a good friend, no 
doubt, in need, and is so still even to the orthodox ; but this 
unlimited and servile use of an extraneous support and assist- 
ance invariably brings the body of the " skilober " into a forced 
and helpless position, which entirely deprives him of all control 
over his " ski," and of all confidence in the strength and power 
of his own legs. But the Telemarken peasant had meantime 
worked in quite a different direction, and had attained to quite 
a different form. When he met us in rivalry at Christiania he 
soon showed us that when one has really learned to control 
one's " ski " without having continual recourse to one's staff, 
one obtains a mastery over them which is quite impossible in 
the other case, and can with ease and speed clear obstacles 
and difficulties before considered insurmountable. The advan- 
tages of the new method were at once apparent, and the grace, 
freedom, and boldness of the " Telemarking's " carriage and 
movements generally as compared with the stiff and clumsy 
manoeuvres of the "skilober" of the old school were very 

This new departure led at once to a rapid development of 
the great art of jumping upon " ski." This, the great feature 
of " skilobning " from a purely sporting point of view, is really 
of no direct practical importance, as even the most reckless 
" skilober " is not in the habit of flying over precipices of un- 
known depth, but is rather careful to avoid such obstacles 
when he is using his "ski" in earnest and on unfamiliar 
ground. Jumping is a sport pure and simple, but at the same 
time a sport of great use and benefit, as there is no other 



branch of " skilobning " which tends in the same degree to 
develop power of balance, control of the "ski," or courage and 
confident bearing. 

(From a drawing by A. Block.) 

The jumping is done on a steep hillside, which has a 
gradient of perhaps from 30 to 40 . In the middle of the 
hill a bank of snow is built, or there may be some natural 



;ak in the ground or projecting rock which serves the same 

irpose. The jumper slides down from the top of the hill on 

this bank, which, owing to the great pace which he has 

heady attained, throws him far out into the air, whereupon 

(By E. Nielsen, front an instantaneous photograph.) 

after a longer or shorter journey through space he alights on 
the slope below and continues his headlong course at an even 
greater speed than before. The jumper may, and as a rule 
does, very much increase the length of his leap by gathering 


himself together and taking a spring just as he leaves the pro- 
jecting bank. In this way sixty, seventy, or even ninety feet may 
be cleared when the snow is in good order and the hill and 
bank of suitable dimensions. A well-known " skilober " from 
Telemarken, Sondre Auersen Nordheim by name, is reported 
to have jumped ninety-six Norwegian or ninety-nine English 
feet from a projecting rock, and to have kept his balance when 
he alighted below. The perpendicular fall necessitated by such 
jumps is very considerable, from thirty to forty feet being no 
uncommon thing, a height which takes one to the roof of an 
ordinary three-storied house. This comparison will enable 
the reader to appreciate the magnitude of the performance, 
which can otherwise hardly be realised by those who have 
never witnessed it. 

While passing through the air the jumper must maintain all 
his presence of mind, must keep his " ski " straight and under 
control, and as he touches the ground he will generally shoot 
out one foot rather in front of the other and sink on one knee, 
to break in some measure the shock of contact. It is only 
the enormous speed attained and the elasticity of the snow 
which make such leaps possible, and therefore it is necessary 
that the slope of the hill should be quite as steep below the 
jump as above it, and that the snow should also be in a con- 
dition favourable for the purpose, since if the "ski" are 
checked in the slightest degree at the moment of contact the 
difficulty of maintaining the balance is immensely increased. 
Of course violent falls are frequent, and the spectator who 
for the first time sees the unfortunate jumper rolling down 
the hill— arms, legs, and " ski " all whirling round together in 
a cloud of snow — will naturally conclude that broken limbs 
must often be the result. As a matter of fact, however, 
serious accidents are extremely rare. 

But the finished " skilober " must be able to do more than 
jump. At some of the open competitions he is also required 
to show his skill in turning his " ski " to one side or the other 
within given marks, and by bringing them quite round to stop 



short before any given obstacle, both of these manoeuvres 
having to be executed at full speed, that is to say, in the 
descent of a steep hill. In these arts the " Telemarkinger '" 

(From a drawing by A. Block.) 

are complete masters, and the younger school of Christiania 
" skilobers " have proved their worthy pupils. 

But, apart from these special arts, " ski " must be considered 
as being first and foremost instruments of locomotion, and 


therefore the speed which can be attained in an ordinary way 
across country must be regarded from a practical point of view 
as the most important branch of the sport. Though the jump- 
ing is always the most popular part of the programme, yet at 
our yearly meetings equal or greater weight is attached to the 
long race, for, it must be explained, the chief prizes are given 
for combined proficiency in the separate branches. 

It must not be thought that "skilobning" is a sport which 
develops the body at all unequally. On the other hand, there 
can be few forms of exercise which perform this task so uni- 
formly and healthfully. The upper part of the body and arms 
come into constant use as well as the legs ; the arms par- 
ticularly by the help of the pole. This is especially the case 
if two poles be carried, a practice which is common among 
the Lapps, which has been adopted of late years m the 
Christiania races, and which was followed by us during our 
crossing of Greenland. 

I have already given some idea of the speed to which a 
strong and clever "skilober" may attain. But so much de- 
pends upon those two most uncertain quantities, the nature 
of the ground and the state of the snow, that nothing like 
an absolute standard can be fixed. If the conditions be 
moderately favourable a good man should be able to cover 
from sixty to seventy miles in the course of a day's run. 

The longest race hitherto brought off in Norway was held 
at Christiania in February 1888. The distance was 50 km., 
or 31 miles 122 yards, twice over a 25 km. course, which was 
laid out over hilly ground of a very variable character, and 
included all kinds of difficulties calculated to test the com- 
petitors' skill. The race was won by a Telemarken peasant 
in 4 hrs. 26 min., without much pressure on the part of his 
rivals. A much longer race, no doubt the longest on record, 
was that organised by Barons Dickson and Nordenskiold at 
Jokkmokk, in Swedish Lapland, on April 3 and 4, 1884. The 
winner was a Lapp, Lars Tuorda, thirty-seven years of age, one 
of the two who had accompanied Nordenskiold on his Green- 



land expedition and had then done a great feat on the " ski " 
on the "Inland ice." The distance on this occasion was 220 
km., or nearly 136! English miles, and it was covered by the 
winner in 21 hrs. 22 min., rests included. The second man, 
a Lapp of forty, was only 5 sec. behind the winner, and of the 
first six, five of whom were Lapps, the last came in 46 min. 
after the first. The course was for the most part level, being 
laid mainly over the frozen lakes, and the snow must have 
been in a very favourable condition. 

Finally, I will say a few words about the " ski " we made use 
of ourselves in the course of the expedition, which in the cir- 
cumstances seem to find their place here more appropriately 
than in the preceding chapter on " Equipment." 


Our " ski " were not of any fixed Norwegian type, but were 
specially designed to suit the nature of the ground and state of 
snow which I expected to find in the interior of Greenland. 
We took nine pair, two of oak and the rest of birch. The oak 
" ski " were 7 ft. 6 J in. long, while in front at the curve they 
were 3I in. broad and 3! in. under the foot. On the upper 
surface was a ridge running the whole length of the " ski," which 
gave the necessary stiffness without adding too much to the 
weight. On the under surface were three narrow grooves. 
The seven pair of birch " ski " were of about the same form 
and dimensions, except that by the carelessness and negligence 
, of the maker they were made rather narrower in front at the 


curve, the sides being parallel all through. This want of 
breadth in front prevents the " ski " from riding so well upon 
the snow, as they act more like a snow-plough, and move some- 
what heavily. These "ski" were delivered so short a time 
before we left that we unfortunately were unable to get others, 
and had to take them as they were. These birch " ski," too, 
were shod throughout with very thin steel plates, and in the 
middle of the plates, just under the foot, were openings 34J in. 
by 2 T V in., in which were inserted strips of elk-skin with the 
hair on. The object of the steel plates was to make the " ski I 
glide better on coarse, wet snow, of which I expected a good 
deal, and that of the strips of skin to prevent the " ski " from 


slipping back during ascents and the heavy work of hauling as; 
much as the steel-plates would have otherwise caused them to I 
do. We found, however, none of this expected snow, and might I 
well have done without these extra contrivances. The two pair 1 
of oak "ski," which Sverdrup and I used, proved in every way: 
satisfactory, and I can thoroughly recommend the pattern for; 
future work of the kind. 

The fastenings we used were very simple, and consisted in 
nothing but a toe-strap of thick, stiff leather, and a broadish 
band of softer leather running round behind the heel. The] 
stiff fastenings of withies or cane which are commonly used in 
Norway for jumping and ordinary work generally are in my 


opinion quite unsuited to the conditions of a long exploring 
journey. They are by no means necessary for a complete con- 
trol of the " ski," and they tire and chafe the feet much more 
than a soft and flexible fastening like leather. My experience 
tells me that the less one is conscious of the pressure of the 
fastenings in these long journeys, the less one draws upon one's 
stock of endurance. 

(By Th. Holmboe, after a photograph.) 

Chapter IV. 


As I have already said, I proposed to reach the east coast 
of Greenland by getting a Norwegian sealer to pick us up 
in Iceland and take us on further. After negotiations in 
several quarters I finally came to terms with the owners of 
the sealer Jason of Sandefjord. It was agreed that the 
ship should call for us in Iceland, and do its best to put us 
ashore on the east coast of Greenland, while I, on our part, 
undertook that she should suffer no pecuniary loss by having 


to neglect her own business on our account. My agreement 
with the captain of the Jason, Mauritz Jacobsen, a cool- 
headed and experienced Arctic skipper, was that on his way 
to Denmark Strait, after the season was over in the Jan Mayen 
waters, he should call for us in Iceland about the beginning 
of June, at Isafjord for preference, or Dyrafjord in case ice 
should prevent him getting into the former place. 

On May 2 I left Christiania to go by way of Copenhagen 
and London to Leith, where I was to meet the other members 
of the party. They left Christiania the day after me, taking 
steamer from Christianssand to Scotland, and carrying the 
whole outfit of the expedition with them. 

Many sensible people shook their heads doubtfully, and 
took us sadly by the hand the day we left. They evidently 
thought, if they did not say : " This is the last time we shall 

I see you, but God grant that you never manage to reach land ! " 
There was a deal of excitement, too, caused by this absurd 
little expedition which could not even rise to the dignity 
of its own steamer, but had to leave home in an ordinary 

, passenger-boat, the owners of which, by the way, had liberally 
given it a free passage. Of cheering, too, there was plenty in our 
honour. People thought it was just as well to give these poor 
fellows some gratification during the short time now left to 

; them for the enjoyment of life. In Ravna's case this enjoy- 
ment was for the moment brief indeed, for he had to sacrifice 
to the gods of the deep or ever he reached the open sea. 

Balto thus describes the departure from Christiania : " As 
we passed out of the town on our way to the quays great 

. numbers of men and women accompanied us, to wish us good 
luck and cheer us on our way. We were received with similar 
demonstrations by the people of all the little towns from Chris- 
tiania to Christianssand, for they thought we should never 

, come back alive. They expected, perhaps, that we should 
meet with the same fate as Herr Sinklar, when he set out for 

; Norway to plunder and to ravish." 

I met the rest of my party in Leith again, and found them 


enjoying themselves much, thanks to the kindness of theii 
fellow-countrymen there resident. Balto in his narrative 
speaks of the Norwegian Consul as a " new father " to him, | 
and a hospitable entertainer of the whole party. If the 
truth be told, Balto managed to find "new fathers" in 
many different places. 

After receiving many proofs of Scottish kindness and 
hospitality, on the evening of May 9 we went on board 
the Danish steamer Thyra, which lay at Granton, and 
which was to take us the first stage of our journey to Ice- 
land. It was midnight when we said good-bye to the last 
of our friends, who saw us off on the deserted quay, and 
then we steamed out into the darkness on our way north- 

From the time we left Scotland I began taking daily samples I 
of the air by means of the apparatus I have already men- 
tioned. The object was mainly to measure the amount of 
carbonic acid prevalent in the different regions. I continued 
this sample-taking regularly across the sea to Iceland, and 
thence to the east coast of Greenland, and brought also home 
with me a certain number of specimens from the " Inland ice I 

While we were in the Faroe Islands, where we were delayed i 
two days by bad weather, we had heard bad news of the state 
of the ice round Iceland. It was said that it had come 
farther south this year than had been known within the 
memory of man, and the east coast of the island was reported 
inaccessible. This was confirmed only too soon, for we met 
the ice when we were hardly within 140 miles of shore. We 
pushed on northwards to see if we could reach land further 
up, but it was to no purpose, as the ice was everywhere. 
Several sailing vessels, too, which we met, informed us that 
it extended a long way to the north. 

On Wednesday, May 16, we made another attempt to reach 
land on the eastern side, though this was off Berufjorden, a 
long way south; here, too, we were stopped some ninety miles 

from land. This left 
us nothing to do 
but make for the 
south-west, and 
we steamed along 
the rocky and pic- 
turesque southern 
coast with a fair wind 
behind us. In the 
evening we passed 
Orsefajokull, the 
highest mountain 
in Iceland, which 
rises out of the sea 
to a height of some 
6400 feet. As the 
setting sun cast its 
last rays upon the 
mountain's snowy 

! sides, and on the 
veil of mist which 
enwrapped its sum- 
mit, while now and 

1 again the breaking 
of the veil allowed 
us to see for a 
moment the soft 
outlines of the 
conical peak, the 
scene was one of 
unusually impres- 
sive grandeur. 

On the morning 
of May 17, we 
approached the 
Vestmanna Islands, 
which lie some 
miles to sea, off 



5 3 
5 3 



the middle of the southern coast of Iceland. It was a glorious 
sunny day, and the sea was smooth and bright as glass as we 
glided in between the lofty precipitous basalt rocks which form 
this group of islands and lay to off Heimaey, the largest of them 
all, and the only one inhabited. 

Here the sea eats away the layers of basalt rock, leaving 
perpendicular walls which fall sheer into the sea, and are 
honeycombed with great cavities and grottoes. The whole 

[From a photograph.) 

scene had a distinctly Mediterranean aspect, and at once 
suggested a comparison with Capri, not by any means to 
the latter's undisputed pre-eminence. We were steaming 
straight for these wonderful cliffs, about which the breakers 
threw their spray, and the screaming sea-birds wheeled in 
thousands. There was something strangely fascinating in 
the whole : a brilliant summer-like day, a bright-green sea as 
clear as crystal, and right opposite us, on the mainland, the 
highest peak but one in Iceland, the volcano Eyafjallajokul, 


whose great white snow-mantle lay before us still glittering 
in the evening sun. In the background, again, were other 
peaks and glaciers, among which the huge white dome of 
Hekla was most prominent. 

Later we passed Reykjanses, which carries the only light- 
house which Iceland possesses. The spot is one of absolute 
desolation, and is especially exposed to shocks of earthquake, 
which have already damaged the lighthouse, and threaten 
before long to demolish it altogether. 

Beyond are a few rocks and islands which are chiefly re- 

{By Th. Holmboe,from a sketch by the Author.) 

markable for the number of Great Auk (Alca impennis) to 
which they formerly gave shelter. 

After a hard struggle against a head wind and heavy sea, 
which again and again completely neutralised the T/iyra's 
efforts to push on, we reached Reykjavik, the capital of Ice- 
land, in the course of the night. Our stay was short, but 
next morning we were allowed some hours on shore. 

About midday we left, and now set our course for the 
promontory of Snefellsnses, on our way north to Isafjord, 
our eventual destination. In the evening, just as the sun 
was setting, we passed Snefellsjokull, an old volcano which 



lies on the extreme point of the promontory. The peak is I 
most impressive as one passes close beneath it, for it rises 
out of the sea to a height of more than 4500 feet. It is j 
well known as a most useful sea-mark, and its white cap 
has guided many a vessel into safety. As we passed it was 
perhaps at its best, as the last rays of the sinking sun were 
just reddening its mantle of snow. 

Whereas May 18 had been comparatively spring-like, the j 

(By Th. Holmboe.from a sketch by the Author.) 

day following plunged us into the depths of winter again. 
When we came on deck in the morning we were met by a 
stiff breeze from the north, with sleet and snow. The high 
basalt mountains on the mainland were decked from head 
to foot in white, and the floes which we saw floating by 
from time to time were precursors which assured us that the 
main body of ice was not far off. We were now close to 
Onundafjord, and, as the breeze promised to increase to a 


gale and the snow was falling thickly, we took refuge in the 
excellent harbour which the inlet affords, there to await better 
weather. The storm now increased rapidly, and we had full 
opportunity of learning what the wind of these northern parts 
can do. No one ventured on deck who wcs not obliged. 
One could keep one's feet there indeed if it were necessary, 
but to bring one's nose for more than an instant out of 
shelter was an experiment to which there was little tempta- 
tion. The ship, however, lay very comfortably where she was, 
and, as it happened to be Whitsun Eve, we did our best 
to make things as pleasant as possible down below. 

When we woke next morning we were already in Isafjord, 
where we intended to go ashore. Here, too, winter prevailed 
no less absolutely, and everything was under snow. Isafjord 
is the second of the three towns of Iceland, and is a pretty 
little place, buried, together with its excellent harbour, among 
the surrounding mountains. 

Here I was told that the drift-ice lay not far to the north, 
as it had, in fact, come south of Cape Nord. Strong northerly 
winds might bring it still farther south, and block the approach 
to the fjord. It was extremely rarely that this had happened, 
but there was just a possibility of it, and the Jason might 
have some difficulty in getting into Isafjord to fetch us. To 
avoid this risk I made up my mind to go back to Dyrafjord, 
which lies a little farther south, and is never blocked by the 
ice, and await her there, as we had agreed to do if it were 
necessary. So I sent a letter ashore for the Jason's captain, 
telling him of our movements, and we started southwards 

Next morning when we came on deck the weather was 
splendid, and we were running fast up the approach to Dyra- 
fjord. The winter had now retired to some extent to the 
mountains, and along the sea-shore there were a few signs of 
spring to gladden us. We were soon anchored off Thing- 
eyre, the little trading centre of the fjord, and we now took 
leave of the captain and crew of the Tnyra, who had from 


the first done all they could to make our stay on board as 
pleasant as possible, and who now fired a farewell salute in 
our honour. 

At Thingeyre we were hospitably welcomed by Herr Gram, 
the merchant of the place, who had kindly offered us shelter 
while we were to wait for the Jason. 

At a farm near Dyrafjord I bought a little pony to take with 
us for the purposes of the expedition. I meant to use it to 
help us with our boats and baggage in the floes, and if we 
could get it so far, on the way up on to the " Inland ice." I was 
not sanguine that it would be of much use to us, but when we 
were obliged to kill it, it would give us many a meal of good 
fresh meat When I left Norway I had thought of buying two 
ponies, but when I saw what they could do I felt sure one 
would be quite enough. 

As it happened, our little beast was not of much use. In 
the spring it is not easy to get fodder in Iceland, and in spite 
of all my efforts I could only scrape together enough for a 

The pony we took was a very handsome little animal, and, 
curiously enough, he was used to the work we wanted him for, 
as he had been put to the plough for a while, which is quite 
unusual in Iceland, where the ponies are as a rule used only 
for riding or as pack-horses. 

On June 3, in the morning, we could see far out at the mouth 
of the fjord a little steamer slowly working inwards. At first 
we could make nothing of her, but soon came to the con- 
clusion that she must be one of the small steamers used by 
the Norwegian Whaling Company in Isafjord. As she came 
nearer we made her to be the Jsafold, which is one of these 
boats, but what she could want here on a Sunday morning we 
could not imagine. After saluting the Fylla she anchored 
and sent a boat on shore amid our increasing excitement. I had 
begun to suspect the truth, when, to my astonishment as well 
as joy, I recognised in the first who stepped ashore Captain 
Jacobsen of the Jason. Our meeting was almost frantic, 


but the story was soon told. He had reached Isafjord, and, 
not finding us there, had thought of coming on to Dyrafjord 
with the Jason. But with the strong wind blowing it would 
have taken his heavily-rigged ship a whole day to make the 
voyage, and, as the Norwegian Company's manager most 
kindly offered to send the Isafold to fetch us, he had taken 
the opportunity of coming too. 

We lost no time in getting ready, and there was no lack of 
willing hands to bring our goods on board. Amid general 
interest our little pony was led on to the landing-stage. He 
did all he could to resist, poor little fellow, and had almost to 
be carried; had he but known the sad fate in store for him, 
I scarcely think we should have got him on board at all 

When all was done and we had said farewell to Herr 
Gram, our kind entertainer, and the other friends we had 
made in Dyrafjord, we steamed out of the fjord and to sea 

The Jason^ as we learned, had been tolerably successful 
hitherto, as she was also the whole season as compared with 
her fellows. Up to this time she had taken 4500 young seal 
and 1 100 old. 



(By Th. Holmboe, from an instantaneous photograph.) 

Chapter V. 


As we leave the land behind us we are followed by hundreds 
of kittiwakes, in billowy masses of white and blue, chattering 
in endless chorus, now sinking as they swoop low on extended 
wing over the vessel's wake, now rising as they soar lightly in 
their graceful evolutions up towards the blue sky. 

It is a glorious northern night. The sun has sunk into the 
sea ; in the west and north the day has laid herself dreamily 
to rest in her sunlit bath. Above are the coloured heavens ; 
below, the sea, calm as a mirror, and rocked to sleep in 
melancholy thought, while it reflects in still softer, gentler 
tones the mellow radiance of the sky. Between heavens and 


sea is the black form of the Jason, labouring and moaning 
as her engines drive her westward. Behind us the rocky coast 
of Iceland, a fringe of violet blue, is slowly sinking into the 
sea. Behind us lie home and life : what lies before us ? We 
cannot tell, but it must be beautiful. A start on such a night 
is full of promise. 

I am sitting alone in the stern of the vessel and gazing out 
into the night at the gathering clouds, which, still tinged by 
the sun, are sailing over the horizon to the north-west. Behind 
them lies Greenland, as yet invisible. 

All nature is, as it were, sunk in her own dreams, and 
gently and quietly the mind, too, is drawn back into itself 
to pursue the train of its own thoughts, which unconsciously 
borrow a reflection of the colours of the sky. 

Among all things that are beautiful in life are not such 
nights most beautiful ? 

And life — is it much more than hope and remembrance? 
Hope is of the morning, it may be, but on such nights as this 
do not memories, all the fair memories of bygone days, arise 
dewy and fresh from the mists of the distant past, and sweep 
by in a long undulating train, sunlit and alluring, till they dis- 
appear once more in the melting western glow? And all 
that is mean, all that is odious, lies behind, sunk in the dark 
ocean of oblivion. 

The very next day, June 5, we reached the ice, which this 
year has come a long way south. 

The impression which the floe-ice of the Arctic seas makes 
upon the traveller the first time he sees it is very remarkable. 
Most people will find that what they actually see is not a little 
different from what they have expected. A world of wonders 
and enchantments, a complete horizon of wild fantastic forms, 
ever changing, ever new, a wealth of brilliant rainbow hues 
playing and glowing amid the cold purity of the crystal ice, 
such are the features of the picture which the ingenuity of the 
imagination so often fondly creates. Such, too, are often the 
illustrations of books, written apparently to give the reader 


impressions of scenes which the writer can never have beheld 
himself. But not such is this ice-world. These mighty fan- 
tastic forms are wanting; all is monotony and uniformity, 
features which nevertheless leave an indelible impression on 
the mind. In small, indeed, it has forms enough and in 
infinite diversity, and of colours all tints and strange effects 
of green and blue, flashing and playing in endless variation ; 
but as to its large features, it is just their overpowering sim- 
plicity of contrast which works so strongly on the observer's 
mind : the drifting ice, a huge white glittering expanse stretch- 
ing as far as the eye can reach, and throwing a white reflection 
far around upon the air and mist ; the dark sea, often showing 
black as ink against the white ; and above all this a sky, now 
gleaming cloudless and pale-blue, now dark and threatening 
with driving scud, or again wrapped in densest fog — now 
glowing in all the rich poetry of sunrise or sunset colour, 
or slumbering through the lingering twilight of the summer 
night. And then in the dark season of the year come those 
wonderful nights of glittering stars and northern lights playing 
far and wide above the icy deserts, or when the moon, here 
most melancholy, wanders on her silent way through scenes 
of desolation and death. In these regions the heavens count 
for more than elsewhere ; they give colour and character, 
while the landscape, simple and unvarying, has no power to 
draw the eye. 

Never shall I forget the first time I entered these regions. 
It was on a dark night in March 1882 when we, on board 
a Norwegian sealer, met the first floes in the neighbourhood 
of Jan Mayen, and ice was announced ahead. I ran on 
deck and gazed ahead, but all was black as pitch and in- 
distinguishable to me. Then suddenly something huge and 
white loomed out of the darkness, and grew in size and white- 
ness, a marvellous whiteness in contrast to the inky sea, on 
the dark waves of which it rocked and swayed. This was 
the first floe gliding by us. Soon more came, gleaming far 
ahead, rustling by us with a strange rippling sound, and dis- 


appearing again far behind. Then I saw a singular light in 
the northern sky, brightest down at the horizon, but stretching 
far up towards the zenith. I had not noticed this before, and 
as I looked I heard a curious murmur to the north like that 
of breakers on a rocky coast, but more rustling and crisper 
in sound. The whole made a peculiar impression upon me, 
and I felt instinctively that I stood on the threshold of a new 
world. What did all this mean ? Were these the fields of ice in 
front of us and to the north ? But what were the sound and 
light? The light was the reflection which the white masses 
of ice always throw up when the air is thick, as it was that 
night, and the sound came from the sea breaking over the 
floes while they collided and grated one against the other. 
On still nights this noise may be heard far out to sea. 

But we drew nearer and nearer, the noise grew louder, the 
drifting floes more and more frequent, and now and again 
the vessel struck one or another of them. With a loud report 
the floe reared on end, and was thrust aside by our strong 
bows. Sometimes the shock was so violent that the whole 
ship trembled and we were thrown off our feet upon the deck. 
Not long, indeed, were we allowed to doubt that we were now 
voyaging in waters new and strange to us. We shortened sail, 
and for a day or two cruised along the edge of the ice. Then 
one evening it blew up for a storm, and, as we were tired of 
the sea, we resolved to push into the ice and ride out its fury 
there. So we stood straight ahead, but before we reached the 
margin of the ice the storm fell upon us. Sail was still further 
shortened, till we had but the topsails left, but we still rushed 
inwards before the wind. The ship charged the ice, was 
thrown from floe to floe, but on she pushed, taking her own 
course in the darkness. The swell grew heavier and heavier, 
and made things worse than ever. The floes reared on end 
and fell upon each other; all around us was seething and 
noise; the wind whistled in the rigging, and not a word was 
to be heard save the captain's calm but vigorous orders, which 
prevailed over the roaring of the sea. 



Precisely and silently were they obeyed by the pale men 
who were all on deck, as none dared risk his life by staying 
below, now that the ship was straining in every joint. We 
bored steadily inwards into the darkness. It was no use trying 
to guide the vessel here; she had to be left to herself, like 
the horses on the mountains at home. The water seethed 
and roared round our bows ; the floes were rolled over, split 
in pieces, were forced under or thrust aside, nothing holding 
its own against us. Then one looms ahead, huge and white, 
and threatens to carry away the davits and rigging on one 
side. Hastily the boat which hangs in the davits is swung 
in on to the deck, the helm is put down, and we glide by 
uninjured. Then comes a big sea on our quarter, breaking 
as it nears us, and as it strikes us heavily we hear a crash 
and the whistling of splinters about our ears, while the port 
is thrown across the deck, a floe having broken the bulwarks 
on the weather-side. The ship heels over, we hear another 
crash, and the bulwarks are broken in several places on the 
lee-side too. 

But as we get further into the ice it grows calmer. The sea 
loses its force, the noise is deadened, though the storm tears 
over us with more fury than ever. The wind whistles and 
shrieks in the rigging, and we can scarcely keep our footing 
on the deck. The storm seems to rage because it cannot roll 
at its will in the open sea ; but here at last we can ride at our 
ease. We had played a dangerous game by taking to the ice 
in a storm, but we had come out of it unscathed and were now 
in smooth water. When I came on deck next morning the 
sun was shining, the ice lay white and still around us, and 
only the broken bulwarks grinning in the morning sun called 
to mind the stormy night. 

This was my first meeting with the ice. Very different was 
it indeed this second time. We saw it now on a fine bright 
day, a dazzling white expanse quivering and glittering in the 
sunshine far away towards the horizon, while the sea rocked 
gently and peacefully against its edge. 



It must not be supposed that this drifting ice of the Arctic 
seas forms a single continuous field. It consists of aggrega- 
tions of larger and smaller floes, which may reach a thickness 
of thirty or forty feet or even more. How these floes are 
formed and where they come from is not yet known with 

(By Th. Holmboe.} 

certainty, but it must be somewhere in the open sea far away 
in the north, or over against the Siberian coast, where no one 
nas hitherto forced his way. Borne on the Polar current, the 
ce is carried southwards along the east coast of Greenland. 
Here it meets the swell of the sea, and the larger solid masses 


are broken into smaller and smaller floes as they come farther 
south. By the pressure of the waves, and consequent packing, 
the floes are sometimes also piled one upon another, and then 
form hummocks or crags of ice which may often rise twenty or 
thirty feet above the water. 

It is this broken and scattered polar ice which the sealer 
meets in Denmark Strait, and it is among these floes, which j 
can indeed be dangerous obstacles enough, that, he forces 
his way with his powerful vessel in pursuit of the bladder- | 

For several days we worked southwards, skirting the ice. 
On Wednesday we see the point of Staalbjerghuk in Ice- 
land, and estimate that we are about thirty miles distant 
from it. 

On Thursday, June 7, we get into a tongue of open ice, 
and see here and there seals, bladder-nose, upon the floes. 
There is life on board the Jason at once. " It is a good ! 
sign to see seal so soon, on the first ice we get into. We ! 
shall have a good season this year very likely, and we want it 
too, after all these bad years," and so on. And visions of a j 
real handsome catch, as in the good old Greenland days, arise | 
in the lively imagination of many a sealer. The men are all j 
deeply interested in the success of the vessel, as their earnings j 
are dependent thereon. Hope too, luckily, has a tendency ! 
with many folk to follow the direction of their wishes. Easily ! 
is it raised, but just as easily disappointed. 

We saw more seal on the ice, and our captain determined i 
to try for a little haul. So the boats of one watch were sent I 
out. Sverdrup and Dietrichson, who had never been out^j 
before, were of course consumed with eagerness to see and try 
their rifles on these masses of game. They were no little 
delighted when they had received the due permission and the 
boats were under way, but as beginners they were put in charge 
of skilled shooters. We soon heard reports on various sides of us, 
but only a shot now and again — no lively firing, nothing like ' 
the continuous blaze and rattle all over the ice which is the 


accompaniment of a good haul. They were evidently youngsters 
and mainly small seal which lay scattered hereabout. 

In the afternoon, when this detachment had come back, the 
boats of the other watch were sent Out. I stayed on board the 
whole day, and shot a number of seal from the stern of the 
vessel. Curiously enough, one can, as a rule, get nearer to 
the seal with the larger vessel than with the boats. They have 
learned to fear the latter, and often take to the water quite out 
of range, while one can sometimes bring the big ship right up 
to the floe on which they lie before they decamp. 

We got 187 seal altogether that day, which is no great bag. 
They were chiefly youngsters, though there were some old 
ones among them. Dietrichson's boat got twenty seal, and 
Sverdrup's thirty-six. 

That day, too, we saw several sealers in the ice to the west 
of us, and next day we had a talk with some of them. Of 
course they all wanted to talk with the Jason, which had 
the Greenland expedition on board. The captain of the 
Magdalena, of Tonsberg, came to see us and carried off the 
post we had brought from Iceland for the other vessels, 
promising to have it delivered, as the Jason was bound 
for the east coast of Greenland, and it was uncertain whether 
we should see the other sealers for some time. The postal 
system of the Arctic Sea is managed in a somewhat remarkable 
way. If any of the vessels touch at Iceland they carry off" the 
post for the rest of the fleet. The reader will perhaps think 

1 that the Arctic Sea covers a large area, and that it would be 
doubtful whether one vessel would find the others in these 
parts. But it is not really so. The sealing-grounds are not 

1 so extensive that one is not quite as well informed about one's 
fellow's actions and movements as one generally is about the 
business of one's neighbour in a small town at home. The 
sealers like to keep close together, and no one will separate 
any distance from the rest for fear the others may come in for 
a haul while he is away. He dare not run the risk of getting 

! nothing while the others are taking seal, on the mere chance 



of getting a larger haul all to himself another time. The 
struggle for existence is here maintained in the same way as 
elsewhere in the world. 

Later in the afternoon we passed the Geysir of Tonsberg. 
The captain came on board and had supper and a glass of 
grog with us. He was in such high spirits that none of us 
had the heart to tell him that he had lost three of his children 
from diphtheria since he sailed from home. Captain Jacobsen 
had been told it in a letter which he got in Iceland, but the 
father had heard nothing of it, nor did he learn it from us. 
One can thus live up here in the Arctic Sea without a suspicion 
of what is going on in the world. One's joys and sorrows are 
bound up in the seal and sealing, and the whole of Europe 
might well collapse without the knowledge or regard of this 
section of its population. 

On Sunday, June 10, we have thick and foggy weather. 
For several days we have been unable to take an observation 
and cannot tell how far we have advanced, though the current, 
which is strong here, must have carried us far to the west at 
the same time that we have made a good deal of way south. 
We must have reached that point where, if there is to be any | 
prospect of getting to land at present, the edge of the ice -j 
should be taking a more westerly or north-westerly direction. | 
Of this there is no sign ; there are masses of ice extending in I 
a south-westerly direction. This does not look at all hopeful, j 
The real sealing season begins to get very near, and it may ! 
take the Jason a long time to make her way to the north- i 
east again against the current, especially as it has begun to j 
blow from the east. Meantime the other ships may be taking | 
seal, and I had bound myself not to let my expedition inter- s 
fere, with the vessel's real business. 

So that morning we came to the conclusion that we must 
give up all attempts to land for the present, and wait for a 
better chance. We turn eastwards for the ordinary sealing- j 
grounds, but wind and current are now in our teeth, and wei 
have to beat up against them. 



(Next day it clears up and we get a sight of land, the first 
luring sight of the east coast of Greenland. We see high, 
jagged mountain tops, evidently the country north of Cape 
Dan. We are not so far away as we expected, perhaps rather 
more than sixty miles. 

We find a narrow inlet cutting deep into the ice in the 
direction of land. It seems to stretch far inwards, and we 
cannot see the end of it even from the masthead. We 

(From a xketch by the Author.) 

determine to try how far we can get, and it is possible that 
we may find seal there too. We have the wind in our favour 
and make our way in quickly. We soon find the way 
blocked, but a sealer does not lose heart at such trifles. 
We force a passage, and the floes of ice have to give way 
before the stout bows of the Jason. Then we get into a large 
open pool with no ice in sight between us and land This 
looks promising. We take our latitude and longitude, and at 
noon find ourselves at 65 ° 18' N. and 34* 10' W. We are 


still some fifty miles from land, but our hopes begin slowly to 
rise as we think that we may perhaps after all be able to effect 
our landing without further waiting. 

But after steaming inwards for another couple of hours at 
good speed we again sight ice from the masthead right in 
front of us. We go a little way into it and see that it is 
packed, so that our vessel will find it difficult to force a 
passage through. We are now some forty miles from land, 
and, as the ice ahead is rather heavily packed and rough, it 
seems scarcely advisable to try and land now. It will be 
better to wait till later in the year when the ice will have 

It certainly seems to us that the ice farther north is more 
open, and that we shall be able to get considerably nearer 
land that way, but, as I have said already, the Jason is out 
sealing, and if she forces her way through up there she will 
run the risk of getting stuck and losing the best of the season. 
This risk is not to be thought of, so we make our way out 
again, and say farewell to the east coast of Greenland for the 
present. The fog soon hides the land again from our sight. 

Balto's description of his first sight of Greenland shows that 
the impression it made upon his mind was not altogether 
satisfactory. He writes : " After sailing for some days in the 
direction of Greenland we at last came within sight of land, 
but it still lay far in the distance, some sixty or seventy miles 
away beyond the ice. That part of the coast which we could 
now see had no beauty or charm to the eye, but was dismal 
and hideous to look upon. Mountain peaks terrifically high rose 
like church-steeples into the clouds which hid their summits." 

Next day we have a good proof of the strength of the 
current in these seas. We have been beating up to the 
north-east the whole night long with a strong easterly breeze. 
Next day at noon we again see land in the same direction as 
on the day before, and, if possible, we are a little way still 
farther south. The current has been bearing us to the south- 
west all along. 


edge of the ice, but make little way, as the wind is strong 
against us and the current carries us back. As hitherto, we 
see a great deal of whale. They are chiefly the " bottle-nose," 
several of the larger species of whalebone whales, most of 
them probably the blue-whale, and most of them moving 

, westwards, possibly towards Greenland. Whales have evi- 
dently their migrations, though we know little or nothing 
about them. Now and again we see one of the smaller kinds 
of whalebone whale, which our sealers sometimes called 
" klapmyts "-whale, as they maintain that it is in the habit 
of frequenting the grounds where the "klapmyts," i.e. t the 
bladder-nose seal, is caught. It seemed that it might possibly 
be the same species as that found on the coasts of Finmarken, 
where it is called the "seie "-whale (Balanoptera borealis). 
Once or twice, too, I saw the killer-whale {Orca gladiator), 
the little species so readily known by its prominent back-fin. 
It is an unusually powerful little whale, is active in its move- 
ments, and provided with a set of dangerous teeth. It is the 
terror of the big whales ; when it appears they flee pell-mell, 
and one of these little gladiators alone is enough to put the 
giants of the sea to flight, and even to drive them ashore before 
him. Nor is this terror the big whales have for their enemy 
all ungrounded, as he pursues them and attacks them from 
the side. The killer generally hunts in companies, the 
members of which rush straight in upon the whales and 
tear great pieces of blubber out of their side. In pain and 
despair the big whales lash the water and break away with 
the speed of lightning, but closely followed by these little 
monsters, who do not desist until their victims, exhausted by 
loss of blood and exertion, throw up the game. Not only 
the whale, but the seal too, is the victim of the killer's 
rapacity. The Eskimo have told me that they have seen 

1 this animal — " ardluk," as they call him — devour a seal in 
a single mouthful. 

The killer of our coasts seems to some extent to lead a 


more peaceful life. He is an habitual visitor at our herring- 
fisheries, and then seems to live on nothing but herring and 
coal-fish, among which, however, he causes a deal of panic 
and confusion. He seems to show no tendency to attack 
the great whales with whom he comes into contact daily on 
these occasions, nor do they seem to have any fear of him. 
The reason of this mutual relation is not quite certain. 
Possibly at these times the killer gets enough fish-food and 
feels no desire for whale-blubber, but it is also probable 
that the great whalebone whales which appear at the herring- 
fisheries, viz., the fin-whale (Balanoptera musculus), and the 
pike-whale (Balanoptera rostratd), are not the particular 
species which he is accustomed to attack. I am inclined 
to think that these two species are too quick for him, and 
that he therefore prefers the larger but less strong and 
speedy blue-whale, and possibly, too, the hump-backed whale 
(Megaptera boops). 

Now and then we see seals asleep in the water. As they 
bob up and down with the waves they look like live ship- 
fenders floating on the surface. A few we see, too, on the 
scattered, drifting ice-floes. This probably means that there j 
are more on the ice inside, but the air is thick and we have j 
no time to look. We are impatient to see our fellows again ; j 
it may be that they are hard at work, while we should be i 
here poking about in the ice, and very likely catching nothing, ! 
while they are in the thick of it. That would never do. 

At last we got a little wind from the west, and a couple of , 
days' sail brought us to the rest of the fleet aga^n. There I 
was a general sigh of relief on board the Jason when it was 
known that the others had caught nothing since we left them. 

(By the Author, from a photograph.) 

Chapter VI. 


The bladder-nose, the "klapmyts" of the Norwegians and 
Cystophora cristata of naturalists, has its nearest connec- 
tions among seal-kind in the sea-elephants of western North 
America and the Antarctic Ocean, one point of resemblance 
being the hood which the male bears upon its nose, a feature 
which makes it strikingly distinct from all other Arctic seals. 
It oftens attains considerable size, and next to the blue-seal 
(Phoca barbatd), is the largest of the seals found in Arctic 
waters from Greenland to Spitzbergen. It takes to the water 


immediately after birth, when it carries a coat of smooth hair, 
light or nearly white below, and grey on the back. At the 
first change this becomes somewhat spotted, and gradually 
as the young seal grows it becomes more and more dappled, 
till at maturity the coat has a greyish-white ground with 
numerous black spots, large and small, irregularly distributed 
over the whole body. These spots are smallest upon the 
head, but they are here so closely set that the effect is often 
that of a continuous black. 

As I have already said, the male seal has a kind of hood 

(By E. Nielsen, from a sketch by the Author.) 

or bladder on its nose, which can be blown out to a size 
which is quite astonishing, and then gives the head a most 
extraordinary appearance. But it is seldom that this is done, 
and I have only seen it when the animal is excited or irritated, 
as for instance by being shot at. At ordinary times the hood 
is folded, and generally hangs over the end of the nose like 
a short proboscis. 

This seal is an excellent swimmer and diver, and to obtain 
its food, which consists chiefly of fish, it sometimes descends 
to extraordinary depths. How deep it will go is not known, 
but some idea may be formed from the fact that I once found 



between Spitzbergen and Jan Mayen some of the peculiar 
Norwegian red fish, the " bergylt " (Sebastes norvegicus), in the 
stomach of a bladder-nose. This is quite a deep-sea fish, its 
habitat ranging from sixty to ninety fathoms below the surface. 
If the pressure at this depth, which amounts at least to eleven 
atmospheres, be realised, it will be seen that this seal must 
possess a chest of considerable strength. As another proof 
of its immense power, I may mention that it can jump out of 
the water on to a floe the edge of which lies as much as six 
feet above the surface. I have often seen them shoot suddenly 

{By E. Nielsen, from sketches by the Author.) 

out of the sea, describe a curve in the air, and plump down 
some way inside the edge of an ice-floe, which was quite as 
high above the water as I have said. The impetus necessary 
for this purpose implies an amount of power which the observer 
is scarcely likely to realise at first. 

The bladder-nose is almost entirely a seal of the open sea. 
It does not keep much to the coasts, but follows the drifting 
floes in its migrations, and occurs all over the Arctic Ocean 
and the northern Atlantic, from Spitzbergen to Labrador and 
Baffin's Bay. It is not quite certain whether it goes further 


west, but it is not likely to do so to any great extent. Its 
easterly limits seem to be the neighbourhood of Spitzbergen, 
for it is not found off Nova Zembla. 

The tract which this seal chiefly frequents is the stretch of 
sea which lies between Iceland and Greenland. Here during 
the moulting-season they gather in enormous numbers, and 
here it is that the Norwegian sealers get their best hauls. 

The bladder-nose season generally begins in June, at which 
time the sealers arrive in Denmark Strait after their season 
with the saddleback- or harp-seal (Phoca Greentandica), which 
is taken in the neighbourhood of Jan May en. Even before 
this some of them have also been engaged in the capture 
of the bottle-nose whale (Hyperoodon diodon) off the north, 
east of Iceland. 

The first thing, of course, is to find the seal, and this is 
often a difficult task, for it must not be supposed that they 
are at all generally distributed over the ice. The sealers 
often have to search for weeks, skirting the edge of the ice- 
fields and examining every bay or inlet which admits of a 
passage in. The glasses are in constant use in the crow's- 
nest on the main-top. Then, if after long search signs of 
seal are at last discovered far away among the floes, and the 
ice does not lie too close to make a passage possible, the 
engines are at once put to their highest speed. The one 
object is now to push in and anticipate one's competitors. 
Just as at the card-table there is no fellowship, so among 
the sealers of the Arctic seas altruism is a virtue unknown. 
Every ship does its best to outwit its fellows, and nothing 
brings so much satisfaction as the success of an ingenious trick. 
So, if there happen to be several vessels in one's neighbour- 
hood when one discovers seal, and there is reason to believe 
that the others are still in ignorance of the find, the first thing 
is to entice the others away and set off in pursuit alone. To 
gain this object recourse is had to the most extraordinary 
stratagems. To steam off at full speed in quite a different 
direction, as if one already saw or expected to see seal in 



that quarter, so draw the others off, and then a while after- 
wards sneak back and start off to make one's capture alone, is 
an artifice in daily use at these times. 

When the vessel is then being driven with all the speed she 
can bear onwards among the floes, and the crew begin to suspect 
that seal have been sighted from the look-out, there is soon 
life on board. The men gather in the bows and along the 
ship's side to get the first sight of their prey from the deck, 
and then all hands are set to work to get the boats ready and 
to see whether the bread and bacon lockers and beer-cask are 
properly supplied, whether there are cartridges enough in the 
box, and the rifles are all clean and in good order. Every 
detail is now seen to, and if there is nothing else to be done 
the skinning-knives have their last edge put on, that they may 
do their work well upon all the seal in prospect. Then up the 
men go on deck again to have another look ahead, following 
the direction of the long glass up in the crow's-nest above. 
Then, when one seal at last appears, they talk and gesticulate, 
and as more and more come gradually into sight, scattered 
like black dots among the floes, the excitement increases, and 
the men gather together into groups and eagerly discuss the 
probabilities of a real haul. 

Meanwhile the ship pushes slowly and steadily on, and the 
captain shouts his orders from above, with now and again an 
oath or execration directed at the two poor wretches who are 
standing at the wheel and striving their utmost to do what 
they are told with promptitude and care. The curses, indeed, 
pass in at one ear and out at the other as they stand there 
working, till the sweat runs off them, while the ship, amid 
noise and crashing, labours from floe to floe, and at each 
shock trembles in every joint, sometimes so violently that it is 
no easy matter to keep one's footing upon the deck- All the 
time the engines are pushed to the utmost, and the screw 
leaves its swirling eddies, which are soon obliterated by the 
ice. The captain sits in the crow's-nest and feasts his eyes 
on the crowds of seal ahead, laying his plan of campaign the 


while and directing the vessel's course. It is an exciting 
time, this approaching of the seal, and expectation and anxiety 
prevail throughout the ship. 

Then, when at last the order to get ready comes, there is a 
shriek of joy from one end of the vessel to the other. In the 
forecastle the confusion is at its highest; no more sleep is j 
allowed, the men get into their sealing-clothes, and a good i 
meal is prepared on the crackling stove to give the boats' 
crews heart for their work. By this time, perhaps after i 
several hours' steam through the ice, the ship is well among 
the seal, which are to be seen lying on all sides about the 
floes. But she still pushes on, till she is in the very midst . 
of them, and the final order for the start is given. At once 
all hands drop into the boats, which are hanging clear in their j 
davits over both sides of the ship. Then the shooters — there j 
is only one in each boat's crew, and he takes command — j 
receive their orders from the captain, and the boats are 
lowered away. The ship has meanwhile slackened speed, j 
and all life is transferred to the boats. Quickly they drop j 
into the water and bear away, each in its own direction. It 
is a fine sight to see a sealer's ten boats thus get under way. | 
The shooter stands up in the bows with his eye fixed on his 
seal. The coxswain stands in the stern at his post, and the j 
other three or four men of the crew bend eagerly to their j 
oars ; all is excitement and expectation, more intense than 

When the seal are actually reached the fusillade begins, j 
often with all the liveliness of a hot brush between skirmishing j 
parties. If the day be fine and sunny, and there are plenty j 
of seal around, lying basking lazily upon the floes, there is aj 
fascination about the scene which will never cease to charm 
the mind of one who has been present at it. 

The main object of the shooter is, of course, to be the first 
back to the ship with a load of seal, and he tries to excite his 
men to the same ambition and urges them to their best efforts. 
The mode of approach is interesting. It is no use stalking 


the seal or drawing warily near under shelter of the floes, for 
this method is nearly certain to make them take to the water. 
On the contrary, one must avoid bringing one's boat behind a 
piece of ice which will conceal it from view, after the seal have 
once caught sight of it. It must be taken along in as open 
water as can be found, and as directly as may be in the face of 
the seal which are to be first approached They ought to be 
able to see the boat, if possible, from the very first, for if they 
are taken at all by surprise they disappear at once. 

As a seal catches sight of a boat in the distance he generally 
raises his head, but if it is not near enough to alarm him he 
will very likely lie down at his ease again. Then, as the boat 
comes nearer, he lifts his head again, shows a certain amount 
of uneasiness, and looks first up at the strange object and then 
down at the water below him. The boat is brought still closer, 
the oarsmen rowing with all their power ; the seal grows rest- 
less, drags himself still further out towards the edge of the 
floe, and gazes in his uncertainty at the boat and the water 
alternately. Now that he gives unmistakable signs of dis- 
appearing, the boat's crew, at their captain's order, set up a 
series of most terrific yells. The seal is at first petrified with 
astonishment at this strange phenomenon, but he soon recovers 
and drags himself still nearer to the edge. More yells, still 
more unearthly and longer sustained than the first, stop him 
once more, and he stretches out his neck listening intently 
and staring in wonderment at the boat, which is all the while 
pressing in nearer and nearer to him. But now he bends 
over the edge of the floe, stoops down, and stretches his neck 
towards the water in spite of repeated yelling from the boat. 
He has now made up his mind to go, and if the boat is not yet 
; within range the only thing the shooter can do is to raise his 
rifle quickly and put a ball into the side of the floe just below 
his head, scattering the snow and ice in a shower over nis 
chest and face. This is a new danger, and in terror he draws 
back again and drags himself on to the floe, gazing intently at 
ithe edge, where evidently a malicious and unseen enemy lurks 



close at hand. While the seal is still pondering upon this new 
mystery, the boat has been brought by its vigorous oarsmen ! 
well into range. At the words " Well rowed ! " the oars are j 
shipped and the boat glides on, the crew sitting still as the ! 
shooter raises his rifle, at the report of which the seal, shot in j 
the forehead, lays his head down upon the ice for the last | 

If there are more seal on the same floe or the surrounding i 


(By E. Neilsen,from a sketch by the Author.) 

ice, a large number may be shot then and there. But the 
chief point is to hit the first ones so as to kill them on the 
instant. If this is done one can proceed at one's leisure, and 
if there are really many seal about one can make a good haul j 
straight away. When I was out in 1882 I remember shooting 
my whole boat's load on the same spot, and I could have j 
multiplied the number again and again if I had been able to 
go on shooting. For when one is once well in among the 
seal, and has the dead bodies of those one has shot lying 



round one on all sides, the others lie quietly gazing at their 
dead comrades, whom they take still to be alive. They evi- 
dently think that, if these can lie there so quietly while the 
enemy is in their midst, there can be no reason for them to 
move. On the other hand, if the shooter is unlucky enough 
not to hit the first seal or seals in an immediately fatal spot 
isuch as the head, so that any of them begin to jump about 
>he floe in their pain, or fall splashing into the water, it is 
Dretty certain that the rest will take alarm and disappear too. 
For this reason it is much better to shoot wide altogether 
han to wound a seal, and it will easily be understood how 
mportant it is for a sealing-boat to be in charge of a really 
;ood shot. 

( As soon as the seal are shot they are skinned, and if there 
tire several on the same floe the whole crew disembark and set 
'0 work. The great thing is to get them all done with the 
east possible delay, lest the other boats should get a chance 
)f pushing on before. The object of every shooter is therefore 
.0 get quick and clever skinners among his crew. 

A good skinner will get through his work in an incredibly 
hort space of time, and I have often seen the whole process 
ompleted in a couple of minutes. First comes a long slit 
jlown the front from head to tail, and a few cuts on each side 
separate the layer of blubber from the flesh; then, with 
few more gashes by the head and hind-limbs, the whole 
kin is drawn off; the fore-limbs are then cut away, and the 
•rocess is complete. Only the skin and the thick layer of 
'lubber which lies between it and the flesh are taken, the rest 
eing left on the ice as food for the sea-birds. 
The capture of the bladder-nose in Denmark Strait is not 
n industry of very long standing. It was inaugurated by the 
Jorwegians in 1876, and their example was followed by a few 
English and American vessels. For the first eight years the 
enture was an unprecedented success : the seal were more 
ian plentiful, and were shot down in thousands. During this 
eriod something like 500,000 head were captured, and it is 



probable that quite as many were killed and lost. After these 
years of plenty came a change, and ever since the pursuit has 
been practically a failure, all the vessels alike being equally 

The reason of this change has puzzled the brain of many a 
sealer. He looks to unfavourable conditions of wind, sea, and 
ice, but in none of these can he find consolation or encourage- 
ment to hope for better things in the future. It might be the 
case that the conditions were unfavourable for a year or two, 
but the ill success of summer after summer for a period of 
four or five years can scarcely be explained in this way. For 
instance, as regards the ice, I can testify from my own experi- 
ence that the Jason made her way several times into ground 
which would undoubtedly have been called good when I was 
out in 1882, but on these latter occasions we found no seal. 
When we did find them they lay always farther in, where the 
ice was packed closest, and whenever it happened to open they 
invariably moved off, and always again farther inwards. 

The question now arises whether the bladder-nose still exists 
in its original multitudes. All who look upon the subject 
impartially must at once acknowledge it as obvious that 
there has been a considerable decrease in the numbers of 
:he seal owing to the simple butchery to which they have 
seen exposed. To me, who have had opportunities of visit- 
ing the sealing-grounds in two different periods, the difference 
Detween past and present was very striking. Here, on the 
yery same ground where in 1882 I saw seal on all sides as 
soon as we had pushed a little way into the ice, and where 
[ helped to shoot them down by thousands, there was now 
scarcely a sign of life to be seen. That there is a decrease 
n their numbers is certain, but I was no doubt inclined at 
irst to consider this decrease greater than it really was, and 
attribute to it alone the failure of the industry in recent 

On July 3, 1888, I was induced to modify my opinion on 
his point. We had penetrated, as my narrative will subse- 


quently show, a long way into the ice, and came within sight 
of seal in numbers quite as great as anything I had seen 
before. But they lay where the floes were packed closest. 
and we could not get within reach of them. Here they were, 
then, in all their numbers, on ice which we should never have 
searched in earlier years, because there were always enough 
and to spare on the outer floes, where they are now as good 
as extinct. As soon as I saw this unexpected abundance I 
was obliged to admit that the decrease could not be so great 
as I had hitherto supposed. 

The failure of the sealers must, therefore, allow of some 
other explanation. The conclusion I have gradually come to 
is that, while the decrease of the numbers of the seal owing 
to excessive slaughter is a factor of no little importance, there i 
is, nevertheless, another which has at least an equal bearing j 
upon the result. This contributive cause seems to be the | 
alteration of the seal's habits and way of life, which may be 
due both to actual education and experience, and to the i 
imperious laws of the ordinary struggle for existence. 

In earlier days the seal had a glorious time of it up here 
on his fields of ice. He ate, slept, and, in short, enjoyed 
himself, and multiplied exceedingly. The old males had 
their internecine struggles indeed, and fought desperately for 
the females, but this is a state of things common upon the 
face of the earth, and it serves besides to make life more 
lively. Only one enemy had the bladder-nose in this his 
golden age, and this was the polar bear. But it was not 
often the bear troubled them, for, as he is not much of a ; 
swimmer, he prefers to keep to the closely packed ice well 
inside, while the seal in those days, for that very reason, 
frequented the outer floes. But in the year 1876 a polar 
bear of another kind, bigger and more voracious than the 
seals' familiar foe, paid its first visit to Denmark Strait. This 
was the Norwegian sealing-vessel Isbjorn^ or the Polar Bear, , 
which was sent to these parts by Sven Foyn, the veteran 
among the sealers of Norway. The lsbjorn found heaps of 


il, and carried off with her several thousand skins. The 
life of peace which the bladder-nose had hitherto enjoyed 
was now a thing of the past. Every summer, at the end of 
May or beginning of June, fleets of Norwegian sealers found 
their way hither, and, as their victims were tame and unsus- 

{By E. Nielsen.) 

pecting, great numbers were secured. So tame and confiding 
were they, indeed, the first few years, that it was not necessary 
to shoot them. They were simply knocked upon the head 
where they lay, and some captains did not even allow their 
men to take rifles out in the boats with them. This period 


of bliss for the sealers was not, however, of long duration. 
The bladder-nose had not yet learnt the danger threatened 
by these vessels with their crow's-nests on the maintop and 
swarms of boats. But his experience soon taught him, and 
it was not long before he grew shyer. He would no longer 
let the boats come close in before he took to the water. The 
rifle had now to be used, often at long ranges, and even so 
it was not easy to fill one's boats. The most remarkable 
thing was that it was not only the old seal that grew shy, 
but the youngest animals were now astonishingly wary. The 
parents must have imparted their experience to the offspring, 
or the same result must have been brought about by heredity, 
though this seems scarcely likely to have happened in so 
short a time. Whichever be the true reason, the fact remains 
that these seal have grown shyer year by year, or, in other 
words, have learnt to protect themselves from an enemy 
hitherto unknown, and what is more, they have learnt this 
lesson in the short space of a decade. But I believe myself 
that the bladder-nose has learnt even more than this : that 
he has discovered that it is among the outer floes, where 
» before he was safest, that danger now awaits him. He has 
found that if he wants to be undisturbed in the moulting- 
season, when he likes to be at his ease upon the floes, he 
must resort to the closely-packed ice inside. Here, indeed, 
he exposes himself to the ravages of the bear, but he avoids 
a far worse enemy, the Norwegian sealer. 

Chapter VII. 


On June 28 we were far in the ice, about 66° 24' N. and 
2 9° 45' W. We could see land to the north, N.E. \ E. 
magnetic, and two mountain tops were especially prominent. 
However, we could not tell their real form, since, owing to 
the "looming" or optical distortion so common over these 
ice-fields, and due to the refraction of light through the dif- 
ferent layers of warm and cold air, they were much altered, 
and looked like abruptly truncated peaks rising out of an 
embrasured parapet. They must have been the peaks by the 
Blosseville coast, though they lay more to the west than those 
marked on the map. I had a talk afterwards with Captain 
Iversen of the Stcerkodder, who had been further into the ice 
to the north. He could there see land quite distinctly : a 
very mountainous coast — this was probably at about 68° N. L. 
— not low, as it was farther down, i.e., at about 67 N. L., 
where he had been in near shore in the year 1884. This 
account agrees to some extent with the description which 
Captain Holm had from the Eskimo of Angmagsalik, and 
on which he based his sketch of the east coast farther north. 
This shore, in fact, is one of the least known regions on the 

On the evening or June 28 we saw a great number of seal 
far in among the ice. About this time we used to see them 
daily, but could never ger at them. On July 3 we at last got 
a long way in amid a quantity of seal, but the ice lay so close 
that it was impossible to work the boats, and we consequently 
got nothing. In the middle of the night, when the sun gets 



down to the horizon, one can see a long way and very distinctly 
across the fields of ice. One night I went up to the mast- 
head to look at the seal. I turned my glasses towards land, 
and saw them in greater numbers than I remember to have 
ever seen them before. They lay, as the mate said, " scattered 
about the ice like coffee." From north-east to north-west, 
wherever I turned my glasses, there were seal lying as close as 
grains of sand, stretching away to the horizon and probably 
much further still, and the further away they were the thicker 
they seemed to be. It was glorious to see such an amount 
of life. The seal are not yet extinct, but they have learned 
wisdom, have altered their habits, and retired to the remoter 
pack-ice, and we get none of them. 

Next day was foggy, and the floes lay closer still, while the 
swell of the sea began to reach us. In the course of the after- 
noon we got out of the ice again. 

On July n the ice was moving violently, as we had come 
into one of the stronger currents. As two or three of us were 
sitting in the mess-room the Jason was struck so heavily by 
a floe on the bows that she was literally driven back. We 
rushed out and saw another big floe advancing with great 
speed upon her quarter. The shock comes, the whole vessel 
quivers and heels over, we hear a crash and the rudder is gone, 
but luckily the damage is no worse. Had the floe struck us 
full in the side, there is no telling what might have happened, 
as it would have found the sealer's weakest point. 

Next day we spent fixing the spare rudder which these 
vessels always carry, and we were soon as seaworthy as before. 
But the summer was now so far advanced that there was little 
prospect of our getting more seal. So on July 13 it was re- 
solved, to the satisfaction of us all, to leave the ice and make 
westwards for Greenland. That day, however, and the next, 
we did get some seal, in all about a hundred, which we passed 
on the outer ice. 

On the night of the 14th the mate had sighted land, and 
the same again in the morning, and then at no very great 


Ilistance. Later, however, it grew foggy, and we could not 
ell how near we were, though we thought we could not be 
ar off, as we had been sailing all day towards it in open 

Our baggage is brought up upon deck, all preparations are 
made for our departure, and our despatches and letters are 

(By the Author^ front a photograph.) 

written. Towards dinner-time, as I sit down below busy with 
my correspondence, I hear the magic word " land " from the 
deck. I rush up, and a glorious sight meets my eyes. It 
seemed, so to say, to set the finest chords of my heart vibrat- 
ing. Right before me through the veil of mist lay the sunlit 
shore of Greenland, the glorious array of peaks which lie to 
the north of Cape Dan. Ingolfsfjeld is especially prominent, 


but further to the north there seem to be still higher tops. 
Never have I seen a landscape of more savage beauty, or 
nature in wilder confusion, than here — a landscape of sharp 
peaks, ice, and snow. 

We were probably about thirty-five miles from land, but as 
we see ice ahead we turn southwards, continually drawing 
nearer. It looks as if we could get right into shore down 
by Cape Dan, as the belt here trends inwards. But as we 
get nearer we find that there is more ice than we expected. 

On our way south we pass several enormous icebergs, and 
on one or two of them we saw rocks. When one first sees 
these monsters at a distance they look like tracts of land, and 
several times we thought we saw islands lying right ahead, 
though when we came nearer we found them to be nothing 
but ice. South of Cape Dan especially were numbers of these 
giants lying aground. 

However, we could make no attempt to land that day, nor 
on the next. There was too much ice, the belt being from 
fifteen to twenty miles wide, and it seemed better to see how 
things looked further south. 

On the 1 6th we passed Cape Dan, which is unmistakable 
with its round dome-like form. The ice still lay far out to 
sea, the belt being over fifteen miles in width. Further west, 
however, the blue tint of the air suggests that there is a deep 
inlet stretching landwards. We pin our hopes on this channel, 
make for it, and in the course of the night actually reach it. 

When I came upon deck on the morning of the 17 th I saw 
plainly enough that the landing must be attempted that day, 
and a climb to the masthead only served to strengthen my 
resolve. The mountains round Sermilikfjord lay enticingly 
before us. Further west we could see the "Inland ice," the 
goal of our aspiration, stretching far inwards in a white un- 
dulating plain. This was the first time we had come within 
sight of it 

It could not have been much more than ten or twelve miles 
to the nearest land, and for the first bit the ice was fairly prac- 


ticable. Further in certainly it seemed to be somewhat closely 
packed, but I could see small pools here and there, and on 
the v.'hole the ground looked as if it might well have been 
worse. At places I could see a good deal of small ice, which 
makes the portage of the boats difficult, though, again, it is 
better to deal with than the larger floes, which are often hard 
to move when it is a case of forcing the boats through the 

But what especially struck me as making the outlook hope- 
ful was the reflection from open water which I could see from 
the masthead beyond the ice, and between it and land. The 
probability, therefore, was that when we had broken our way 
through the middle of the ice-belt, where the floes lay closest, 
we should then find looser ice merging into the open water 
beyond. It would, no doubt, have been an easy matter for a 
boat like the Jason to push her way through this little belt, 
for often before we bad gone through much worse ice. But 
then it had been a case of seal, the real business of the ship, 
while now things were in a somewhat different position. Had 
the vessel been mine I should not have hesitated a moment 
about taking her in ; but we were only guests on board, and, 
besides, she was not insured against the risks of effecting a 
; landing in Greenland. The currents and soundings of these 
waters are as yet unknown, and if the Jason were to lose 
her propeller in the ice she would probably be gone beyond 
all chance of salvation. She could not well supply its place, 
and, worst of all, in case the ship had to be abandoned here, 
it might be very difficult for her crew of sixty-four men to make 
their way to inhabited parts with the small stock of provisions 
they had on board. And furthermore, as I believed that we 
could get through without help, I never thought for an instant 
of asking the captain to take us further than to the edge of the 
ice, but gave orders to have our things packed and the boats 
got ready. 

As I have already said, we had brought one boat with us, 
which had been specially made for us in Christiania. But, 


as this would have been heavily laden with the somewhat 
voluminous equipment of the expedition, I gladly accepted the 
captain's kind offer of one of the Jason! s smaller sealing boats. 
So we had the two lowered and brought alongside, and there 
arose an unusual bustle on board with the opening of our cases 
and the packing of the boats. I cannot say which were more 
eager to help, the members of the expedition or the ship's crew ; 
but I think I may assert with confidence that the eagerness of 
the latter was not due to their anxiety to see the last of us, but 
to simple good-will of the most unselfish kind. 

The last touches were given to our despatches and home 
letters ; and if any of us had a specially dear friend to whom 
he wished to send a final farewell, it was sent, I take it, for it 
was not quite certain when the next meeting would be. But 
my companions seemed in a particularly cheerful humour, and 
there was no consciousness to be seen in the little band of 
preparation for a serious struggle. Nor was this to be wondered 
at, seeing that after six weeks of waiting and longing the hour 
of release was now at hand. The sensation which the sight of 
land that morning gave me was nothing short of delicious. 
As I then wrote to a friend, our prospects looked brighter than 
I had ever dared to hope. I had a sense of elasticity, as when 
one is going to a dance and expecting to meet the choice of 
one's heart. A dance indeed we had, but not on the floor 
of roses which we could have wished, and our heart's choice 
certainly kept us a long time waiting. 

Towards seven o'clock in the evening everything is ready 
for our start. Sermilikfjord lies now straight in front of us. 
According to the results of cross- bearings taken from points 
on shore we ought to be about nine miles from its mouth. I 
go up to the mast-head for the last time to see where the ice 
looks easiest, and what will be our best course. The reflection 
of open water beyond the ice is now more clearly visible than 
before. In a line somewhat west of Kong Oscars Havn the ice 
seems most open, and I determine to take that course. 

More confident than ever I descend to the deck, and now 


hour of departure is at hand. The whole of the Jason's 
crew were assembled. It spite of our joy at the prospect of 
a successful start, I think it was with much regret that we 
bid farewell to these brave sea-folk, with whom we had now 
spent six weeks, and among whom we had each of us found 
many a faithful friend, who at this moment assumed a doubt- 
ful air, or turned away his head with an expressive shake. No 
doubt they thought they would never see us again. We shook 
hands with Captain Jacobsen last of all, and in his calm, 
quiet way this typical Norwegian sailor bid us a kind farewell 
and wished us God-speed. 

Then down the ladder we went, and into the boats. I 
took charge of our Jason boat with Dietrichson and Balto 
at the oars, while Sverdrup steered the other with Ravna and 

" Ready ? Give way then ! " And as the boats rush through 
the dark water before the first vigorous strokes, the air rings 
with three lusty cheers from sixty-four voices, and then come 
two white clouds of smoke as the Jason's guns send us her 
last greeting. The report rolls heavily out into the thick, 
saturated air, proclaiming to the silent, solemn world of ice 
around us that we have broken the last bridge which could 
take us back to civilisation. Henceforth we shall follow our 
own path. Then good-bye ! and our boats glide with regular 
strokes into the ice to meet the first cold embrace of that 
nature which for a while is to give us shelter. All of us had 
the most implicit faith in our luck; we knew that exertion 
and danger awaited us, but we were convinced that we must 
and should get the better of them. 

When we had got some way into the ice a boat and twelve 
men in charge of the second mate overtook us. They had 
been sent by Captain Jacobsen to help us as far as they could 
the first part of the way by dragging our boats or forcing a 
passage. They kept with us for a while, but when I saw they 
could be of very little use to us, as we worked our way through 
as fast as they did, I thanked them for their kindness and 


sent them back. We then reach a long stretch of slack ice, | 
wave farewell to the boat, and push on with unabated courage. 

At first we advanced quickly. The ice was open enough i 
to let us row our way to a great extent among the floes, though i 
now and then we had to force a passage by the help of crow- j 
bars and axes. There were few places where we had to drag j 
our boats over the ice, and then the floes were small. It j 
had begun to rain a little before we left the Jason ; it now 
grew heavier, and the sky darkened and assumed a curiously 
tempestuous look. It was an odd and striking sight to see j 
these men in their dark-brown waterproofs, with their pointed j 
hoods, like monks' cowls, drawn over their heads, working 
their way surely and silently on in the two boats, one fol- i 
lowing close in the other's wake, amid the motionless white | 
ice-floes, which contrasted strangely with the dark and stormy I 
sky. Over the jagged peaks by Sermilikfjord black banks of I 
cloud had gathered. Now and again the mass would break, j 
and we could see as if through rents in a curtain far away to j 
a sky still glowing with all the lingering radiance of an Arctic j 
sunset, and reflecting a subdued and softer warmth upon the 
edges of the intercepting veil. Then in a moment the curtain I 
was drawn close again, and it grew darker than ever, while we, : 
stroke upon stroke, pushed indefatigably on, the rain beating 
in our faces. Was this an image of our own fate that we had J 
seen, to have all this radiance revealed to us and then hidden ; 
and cut off by a veil of thick, impenetrable cloud ? It could 
scarcely be so, but the soul of man is fanciful and superstitious, 
ready to see tokens on all sides of him, and willing to believe ! 
that the elements and the universe revolve on the axis of his | 
own important self. 

The ice now gave us rather more difficulty, and we had 
often to mount a hummock to look out for the best way. I 
From the top of one of these look-outs I waved a last farewell 
to the Jason with our flag, which she answered by dipping f 
hers. Then we start off again, and quickly, as we have no 
time to spare. 


From the first we had had a big iceberg far to the west of 
us, but now for a long time we had been astonished to see 
how much nearer we were getting to it, though we were not 
working in its direction, as our course lay considerably to the 
east. We saw it must be the current which was taking us 
west. And so it was ; we were being carried along with 
irresistible force, and it soon became plain that we could not 
pass to the east of this iceberg, but would have to go under 
its lee. Just here, however, we drift suddenly into a tearing 
mill-race which is driving the floes pell-mell, jamming them 
together and piling them one upon another. Both our boats 
ire in danger of destruction. Sverdrup drags his up on to a 
floe, and is safe enough. We take ours on towards an open 
pool, though every moment in danger of getting it crushed. 
The only course is to keep a sharp look-out, and clear all the 
dangerous points by keeping our boat always over the so- 
iled " foot," or projecting base of the floe, or in a recess or 
nlet in its side, when a nip is threatened. This is not easy 
n these irresistible currents, but by our united efforts we 
succeed, and reach a large open pool to the lee of the iceberg, 
ind are for the time secure. Now comes Sverdrup's turn ; I 
;ignal to him to follow us, and he succeeds, keeping his boat 
n calmer water than we had. 

We now find many good lanes of open water on our way 
nwards. The ice jams only once or twice, especially when 
he current carries us against one of the icebergs which lie 
tranded round about us, but it soon opens again, and we 
)ass on. Our prospects are good, and our hearts are light. 
The weather is better too : it has ceased to rain, and the 
ang of day is just rising behind the jagged background of 
>ermilikfjord, setting the still clouded heaven in a blaze, and 
ighting his beacons on the mountain tops. 

Long stretches of water lie in front of us, and I already 

ancy I can see from the boat the open water beyond the ice. 

Ve are very near the land to the west of Sermilikfjord, and 

can clearly and distinctly see the stones and details of the 


rocks and mountain side. It does not seem possible that 
anything can stop us and prevent our landing, and we are 
so self-confident that we already begin to discuss where and 
when we shall take our boats ashore. Just at this moment 
the ice packs, and we are obliged to find a place of safety for 
our boats, and drag them up. This we do, Sverdrup a little 
way off us. We have not secured a very desirable harbour 
for our boat, as the approach is too narrow, and when the 
floes part again and we are taking her out, a sharp edge of 
ice cuts through a plank in her side. She would no longer j 
float, and there was nothing to be done but unload her and 
pull her up on to the floe for repairs. Sverdrup and Kristianseni 
took her in hand and mended her again with really masterly I 
skill, and with little loss of time, considering the wretched! 
implements they had to use. We had nothing to give themi 
but a bit of deal which had formed the bottom board of one! 
of the boats, some nails, a hatchet, and a wooden mallet. Thisj 
broken boat, however, settled our fate. While we were at work 
the ice had packed again, the clouds had gathered, and thcf 
rain began to pour down in torrents, enveloping all around irj 
gloom and mist. The only thing to be done was to get up ouj| 
tent and wait. 

It is now ten o'clock on the morning of the 18th of July 
The best thing we can do is to crawl into our sleeping-bag; i 
and take the rest which is not unwelcome to us after fifteer! 
hours' hard and continuous work in the ice. 

Before, we turned in it grew a little clearer seawards, ancj 
through a break we caught sight of the Jason far away. Shi I 
was just getting up full steam, and a while later she disap 
peared in the distance, no doubt comfortably believing that wl 
were now safe on shore. This was our last glimpse of her. 

"When Ravna saw the ship for the last time," writes Balto 
"he said to me : 'What fools we were to leave her to die hi 
this place. There is no hope of life ; the great sea will be ou 
graves.' I answered that it would not have been right for u 
two Lapps to turn back. We should not have been paid, an<| 



perhaps the Norwegian consul would have had to send us to 
Karasjok out of the poor-rates. This would have been a great 

While we were asleep it was necessary for one of us to keep 
watch in order to turn the others out, in case the ice should 
open enough to let us make further progress. Dietrichson at 
once volunteered for the first watch. But the ice gave little or 
no sign of opening. Only once had I to consider the possi- 
bility of setting to work again, but the floes closed up immedi- 
ately. Dragging our boats over this ice was not to be thought 
of; it was too rough, and the floes were too small. So, while 
the rain continues, we have more time for sleep and rest than 
we care for. 

In fact, we were already in the fatal current. With irresistible 
force it first carried us westwards into the broader belt of ice 
beyond Sermilik fjord. Here it took a more southerly direction 
and bore us straight away from shore, at a pace that rendered 
all resistance on our part completely futile. Had we not been 
detained by our broken boat, we should probably have been 
able to cross the zone where the current ran strongest and get 
into quieter water nearer shore. As it was, the critical time was 
wasted, and we were powerless to recover it. 

The force of the current into which we had thus fallen was 
considerably greater than had been previously supposed. That 
1 current existed was well known, and I had taken measures 
lccordingly, but, had I had a suspicion of its real strength, T 
should certainly have gone to work in a different way. I should 
n that case have taken to the ice considerably further to the 
3ast, and just off Cape Dan, and had we then worked inwards 
icross the line of the stream we should probably have got 
:hrough the ice before we were driven so far west, i.e., past the 
nouth of Sermilikfjord, and into the broader belt of ice where 
:he current turns southwards. Then we should, as we had ex- 
pected, have reached shore all well on July 19, and chosen our 
anding-place where we had pleased. But now it was our fate 
see how well we might have managed. We had seen the 


open water under the shore, we had seen the rocks on the 
beach ; a couple of hours of easy work, and we should have 
been there. But Paradise was barred in our faces ; it was the 
will of Destiny that we should land many miles to the south. 

Meanwhile the rain is descending in streams, and we are 
constantly at work keeping our tent-floor clear of the pools of 
water which finds its way in through the lace-holes. After 
we have spent nearly twenty-four hours in the tent, mainly 
engaged in this occupation, the ice opens enough to tempt 
us to continue our efforts to reach land with renewed courage 
and restored vigour. This was at six o'clock on the morning 
of July 19. 

The rain has abated somewhat, and through an opening in 
the fog we can see land somewhere near Sermilikfjord. We 
are much more than double as far distant from it as we had ! 
been — some twenty miles, in fact ; but we look trustfully for- i 
ward to the future. For even if we did not reach shore at! 
Inigsalik, as we had hoped, we can still do so further south | 
at Pikiudtlek. All we have to do is to work resolutely across! 
the current, and we must get to shore sooner or later. As 
far as we could see, this was plain and simple reasoning andj 
gave us no ground for apprehension, but experience was tcj 
show us that our premisses were not altogether in accordance! 
with fact. The main factor in the calculation, the strength ol! 
the current, was unfortunately an extremely uncertain quantity! 

However, determination and courage were not wanting) 
We worked with glee, got to the lee of a huge iceberg, found 
lanes of open water stretching far inwards, and pushed a gooc 
way on towards land. 

Then the ice packs again, and we have to take refugi 
on a floe once more. The sun now finds its way througl 
the clouds from time to time, so we pull our boats right uj 
on to the floe, set up our tent, and settle down as comfortably 
as we can, get a change of clothes on, and dry a few of ou' 
wet things. This was a process I had especial need of, a! 
in the course of our day's work I had fallen into the water 



owing to the breaking of the edge of a floe as I was jumping 
into the boat. An involuntary bath of this kind was, how- 
ever, an almost daily experience to one or other of the ex- 
pedition. Later on in the day the sun comes out altogether, 
and we pass a really pleasant afternoon. We do thorough 
; justice to the tins of provisions sent us from the Stavanger 
Preserving Factory, and we have no lack of drink. Had we 
had no more beer in our keg, we could have found plenty of 
the most delightful drinking-water in pools on the floes. 

Our keg, I may say, belonged to the boat the Jason had 
handed over to us. All the small boats attached to the sealers 
are provided with a keg of beer and a chest of bread and 
bacon. The keg and chest the captain had let us carry off 
well supplied, much to our present comfort. 

We now for the first time can hear rather clearly the sound 
of breakers on the edge of the ice towards the sea, but pay 
no particular attention to the fact. We seem to be drifting 
straight away from land, and the tops of the mountains by 
Sermilikfjord gradually diminish. 

That evening I sit up late, long after the others have crept 
into their bags, to take some sketches. It is one of those 
glorious evenings with the marvellously soft tones of colour 
which seem to steal so caressingly upon one, and with that 
dreamy, melancholy light which soothes the soul so fondly, 
and is so characteristic of the northern night. The wild 
range of jagged peaks in the north by Sermilikfjord stands 
out boldly against the glowing sky, while the huge expanse 
of the " Inland ice " bounds the horizon far away to the west, 
where its soft lines melt gently into the golden background. 

The evening was lovely, and the " Inland ice " lay temptingly 
and enticingly just before me. Strange that a narrow strip of 
drifting floes should be able to divide us so hopelessly from 
the goal of our desires ! Is not this often the case in life ? 
The land of enchantment looks so alluring and so near. One 
spring would take us there, it seems. There is but one obstacle 
in our way, but that one is enough. 


As I sit and sketch and meditate I notice a rumbling in the 
ice, the sound of a growing swell which has found its way in 
to us. I turn seawards, where it looks threatening, and, think- 
ing that there is a storm brewing out there, but that that is of 
small consequence to us, I go at last to join my slumbering 
comrades in the bags to sleep the sleep of the just. 

Next morning, July 20, I was roused by some violent shocks 
to the floe on which we were encamped, and thought the motion 
of the sea must have increased very considerably. When we 
get outside we discover that the floe has split in two not far 
from the tent. The Lapps, who had at once made for the 
highest points of our piece of ice, now shout that they can see 
the open sea. And so it is ; far in the distance lies the sea 
sparkling in the morning sunshine. It is a sight we have not 
had since we left the Jason. 

I may here reproduce the entries in my diary for this and ' 
the following day : — 

" The swell is growing heavier and heavier, and the water 
breaking over our floe with ever-increasing force. The blocks 
of ice and slush, which come from the grinding of the floes 1 
together, and are thrown up round the edges of our piece, do j 
a good deal to break the violence of the waves. The worst of | 
it all is that we are being carried seawards with ominous rapidity. 
We load our sledges and try to drag them inwards towards | 
land, but soon see that the pace we are drifting at is too much; 
for us. So we begin again to look around us for a safer floe, 
to pitch our camp on, as our present one seems somewhat! 
shaky. When we first took to it it was a good round flat piece: 
about seventy yards across, but it split once during the night, 
and is now preparing to part again at other places, so that we 
shall soon not have much of it left. Close by us is a large; 
strong floe, still unbroken, and thither we move our camp. 

"Meanwhile the breakers seem to be drawing nearer, their 
roar grows louder, the swell comes rolling in and washes ovei! 
the ice all round us, and the situation promises before long tc 
be critical. 



M Poor Lapps ! they are not in the best of spirits. This 
morning they had disappeared, and I could not imagine what 
had become of them, as there were not many places on our 
little island where any of us could hide ourselves away. Then 
I noticed that some tarpaulins had been carefully laid over one 
of the boats. I lifted a corner gently and saw both the Lapps 
lying at the bottom of the boat. The younger, Balto, was 
reading aloud to the other out of his Lappish New Testament. 
1 Without attracting their attention I replaced the cover of this 
curious little house of prayer which they had set up for them- 
selves. They had given up hope of life, and were making 
ready for death. As Balto confided to me one day long after- 
wards, they had opened their hearts to one another here in 
the boat and mingled their tears together, bitterly reproaching 
themselves and others because they had ever been brought to 
leave their homes. This is not to be wondered at, as they 
have so little interest in the scheme. 

" It is glorious weather, with the sun so hot and bright that 
we must have recourse to our spectacles. We take advantage 
of this to get an observation, our bearings showing us to be in 
65 8' N. and 38 20' W., i.e., 30 minutes or about 35 miles 
from the mouth of Sermilikfjord, and from 23 to 25 minutes 
or about 30 miles from the nearest land. 

" We get our usual dinner ready, deciding, however, in honour 
of the occasion, to treat ourselves to pea-soup. This is the first 
time we have allowed ourselves to cook anything. While the 
soup is being made the swell increases so violently that our cook- 
ing apparatus is on the point of capsizing over and over again. 

" The Lapps go through their dinner in perfect silence, but 
the rest of us talk and joke as usual, the violent rolls of our 
floe repeatedly giving rise to witticisms on the part of one or 
other of the company, which in spite of ourselves kept our 
laughing muscles in constant use. As far as the Lapps were 
concerned, however, these jests fell on anything but good 
ground, for they plainly enough thought that this was not at 
all the proper time and place for such frivolity. 


" From the highest point on our floe we can clearly see how 
the ice is being washed by the breakers, while the columns of 
spray thrown high into the air look like white clouds against 
the background of blue sky. No living thing can ride the floes 
out there, as far as we can see. It seems inevitable that we 
must be carried thither, but, as our floe is thick and strong, we j 
hope to last for a while. We have no idea of leaving it before 
we need ; but when it comes to that, and we can hold on no 
longer, our last chance will be to try and run our boats out 
through the surf. This will be a wet amusement, but we are ; 
determined to do our best in the fight for life. Our provisions, 
ammunition, and other things are divided between the two j 
boats, so that if one is stove in and sinks we shall have enough i 
to keep us alive in the other. We should probably be able to 
save our lives in that case, but of course the success of the j 
expedition would be very doubtful. 

" To run one of our loaded boats into the water through the j 
heavy surf and rolling floes without getting her swamped or j 
crushed will perhaps be possible, as we can set all our hands | 
to work, but it will be difficult for the crew of the remaining 
boat to get their ship launched. After consideration we come j 
to the conclusion that we must only put what is absolutely j 
necessary into one boat, and keep it as light as possible, so i 
that in case of extremity we can take to it alone. For the I 
rest, we shall see how things look when we actually reach the • 

"We have scarcely half a mile left now, and none of us have 
any doubt but that before another couple of hours are passed 
we shall find ourselves either rocking on the open sea, making 
our way along the ice southwards, or sinking to the bottom. 

" Poor Ravna deserves most sympathy. He is not yet at all 
accustomed to the sea and its caprices. He moves silently 
about, fiddling with one thing or another, now and again goes 
up to the highest points of our floe, and gazes anxiously out ' 
towards the breakers. His thoughts are evidently with his 
herd of reindeer, his tent, and wife and children far away i 


on the Finmarken mountains, where all is now sunshine and 
summer weather. 

" But why did he ever leave all this ? Only because he was 
offered money ? Alas ! what is money compared with happiness 
and home, where all is now sun and summer ? Poor Ravna ! 

" Val ar far val det svaraste bland orden 
Och mycket skont der finnas an pa j orden." 

"It is but human at such moments to let the remembrance 
dwell on what has been fairest in life, and few indeed can have 
fairer memories to look back upon than yours of the mountain 
and reindeer-herd. 

" But here, too, the sun is shining as kindly and peacefully 
as elsewhere, down on the rolling sea and thundering surf, which 
is boiling round us. The evening is glorious, as red as it was 
yesterday, and as no doubt it will be to-morrow and ever after, 
setting the western sky on fire, and pressing its last long pas- 
sionate kiss on land and ice and sea before it disappears behind 
the barrier of the ' Inland ice.' There is not a breath of wind 
stirring, and the sea is rolling in upon us ruddy and polished as 
a shield under the light of the evening sky. The words of our 
good old song come unconsciously into my mind : — 

11 Havet er skjont naar det roligen hvselver 
Staalblanke skjold over vikingers grav." 

" Beautiful it is, indeed, with these huge long billows coming 
rolling in, sweeping on as if nothing could withstand them. 
They fall upon the white floes, and then, raising their green, 
dripping breasts, they break and throw fragments of ice and 
spray far before them on to the glittering snow, or high above 
them into the blue air. But it seems almost strange that such 
surroundings can be the scene of death. Yet death must come 
one day, and the hour of our departure could scarcely be more 

" But we have no time to waste ; we are getting very near 
now The swell is so heavy that when we are down in the 


hollows we can see nothing of the ice around us, nothing but 
the sky above. Floes crash together, break, and are ground to 
fragments all about us, and our own has also split. If we are 
going to sea we shall need all our strength in case we have to 
row for days together in order to keep clear of the ice. So all 
hands are ordered to bed in the tent, which is the only thing 
we have not yet packed into the boats. Sverdrup, as the most 
experienced and cool-headed among us, is to take the first watch 
and turn us out at the critical moment. In two hours Kristian- 
sen is to take his place. 

" I look in vain for any sign which can betray fear on the 
part of my comrades, but they seem as cool as ever, and their 
conversation is as usual. The Lapps alone show some anxiety, 
though it is that of a calm resignation, for they are fully con- 
vinced that they have seen the sun set for the last time. In 
spite of the roar of the breakers we are soon fast asleep, and 
even the Lapps seem to be slumbering quietly and soundly. 
They are too good children of nature to let anxiety spoil their 
sleep. Balto, who, not finding the tent safe enough, is lying in 
one of the boats, did not even wake when some time later it 
was almost swept by the waves, and Sverdrup had to hold it to 
keep it on the floe. 

" After sleeping for a while, I do not know how long, I am j 
woke by the sound of the water rushing close by my head and j 
just outside the wall of the tent. I feel the floe rocking up and j 
down like a ship in a heavy sea, and the roar of the surf is more | 
deafening than ever. I lay expecting every moment to hearj 
Sverdrup call me or to see the tent filled with water, but nothing i 
of the kind happened. I could distinctly hear his familiar! 
steady tread up and down the floe between the tent and the j 
boats. I seemed to myself to see his sturdy form as he paced I 
calmly backwards and forwards, with his hands in his pockets 
and a slight stoop in his shoulders, or stood with his calm and! 
thoughtful face gazing out to sea, his quid now and again' 
turning in his check — I remember no more, as I dozed off toj 
sleep again. 


"I did not wake again till it was full morning. Then I 
started up in astonishment, for I could hear nothing of the 
breakers but a distant thunder. When I got outside the tent 
I saw that we were a long way off the open sea. Our floe, 
however, was a sight to remember. Fragments of ice, big and 
little, had been thrown upon it by the waves till they formed 
a rampart all round us, and the ridge on which our tent and 
one of the boats stood was the only part the sea had not 

" Sverdrup now told us that several times in the course of 
the night he had stood by the tent-door prepared to turn us 
out. Once he actually undid one hook, then waited a bit, took 
another turn to the boats, and then another look at the surf, 
leaving the hook unfastened in case of accidents. We were 
then right out at the extreme edge of the ice. A huge crag 
of ice was swaying in the sea close beside us, and threatening 
every moment to fall upon our floe. The surf was washing us 
on all sides, but the rampart that had been thrown up round 
us did us good service, and the tent and one of the boats still 
stood high and dry. The other boat, in which Balto was asleep, 
was washed so heavily that again and again Sverdrup had to 
hold it in its place. 

"Then matters got still worse. Sverdrup came to the tent- 
door again, undid another hook, but again hesitated and waited 
for the next sea. He undid no more hooks, however. Just as 
things looked worst, and our floe's turn had come to ride out 
into the middle of the breakers, she suddenly changed her 
course, and with astonishing speed we were once more sailing 
in towards land. So marvellous was the change that it looked 
as if it were the work of an unseen hand. When I got out we 
were far inside and in a good harbour, though the roar of the 
breakers was still audible enough to remind us of the night. 
Thus for this time we were spared the expected trial of the 
seaworthiness of our boats and our own seamanship. 

Chapter VIII. 


"The 21st of July is a quiet day following a stormy night 
All is rest and peace ; we are drawing steadily away from the 
sea, the sun is shining kind and warm, round us stretch the 
fields of ice in silence and monotony, and even the Lapps 
seem relieved. 

" One thought only consumes me : the prospect of the ex- 
pedition failing for this time, and of a year being thus thrown 
away. Well, we can only do our best, and for the rest, as 
i we say at home, 'anoint ourselves with the good virtue of 

" We take advantage of the sun to get an observation. We 
found ourselves to be 64 39/ N. and 39 15' W. We can still 
see the peaks by Sermilikfjord, and the 'Inland ice' from 
Pikiudtlek northward toward Inigsalik stretches majestically in 
front of us, looking with its flat unbroken horizon like one vast 
white expanse of sea. No peaks rise from its surface except a 
fringe of dark tops and rocky points here and there along its 
outer edge. 

" Down here the coast is very different from the surround- 
ings of Sermilik, Angniagsalik, and Ingolfsfjeld. There, further 
north, the land rose high, abrupt, and wild out of the sea, the 
calm surface of the ' Inland ice ' hidden behind a glorious 
range of Titanic peaks, whose sublime beauty captivated and 
held the eye, and whose summits the all-levelling ice-mantle 
has never been able to envelop, destroy, and carry with it to 
the sea. Here, on the contrary, the land is low, the ice-sheet 
has brought its limitless white expanse down to the very shore, 


and the few projecting points that do appear are humble and 
unobtrusive. They have been planed by the ice, which by its 
overpowering might has borne all before it seawards. Wild- 
ness there is here too, but the wildness of desolation and 
monotony. There is nothing to attract the eye or fix its gaze, 
which therefore roams helplessly inwards over the alluring desert 
of snow, till it is lost in the far distance, where the horizon bars 
its further range. Sad to say, it is all too far distant from us. 
It is strange that we should have been so near our goal and 
then driven so far to sea again. 

" The floes now part a little, and we see a stretch of slack 
ice leading inwards. We launch one boat and try to make 
some way, but to little purpose, as the slush of ice and snow 
that lies between the floes and comes from their grinding 
together in the swell is so thick that our heavily-laden craft 
will make no progress. So we abandon the attempt ; to drag 
our sledges and boats over the floes is out of the question too, 
as the channels between them are too wide. We still hear the 
breakers in the distance ; the swell still rolls in and keeps the 
ice packed close." 

This day, the first on which we found time to do anything 
but simply work our way ahead or sleep, our meteorological 
record was begun. It was kept mainly by Dietrichson, who 
always, even in the most trying circumstances, devoted him- 
self to it with most praiseworthy ardour. We noted chiefly the 
temperature, the pressure, the moisture of the air, the direc- 
tion and force of the wind, and the extent and form of the 
clouds. Observations were taken as often and as circumstan- 
tially as possible, but of course on such an expedition, every 
member of which is as a rule fully occupied with work of an 
arduous kind, many gaps are likely to occur in the meteoro- 
logical record. This is especially the case at night, when one 
takes the rest earned by a day of real exertion. Yet I think 
I may say that the record we brought home is in spite of all 
remarkably complete, and contains many valuable observations, 
thanks to Dietrichson's indefatigable zeal. 



e days that now follow, spent in drifting in the ice south- 
wards along the coast, are somewhat monotonous, each much 
as its fellow. Every day we watch intently the direction we 
are drifting, the movements of the ice, and every gust of wind, 
in the hope that a lucky turn may bring us in to land. From 
the darkness of the air overhanging the ice, we feel sure there 
must be open pools along the shore, or else in the ice to the 
south of us. It is a life of hopes and disappointments, and 
yet a life not without pleasant memories for many of us. 

As some of my readers may find it interesting, and especially 
such as may contemplate future expeditions in the ice, I will 
give a short extract from the entries in my diary at this time. 

"Late in the afternoon of July 21, from a high hummock 
of ice, we can see a very narrow channel stretching far away 
to the south of us. As far as we can judge we are drifting 
along this towards its end, which seems to be far in towards 
shore. Our hope of a change in our luck, and a speedy land- 

, ing, naturally at once increases. 

"July 22. — In the night a fog comes on and hides every- 
thing from us. We cannot tell which way we are drifting, but 
the breakers sound no less distinct than they have been. 

. Later at night, however, we do not hear them so plainly, and 
the swell quiets down a little. 

" The fog continues the whole day, and the rolling as well. 
At noon, however, it clears up so much overhead that, by the 
help of a pool of water on our floe as an artificial horizon, I 
can take an observation. I find our latitude to be 64 18' N., 
so we are moving well southwards. 

" As in the course of the morning the ice opens a little, we 
try an empty boat in the slush between the floes. We can get 
on, but it is very slowly, and we think it is better to save our 
strength, as in the fog we cannot see which way we had better 

! work. Possibly a good chance of pushing for land may offer, 
and we shall then want all our energy. 

11 In the afternoon it clears, and we seem to be possibly a 

• little nearer land. A gentle breeze from the magnetic N. by 


E., or about the true W. by N., begins to blow, and we hope 
it may increase and part the ice, though the rolling still goes 
on. What we want is a good storm from land, which would 
kill this swell which is rolling in and holding the ice together, 
and would carry the floes seawards instead, while we should 
be able to push in between them. 

11 We see a number of big seal, bladder-nose, lying on the 
floes around us. Many of them bob their big round heads 
out of the pools close alongside our floe, stare wonderingly at 
these new dwellers on the ice who have thus appeared, and 
then, often with a violent splash, vanish again. This is a daily 
experience. We could easily shoot them, but, as we do not 
want them now, we leave them in peace. We have enough 
fresh meat as yet, a big haunch of our little horse which we 
brought off the fason. Through the afternoon the ice remains 

"July 23. — During the night we keep watch, two hours 
apiece, and we get a good laugh at Ravna. He does not 
understand the clock, and did not know when his two hours 
were up. So to make safe he willingly kept at it for five or six 
hours before he turned the next man out, with the innocent 
inquiry whether he did not think the two hours were over. 

" At half-past seven Dietrichson calls us up. We find the 
ice open, and, though there is slush between the floes, prac- 
ticable. After loading our boats and waiting half an hour on 
account of the ice packing again, we really get some way in to 
some pools which I can see from a high point stretch land- 
wards. For a time we get on fast. Before we left our last floe I 
a flock of some black duck flew past us, making north. The 
sight was like a greeting from land, and served to raise our 
hopes still further. It is quite astonishing, otherwise, what 
a scarcity of bird-life there is up here. There is not even a j 
gull to be seen. 

"We work inwards towards land the whole day, wait patiently 
while the ice packs, but push on all the harder when it opens | 
again. As we get near land our hopes rise. A raven comes 


flying from the south-west and passes over our heads, making 
northwards. This is another greeting from land, and we are 
still more encouraged. 

"We see several big seal, full-grown bladder-nose, lying 
about the floes round us. The temptation is too strong for 
a sportsman to withstand, and Sverdrup and I start off to shoot 
an old ' hattefant? as we call him, i.e., an old male with the 
bladder on his nose, who was lying close by. I managed to 
stalk him successfully and shot him, but when we got up to 
him he was not quite dead. In my zoological zeal I wish to 
improve the occasion by making observations on the colour 
of the eyes, the form of the bladder in the living animal, and 
other points which arc not yet clearly known to science. While 
I am thus engaged the seal flaps along towards the edge of the 
floe, and before we know what he is about he is slipping off the 
ice into the water. As he is falling I drive the seal-hook I am 
carrying into him, and Sverdrup does the same with his boat- 
hook. It is now a case of pull-devil, pull-baker between us, 
and we try and hold up the seal's tail and hinder parts, in 
which his strength lies, so that he shall not get a stroke in the 
water with them. For a time we succeed, but with difficulty, 
; for in his death-agony his strength is great. So, finding that 
we have not a really good hold of him, I tell Sverdrup to take 
the rifle and shoot him, and I will try and keep him up mean- 
while. He thinks, however, that his hold is better than mine, 
and that I had better leave go, and, while we are hesitating, 
both our hooks come away, the seal gives a couple of violent 
flaps, and is gone. Crestfallen and discomfited, we look now 
blankly in each other's faces, now helplessly into the dark water, 
where an air-bubble rises mockingly here and there to break 
on the surface, and to give us our seal's last greeting. Though 
he would have been of no great use to us, we felt not a little 
foolish at having lost so fine a booty in so silly a way. Sver- 
drup, too, thought he was the biggest seal he had ever seen. 
Compassionate readers may console themselves with the thought 
,that his sufferings were of no long duration. His struggles were 


but the last convulsions of his death-agony. The bullet had 
certainly been of somewhat small calibre, but had hit him in 
the right place, in the head. 

" As the evening wears on we are stopped. We have got 
into some unusually rough and difficult hummocky ice, which 
is closely packed, and makes the hauling of the boats almost 
impossible. So we spread our tent with the sleeping-bags on 
the top in order to be more ready for a start in case the ice 
opens. We then get into our bags, setting the usual watch, 
but as it turns out the ice does not open. The dew is very 



{By E. Nielsen, after photographs.) 

heavy during the night, so that the bags are found very wet in] 
the morning. 

"July 24. — To-day the ice is packed just as close, and w€i 
determine to drag the boats and sledges landwards. Most ol; 
our baggage is laid on the sledges, so that they can be putj 
into the boats when we come to open water. Just as we arc! 
ready to start, the ice opens, and we manage to punt ourselve* 
along a good way, though eventually we have to take to haul- 
ing. We get on but slowly, as the ice is not at all good ; but 
this is at least better than nothing, and we are steadily api 
proaching land. Our hopes are at their culmination. It is; 


the coast north of Igdloluarsuk which we see before us, and 
we begin at once to reckon how long il will take us to reach 
Pikiudtlek, where we shall be able to begin our journey over 
the ice. To-day, too, we see more birds : a raven and a flock 
of eight short-tailed skuas. Birds are always a comfort to us, 
and make our life much brighter. 

11 As the ice is difficult and the sun hot in the middle of the 
day, we halt and pitch our tent while dinner is being prepared 
It consists to-day of raw horse-flesh and marrowfat peas. The 
preparation gave rise to a comical scene. From the horse's 
leg which we brought with us from the Jason I proceeded to 
cut off as much meat as I thought was enough for six men, 
chopped it up on the blade of an oar, turned it into one of the 
divisions of our cooker, sprinkled some salt on it, added the 
contents of a couple of tins of peas, stirred the whole mixture 
up, and our dinner was ready. Balto had been standing by 
my side the whole time, watching every movement intently, 
s and indeed now and again giving me his assistance. He was 
hungry, and was looking forward to a good dinner, as he told 
me. Though, like the Lapps and other unenlightened folk 
generally, he had very strong prejudices against horse-flesh, 
>yet, when he saw me pour the peas in, he informed me that 
it looked uncommonly good. I said nothing, and gave him 
no hint that it was going to be eaten raw, but when it was all 
ready took the dish and put it down before the others, who 
were sitting outside the tent, and told them to help themselves. 
Those who had the good fortune to see it will not easily forget 
the face that Balto assumed at this juncture. It first expressed 
the supremest astonishment and incredulity, and then, when he 
discovered that it was bitter earnest, there followed a look of 
disgust and contempt so intensely comical that it was quite 
impossible for us to restrain our laughter. Balto now told 
iRavna in Lappish how matters stood, and he, up to this time 
an indifferent spectator, now turned away with an expression 
of, if it were possible, still greater scorn. 

" The rest of us, not letting this spoil our appetites, fell to 


with vigour, and did full justice to this nourishing and whole- 
some dish, with which we were more than satisfied. The two 
Lapps, had they said anything at all, would have called us 
heathens, for, as they explained one day afterwards, it was 
only heathens and beasts of the field that ate meat raw. But 
at the time they said nothing, but maintained an attitude of 
dumb despair at the fate which had thrown them into the 
society of savages, who had, as they often used to say, 'such 
strange ways, quite different from those of the Lapps.' They 
could scarcely endure to see us eating. I could, of course, 
easily have cooked some of the meat for them, but we had to 
be sparing of the spirit. We were likely to want it all later 
on, and it was only two or three times during our wanderings 
in the floe-ice that we allowed ourselves the luxury of cooking 
anything. As a rule all our food was cold, and for drink we 
had either plain water, of which we had an abundance in larger 
and smaller pools on the floes, or else a mixture of water and 
preserved milk, which made a pleasant and refreshing beverage. 
This time the Lapps were treated to tinned beef instead of the 
horse-flesh, and they seemed quite consoled for the first dis- 
appointment, the beef being pronounced by Balto to be ' good 
clean food.' How common it is to see things in this life turned 
completely upside down by prejudice ! " 

In connection with the above I will quote an answer Balto 
gave one day after we reached home to some one who asked 
what his worst experience had been in the course of his travels. 
" The worst thing," said Balto, " was once when we were drift- 
ing in the ice and were just being carried out into the Atlantic 
I asked Nansen whether he thought we should get to land, and 
he said ' Yes.' Then I asked him what we should do if we did, 
and he said we should row northwards. I wanted to know 
what we should live on if we did not get over to the west 
coast, and he said we should have to shoot something. Then 
I asked how we should cook it when we got it, and Nansen 
answered that we should have to eat it raw, which made Balto 
very depressed." 




" Towards evening we again advance a little, but, as the ice 
is not close-packed, and the swell is heavy, while the eddies 
and suction caused by the rolling of the floes are nasty for the 
boats, we soon resolve to camp for the night and wait for better 
times. There was a thick wet fog about us which soaked our 
clothes through, and a biting north-west wind, a message 
from the 'Inland ice,' which I hoped presaged the opening 
of the floes. 

(By E. Nielsen.) 

"July 25. — At half-past 
gfs?^ four I am woke by Kristian- 
sen, the watch, calling in at 
the tent-door, 'Nansen, there is a bear coming/ I tell him 
to get a rifle out of the boat, slip my boots on meanwhile, 
and run out in a very airy costume. The bear was coming 
1 at full speed straight for the tent, but just as Kristiansen 
came back with the rifle he stopped, regarded us for an 
instant, and suddenly turned tail. At that moment he was 
no doubt within range, but the rifle was in its case, and 
before I could get it out it was too late. It was very annoy- 


ing, but the others at least had the pleasure of seeing a polai 
bear, which they had long sighed for. 

" Balto was the only one who did not wake at the alarm in 
the night. In the morning he told us that during his watch, 
which came just before Kristiansen's, he had been so afraid 
of bears that he had not dared to stir from the tent the whole 
time. He was much astonished and very incredulous when 
we told him there really had been a bear about the place. 

"After breakfast we started off hauling again, but had to 
give up at the very next floe, because the swell was increasing. 
Ever since the day we were out among the breakers we have 
had more or less of this rolling, which besides keeps the ice 
packed and prevents our getting to land. 

" During the day the ice opens very much from time to time, 
but soon packs again. I dare not try to push on, as there is 
so much brash between the floes, and as there are no safe 
harbours of refuge for us to take to when the ice nips with the 
extreme suddenness which is its way now. The 'feet' or 
projecting bases of the floes are at other times safe resorts, but 
now they are quite spoilt by these nasty eddies, which are most 
destructive to boats. 

" As we can find nothing better to do we set to work to clean 
the sledge-runners of rust, so that they will move better. When 
this is done we get our dinner ready, which to-day consists of 
bean-soup, to which the remains of yesterday's raw meal and 
some more meat are added. During the cooking we take the 
latitude, which is 63 18' N. ; and the longitude, taken later in 
the afternoon, proves to be about 40 15' W. We are thus, 
about eighteen minutes, or nearly twenty miles, from land, and 
have drifted considerably further away than we were yesterday. 
Our hopes, which were then so bright, grow dim again, but a 
raven passing us to-day too brings us some consolation. 

" Dinner is at last ready and the soup poured out into the 
few cups we possess, which are supplemented by meat- tins. W« 
fall to, and all — the Lapps even included — find the soup ex 
cellent. Then to his horror and despair Ravna suddenly d»s 



covers that the meat in the soup is not properly cooked. From 
this moment he refuses to touch another morsel, and sits idle 
with a melancholy look on his face which sets us all laughing. 
.On such occasions his puckered little countenance is inde- 
scribably comical. Balto is not much better, though he manages 
to drink the soup, which he finds ' first-rate ' ; but the meat he 
gently deposits in a pool of water by his side, hoping that I 

(From a photograph.) 

shall not notice it. He now declares that he can say, in the 
words of the prophet Elias : ' Lord, that which I have not 
eaten, that can I not eat.' I tried to make him understand 
that Elias could certainly never have said anything of the kind, 
because he did eat what the Lord sent him, but that another 
man, known as the Apostle Peter, no doubt did say something 
like this, though it was in a vision, and the words were meant 
figuratively. Balto only shook his head doubtingly, and still 


maintained that none but heathens and beasts of the field would 
eat raw meat. We console the Lapps by giving them a meat- 
biscuit each. It is, of course, no use trying to teach old dogs 
to bark, and I really believe they would both have died of 
starvation rather than eat raw horseflesh. 

" To-day both Dietrichson and Kristiansen complain of irri- 
tation in the eyes, and I recommend every one to be careful 
to wear their glasses henceforward. 

"The ice remains about the same during the afternoon, 
while we drift fast southwards. In the course of the previous 
night we had been carried away from land, but we now seem 
to be drawing nearer it again. In the afternoon we are right 
off Skjoldungen, an island well known from Graah's voyage. 
Since we have come south of Igdloluarsuk we have again had 
a glorious Alpine region in view, with sharp and lofty peaks, 
and wild fantastic forms, which in the evening and sunset glow 
are an especially fascinating sight. 

" The rolling is increasing in an astonishing way, though we 
are far from the edge of the ice. There must be a very heavy 
sea outside. 

" We begin to find it cold at night, and put all the tarpaulins 
and waterproofs we can spare under our sleeping-bags. We 
may just as well make things as pleasant as possible. 

" When the rest go to bed I take the first watch in order to 
finish my sketches of the coast. This is very difficult, as we 
are so far south that the nights have already begun to darken 
considerably. My thoughts, however, soon desert pencil and 
sketch-book for contemplation of the night. 

" Perfect stillness reigns, not a breath of wind is stirring, and 
not even the growing swell can destroy the prevailing peace. 
The moon has risen large and round, and with a strange ruddy 
glow, up from the ice-fields to the east, and in the north there j 
is still a narrow golden strip of evening light. Far away under 
the moon and above the ice is a gleaming band which shows j 
the open sea ; inside this and all around is ice and snow, and j 
nothing but ice and snow ; behind lie the Greenland Alps with I 



their marvellously beautiful peaks standing out against a dusky, 
dreamy sky. 

11 It is strange indeed for a summer night, and far different 
from those scenes that we are wont to connect with moonlight 
and summer dreams. Yet it has fascination of its own, which 
more southerly regions can scarcely rival. 

" On the ice before me stand the boats, the sledges, and the 

(By E. Nielsen, from a sketch by the Author.) 

tent, in which my tired comrades are lying in sound slumber. 
In a pool of water by my side the moon shines calm and bright. 
All nature lies in an atmosphere of peace. So lately we had 
the day with all its burning eagerness and impatience, with its 
ponderings and restless designs upon the goal of our under- 
taking — and now all is stillness and repose. Over all the 
moon sheds her soothing light, her beams floating through 


the silence of the polar night, and gently and softly drawing 
the soul in their train. The thoughts and powers of Nature 
herself seemed to pervade all space. One's surroundings of 
place and time vanish, and before one appears the perspective 
of a past life instead. 

"And, when all comes to all, what is our failure to be 
reckoned? Six men drifting southwards on n floe, to land 
eventually at a point other than that contemplated. And 
either, in spite of this, we reach our goal — and in that case 
what reason have we to complain ? — or we do not reach it, and 
what then ? A vain hope has been disappointed, not for the 
first time in history, and if we have no success this year we may 
have better luck the next. 

"July 26. — No change, except that we are nearer the edge 
of the ice and the open sea. The swell seems to have gone j 
down considerably, and, though the sea is much nearer, we I 
feel the rolling less than yesterday. 

" We are drifting southwards along the coast, apparently at 
great speed. 

" For the time there is nothing for us to do, as the ice does 
not lie close enough to let us haul our boats and sledges while j 
this rolling is going on, but is packed too close to let us row i 
or punt our boats through. 

"We are kept in the tent by the rain. 

" We have to encourage the Lapps, who seem to lose their 
spirits more and more, because they think we shall end by 
being driven out into the Atlantic. We are sitting and talking 
of our prospects of reaching land, and we agree that in any j 
case we shall be able to manage it at Cape Farewell. We 
calculate how much time this will leave us, and come to the; 
conclusion that we shall still be able to work up the coast again \ 
and cross the ice. Some of the others maintain that even if we; 
are too late this year it will be best to start northwards at once, 
get through the winter as we best can, and then cross over to; 
the west coast in the spring. My opinion is that this will not 
be a very prudent proceeding, as it will be difficult for us toj 


keep the provisions intact which we have brought with us for 
the crossing. Dietrichson thinks that this will be the only 
course open to us, as he considers a return entirely out of the 
question, and as he says, ' We shall risk nothing but our lives, 

" While this discussion is going on, Balto says to me • ' Don't 
talk about all this, Nansen ; we shall never get to land. We 
shall be driven out into the Atlantic, and I only pray to my 
God to let me die a repentant sinner, so that I may go to 
heaven. I have done so much wrong in my life, but regret it 
bitterly now, as I am afraid I shall not be saved." I then 
asked him if he did not think it necessary to repent of his 
sins, even if he were not on the point of death. He said that 
he had no doubt one ought, but there was not so much hurry 
about it in that case. However, if he came out of this alive, 
he would really try and lead a better life. This seemed to me 
a naive confession of a peculiar faith, a faith which is, however, 

, probably not uncommon in our society. I then asked him if, 
in case he reached his home again, he would give up drinking. 
He said he thought he would, or at any rate he would drink 
very little. It was this cursed drink, he told me, that was the 

. cause of his being here in the ice. I asked how that was, and 
he said that he was drunk when he met a certain X., who 
asked him whether he would join the Greenland expedition. 
He was then in high spirits, and quite thought he was equal to 
anything of the kind. 

"But next morning when he woke up sober, and remem- 
bered what he had said, he repented bitterly. He thought 
then that it was too late to undo it all, but he would now give 
any amount of money not to have come with us at all. Poor 
fellow ! I consoled him and Ravna as well as I could, though I 
must freely confess that their despondency and cowardice often 
caused me considerable annoyance. But as a matter of fact 
the poor fellows did not enter into the spirit of the undertaking 
at all. I do not feel sure whether my consolation was of much 
avail, but I have reason to think so. They used often to come 



to me after this, and appeared relieved when I gave them any 
information about the continent of Greenland, and the drift of 
the ice, things of which they seemed to have little or no com- 

" Otherwise our spirits are excellent, and we are really com- 
fortable as we sit here in the tent. One or two of us are read- 
ing, others writing their diaries, Balto is mending shoes, and 
Ravna, as usual, and as he prefers, is doing nothing. Never 
theless, our prospect of soon being carried out to sea again 
cannot be called entirely pleasant. 

" In the afternoon it clears a little, the rain holds up, and 
we can see land, which looks quite as near as it did before. 

(By A. Block, /rom a sketch by the Author.) 

" A little later we determine to push in through the ice. It 
is dangerous work, but we must make the attempt, as we are 
being carried towards the open sea at great speed. We make 
a good deal of way inwards, though we are in constant risk of 
getting our boats crushed. We have to keep all our wits about 
us if we are to get the boats into shelter when the ice packs. 
One time we take refuge at the very last moment on a thin 
little floe, which splits into several pieces under the pressure, j 
though the fragment on which we stand remains intact. 

" As the ice continues packed, we begin hauling, though 
this is no easy matter while this rolling goes on. The floes 
at one moment separate, at another are jammed together, and ! 


it is very difficult to get the sledges safely from one to the 
other without losing them in the sea. Often we have to wait 
a long time before we can get back and fetch the rest of the 
train from the floe on which we have left it. By moving 
cautiously, however, we manage to push on at a fair pace. 
But it is all of little use. It serves to give us exercise, which 
is an important thing, but otherwise our work does little good. 
The sea works faster than we do, and there is every probability 
of our being carried out into the breakers again. Well, so let 
it be ; but we must first find a good ship to carry us. We 
set about carefully surveying all the floes round us, and we 
now understand pretty well what the points of a good floe are. 
At last we find one, of solid blue ice, thick, but not large, and 
in shape something like a ship, so that it will ride the seas 
well, and without breaking across. It has high edges, too, 
which will keep the sea from breaking over it, and at the same 
time there is one lower place which will let us launch our boats 
without much difficulty. It is without comparison the best 
floe we have been on as yet, and on it we propose, if we are 
driven out, to remain as long as we can stick to it, however 
furiously the breakers rage around us. 

" Of course we had as usual made sure, before we decided 
upon this floe, that there were pools of water upon it. Such 
there are indeed on most of these floes, for the snow which 
covers the ice melts and provides the most excellent drinking- 
water, which collects in pools of larger or smaller size. 

"Nevertheless we looked very foolish this time when we 
were filling our boiling-pot, and, happening to taste the water, 
found it was brackish. It had not struck us that most of the 
snow was now melted away, and that our water came from the 
underlying salt-water ice. However, on examining the highest 
points of the floe, where the snow still remained, we found 
plenty of good water. 

" This evening we had an excellent cup of coffee and were 
all in high spirits. If any one could have put his head into 
our comfortable tent, and seen us encamped round our singing 


coffee-pot and carelessly talking about all sorts of trifles, it 
would never have struck him that these were men who were 
on the point of engaging in a struggle with ice, sea, and 
breakers, which was not likely to be altogether a joke. But 
let us enjoy the moment, look just so far in front of us as 
is necessary, and for the rest leave the day to attend to its 
own evil. 

"We are now just off the mountains of Tingmiarmiut Along 
the whole of this magnificent coast of East Greenland one group 
of wild Alpine peaks succeeds the other, each more beautiful 
than the last. Really it is not so bad after all to lie drifting 
here in the ice. We see more of the coast and more of the 
beauties of nature altogether than we should have otherwise. 

" To-night it is fine, still, and cold, with a bright moon, as 
it was yesterday. 

" It must be that coffee which is making me sit out here and 
talk nonsense, instead of creeping into my sleeping-bag as I 
ought, in order to gather strength for the exertions of to-morrow. 
Good-night ! 

''July 27. — Did not go to bed after all till well into the 
morning. There is no doubt it was a clear case of coffee- 

" Walked about talking to Sverdrup through his watch and 
afterwards, recalling our school-days. Life and the world seem 
so strangely distant to us as we drift in the ice up here. 

"July 28. — Yesterday we did nothing, and the same is the j 
case to-day. Our fear of being driven out into the breakers j 
again was by no means groundless. Yesterday we were within j 
much less than half a mile, and yet we almost wished to go, 
as by putting out to sea we should bring this life in the ice 
to an end. The sea was moderate and the wind fair, and we 
might thus have reached Cape Farewell within twenty-four ; 
hours. When there we should certainly have been able to 1 
push through the ice and get to land. However, we were not 
to go to sea after all. After we had drifted along the ice at its j 
outer edge for a time, we began to move inwards in a field of 1 



floes, which seemed to extend away south. The ice -belt is 
here very narrow, and on taking our bearings upon several 
points on the coast we found that, though at the outer edge 
of the ice, we were not more than eighteen miles from land at 
Mogens Heinesens Fjord 

"The weather, which was yesterday bitterly cold with a 
wintry and clouded sky, is bright again to-day. The sun is 
shining warm and encouragingly down upon us. The 'Inland 
ice ' north and south of Karra akungnak lies stretched before 
us pure and white, looking to the eye a level and practicable 
plain, with rows of crags peeping through the ice — the so-called 
% nunataks' — away behind, more of them, by the way, than 
are marked on Holm's map. The expanse of snow beckons 
and entices us far into the unknown interior. Ah, well ! we 
too shall have our day." 

With this sanguine expression of confidence, which was 

perhaps remarkable considering the number of times we had 

! been disappointed, my diary for this section of our journey 

curiously enough concludes. The next entry is dated July 31, 

and thus begins : — 

"A strange difference between our surroundings now and 
\ those when I last wrote ! Then they were ice, solitude, and 
the roaring of the sea, now they are barking dogs, numbers 
of native Greenlanders, boats, tents, and the litter of an en- 
campment — in short, life, activity, and summer, and above all, 
the rocky soil of Greenland beneath our feet." 

These lines were written as we were leaving the first Eskimo 
encampment we had come to, but before I continue from this 
point I had better explain how we managed to get so far. 

On the evening of July 28, after having finished the entry 
in my diary which I have quoted above, we drifted into a fog 
which concealed the land from us. In the course of the after- 
noon the ice had several times opened considerably, though 
we were very near its outer edge, where one would have ex- 
pected the swell to keep it packed close. It had not, however, 
> opened to such an extent that we could safely take the boats 


inwards, because of the rolling. But as some of us were taking 
the ordinary evening walk before turning in, we were struck by 
the way in which the floes were separating. It looked to us 
as if the ice were opening even out seawards, which was an 
extremely unusual sight. We felt we really ought to set to 
work, but we were tired and sleepy, and no one seemed at all 
inclined for such a proceeding. To tell the truth, too, I was 
now quite tired of being disappointed in the way we had been, 
and was very strongly disposed to put straight out to sea. We 
had now so often worked inwards through open ice, and the 
only result of all our labour had been to get driven out to sea 
again. This time, thought I, we will see what happens if we 
sit idle instead of working. And so we crept into our bags, 
though leaving the usual man on watch with orders to call us 
out in case the ice opened still more. 

In the night the fog thickened and nothing was to be seen j 
of our surroundings. Sverdrup's watch came on towards morn 
ing. He told us afterwards that as he walked up and down in 
the fog and after a time looked at the Compass, it struck him 
that he must have gone clean out of his wits. Either he or 
the instrument must have gone mad, for the black end of the 
needle was pointing to what he held to be south. For if he 
looked along the needle with the black end away from him 
he had the breakers on his left. But if the end of the needle 
pointed to the north, as it ought, then the breakers must be j 
on the west or land side. This could not be, so he must sup- ! 
pose that either he or the needle had gone crazy, and, as this I 
is not a weakness to which compasses are liable, therefore i 
the fault must lie with him, though it was a state of things 
which he had certainly never contemplated. Subsequently the j 
phenomenon was explained in a somewhat different way, for j 
the breakers he had heard proved to be the sea washing the ■ 

In the morning I happened to be lying awake for a time. 
It was now Ravna who had the watch, and, as usual, he had 
kept at it for four hours instead of two. I lay for some time j 


/atching with amusement his bearded little face as it peeped 
hrough the opening into the tent. At first I thought he was 
wondering whether his two hours were not up and he might 
rake Kristiansen, who was to follow him. But then it struck 
le that to-day there was a peculiar, uneasy expression in this 
ice, which was not at all familiar. So at last I said : " Well, 
tavna, can you see land ? " And he answered eagerly in his 
ueer, naive way : " Yes, yes, land too near." Both the 
^pps habitually used altfor^ " too," instead of meget, " very." 

jumped out of the bag and from the tent-door saw land 
mch nearer than we had ever had it before. The floes were 
:attered, and I could see open water along the shore Ravna 
'as indeed right ; land was much too near for us to be lying 
lly in our bags. So I turned the others out, and it was not 
mg before we had dressed and breakfasted. The boats were 
omened and loaded, and we were soon ready. Before we left 
lis floe, which had carried us so well and was in all probability 
( ).be our last, I went up on to its highest point to choose our 
est course for land. Our surroundings were changed indeed, 
'he whole field of ice seemed to have been carried away from 
nd and outwards to the south-east. I could see nothing but 
j:e in that direction, and there was that whiteness in the air 
Dove it which betokens large fields. Towards the south, on 
le contrary, and along the shore, there seemed to be nothing 
ut open water. We were not far from the edge of this water, 
id it stretched northwards also for some way along the coast, 
,iding at a point where the ice seemed to lie close into the 
nd. We were therefore now on the inner edge of the ice- 
alt, and the outer edge was not distinctly visible from where 
■ stood. It is strange how quickly one's fate changes. It was 
uite plain that we should now soon be on shore, and, had 
lis been told us yesterday, not one of us would have allowed 
le possibility of such a thing. 

So off we started and pushed quickly landwards. The water 
as open enough for us to row pretty well the whole way, there 
<2ing only two or three places where we had to force a passage. 



Some hours later we were through the ice. The feelings 
that possessed us as we took our boats by the last floe and saw 
the smooth, open water stretching away in front of us up to the 
very shore are scarcely to be described in words. We felt as 
if we had escaped from a long and weary imprisonment and 
now all at once saw a bright and hopeful future lying before 
us. Life was indeed bright and hopeful now, for when can it 
be brighter than when one sees the attainment of one's wishes 
possible, when uncertainty at last begins to pass into certainty? 
It is like the tremulous joy which comes with the breaking I 
day, and when is not the dawn fairer and brighter than the full j 
noontide ? 

Chapter IX. 


The first thing we did when we were through the ice was to 
look for the nearest land. We wanted to feel the Greenland 
rocks beneath our feet as soon as possible, and, besides, I had 
long promised chocolate and a Sunday dinner for the day we 
first touched dry land again. 

Almost opposite to us, and nearer than anything else, was 
the high rounded summit of Kutdlek Island. It would, how- 
ever, have taken us too much out of our way to put in here, 
'as we were going north. So we steered across the open water 
to the more northerly island of Kekertarsuak. 

On the way we passed under a huge iceberg which lay 
stranded here in the open water. On its white back sat flocks 
'of gulls, strewn like black dots about its surface. As we went 
by, a big piece of ice fell crashing into the water, and crowds 
of seabirds rose and wheeled round us, uttering their mono- 
tonous cries. This was all new to us. To have living crea- 
tures about us again was cheering indeed, while it was even 
still more grateful to be able to row unhindered through all 
this open water. 

As we advanced, however, we found that we had still some 
obstacles to pass before reaching land, as there was another 
belt of ice stretching southwards parallel with the shore. But 
it was of no great breadth, and, as the ice was fairly open, 
we forced our way through without much trouble. At last 
our boats, flying the Norwegian and Danish flags, glided under 
a steep cliff, the dark wall of which was mirrored in the bright 
water, and made it nearly black. The rock echoed our voices 



as we spoke, and the moment was one of extreme solemnity. 
Beyond the cliff we found a harbour where we could bring 
our boats ashore. Then we scrambled out, each striving to 
get first to land and feel real rocks and stones under his feet, 
and to climb up the cliffs to get the first look round. We 
were just like children, and a bit of moss, a stalk o*" grass, to 
say nothing of a flower, drew out a whole rush of feelings. 
All was so fresh to us, and the transition was so sudden and 
complete. The Lapps ran straight up the mountain side, and 
for a long while we saw nothing more of them. 

(By the A uthor. ) 

But as soon as the first flood of joy was over we had tc 
turn to more prosaic things, that is to say, our promised^ 
dinner. The cooker was put up on a rock down by the boats, 
and the chocolate set under way. Plenty of cooks were read); 
to help, and meanwhile I thought I might as well follow th< 
Lapps' example and go for a mountain climb, to see hovi 
things looked, and how the land lay further north. 

So I started up, first over some bare rock, over a drift o: 
snow, and then across some flat, moorlike ground, grown wit! 
lichens and heather, and sprinkled with huge erratic boulders 


an still clearly and distinctly remember every stone and 
every stalk. How strange it was, too, to have a wider view 
again, to look out to sea and see the ice and water shining 
far below me, to see the rows of peaks round about me lying 
bathed in the hazy sunshine, and to see, too, the " Inland ice " 
stretched out before me, and, I might say, almost beneath 
my feet. 

To the south was the high rounded summit of Kutdlek 
Island, and beyond it the fine outline of Cape Tordenskjold. 
I welcomed the latter as a fellow-countryman, as not only the 
name but the form recalled Norway. I sat down on a stone 
to take a sketch and bask in the sun. As I rested there, 
delighting in the view and the mere fact of existence, I heard 
something come singing through the air and stop in the 
neighbourhood of my hand. It was a good well-known old 
tune it sang, and I looked down at once. It was a gnat, a 
real gnat, and presently others joined it. I let them sit quietly 
biting, and took pleasure in their attack. They gave me, these 
dear creatures, sensible proof that I was on land, as they sat 
there and sucked themselves full and red. It was long, no 
doubt, since they last tasted human blood. But this was a 
pleasure of which, as shall soon be told, we had afterwards 
reason to grow more than tired. 

I sat a while longer, and presently heard a familiar twitter. 
I looked up and saw a snow-bunting perched on a stone close 
by, and watching the stranger's movements with his head 
first on one side and then on the other. Then he chirped 
again, hopped on to the next stone, and, after continuing his 
inspection for a while, flew off. At such times and places life 
Is always welcome, and not least so when it comes in the form 
bf a twittering little bird, and finds a response in the small 
aird element of one's own nature, especially if one has long 
Deen outside the regions of spring and summer. Even a 
spider which I came across among the lichens on a stone 
on my way up was enough to turn my thoughts to home and 
cindlier scenes 

i 5 o 


From my point of vantage I could see a good way to the 
north. It looked as if we were to have open ice for the first 
bit, but beyond Inugsuit the floes seemed to lie closer, and 
clearly promised to give us trouble. But it was now time for 
me to go down and join the others, as the chocolate must be 
nearly ready. It was nothing like so, however, when I reached 
the shore. The water was not yet boiling, and it was plainly 

{From a photograph.) 

a case of unskilful cooks. But they had certainly not had much 
practice while we were drifting south, as, if I remember right, 
we had only cooked three times in twelve days. Meanwhile Ij 
spent the time in taking a photograph of the scene— of a spot 
which takes a prominent place in the history of our expedition. J 
At last the long-expected chocolate was ready, and six patient 
throats could at last enjoy deep draughts of the glorious nectar. 
Besides fuller allowances of the ordinary fare, we were treated 


honour of the day, to adjuncts in the form of oatmeal 
biscuits and Gruyere cheese, and our native delicacies " mysost " 
and " tyttebaer"-jam. It was indeed a divine repast, surpassing 
anything we had had hitherto ; we deserved it and equally well 
enjoyed it, and our spirits were at the height of animation. 

Balto's account of our stay on this island sets forth that " the 
spot was quite free of snow, grass-grown, and covered with 
heather and a few juniper-bushes. We had quite a little feast 
here, and were treated to all the best we had — cheese, biscuits, 
jam, and other small delicacies. The cooking-machine was 
put up on a rock ; we made chocolate, and sat round the pot, 
drinking, with the sea lying at our feet. Nansen took several 
pictures, and the place was named GameTs Haven." 

We came to the conclusion that we might for this once take 
our time and enjoy life to the full, but that this must be the 
last of such indulgence. Henceforth our orders were to sleep 
as little as possible, to eat as little and as quickly as possible, 
and to get through as much work as possible. Our food was 
to consist in the main of biscuits, water, and dried meat. To 
cook anything or to get fresh meat there would be little or 
no time, though there was plenty of game. The best of the 
season was already passed, and little of the short Greenland 
summer remained. But still we had time to reach the west 
coast, if only we used that time well. It was a question of 
sticking to our work, and stick to it indeed we did. 

Our grand dinner was at last finished, and about five o'clock in 
the afternoon we embarked again and started on our way north. 

At first we pushed on quickly, as the water-way was good 
and clear, but as evening came on things changed for the 
worse. The ice packed closer, and often we had to break our 
way. From time to time, however, we came upon long leads 
of open water and made ground fast. The sun sank red 
behind the mountains, the night was still and woke all our 
longings, the day lay dreaming beyond the distant peaks, but 
there was little time for us to indulge in sympathy with Nature's 
moods and phases. The whole night we worked northwards 


through the ice. At midnight it was hard to see, but with 
attention we could distinguish ice from open water by the 
reflection from the glowing evening sky. 

I was the more anxious to push on, for it was not far to the 
ill-famed glacier of Puisortok, where Captain Holm on his 
voyage along the coast in 1884 was kept by the ice seventeen 
days. I imagined that the reason why this spot had so evil a 
reputation was because the current held the floes more closely 
packed here than elsewhere, and it seemed to me of vital 
importance that we should reach this point of difficulty as 
soon as possible, in order to take the first opportunity caused 
by the opening of the ice to push by. 

In the course of the night we reached the headland of 
Kangek or Cape Rantzau, where the ice was packed so close 
that we could row no longer, but had to force our way. 
Before our axe, long boat-hooks, and crowbars all obstacles 
had, however, to recede, and we worked steadily on. But the 
new ice formed on the water between the floes added much 
to our labour, as towards morning it grew thicker and hindered 
the boats considerably, and it even remained unmelted till 
well into the day. Towards morning, too, our strength began 
to give out ; we had now worked long and were hungry, as we 
had eaten nothing since our great dinner of the day before. 
Some of us were so sleepy, too, that we could scarcely keep 
awake. In our zeal to push onwards, and our enjoyment of 
our new life, we had quite forgotten bodily needs, which now 
asserted themselves with greater insistence. So we landed on a 
floe to rest and refresh ourselves. Breakfast was a pure enjoy- 
ment, though we could scarcely allow that we had time to sit still 
to eat it. Then came the sun; his beams shot up through 
space, lighter and lighter grew the sky, the spot on the north- 
east horizon burned brighter and brighter, and then the globe 
of fire himself rose slowly above the plain of ice. We let mind 
and body bask in his rays; new life quickened in us, and 
weariness had in a moment fled away. Once more we set to 
work in the growing dawn. 



ut the ice was closer packed than ever, and inch by inch 
and foot by foot we had to break our way. Often things 
looked simply hopeless, but my indefatigable comrades lost not 
heart ; we had to push through, and push through we did. 

We passed Cape Rantzau, passed Karra akungnak, which 
is known from Holm and Garde's voyage in 1884, and 
reached Cape Adelaer, where things were bad, even to de- 
spair. The floes lay jammed together, huge and unwieldy, 
and refused to move. With our long boat-hooks we tried 
to part them, but in vain. All six as one man fell to, but 
they lay like rocks. Once more we put all our strength into 
our work, and now they gave. A gap of an inch inspirited 
us ; we set to again, and they opened further. We now knew 
our strength, and perseverance was sure of its reward. Pre- 
sently they had parted so far that we could take the boats 
through after hacking off the projecting points of ice. Thus 
we pass on to the next floe, where the same performance is 
repeated. By united exertion pushed to its utmost limits, we 
force our way. It needs no little experience to take boats 
safely through ice like this. One must have an eye for the 
weak points of the floes, must know how to use to the best 
advantage the forces at one's disposal, must be quick to seize 
the opportunity and push the boats on just as the floes have 
parted, for they close again immediately, and if the boats are 
not through, and clear, they are at once unmercifully crushed. 
Several times, when we were not quite quick enough, Sver- 
drup's boat, which followed mine, was nipped between the 
floes till her sides writhed and bulged under the pressure ; but 
her material was elastic, and she was finally always brought 
through without real mishap. 

At last we passed Cape Adelaer, and worked along the 
shore, through ice that still lay closely packed, to the next 
promontory, which I have since named Cape Garde. We 
reached this cape about noon, and determined to land and 
get something to eat, and some sleep, both of which we sorely 
needed after more than twenty-four hours' hard and continuous 


work in the ice. We had just with great difficulty dragged oui 
boats up the steep rocks, pitched our tent, and begun our pre- 
parations for dinner, when there occurred an event which was 
entirely unexpected, and to our minds indeed little short oi 

My diary of the next day records the occurrence thus : — 
" Yesterday, July 30, about noon, after an incredibly labori 
ous struggle through the ice, we had at last put in by — lei 
us for the moment call it Cape Garde — a promontory to the 
north of Karra akungnak to get some food and a few hours 
sleep. The much-dreaded glacier, Puisortok, lay just in from 
of us, but we hoped to get by it without delay, though it hac 
kept Holm back for no less than seventeen days. While 
we were having some dinner, or, more accurately, were busj 
getting it ready, I heard amid the screams of the gulls a crj 
of a different kind, which was amazingly like a human voice 
I drew the others' attention to the fact, but there was so little 
probability of our finding human beings in these regions thai 
for some time we were contented to attribute the noise to 1 
'diver' (Colymbus) or some similar bird, which was perhaps 
as little likely to occur up here as a human being himself 
However, we answered these cries once or twice, and the] 
came gradually nearer. Just as we were finishing our mea 
there came a shout so distinct and so close to us that mosl 
of us sprang to our feet, and one vowed that that could be 
no 'diver.' And indeed I think that even the staunches' 
adherent of the sea-bird theory was constrained to waver 
Nor was it long before Balto, who had jumped up on a roci 
with a telescope, shouted to us that he could see two men 
I joined him at once, and soon had the glass upon two blacl 
objects moving among the floes, now close to one another 
now apart. They seemed to be looking for a passage through 
as they would advance a bit and then go back again. At lasi 
they come straight towards us, and I can see the paddle! 
going like mill-sails — it is evidently two small men in 'kayaks. 
They come nearer and nearer, and Balto begins to assume 


a half-astonished, half-uneasy look, saying that he is almost 
afraid of these strange beings. They now come on, one 
bending forwards in his canoe as if he were bowing to us, 
though this was scarcely his meaning. With a single stroke 
they come alongside the rocks, crawl out of their 'kayaks,' 
one carrying his small craft ashore, the other leaving his in 
the water, and the two stand before us, the first representatives 
of these heathen Eskimo of the east coast, of whom we have 
heard so much. Our first impression of them was distinctly 
favourable. We saw two somewhat wild but friendly faces 
smiling at us. One of the men was dressed in a jacket, as 
well as breeches, of sealskin, the two garments .leaving a 
broad space uncovered between them at the waist. He had 
on ' kamiks,' the peculiar Eskimo boots, and no covering for 
the head except a few strings of beads." 

Here my entry describing this strange meeting is broken 
off, though my recollection of the scene is still as vivid as 
1 if it had all happened yesterday, and it is an easy matter for 
me to supply all that is wanting. The other one had, to our 
surprise, some garments of European origin, as his upper parts 
were clad in an "anorak," a sort of jacket, of blue cotton stuff 
with white spots, while his legs and feet were cased in sealskin 
trousers and " kamiks," and his waist was also to a large extent 
quite bare of clothing. On his head he had a peculiar broad 
and flat-brimmed hat, formed of a wooden ring over which 
blue cotton stuff had been stretched. On the crown was a 
large red cross covering its whole expanse. This pattern of 
head-dress, in various garish colours, and generally with the 
cross upon it, is very common among the Eskimo of the east 
coast. They use them when in their " kayaks," partly for the 
shade they afford, and partly for the decorative effect Later 
they showed us some of these hats with great pride. They 
were little fellows, these two, evidently quite young, and of 
an attractive appearance, one of them, indeed — be with the 
beads in his hair — being actually handsome. He had a dark, 
almost chestnut-brown skin, long jet-black hair drawn back 


from the forehead by the band of beads and falling round his 
neck and shoulders, and a broad, round, attractive face with 
features almost regular. There was something soft, something 
almost effeminate, in his good looks, so much so indeed that 
we were long in doubt whether he was a man at all. Both 
these little fellows were of light and active build, and were 
graceful in all their movements. 

As they approached us they began to smile, gesticulate, and 
talk as fast as their tongues would go, in a language of which, 
of course, we understood not a single word. They pointed 
south, they pointed north, out to the ice and in to the land, 
then at us, at our boats, and at themselves, and all the time 
chattering with voluble persistence. Their eloquence, indeed, 
was quite remarkable, but little did it enable us to comprehend 
them. We smiled in our turn and stared at them in foolish 
helplessness, while the Lapps showed open indications of un- 
easiness. They were still a little afraid of these "savages," 
and held themselves somewhat in the background. 

Then I produced some papers on which a friend had written 
in Eskimo a few questions the answers to which I was likely 
to find serviceable. These questions I now proceeded to 
apply in what was meant to pass for tolerable Eskimo, but 
now came the Greenlanders' turn to look foolish, and they 
stared at me and then at each other with an extremely puzzled 
air. I went through the performance again, but with exactly 
the same result, and not a word did they understand. Per- 
severing, I tried once or twice more, the only effect of which 
was to make them gesticulate and chatter volubly together, 
leaving us as wise as we were before. In despair I threw the 
papers down, for this was a performance that could only lead 
to premature grey hair. I wanted to find out something about 
the ice further north, but the only semblance of success was 
that I thought I heard them mention Tingmiarmiut, at the 
same time pointing northwards, and once, too, Urnanak — or, 
at least, I seemed to catch some sounds which these names 
might be supposed to represent — but even this left us in 


exactly the same state of darkness. Then I had recourse to 
signs, and with better success, for I learned that there were 
more of them encamped or living to the north of Puisortok, 
and that it was necessary to keep close under the glacier to 
get by. Then they pointed to Puisortok, made a number of 
strange gesticulations, and assumed an inimitably grave and 
serious air, admonishing us the while, all of which apparently 
meant that this glacier was extremely dangerous, and that 
we must take the greatest care not to run into it, nor to look 
at it, nor to speak as we passed it, and so on. These East 
Greenlanders, it is said, have a number of superstitious notions 
about this particular glacier. Then we tried by means of signs 
to make them understand that we had not come along the land 
from the south, but from the open sea, which intelligence only 
produced a long-drawn sonorous murmur, deep as the bellow 
of a cow, and, as we supposed, meant to express the very 
extremity of astonishment. At the same time they looked at 
one another and at us with a very doubtful air. Either they 
did not believe a word we told them, or else, perhaps, they 
took us for supernatural beings. The latter was probably 
their real estimate of us. 

Then they began to admire our equipment. The boats, 
above all, attracted their attention, and the iron fittings espe- 
cially excited the greatest astonishment and admiration. 

We gave them each a bit of meat-biscuit, at which they 
simply beamed with pleasure. Each ate a little and carefully 
put away the rest, evidently to take home to the encampment. 
All this while, however, they were shivering and quaking with 
the cold, which was not to be wondered at, as they had very 
little in the way of clothing on, and, as I have said, were com- 
pletely naked about the waist, while the weather was any- 
thing but warm. So, with some expressive gestures telling us 
that it was too cold to stand about there in the rocks, they 
prepared to go down to their canoes again. By signs they 
asked us whether we were coming northwards, and, as we 
answered affirmatively, they once more warned us against the 


perils of Puisortok, and went down to the water. Here they 
put their skin-capes on, got their " kayaks " ready, and crept 
in with the lightness and agility of cats. Then with a few 
strokes they shot as swiftly and noiselessly as water-fowl over 
the smooth surface of the sea. Then they threw their har- 
poons or bird-spears, which flew swift as arrows and fell true 
upon the mark, to be caught up again at once by the 
"kayaker" as he came rushing after. Now their paddles 
went like mill-sails as they darted among the floes, now they 
stopped to force their way or push the ice aside, or to look for 
a better passage. Now, again, an arm was raised to throw the 
spear, was drawn back behind the head, held still a moment 
as the dart was poised, then shot out like a spring of steel 
as the missile flew from the throwing-stick. Meanwhile they 
drew further and further from us; soon they looked to us 
like mere black specks among the ice far away by the glacier; 
and in a moment more they had passed behind an iceberg 
and disappeared from our view. And we remained behind, 
reflecting on this our first meeting with the east coast Eskimo. 
We had never expected to fall in with people here, where, 
according to Holm and Garde's experience, the coast was 
uninhabited. These we thought must be some migrant body, 
and in this belief we retired to our tent, crept into our bags, 
and were soon fast asleep. 

Balto's description of this meeting, though written a year 
after the occurrence, agrees so closely with the notes in my 
diary which were entered the day after it, but have never been 
accessible to him, that I think I ought to quote it in justice to 
his memory, if not for its own sake. " While we were sitting 
and eating," he writes, "we heard a sound like a human voice, 
but we thought it was only a raven's cry. Presently we heard 
the same sound again, and now some of us thought it was a 
loon screaming. Then I took the glasses and went up on to 
a point of rock, and, looking about, saw something black 
moving across an ice-floe. So I shouted, 'I can see two 
men over there on the ice.' and Nansen came running up at 


once and looked through the glass too. We now heard them 
singing their heathen psalms, and called to them They 
heard us at once, and began to row towards us. It was not 
long before they reached us, and as they came closer one of 
them gave us a profound bow. Then they put in to shore, 
and, getting out, dragged their canoes up on to land. As 
they came near us they lowed like cows, which meant that 
they wondered what sort of folk we were. Then we tried to 
talk to them, but we could not understand a word of their 
language. So Nansen pulled out his conversation-book and 
tried to talk to them that way ; but it was no use, because 
we could not make out how the letters were pronounced in 
their language. Then Nansen went down to the boats and 
fetched some biscuit, which he gave to them, and afterwards 
they rowed away again northwards." 

About six o'clock in the afternoon I woke and went out of 
the tent to see what the ice was doing. A fresh breeze was 
blowing off the land, and the floes had parted still more than 
before. There seemed to be a good water-way leading north, 
and I called my companions out. 

We were soon afloat and steering northwards for the dreaded 
glacier, in the best water we had had as yet. I was in con 
stant fear, however, that things would be worse further on, 
and lost no time. But things became no worse, and the ice 
up here consisted chiefly of larger and smaller glacier-floes, 
which are much better than sea-floes to have to deal with in 
wooden boats, which are not cut by their sharp edges as skin- 
boats are. What hindered us most was that the water between 
the floes was full of small brash of the broken glacier ice. 
We pushed through, however, and the water proved compara- 
tively good the whole way. Without meeting serious obstacles 
we passed the glacier, sometimes rowing right under the per- 
pendicular cliffs of ice, which showed all the changing hues of 
glacier-blue, from the deepest azure of the rifts and chasms to 
the pale milky-white of the plain ice-wall, and of the upper 
surface, on which the snow still lay here and there in patches. 


It is difficult to see what it really is that has given this 
glacier its evil reputation. It has very little movement in- 
deed, and therefore seldom calves, and when it does the pieces 
which come away must be relatively small, for there are no 
large icebergs to be seen in the sea near its edge. Nor is 
there depth enough of water to make such possible, and, 
furthermore, at several points the underlying rock is visible, so 
that the glacier does not even reach the water throughout its 
whole extent. 

However, Graah and even earlier writers record the excessive 
dread which the Eskimo have for this dangerous glacier, which 
is always ready to fall upon and crush the passer-by, and far 
away from which, out at sea, huge masses of ice may suddenly 
dart up from the depths and annihilate both boat and crew. 
The name Puisortok also points in this direction, as it means 
" the place where something shoots up." It occurs at more 
than one point on the eastern coast in connection with glaciers, 
though its real force and intention is not easily explicable. 
That the Greenlander crews employed by Holm and Garde 
had the same superstitious dread of this same glacier is made 
very plain in their interesting narrative. Garde tells us that 
the idea prevalent among the natives of the southern part of 
the west coast is that " when one passes Puisortok one has to 
row along under an overhanging wall of ice which may fall at 
any instant, and over masses of ice which lurk beneath the 
surface of the water, and only await a favourable moment to 
shoot up and destroy the passing boats." 

The Eskimo of the south-west have no doubt got their 
superstitious notions from the wild natives of the east coast 
with whom they have come into contact. The latter even 
have a number of rules of conduct which should govern the 
behaviour of the passer-by if he wish to escape alive. There 
must be no speaking, no laughing, no eating, no indulgence in 
tobacco, neither must one look at the glacier, nor mention the 
name Puisortok. If he do the latter, indeed, the glacier's 
resentment is such that certain destruction is the result. 


1 In spite of all this one thing is certain, that Puisortok falls 
: ar short of its reputation. As I afterwards discovered, it is not 
>ven in connection with the great sheet of " Inland ice." It is 
i comparatively small local glacier lying upon a mountain ridge 
^hich is separated from the " Inland ice " by a snow-covered 
/alley on its inner side. This is, of course, the reason of its 
datively slight movement, which, according to Garde's measure- 
nents, is not above two feet in the twenty-four hours. Its very 
"orm and inclination also point to the fact that it is only local 

The only remarkable thing about it is that it has so long 
i frontage to the sea. Garde estimates its breadth at about 
ive miles, which is apparently correct. This fact, as Garde 
;uggests, must plainly be the reason why the Eskimo are so 
ifraid of it, for, as it comes right out into the sea, and has no 
)rotecting belt of islands and rocks, they are forced to pass 
.long its face in the course of their journeys up and down the 
:oast. The Eskimo dread any passage of the kind, which is 
lot unreasonable, as the glaciers are continually calving, or 
hopping masses of ice from their upper parts, and the danger 
o passing craft is by no means imaginary. For if a boat 
lappen to be off a glacier at the moment of its calving, it will 
n most cases, no doubt, be lost beyond all hope of salvation, 
wen if the falling masses do not come into direct contact with 
t, the water is agitated to such a tremendous extent, and the 
ioes and floating fragments of ice are thrown about so violently, 
hat the chances of escape are very small. 

All the great glaciers, however, lie far in the recesses of narrow 
jords, which in the course of ages they have themselves cut 
•ut or deepened by their powerful onward movement But it 
; seldom that the Eskimo find their way into these fjords, and 
: is not as a rule necessary for them to pass close under these 
uge cliffs of ice, whose dangerous caprices they nevertheless 
'ell know. It is therefore, after all, not so much a matter for 
wonder that they feel anxiety when they have to pass so long a 
tretch of glacier as Puisortok, notwithstanding its compara- 
ively gentle ways. 


Be this as it may, we passed the glacier without mishap, 
and no superstitious terror prevented us from enjoying to the 
full the fantastic beauty of these mighty walls of ice. 

The water was still comparatively favourable as we worked 
north, and we pushed on fast. Our courage rose and rose, 
and we grew more and more convinced that nothing would now 
hinder us from reaching our goal 

{By E. Nielsen, from a photograph.) 

Chapter X. 


As we drew near Cape Bille, the promontory which lies to the 
north of Puisortok, we heard strange sounds from shore — as it 
were, a mixture of human voices and the barking of dogs. 
; As we gazed thither we now caught sight of some dark masses 
of moving objects, which, as we examined them more closely, 
we found to be groups of human beings. They were spread 
over the terrace of rock, were chattering in indistinguishable 
Babel, gesticulating, and pointing towards us as we worked our 
way quietly through the ice. They had evidently been watch- 
ing us for some time. We now too discovered a number of 
skin-tents which were perched among the rocks, and at the 
same time became aware of a noteworthy smell of train-oil or 
some similar substance, which followed the off-shore breeze. 
Though it was still early, and though the water in front of us 
seemed open for some distance, we could not resist the temp- 
tation of visiting these strange and unknown beings. At the 
moment we turned our boats towards shore the clamour in- 
creased tenfold They shrieked and yelled, pointed, and 

1 64 


rushed, some down to the shore, others up on to higher rocks 
in order to see us better. If we were stopped by ice and took 
out our long boat-hooks and bamboo poles to force the floes 
apart and make ourselves a channel, the confusion on shore 
rose to an extraordinary pitch, the cries and laughter growing 
simply hysterical. As we got in towards land some men came 
darting out to us in their "kayaks," 
among them one of our acquaintances 
of the morning. Their faces one and 
all simply beamed with smiles, and in 
the most friendly way they swarmed 
round us in their active little craft, 
trying to point us out the way, which 
we could quite well find ourselves, and 
gazing in wonder at our strong boats as 
they glided on regardless of ice which 
would have cut their fragile boats of 
skin in pieces. 

At last we passed the last floe and 
drew in to shore. It was now growing 
dusk, and the scene that met us was one 
a of the most fantastic to which I have ever 
been witness. All about the ledges of 
rock stood long rows of strangely wild and 
cape bille. shaggy-looking creatures — men, women, 

iFrom a photograph.) ^ ^^^ ^ {n much fa same 

scanty dress — staring and pointing at us, and uttering the same 
bovine sound which had so much struck us in the morning. 
Now it was just as if we had a whole herd of cows about 
us, lowing in chorus as the cowhouse door is opened in the 
morning to admit the expected fodder. Down by the water's 
edge were a number of men eagerly struggling and gesticulating 
to show us a good landing-place, which, together with other 
small services of the kind, is the acknowledged Eskimo wel- 
come to strangers whom they are pleased to see. Up on the 
rocks were a number of yellowish-brown tents, and lower down , 




canoes, skin-boats, and other implements, while more "kayaks" 
swarmed round us in the water. Add to all this the neighbour- 
ing glacier, the drifting floes, and the glowing evening sky, and, 
lastly, our two boats and six unkempt-looking selves, and the 
whole formed a picture which we at least are not likely to for- 
get. The life and movement were a welcome contrast indeed 
to the desolation and silence which we had so long endured. 

It was not long, of course, before our boats were safely 
moored, and we standing on shore surrounded by crowds of 
natives, who scanned us and our belongings with wondering 
eyes. Beaming smiles and kindliness met us on all sides. A 
smiling face is the Eskimo's greeting to a stranger, as his 
language has no formula of welcome. 

Then we look round us for a bit Here amid the ice and 
snow these people seemed to be comfortable enough, and we 
felt indeed that we would willingly prolong our stay among 
them. As we stopped in front of the largest tent, at the sight 

' of the comfortable glow that shone out through its outer open- 
ing, we were at once invited in by signs. We accepted the 
invitation, and as soon as we had passed the outer doorway a 
curtain of thin membranous skin was pushed aside for us, and, 

' bending our heads as we entered, we found ourselves in a cosy 

The sight and smell which now met us were, to put it 
mildly, at least unusual. I had certainly been given to under- 
stand that the Eskimo of the east coast of Greenland were in 
the habit of reducing their indoor dress to the smallest possible 

, dimensions, and that the atmosphere of their dwellings was the 
reverse of pleasant. But a sight so extraordinary, and a smell 
so remarkable, had never come within the grasp of my imagi- 
nation. The smell, which was a peculiar blending of several 
characteristic ingredients, was quite enough to occupy one's 
attention at first entrance. The most prominent of the com- 
ponents was due to the numerous train-oil lamps which were 
burning, and this powerful odour was well tempered with 
human exhalations of every conceivable kind, as well as the 



pungent effluvia of a certain fetid 
liquid which was stored in vessels 
here and there about the room, and 
which, as I subsequently learned, 
is, from the various uses to which 
it is applied, one of the most im- 
portant and valuable commodities 
of Eskimo domestic economy. 
Into further details I think it is 
scarcely advisable to go, and I 
must ask the reader to accept my 
assurance that the general effect 
was anything but attractive to the 
unaccustomed nose of the new- 
comer. However, familiarity soon 
has its wonted effect, and one's first 
abhorrence may even before long 
give way to a certain degree of 
pleasure. But it is not the same 
with every one, and one or two of 
our party were even constrained to 
retire incontinently. 

For my own part, I soon found i 
myself sufficiently at ease to be able 
to use my eyes. My attention was 
first arrested by the number of | 
naked forms which thronged the 
tent in standing, sitting, and 
reclining positions. All the oc- 
cupants were, in fact, attired in 
their so-called "natit" or indoor 
dress, the dimensions of which 


I. Woman's breeches; II. Man's indoor dress ; > 
111. Woman's indoor dress ; IV. Amulet-strap 
worn by men ; V. " Kamik," or Eskimo boot ; 
VI. and VII. Knives- 



are so extremely small as to make it practically invisible to the 
stranger's inexperienced eye. The dress consists in a narrow 
band about the loins, which in the case of the women is reduced 
to the smallest possible dimensions. 

Of false modesty, of course, there was no sign, but it is 
not to be wondered at that the unaffected ingenuousness with 
which all intercourse was carried on made a very strange 
impression upon us conventional Europeans in the first in- 
stance. Nor will the blushes which rose to the cheeks of 
some among us when we saw a party of young men and 
women who followed us into the tent at once proceed to attire 
themselves in their indoor dress, or, in other words, divest 
themselves of every particle of clothing which they wore, be 
laid to our discredit, when it is remembered that we had been 
accustomed to male society exclusively during our voyage and 
adventures among the ice. The Lapps especially were much 
embarrassed at the unwonted sight. 

The natives now thronged in in numbers, and the tent was 
soon closely packed. We had been at once invited to sit 
down upon some chests which stood by the thin skin-curtain 
at the entrance. These are the seats which are always put 
at the disposal of visitors, while the occupants have their 
places upon the long bench or couch which fills the back 
part of the tent. This couch is made of planks, is deep 
enough to give room for a body reclining at full length, and 
is as broad as the whole width of the tent. It is covered 
with several layers of seal-skin, and upon it the occupants 
spend their whole indoor life, men and women alike, sitting 
often cross-legged as they work, and taking their meals and 
rest and sleep. 

The tent itself is of a very peculiar construction. The 
framework consists of a sort of high trestle, upon which a 
number of poles are laid, forming a semicircle below, and 
converging more or less to a point at the top. Over these 
poles a double layer of skin is stretched, the inner coat with 
the hair turned inwards, and the outer generally consisting 



of the old coverings of boats and "kayaks." The entrance is 
under the above-mentioned trestle, which is covered by the 
thin curtain of which I have already spoken. 

This particular tent housed four or five different families. 
Each of them had its own partition marked off upon the 
common couch, and in each of the stalls so formed man, wife, 
and children would be closely packed, a four-foot space thus 
having sometimes to accommodate husband, two wives, and 
six or more children. 

Before every family stall a train-oil lamp was burning with 
a broad flame. These lamps are flat, semicircular vessels of 
pot-stone, about a foot in length. The wick is made of dried 
moss, which is placed against one side of the lamp and con- 
tinually fed with pieces of fresh blubber, which soon melts 
into oil. The lamps are in charge of the women, who have 
special sticks to manipulate the wicks with, to keep them both 
from smoking and from burning too low. Great pots of the 
1 3ame stone hang above, and in them the Eskimo cook all 
their food which they do not eat raw. Strange to say, they 
use neither peat nor wood for cooking purposes, though such 
fuel is not difficult to procure. The lamps are kept burning 
' night and day ; they serve for both heating and lighting pur- 
poses, for the Eskimo does not sleep in the dark, like other 
people ; and they also serve to maintain a permanent odour of 
train oil, which, as I have said, our European senses at first 
found not altogether attractive, but which they soon learned 
not only to tolerate, but to take pleasure in. 

As we sat in a row on the chests, taking stock of our strange 
surroundings, our hosts began to try and entertain us. The use 
of every object we looked at was kindly explained to us, partly 
by means of words, of which we understood nothing, and partly 
by actions, which were somewhat more within reach of our com- 
prehension. In this way we learnt that certain wooden racks 
which hung from the roof were for drying clothes on, that the 
substance cooking in the pots was seal's -flesh, and so on. Then 
they showed us various things which they were evidently very 


proud of. Some old women opened a bag, for instance, and 
brought out a little bit of Dutch screw-tobacco, while a man 
displayed a knife with a long bone handle. These two things 
were, no doubt, the most notable possessions in the tent, for 
they were regarded by all the company with especial veneration. 
Then they began to explain to us the mutual relations of the 
various occupants of the tent. A man embraced a fat woman, 
and thereupon the pair with extreme complacency pointed to 
some younger individuals, the whole pantomime giving us to 
understand that the party together formed a family of husband, 
wife, and children. The man then proceeded to stroke his wife 
down the back and pinch her here and there to show us how 
charming and delightful she was, and how fond he was of her, 
the process giving her, at the same time, evident satisfaction 

Curiously enough, none of the men in this particular tent 
seemed to have more than one wife, though it is a common 
thing among the east coast Eskimo for a man to keep two if he 
can afford them, though never more than two. As a rule the* 
men are good to their wives, and a couple may even be seen to; 
kiss each other at times, though the process is not carried out 
on European lines, but by a mutual rubbing of noses. Domestic' 
strife is, however, not unknown, and it sometimes leads to violenlj 
scenes, the end of which generally is that the woman receives! 
either a vigorous castigation or the blade of a knife in her anr! 
or leg, after which the relation between the two becomes d 
cordial as ever, especially if the woman have children. 

In our tent the best of understandings seem to prevail amonj 
the many occupants. Towards us they were especially friendly 
and talked incessantly, though it had long been quite clea 
to them that all their efforts in this direction were absolutely 
thrown away. One of the elders of the party, who was evil 
dently a prominent personage among them, and probably a> 
"angekok" or magician, an old fellow with a wily, cunning e>» 
pression, and a more dignified air than the rest, managed tj 
explain to us with a great deal of trouble that some of ther 
had come from the north and were going south, while other 



had come from the south and were bound north ; that the two 
parties had met here by accident, that we had joined them, and 
that altogether they did not know when they had had such a 
good time before. Then he wanted to know where we had 

(From a photograph taken by the Danish " Konebaad" expedition.) 

come from, but this was not so easily managed. We pointed 
out to sea, and as well as we could tried to make them under- 
stand that we had forced our way through the ice, had reached 
land further south, and then worked up northwards. This 
information made our audience look very doubtful indeed, 


and another choius of lowing followed, the conclusion evi- 
dently being that there was something supernatural about us. 
In this way the conversation went on, and all things considered, 
we were thoroughly welL entertained, though to an outside 
observer, our pantomimic efforts would, of course, have seemed 
extremely comical. 

I will not be rash enough to assert that all the faces that 
surrounded us were indisputably clean. Most of them were, 
no doubt, naturally of a yellowish or brownish hue, but how 
much of the colour that we saw in these very swarthy counte- 
nances was really genuine we had no means of deciding. In 
some cases, and especially among the children, the dirt had 
accumulated to such an extent that it was already passing into 
the stage of a hard black crust, which here and there had begun 
to break away and to show the true skin beneath. Every face, 
too, with few exceptions, simply glistened with blubber. Among 
the women, especially the younger section, who here as in some 
other parts of the world are incontinently vain, washing is said to 
be not uncommon, and Holm even accuses them of being very 
clean. But as to the exact nature of the process which leads 
to this result it will perhaps be better for me to say no more. 

It might be supposed that the surroundings and habits of 
these people, to which I have already referred, together with 
many other practices, which I have thought it better not to 
specify, would have an extremely repellent effect upon the I 
stranger. But this is by no means the case when one has once I 
overcome the first shock which the eccentricity of their ways 
is sure to cause, when one has ceased to notice such things as: 
the irrepressible tendency of their hands to plunge into the ; 
jungle of their hair in hot pursuit, as their dirt-encrusted faces 
— a point on which, I may remark, we ourselves in our then 
condition had little right to speak — and as the strange atmos- 
phere in which they live ; and if one is careful at first not 
to look too closely into their methods of preparing food, the; 
general impression received is absolutely attractive. There is ai 
frank and homely geniality in all their actions which is very 



winning, and can only make the stranger feel thoroughly com- 
fortable in their society. 

People's notions on the subject of good looks vary so much 
that it is difficult to come to a satisfactory determination with 
I regard to these Eskimo. If we bind ourselves down to any 
established ideal of beauty, such as, for instance, the Venus of 
Milo, the question is soon settled. The east coast of Green- 
land, it must be confessed, is not rich in types of this kind. 
But if we can only make an effort and free our critical faculty 
from a standard which has been forced upon it by the influences 
of superstition and heredity, and can only agree to allow that 
the thing which attracts us, and on which we look with delight, 
for these very reasons possesses the quality of beauty, then the 
problem becomes very much more difficult of solution. I have 
no doubt that, were one to live with these people for a while 
and grow accustomed to them, one would soon find many a 
pretty face and many an attractive feature among them. 

As it was, indeed, we saw more than one face which a 
European taste would allow to be pretty. There was one 
woman especially who reminded me vividly of an acknowledged 
beauty at home in Norway; and not only I, but one of my 
companions who happened to know the prototype, was greatly 
struck by the likeness. The faces of these Eskimo are as a 
rule round, with broad, outstanding jaws, and are, in the case 
of the women especially, very fat, the cheeks being particularly 
exuberant. The eyes are dark and often set a little obliquely, 
while the nose is flat, narrow above and broad below. The 
whole face often looks as if it had been compressed from the 
front and forced to make its growth from the sides. Among 
the women, and more especially the children, the face is so flat 
that one could almost lay a ruler across from cheek to cheek 
without touching the nose ; indeed, now and again one will see 
a child whose nose really forms a depression in the face rather 
than the reverse. It will be understood from this that many 
, of these people show no signs of approaching the European 
standard of good looks, but it is not exactly in this direction 



that the Eskimo's attractions, generally speaking, really lie. At 
the same time there is something kindly, genial, and complacent 
in his stubby, dumpy, oily features which is quite irresistible. 

Their hands and feet alike are unusually small and well- 
shaped. Their hair is absolutely black, and quite straight, 

(By E. Nielsen^ front a photograph taken by the Danish " Konebaad" expedition.) \ 

resembling horse-hair. The men often tie it back from thr 
forehead with a string of beads and leave it to fall down ove 
the shoulders. Some who have no such band have it cuj 
above the forehead or round the whole head with the jawborn 
of a shark, as their superstitions will not allow them on an; 
account to let iron come into contact with it, even when th 



doubtful course of having it cut at all has been resolved upon. 
But, curiously enough, a man who has begun to cut his hair in 
his youth must necessarily continue the practice all his life. 
The women gather their hair up from behind and tie it with a 
strip of seal-skin into a cone, which must stand as perpendi- 
cularly as possible. This convention is, of course, especially 
stringent in the case of the young unmarried women, who, to 
obtain the desired result, tie their hair back from the forehead 
and temples so tightly that by degrees it gradually gives way, 
and they become bald at a very early age. A head which has 
felt the effects of this treatment is no attractive sight, but the 
victim in such cases has generally been a long time married 
and settled in life, and the disadvantage is therefore not so 
keenly felt. 

After we had been sitting in the tent for a while one of the 
elders of the company, the old man with the unattractive ex- 
pression, of whom I have already spoken, rose and went out. 
Presently he came in again with a long line of seal-skin, which, 
as he sat on the bench, he began to unroll. I regarded this 
performance with some wonder, as I could not imagine what 
was going to happen. Then he brought out a knife, cut off a 
long piece, and, rising, gave it to one of us. Then he cut off 
another piece of equal length and gave it to another, and the 
process was repeated till we all six were alike provided When 
he had finished his distribution he smiled and beamed at us, 
in his abundant satisfaction with himself and the world at large. 
Then another of them went out, came back with a similar line, 
and distributed it in like manner ; whereupon a third followed 
his example, and so the game was kept going till we were each 
of us provided with four or five pieces of seal-skin line. Poor 
things ! they gave us what they could, and what they thought 
would be useful to us. It was the kind of line they use, when 
seal-catching, to connect the point of the harpoon to the 
bladder which prevents the seal from escaping, and it is 
astonishingly strong. 

After this exhibition of liberality we sat for a time looking 


at one another, and I expected that our hosts would show by 
signs their desire for something in return. After a while, too, i 
the old man did get up and produce something which he I 
evidently kept as a possession of great price and rarity. It ! 
was nothing else than a clumsy, rusty old rifle, with the] 
strangest contrivance in the way of a hammer that it has j 
ever been my good luck to see. It consisted of a huge, j 
unwieldy piece of iron, in which there was a finger-hole to ; 
enable the user to cock it. As I afterwards found, this is 
the ordinary form of rifle on the west coast of Greenland, 
and it is specially constructed for use in the " kayak." After 
the old man had shown us this curiosity, and we had duly! 
displayed our admiration, he made us understand by some 
very unmistakable gestures that he had nothing to put in it 
At first I pretended not to grasp his meaning, but, this in- 
sincerity being of no avail, I was* obliged to make it plain to 
him that we had nothing to give him in the way of ammunition 
This intimation he received with a very disappointed and de- 
jected air, and he went at once and put his rifle away. 

None of the others showed by the slightest token that they 
expected anything in return for their presents. They were all 
friendliness and hospitality, though no doubt there was a notion 
lurking somewhere in the background that their liberality would 
not prove unproductive, and, of course, we did not fail to fulfil 
our share of the transaction next day. The hospitality, indeed, 
of this desolate coast is quite unbounded. A man will receive 
his worst enemy, treat him well, and entertain him for months,! 
if circumstances throw him in his way. The nature of theit 
surroundings and the wandering life which they lead have 
forced them to offer and accept universal hospitality, and the 
habit has gradually become a law among them. 

After we considered we had been long enough in the tenl 
we went out into the fresh air again, and chose as our camping- 
ground for the night a flat ledge of rock close to the landing 
place. We then began to bring our things ashore, but at once 
a crowd of natives rushed for our boats, and numbers of hancU 



were soon busy moving our boxes and bags up on to the rocks. 
Every object caused an admiring outburst, and our willing 
helpers laughed and shouted in their glee, and altogether 
enjoyed themselves amazingly. The delight and admiration 
that greeted the big tin boxes in which much of our provender 
was packed were especially unmanageable, and the tins were 

(From a photograph.) 

each passed round from hand to hand, and every edge and 
comer carefully and minutely examined. 

As soon as the boats were empty we proposed to drag them 
up, but here again all insisted on giving their help. The painter 
was brought ashore, manned by a long line stretching far up 
the rocks, and the boats hauled up each by the united efforts 
of twenty or thirty men. This was splendid sport, and when 



one of us started the usual sailor's chorus to get them to work 
together, the enthusiasm reached its height. 

They joined in, grown folk and children alike, and laughed 
till they could scarcely pull. They plainly thought us the most 
amusing lot of people they had ever seen. When the boats 
were safe ashore we proceeded to pitch our tent, an operation 
which engaged all their attention, for nothing can interest an 
Eskimo so much as any performance which belongs to his own 
mode of life, such as the management of tents and boats and 
such things. Here their astonishment does not overcome them, 
for they can fully understand what is going on. In this case 
they could thus admire to the full the speedy way in which we 
managed to pitch our little tent, which was so much simpler a | 
contrivance than their great complicated wigwams, though at j 
the same time it was not so warm. 

Our clothes, too, and, above all, the Lapps' dress, came in I 
for their share of admiration. The tall, square caps, with their 
four horns, and the tunics with their long, wide skirts andj 
edging of red and yellow, struck them as most remarkable, butj 
still more astonished were they, of course, in the evening, when) 
the two Lapps made their appearance in their reindeer-skin I 
pelisses. All must needs go and feel them and examine themj 
and stroke the hair of this wonderful skin, nothing like which i 
they had ever seen before. It was not seal-skin, it was not ; 
bear-skin, nor was it fox-skin. "Could it be dog-skin?" the) 
asked, pointing to their canine companions. When we exj 
plained that it was nothing of that kind they could get nd 
further, for their powers of imagination had reached thei: 
limit. Balto now began to gibber and make some very signi 
ficant movements with his hands about his head, with the ida; 
of representing reindeer horns, but this awoke no response 
Evidently they had never seen reindeer, which do not occu 
on that part of the east coast which they frequent 

Then we distributed the evening rations, and ate our suppe 
sitting at the tent-door, and surrounded by spectators. Mer 
women, and children stood there in a ring many ranks deer 


closely watching the passage of every morsel of biscuit to our 
ips and its subsequent consumption. Though their mouths 
watered to overflowing at the sight of these luxuries, we were 
constrained to take no notice. We had no more in the way of 
bread than we actually needed, and, had we made a distribution 
hroughout all this hungry crowd, our store would have been 
nuch reduced. But to sit there and devour one's biscuits 
iinder the fire of all their eyes was not pleasant. 

Our meal over, we went and had a look round the encamp- 
nent. Down by the water were a number of " kayaks " and a 
ew specimens of the " umiak " or large skin-boat, which espe- 
cially interested me. One of the men was particularly anxious 
show me everything. Whatever caught my eye, he at once 
)roceeded to explain the use of by signs and gestures. Above 
ill, he insisted on my examining his own "kayak," which was 
landsomely ornamented with bone, and all his weapons, which 
vere in excellent condition and profusely decorated. His great 
Sride was his harpoon, which, as he showed me triumphantly, 
lad a long point of narwhal tusk. He explained to me, too, 
'ery clearly the use of the throwing-stick, and how much addi- 
ional force could be given to the harpoon by its help. Every 
Eskimo is especially proud of his weapons and "kayak," and 
Expends a large amount of work on their adornment. 

By this time the sun had set and the night fallen, and con- 
equently the elements of weirdness and unreality which had 
.11 the time pervaded this scene, with its surroundings of 
now and ice and curious human adjuncts, were now still more 
predominant and striking. Dark forms flitted backwards and 
orwards among the rocks, and the outlines of the women 
vith their babies on their backs were especially picturesque. 
7 rom every tent-door through the transparent curtain shone 

red glow of light, which with its suggestions of warmth and 
omfort, led the fancy to very different scenes. The resem- 
blance to coloured lamps and Chinese lanterns brought to 
me's mind the illuminated gardens and summer festivities 
'way at home, but behind these curtains here lived a happy 



and contented race, quite as happy, perhaps, as any to which 
our thoughts turned across the sea. 

Then bed-time drew near, and the rest we sorely needed after 
the scanty sleep of the last few days. So we spread our sleeping- 
bags upon the tent-floor and began the usual preparations. But 
here again our movements aroused the keenest interest, and a 
deep ring of onlookers soon gathered round the door. The re- 
moval of our garments was watched with attention by men and 

women alike, and with no sign 
of embarrassment, except on 
our part Our disappearance \ 
one by one into the bagsi 
caused the most amusement,; 
and when at last the expedi-j 
tion had no more to show than! 
six heads the door of the tenlj 
was drawn to and the final 
" Good-night " said. 

That night we could sleep ; 
free from care and withou 
keeping watch, and it was ; 
good night's rest we had ii 
spite of barking dogs and othel 
disturbances. It was latj 
when we woke and heard th j 
Eskimo moving busily aboij 
outside. Peeping through th! 
chinks of the door, we couIj 
see them impatiently pacing up and down, and waiting for th 
tent to be thrown open again that they might once more fea: 
their eyes on all the marvels hidden inside. We noticed to-da; 
and we supposed it was in our honour, that they were all arraye 
in their best clothes. Their clean white frocks, made of the sarr 
thin membranous skin as the tent curtains, shone as brilliant 
as clean linen in the distance, as their wearers walked up an 
down and admired their own magnificence. Down by our boat: 

{Front an instantaneous photograph.} 



too, we saw a whole congregation, some sitting inside and others 
standing round. Every implement and every fitting was handled 
and carefully scrutinised, but nothing disturbed or injured. 

Then came the opening of the door, and forthwith a closely 
| packed ring of spectators gathered round, head appearing above 
. head, and row behind row, to see us lying in our bags, our exit 
thence, and gradual reinstate- 
ment in our clothes. Of all 
our apparel that which excited 
most wonder and astonish- 
ment was a coloured belt of 
Kristiansen's, a belt resplen- 
dent with beads and huge 
brass buckle. This must 
needs be handled and ex- 
amined by each and all in 
turn, and of course produced 
the usual concerted bellow. 
Then our breakfast of biscuits 
and water was consumed in 
the same silence and amid the 
same breathless interest asour 
supper of the night before. 

After breakfast we walked 
about the place, for we had 
determined to enjoy life for 
this one morning and see 
• what we could of these people 
before we left them. I had 

tried, unnoticed, to take a photograph of the ring which 
thronged our tent-door, but as I brought the camera to bear 
upon the crowd some of them saw my manoeuvre, and a stam- 
pede began, as if they feared a discharge of missiles or other 
sorcery from the apparatus. I now tried to catch a group 
who were sitting on the rocks, but again with the same result. 
So the only expedient was to turn my face away, and by 

(From a photograph.) 

1 82 


pretending to be otherwise engaged to distract the attention of 
my victims and meanwhile secure some pictures. 

Then I took a tour round the camping-ground with my 
camera. Outside one little tent, which stood somewhat isolated, 
I found an unusually sociable woman, apparently the mistress 
of the establishment. She was relatively young, of an attractive 
appearance altogether, with a smiling face and a pair of soft, 

obliquely set eyes, 
which she made 
use of in a parti- 
cularly arch and 
engaging way. 
Her dress was 
certainly not 
elegant, but this 
defect was, no 
doubt, due to 
her established 
position as a 
married woman, 
and must not 
be judged too 
harshly. In her I 
"amaut," a gar- 
ment which forms I 
a kind of hood or 
eskimo from cAPK bille. bag behind, she! 

{.From a photograph.) na d 3. SWarthj 

baby, which she seemed very fond of, and which, like man) 
of the mothers, she did her best to induce to open its black 
eyes and contemplate my insignificance. This was partly 
no doubt, the flattery of the coquette; on the whole wt 
got on very well together, and unperceived I secured severa 
photographs. Then the master came out of the tent, an( 
showed no sign of surprise at finding his wife in so clos< 
converse with a stranger. He had evidently been asleep, fo 



he could hardly keep his eyes open in the light, and had to 
resort to a shade, or rather some big snow-spectacles of wood. 
He was a strongly-built man, with an honest, straightforward 
look, was very friendly, and showed me a number of his things. 
He was especially proud of his " kayak "-hat, which he insisted 
on my putting on my head, while he meantime unceremoniously 
arrayed himself in my cap. This performance was little to my 

(By E. Nielsen, from a photograph.') 

taste, as it was quite uncertain what would be the result of the 
exchange to me. Then he took me to see his big boat or 
" umiak," as well as other of his possessions, and we parted. 

I went on, and looked into some other tents. In one of 

them I found two girls who had just taken a big gull out of 

' a cooking-pot, and were beginning to devour it, each at work 

with her teeth on one end of the body, and both beaming 

i8 4 


with delight and self-satisfaction. The bird still had most of 
its feathers on, but that did not seem to trouble them much. 
Perhaps, after the manner of the owl, they subsequently 
ejected them. 

Some of the women had noticed that the Lapps used the 
peculiar grass known as " sennegraes," of which I have already 

spoken, in their boots, and they now 
brought each of us a huge supply 
of the commodity, smiling most 
coquettishly as they made their 
offering. We expressed our thanks, 
of course, by an equally lavish dis- 
play of smiles. Then they began to 
inquire, by means of signs, whether 
we had no needles to give them ini 
return. I could have gratified them, i 
certainly, since I had brought a 
number of these articles of barter, 
which are much prized on the east 
coast. But my real object was to 
keep them in case we had to spend 
the winter in these parts, in which 
case they would have proved invalu-i 
able. So I told them that we could 
not let them have any needles in 
exchange for their grass, and gave 
them instead a tin which had had 
then the master came out preserved meat in. This made therr.= 
simply wild with delight, and witbl 
sparkling eyes they went off to shovi 
the others their new acquisition. The grass came in very hand]! 
for the two Lapps, whose store was running short, and without thiil 
grass in his shoes a Lapp is never thoroughly comfortable. Ther' 
had a deal to say, too, about this Eskimo " sennegraes." Th^ 
fact that these people had sense enough to use the grass imj 
pressed Ravna and Balto to a certain extent, but they declarer 

(From a photograph.') 



it had been gathered at the wrong time of year, being winter 
grass taken with the frost on it, instead of being cut fresh and 
then dried, in accordance with the practice of rational beings. 
It was of little use to point out to them that it was not the 
habit of the Eskimo to lay up greater stores of such things 
than he actually needed to keep him going. 

But the time of our departure drew near, and we began by 
degrees to make our preparations. 
A man now came up to us and 
asked whether we were going north- 
wards. At our answer in the affirma- 
tive his face brightened amazingly, 
and it proved that he was bound in 
the same direction with his party, 
to whom he went at once and 
announced the news. The camp 
was now a scene of lively confusion, 
and, while we and the Eskimo vied 
with one another in our haste to 
strike our tents, launch our boats, 
and stow our goods, the dogs, who 
well knew what was in progress, 
expended their energy in a howling 

As the tent we had spent the pre- ^.-^^ 
ceding evening in was going south- 
wards, it was necessary that we 
should go and make some return 
for the presents we had received. 
So with a number of empty meat- 
tins I went in and found a party of 

half-naked men taking a meal. I gave them one each, which 
delighted them hugely, and some of them at once showed 
their intention of using them as drinking-vessels. Outside 
I found the possessor of the rifle, who again urged upon 
me the fact that he had no ammunition for it. But when 

(From a photograph.) 


I presented him with a large tin instead he expressed perfect 
contentment and gratification. 

The great skin-tents were soon down and packed away in 
the boats. It was indeed quite astonishing to see the speed 
with which these Eskimo made ready for a journey with all 
their household goods and worldly possessions, though, of 
course, there were a great number of helping hands. We had 
almost finished our preparations too, when a salt-box was 
pleased to discharge its contents in the middle of one of the 
provision-bags. This had to be seen to at once, and the 
Eskimo consequently started before us. Two of the boats 
set off on their southward journey, and two more presently 
disappeared behind the first point of rock to the north. The 
company of "kayakers," however, were still left, as they stayed 
behind to bid each other a more tender farewell, before they 
parted, perhaps, for a separation of some years. This leave- 
taking gave rise to one of the most comical scenes I have ever 
witnessed. There were altogether a dozen or more of their 
little canoes, and they all now ranged up side by side, dressed 
as evenly as a squad of soldiers. This extraordinary manoeuvre 
roused my attention, of course, and I could not imagine what 
it purported. I was not left long in ignorance, however, for 
the snuff-horns were presently produced, and the most ex- 
travagant excesses followed. Their horns were opened and 
thrust up their noses again and again, till every nostril must 
have been absolutely filled with snuff. Several horns were in 
circulation, and each came at least twice to every man, so that, 
the quantity consumed may well be imagined. I wanted to! 
photograph them, but lost time and could not bring my camera 
to bear upon them before the line was broken, and some of the 
canoes already speeding away southwards among the floes. 

This general treating with snuff is the mode in which the 
Eskimo take leave of one another, and is a very similar per- 
formance to the ceremonious dram-drinking among our peasants 
at home. In this particular case only those who had come] 
from the south had anything to stand treat with. They were- 



dently fresh from the Danish colonies beyond Cape Fare- 
well, as their abundant supply of snuff proved, while the others 
were probably bound south on a similar errand. These pilgrim- 
ages occur unfortunately too often, though their emporium lies 
at no trifling distance — a couple of years' journey, in fact, for 
those who live furthest up the coast. 

One would almost expeci that so long a journev would 


(From a photograph.) 

be followed by a long stay at the place of business. But this 
is not the case, and the Eskimo, in fact, spends little more 
time over his periodical shopping than a lady of the world 
over a similar, but daily, visit. In half an hour, or an hour 
perhaps, he has often finished, and then disappears again on 
his long journey home. A shopping expedition of this kind 
will therefore often take four years at least, and consequently 
a man's opportunities in this way in the course of a lifetime 


are very limited. These are quite enough, however, to pro- 
duce a mischievous effect. One is apt to suppose that it 
is the want of certain useful things, otherwise unattainable, 
that urges them to these long journeys ; but this is scarcely so, 
for the real incentive is without doubt a craving for tobacco. 
As a matter of fact they do buy some useful things, like 
iron, which they get chiefly in the form of old hoops, but they 
really have a good supply of such things already, they do not 
use them much, and they are not absolutely necessary. Most 
of their purchases are things which are either altogether value- 
less or else actually injurious. 

Among the latter must especially be reckoned tobacco, 
which is the commodity of all others most desired, and which 
they take in the form of snuff. Smoking and chewing are 
unknown on this coast, but their absence is made up for by 
all the greater excess in snuff-taking, the indulgence in which 
is quite phenomenal. They buy their tobacco in the form of 
twist, and prepare it themselves, by drying it well, breaking 
it up, and grinding it fine on stone. Powdered calcspar or 
quartz or other rock is often added to the snuff to make it go 
farther, and to increase, it is said, the irritating effect upon the 
mucous membrane. 

In addition to tobacco they buy other things which certainly 
have an injurious effect upon them, such as, for instance, tea. 
Coffee, curiously enough, these people have not learned to like, 
though this drink is bliss celestial to the west-coast Eskimo. 

It is truly fortunate that they have no opportunity of getting 
spirits, as the sale is absolutely prohibited by the Danish 
Government. Of other European products, they buy biscuits, 
flour, peas, which they are particularly fond of, and similar 
things. Articles of clothing, too, are in great demand, such 
as thick jerseys from the Faroe Islands, cotton stuffs for outer 
tunics, and material out of which they can make hats; old 
European clothes are highly valued, and they have an idea 
that when they can dress themselves out in these worn-out 
rubbishy garments they cut a far finer figure than when they 



content themselves with their own warm and becoming dress 
of seal-skin. 

In exchange for such things, which are of little value to us 
and of still less real worth to them, they give fine large bear- 
, skins, fox-skins, and seal-skins, which they ought to keep for 
their own clothes and the other numerous purposes for which 
they can be used. It is, of course, unnecessary to remark how 
much better it would be if these poor Eskimo, instead of 
decking themselves out in European rags, would keep their 
skins for themselves, and confine themselves to those regions 
where they have their homes, instead of straying to the out- 
skirts of European luxury and civilisation. 

Many may think that this access to vegetable food is an 
advantage for the Eskimo, and possibly it would be if he had 
the chance of regularly supplying himself with flour and such 
things in small quantities. But, as the opportunity only 
occurs perhaps a few times in the course of a man's life, the 
value of such a change of diet is, of course, very small. The 
effect, indeed, may very well be the opposite of beneficial, 
inasmuch as these Eskimo, when they do get European 
victuals into their possession, impose no restraint upon their 
appetites, but eat like wolves as long as the supply lasts, and 
an unwonted indulgence of this kind may easily produce 
serious internal disturbances. 

There is a story current which well shows the beneficent 
effect of European fare upon the Eskimo stomach. A boat's 
crew of east-coast pilgrims had paid their visit to one of the 
trading places near Cape Farewell, and had, among other things, 
bought a quantity of peas. They were already on their home- 
ward journey, and had put in to a little island for the purpose 
of cooking some of their peas and enjoying their first meal. 
They set their peas to boil, but, with the scantiness of ex- 
perience only to be expected of them, they had no idea of 
the time necessary for the process, and set to work upon the 
peas while they were yet half-cooked. Now, the Eskimo are 
commonly reputed to eat at times even beyond the limits of 


ordinary repletion, and these poor folk no doubt continued the 
indulgence as long as their powers allowed them. But, as 
every one knows, half-cooked peas have a most uncomfort- 
able tendency to swell as moisture gradually penetrates them. 
These peas proved too much for the Eskimo, and the conse- 
quence was that not long afterwards the whole company of 
victims to European food were found dead upon the island. 

This story is declared to be a matter of common knowledge, 
but, whether it be a fact or not, there is nothing at all improbable 
about it, and it is a good illustration of the benefits likely to 
result from access to foreign articles of food. Though the con- 
sequences need not be always so disastrous as on this occasion, 
still the real benefit can be but slight. When the Eskimo have 
at length consumed their purchases and must needs return to 
the old manner of life, the net result is that they have lost a 
number of useful possessions, and have acquired a feeling of 
want and longing for a number of unnecessary things. This is, 
in fact, the usual way that the blessings of civilisation first make 
themselves felt upon the uncivilised. 

Chapter XL 


When we were at last ready to start, all the "kayakers" had 
disappeared except one, who, no doubt, wished to show us the 
civility of escorting us. Our surroundings were now just as 
empty and desolate as an hour ago they had been full of life 
and movement. Instead of on tents and dogs and human 
beings, the sun now shone down upon ice and snow and 
barren rocks. 

We embarked and set off northwards along the coast. At 
first the water was open, and we worked hard at our oars, for 
the Eskimo boats had a substantial start, and as we hoped to 
profit largely by their knowledge of the water and ice, we were 
anxious to travel in their company. It was not long before 
we came up with them, and found them lying under shelter 
of a point of land, and apparently in difficulties. Some 
women stood up in one of the boats and waved to us. When 
we came nearer we were desired by the help of signs to go 
on in front and force a passage through the ice. This was 
certainly in direct contradiction to our hopes and speculations, 
but of course we went to the front, and glided quietly by them 
in between two huge floes, which lay locked together and 
looked immovable. This was the obstacle which had brought 
the Eskimo to a standstill. But when we drove our first boat 
in between the two floes, and partly by using it as a wedge, 
partly by the help of our poles with all six men at work, really 
managed to force the two monsters apart, the admiration ol 
our friends knew no limit, and was expressed in the usual 
extraordinary way. We now pushed on. breaking through 


the ice, which here caused no great difficulty. The two big 
boats followed, with four " kayaks " in close attendance. Every 
movement on our part was accompanied by a sustained and 
vigorous bellow from behind, which was encouraging, though it 
was not the most melodious music we could have wished for. 

We were much amused to see the " kayakers " taking snuff. 
One of them especially was insatiable, and I believe he 
stopped every ten minutes to pull out his huge snuff-horn and 
fill both his nostrils. He sneezed, too, sometimes so violently 
that it was a mystery to me how he managed to keep his canoe 
on an even keel during his convulsions. When he looked at 
us again after one of these sneezes, with his upper lip covered 
with snuff and the tears trickling from his eyes, his jovial face 
was so inestimably comical that every time we saluted him 
with shouts of laughter, in answer to which he nodded, smiled, 
and beamed with good humour. Then, too, they kept shout- 
ing from time to time the only word of their language which 
we managed to fix, and this, too, by the way, we fixed slightly 
wrong. It was "pitsakase," and meant, as we imagined, "a! 
splendid journey ! " or something of the kind, as it was ejacu- 
lated on all occasions, as well when we forced our way through 
the ice as when we were rowing along in open water. But 
when we reached the west coast we learnt of the Eskimo there) 
— whose language is much the same — that the word really J 
means " How clever you are I " or sometimes " How good (01 
kind) you are ! " 

The larger boats used by the Eskimo, which have often 
been referred to already, and are called by them " umiaks,' 
are, as I have said, only manned by women. Among Eskimc 
of pure blood it is considered beneath a man's dignity to rov 
in one of these boats. But a man — in most cases the heac 
of the household — must do the steering; and this duty v. 
incumbent on him, much as he would prefer to be in hi 
"kayak." These "umiaks" are of considerable length, ex 
tending to thirty feet or even more, though they are, as a rule 
longer on the west coast of Greenland than on the east, where 


owing to the prevalence of drifting ice, a short boat is, of 
course, not so difficult to manoeuvre as a longer one, unhandy 
as these boats are in any case in such circumstances. 
The women who manned the two boats which followed us 

1 rowed in a most extraordinary fashion, and not to any regular 
stroke. They began at a moderately fast rate, but the stroke 
was presently quickened, and then quickened again, grow- 
ing shorter and shorter, of course, at each increase. As they 
pulled, too, they rose from their seats and stood upright in 
the boat in the middle of each stroke, and the whole per- 
formance was consequently of a very spasmodic and jumpy 
character. Then, suddenly, just as the bucketing had reached 
an allegro vivace pitch, there was an " easy all " : the rowers 
rested to regain their wind, and then the same performance 
was gone through again. One of these buckets was, of course, 
only of very short duration, but there was a never-failing supply 

, of them ; and in this unorthodox way they really managed to 
get along pretty fast. In open water they quite kept pace 
with us, or often even passed us ; which is not, however, to 
be wondered at, as we had only two at the oars in each boat, 
while they had as many as six or seven. Once something 
delayed us, and our companions went on ahead. When we 
caught them up we found that they had again been stopped 
by the ice, and some of the women were making signals to 
bring us to their help. We then came up with our long boat- 
hooks, as usual, and could scarcely help laughing when we 

: found a single Eskimo standing and pushing valiantly at a 
huge ice-floe with a little stick. He looked so infinitely 
powerless and absurd as he stood there alone, and, of course, 
it had not struck the other men and women in the boats to 
come and help him. We now brought all hands to bear as 
usual, and the floes were forced to give way. We got through 
and pushed on, but the long boats were caught behind us, and 
only struggled through with some difficulty. This, indeed, 

; happened again and again, that the longer boats were stuck 
in the channel which we, with our shorter boats, had just 






e for them. For this reason we might have pushed on 
a long way ahead, if we had not waited for the others. That 
such should be the case with these much and often praised 
Eskimo boats, without which Holm and Garde declare a 
voyage up the east coast out of the question, was a matter 
of no small surprise to me. 

This has long been the view held by the Danes. They 
have had little or no actual experience in the navigation of 
such waters as these ; and, taking it for granted that among 
the floes the Eskimo can have no equals, they have insisted 
that the peculiar Eskimo boats must be the best type for the 
purpose, and at the same time that they must be manned by 
Eskimo crews. My experience leads me to the very opposite 
conclusion, and I am convinced that European boats, with 
good European crews who are accustomed to the sort of thing, 
are far to be preferred for this work. Nor is there any truth 
in the assertion which has been made that European boats 
cannot carry enough to serve the purpose. 

It was now getting time for us to have a meal, and we 
accordingly had to distribute the rations. The Eskimo, who 
have a remarkable power of resisting hunger, meanwhile 
pushed on. Two of the " kayakers," however, stayed behind 
to watch us eating. We gave them some pieces of biscuit, 
which delighted them immensely. Then we started again 
and soon came within sight of the others. Two of the men 
we saw had climbed high up on the rocks on a point beyond 
Ruds Island, and were looking out northwards over the sea 
and ice. This was a bad sign, and meant, perhaps, that the 
ice was impassable. Meanwhile the others went on, and 
before we caught them up we had to pass the mouth of the 
fjord which lies between the island and the mainland. It 
now began to look like bad weather, the sky was darkening 
and rain beginning to fall. We put on our waterproofs and 
pushed hopefully on, but had not gone far before we saw the 
Eskimo boats coming back to meet us. When they neared 
us all the women pointed to the sky with very grave faces, 


while the men explained that the ice was packed badly orj 
ahead. They insisted that we must put back to the island anc! 
encamp there for the time bein^. I, however, made their j 
understand that we wanted to go on, but they repiesented tcj 
me that this was impossible. I had my doubts about th<i 
impossibility, but thought it better not to proceed till I ha(j 
been ashore and seen with my own eyes how things looked! 
So we all turned back to land, the Eskimo boats keeping insidij 
the island, while we made for the nearest point. One of thi 
" kayakers " who saw our design followed us to apply all hi) 
powers of persuasion, as far as signs would allow. It was noj 
to much purpose, however, for as soon as we reached the short 
I ran up on to a rock, and when, by the help of the glasses, 
saw that the water looked fairly promising on ahead, we mad 
up our minds then and there to push on at once. When 01 
friend found that his eloquence was of no avail he went aws 
with a very dejected air. However, we gave him a tin for 
parting gift, and this seemed to alleviate his sorrow to no litt 
extent. No doubt the rain was the real cause of the Eskimo] 
retreat. They did not seem to like the idea of getting we 
especially the women, several of whom had babies on the 
backs. It is not to be wondered at that they tried to indu 
us to encamp with them, for we were of course beings of mu» 
too wonderful a nature for them to lose any opportunity 
enjoying our entertaining society, and it was not at all ill 
possible besides that a certain amount of profit of a mc! 
material kind would accrue to them from the association. 

So we proceeded on our way, not a little proud, it must j: 
confessed, of the fact that we were continuing our journf 
when the natives, who knew the water, had given up tp 
attempt. For a long time, too, all went well, and our c& 
fidence increased. But when we reached the middle of IB 
fjord which we were now crossing we discovered that it *• 
not all child's play. The ice was here packed rather clo| 
and a tearing current was playing with the great floes irji 
very unpleasant way. These monsters were now crasning <[e 



against the other, now floating apart again, and we had to 
1 be more than usually careful to keep our boats from getting 
1 crushed. The farther we got, too, the worse things looked. 

Once we were just between two long floes ; they were driven 
1 violently together by the movements of their neighbours, and 

it was only by a very rapid retreat that we saved ourselves. 
; Late in the evening, however, we reached the other side of 

(From a photograph.') 

the inlet in good order, but here the shore was so steep that 
it was no easy matter to find a camping-place. But we pre- 
sently came across a cleft in the rock, which gave us just 
enough room to haul up the boats by the help of the hoisting- 
tackle which we had with us. Higher up again in the cliff 
side was a ledge just big enough to hold our tent. The whole 
position was eminently suggestive of an eyrie, and " The 
Eagle's Nest " we consequently named it. The Eskimo name 


is Ingerkajarfik, and the place lies in lat 6 2° io' N. and long. \ 
42 12' W. 

The ledge which formed our camping-ground was not the 
most convenient sleeping-place I have known. It sloped to; 
such an extent that when we woke next morning, after an 1 
excellent night's rest nevertheless, we found ourselves all lying j 
in a heap at one side of the tent. 

Next day again we had glorious sunny weather. Just to thei 
south of us a huge glacier stretched far out into the sea, and 1 
its blue masses, torn and rent by crevasses, played enchant-: 
ingly in the sunlight. After a hearty breakfast we lowered our! 
boats again and loaded them, and then, having taken a photo- j 
graph of the view to the south, we started on our way through; 
fairly open water. There were floes everywhere, but they did) 
not lie close, and without any great difficulty we were able tcj 
wind in and out among them. 

A little past noon we reached a small island off Mogenj 
Heinesens Fjord, and put in to shore in an excellent harbou; 
to have our dinner. This little island seemed to us the love 
liest spot we had ever seen on the face of the earth. All wai 
green here; there was grass, heather, sorrel, and numbers o 
bright flowers. Up at the top we found the ruins of two old 
Eskimo houses, and here the vegetation was most luxuriant 
It was a simple paradise, and wonderfully delightful we foum 
it to lie here stretched on the greensward in the full blaze 
the sun and roast ourselves to our heart's content, while w 
enjoyed the rare pleasure of a short rest. Then we gathere< 
a few flowers in memory of this little Greenland idyll, an 
taking to the boats again resumed our northward journey. 

The coast we had been passing along hitherto is not remari 
able for any beauty of outline or mountain forms. It is lov 
monotonous, and chilling. As a rule the snow and ice of th 
glaciers come right down into the sea, and, as the map show;; 
there are comparatively few places where the low, grey rock 
appear above the snow. 

This afternoon, however, after we had passed the openin' 


of Mogens Heinesens Fjord, which lies in a ring of fine, wild 
peaks, we came into a landscape of an entirely different 
character. Nowhere here did the snow-fields or glaciers 
stretch down to the sea; all along we found bare ground 
and rocks, the latter often rising out of the water to con- 
siderable heights; and inland, especially to the north, we 
had glorious mountain views of peak rising behind peak and 
range behind range ; and such was the coast continuously to 
Igdloluarsuk, an unbroken, but ever-varying scene of wildness 
and beauty. Everything in this world is relative, and thus 
we seemed to ourselves to have now entered into a more fer- 
tile, more genial region. A warmer, kindlier sun even seemed 
to beam upon our existence. Even in the midst of the ice- 
floes our minds were now open to thoughts of summer and 
summer moods, now that we had bare rock to look at instead 
of everlasting ice and snow. The change for us would scarcely 

. have been much more complete if we had been suddenly 
transported to the most fruitful regions of the earth. Far to 
the north, too, we now saw the blue peaks of Tingmiarmiut 
beckoning and enticing us, as it were, to the land of promise. 

As we advanced we met more and more huge icebergs, 
many of which lay stranded alcng the shore. Towards evening 
we saw by some small islands off Nagtoralik some most extra- 
ordinary white peaks, or rather spires, rising above the horizon. 

, Their form was so singular that for a long time I could not 
imagine what they were, but I eventually discovered that they 
were the pinnacles of a colossal iceberg of the most fantastic 
appearance that I have ever seen. I took a distant photograph 
of it, but this gives absolutely no idea of its overwhelming 
magnitude and the impression it made upon us as we passed 

j beneath it From its top rose two points like slender church 

i spires high into the air. Far up on its cliff-like side was a 
huge hole passing like a tunnel through the whole mass of ice ; 
and down below, the sea had hollowed grottoes so large that 
a small ship could readily have ridden within their shelter. In 
these cavities there were marvellous effects and tints of blue. 



ranging to the deepest ultramarine in their inmost recesses. 
The whole formed a floating fairy palace, built of sapphires, 
about the sides of which brooks ran and cascades fell, while 
the sound of dripping water echoed unceasingly from the 
caverns at its base. When one comes across icebergs of this 
kind, which happens now and again, a wealth of beauty is 

(From a photograph.} 

found in fantastic forms and play of colour which absorb j 
one's whole imagination and carries one back to the wonder 
and mysteries of the fairy-land of childhood. 

It was now dark, and after having groped about for a whilj 
in search of a camping-place, we finally chose a little islan| 
which lies in lat. 62 ° 25' N. and long. 42 ° 6' W. As usm 


the boats were unloaded and hauled ashore. This was possibly 
the spot which is reputed by a tradition of the east coast to be 
the scene of a combat between a European and a Greenlander. 

Next morning — we had now reached August 2 — we set off 
again and purposed to cross the fjord which lay just to the 
north of us, passing on our way the island of Uvdlorsiutit. 
But we soon found ourselves among ice of the most imprac- 
ticable kind, and were constrained to acknowledge the truth 
of the Eskimo dogma, the full force of which had indeed been 
made plain to us the day before, that, as a rule, the best water 
is to be found close under the shore. We had to turn back 
and try our luck nearer land and farther inside the fjord. As, 
however, the ice here also seemed closely packed and difficult, 
we were thinking of trying to pass the sound between the main- 
land and the island, when we caught sight of Eskimo tents on 
its southernmost point. We put in to make inquiries as to the 
water-way farther north, and were not a little astonished to find 
ourselves received on the shore by a company of women and 
almost entirely naked children, in whom we recognised our 
friends of Cape Bille. They laughed at us heartily, and gave 
us to understand that they had gone by us while we were 
asleep, probably in the morning before. They had pitched 
their tents here in a snug little spot amid grass and heather. 
Only one man was to be seen, and he was standing by one 
of the tents, busy mending his " kayak," which had probably 
been crushed in the ice by some mischance or other. All 
the other men and " kayaks " were missing, and we supposed 
they must be out hunting in search of food. 

We then asked about the water to the inside of the island, 
and we were told that no passage was possible that way, but 
that we must go outside. They even tried to make us believe 
that the channel was too narrow to allow of a passage, but this 
was not the fact, since Holm's expedition passed through 
several times. However, to make sure, we went outside the 
island, and got by without much difficulty. The ice certainly 
lay close at all the projecting points, but our united efforts 



forced a passage at these spots, and elsewhere we crept along 
under the shore. 

Soon after noon we were at the northern end of the island, 
where we came across a remarkable cave running far into the 
rocks. Hence we pushed on across the mouth of the fjord in 
fairly open water, and by the evening reached land at Ting- 
miarmiut, the Eldorado of the east coast, with its mountains, 
its stretches of green grass, and its scattered bushes of willow 

(From a photograph.) 

and juniper, the spot which was described to Captain Horn; 
in such glowing colours by its quondam chief, Navfalik. 

That evening, as we were passing the island of Ausivit som<j 
way out to sea, we heard from the land a distant sound of bark' 
ing dogs, and inferred that there must be an Eskimo camp a 
hand. But we had now really no time for visits and civilities, 
and passing unceremoniously on, we stopped for the night on aij 
islet near Nunarsuak, in lat. 62 43' N. and long. 41 49' W. 1 



On the morning of the next day, August 3, there was so 
much wind blowing off the land that we determined to try 
and sail, and hastily rigged our boats, one with the tent-floor 
and the other with two tarpaulins sewn together. At first we 
got on well and fast, and it was a real pleasure now and again 
to feel our boats heel over as the gusts caught them in the 
short stretches of open water, where we had, however, to keep 
our eyes about us to avoid collisions with the floes. We had 
not sailed far, though, before the pleasure became somewhat 
more doubtful, as the squalls grew more and more violent and 
the wind worked round to the north. It soon grew so strong 
that sailing became out of the question. Then after we had 
rowed a while, and were getting near the high, precipitous island 
of Umanarsuak, the wind came down from the cliffs with such 
force that it was all we could do to push on at all. Things 
now grew worse and worse ; sometimes we had to tow the boats 
along the floes to make any headway, and once we were all 
but crushed by the violent movements of the ice. Hitherto 
we had kept fairly well together, but now our work was more 
serious, and each crew had no eyes but for its own boat and 
its own course. At the very height of the storm one of my 
men, in his zeal, broke the blade of his oar off short We had 
no whole oars in reserve on board, for they had all been broken 
in the ice, but there was no time to be lost, and one with half 
a blade had to be substituted. Sometimes the gusts of wind 
are so strong that in spite of all our efforts we are forced back 
wards. Now a thole-pin goes, which is a worse mishap than 
the last, for when a break like this occurs at a critical moment, 
and all the other thwarts are blocked, the consequences may 
be very awkward. However, we repaired the damage without 
delay, and were saved from drifting for this time. Thus slowly, 
but as surely as can be expected, we manage to crawl along 
towards shore by the exercise of all our powers. On our way 
we come alongside a floe, and, painter in hand, Dietrichson 
jumps out to tow us. In his zeal he fails to notice that he is 
jumping on to an overhanging edge of ice, which breaks with 


his weight, and lets him head first into the water. This was 
nothing unusual, indeed, but it could have happened at few 
more unfavourable moments than just now. With his usual j 
activity and presence of mind he is soon out again, and once 
more at work with the tow-rope, as if nothing had happened. ; 
The exertion, no doubt, kept him warm, or else a ducking j 
while this biting wind was blowing must have been peculiarly I 
unpleasant. Such things as this, however, seemed never to i 
trouble Dietrichson. 

This floe we eventually passed, but the wind was still so 
strong that progress was scarcely possible. Very little more 
would have set us unmercifully drifting southwards. But my 
men plied their oar-stumps with surprising vigour, and we just 
held our own. Then, again, Dietrichson was just at work push- 
ing us off another floe, when his boat-hook gave, and he was 
once more all but in the water. Misfortune pursued us that 
day with unusual pitilessness. 

At last, however, we found calmer water under the cliffs, and 
soon reached land, Sverdrup's boat being a little in front of us. 
We now had our dinner, as well as a short period of rest, which 
we thoroughly deserved. Then we went on again, but the wind 
was scarcely less violent, and when we had passed into more 
open water beyond the southern point of Umanarsuak, we 
found a nasty choppy sea against us, running out of the fjorc 
to the north. So, though it was still very early for us, we put 
in to shore as soon as we reached Umanak. This day, and i 
was the only time during this part of our journey, we were abk 
to really choose a place for our tent, and, moreover, to feel fo 
the first and last time the pleasure of lying on the grass, am 
having something better than hard rock or ice to sleep upon 
But we had really nothing to complain of on this score, for w» 
always slept excellently, though we could well have wished fo 
a little more in quantity. As soon as we were well ashore ant 
settled, we determined to collect fuel, of which there was plent] 
in the form of juniper scrub, heather, and similar stuff, an<! 
then make some soup and a good hot meal. There wen 


plenty of willing hands, the work was done with overflowing 
zeal, a big fire was soon blazing between some stones, and on 
them was cooking in a biscuit tin the most delicious soup 
and stew that mortals have ever seen. Our camping-place at 

I Umanak, or Griffenfeldt's Island, will not soon be forgotten 
by the six who sat that evening round their fire and enjoyed 
at ease and at their leisure the only warm meal vouchsafed 
to them during the whole voyage up the coast. We were not 
the first to enjoy life in this spot, as we saw, among other 
things, by the ruins of some Eskimo huts which stood close 
at hand. That other events less agreeable than the mere 
enjoyment of life had taken place there was evident from the 
number of human bones that lay scattered about among the 
ruins, and one skull of an old Eskimo lay grinning at us in the 
daylight in a very uncomfortable and suggestive way. It seems 
not improbable that the inhabitants of this spot died of famine, 
that the place was deserted, and the huts left to fall to pieces. 
The next day, August 4, the wind had dropped to some 
extent and we could proceed. But the ice was often closely 
packed, and we found it especially troublesome in the mouth 
of Sehested's Fjord. Here we had to push a long way in to 
find a passage, and it was only by the help of our axe and 
boat-hooks that we forced our way through at all. At nine 
o'clock in the evening we passed a delightful spot for an en- 
campment, but as we thought it still too early to give over 
work for the day, we held on our way northwards. As a re- 
ward for our virtue, we had to push on till half-past one that 
night before we found a place where we could haul our boats 
ashore, on an islet off the island of Uvivak, in lat. 63 ° 3' N. 
and long. 41 ° 18' W. That day we had worked hard on the 
ice for seventeen hours with only half-an-hour's break for our 
midday meal. 

On August 5, by the help of axe and boat-hook, we struggled 
on still farther through the packed ice which lay close along the 

■ shore the whole way northwards. A number of huge icebergs 
lined the coast, and in the middle of the afternoon, when we 



had passed the promontory of Kutsigsormiut, and had put in 
to a small island in order to get a sight of the water ahead and 
to lay our course, we saw at sixty or seventy yards' distance a 
huge block of ice suddenly detach itself and fall from one of 
these monster icebergs, which, losing its balance thereby, at 
once swung round in the water with a deafening roar. The sea 

(By E. Nielsen, front a photograph.) 

was set in violent agitation, the floes were thrown hither and; 
thither and dashed together, and a small rock which rose oul 
of the water in front of us was completely washed by the greal 
waves. Had we gone on instead of stopping, as we had ai 
one time contemplated, we should have had little chance o; 
escaping being dashed against the rocks of the shore. 



After a very hard spell of work we reached, late in the even- 
ing, a small islet which lay full in the opening of Inugsuar- 
miutfjord. Here we had intended to stop for the day, worn and 
tired as we were, but to our astonishment we suddenly found 
f ourselves passing out of the closely packed ice into an open 
stretch of water. The fjord lay bright and smooth before us 
right away to the island of Skjoldungen. We were tempted 
to make use of the opportunity, so after an extra ration of 
meat-chocolate we went on again and eventually found a good 
camping-place on an islet at the other side. 

On the east coast of Greenland there is a considerable ebb 
and flow in the tide. As a rule at this time we were unfortu- 
nate enough to have low water in the evening just as we had to 
take our boats ashore, and we were obliged in consequence to 
haul them a long way up to get them out of reach of the rising 
tide. This particular night, too, we had, as usual, moved the 
boats and baggage well up, and in the morning were not a 
little surprised to find that our beer-keg and a piece of board 
which we had used to prop the boats with were gone. The 
sea had even washed over some of our provision tins, but as 
these were water-tight no damage was done. But we had 
good reason to be thankful for having bought our experience 
so cheaply. For the rest of the way we were very careful 
about the boats. The loss of the keg, which was the one we 
had carried off from the Jason, depressed us all considerably. 
This was not because it had any beer in it, for that we had 
consumed long ago. We had taken to using it as a water- 
vessel. The water we would drink from the bung-hole, and 
as we then smelt the fragrant emanations which still came from 
the interior, we could easily and to our great comfort persuade 
ourselves that we were actually imbibing some feeble and 
shadowy form of the invigorating drink we so much missed. 

This morning, too, we were visited by a still less welcome 
guest. I woke to find myself scratching my face vigorously, 
and to see the whole tent full of mosquitoes. We had begun 
by taking great pleasure in the company of these creatures on 


the occasion of our first landing on the Greenland coast, but 
this day cured us completely of any predilections in that way, 
and if there is a morning of my life on which I look back with 
unmitigated horror, it is the morning which I now record. 1 
have not ceased to wonder indeed that we retained our reason. 
As soon as I woke I put on my clothes with all speed, and 
rushed out into the open air to escape my tormentors. But 
this was but transferring myself from the frying-pan to the fire, j 
Whole clouds of these bloodthirsty demons swooped upon my f 
face and hands, the latter being at once covered with what, 
might well have passed for rough woollen gloves. 

But breakfast was our greatest trial, for when one cannot 
get a scrap of food into one's mouth except it be wrapped in a 
mantle of mosquitoes, things are come to a pretty pass indeed. 
We fled to the highest point of rock which was at hand, where 
a bitter wind was blowing, and where we hoped to be allowed 
to eat our breakfast in peace, and enjoy the only pleasure oil 
the life we led. We ran from one rock to another, hung oui 
handkerchiefs before our faces, pulled down our caps over our 
necks and ears, struck out and beat the air like lunatics, and ir 
short fought a most desperate encounter against these oven 
whelming odds, but all in vain. Wherever we stood, wherever 
we walked or ran, we carried with us, as the sun nis planets' 
each our own little world of satellites, until at last in our despai:| 
we gave ourselves over to the tormentors, and falling prostratti 
where we stood suffered our martyrdom unresistingly, whil<| 
we devoured food and mosquitoes with all possible despatch' 
Then we launched our boats and fled out to sea. Even hen 
our pursuers followed us, but by whirling round us in ma< 
frenzy tarpaulins and coats and all that came to hand, an<i 
eventually by getting the wind in our favour, we at last sue 
ceeded in beating off, or at least escaping from, our enemy 
But the loss of blood on our side was nevertheless very cor' 
siderable. Never have I in my life fallen among such hungr 
mosquitoes. But, I may add, Greenland is one of the countriei 
of the world which is most visited by this plague: 

Chapter XII. 


This day, August 6, we passed on the outside of Skjoldungen 
hrough closely packed ice. North of the island we were 
obliged to push a good way into the fjord, and here passed 
Llong a coast equalling in beauty anything which we had yet 
een. On all sides the glaciers thrust into the sea their pre- 
:ipitous walls of ice, the faces of which were here and there 
aollowed into deep dark blue caves. A passage along such cliffs 
)f ice is not quite free from danger. Several times that day, as 
veil as on others, it happened that huge blocks from glaciers 
ind icebergs, too, fell into the water not far from us, under any 
i)f which a boat would have been crushed to fragments. 

When we had crossed the fjord, which is known as Akorninap- 
:angerdlua, the ice still being tight and obstructive, and were 
)ff a little island by Singiartuarflk, we suddenly heard the sound 
)f human voices, and at the same time became aware of a smell 
)f train-oil. Looking towards land we saw a tent and a party 
)f natives, the latter in an unusual state of commotion. As the 
pot lay almost in our course, we steered thither, but the shriek- 
ng and general agitation now gave way to a headlong stampede. 
rVith all their possessions of value, skins, clothes, and what not, 
one figure after the other disappeared up the mountain-side. 
»Ve could see them running as fast as their best legs would take 
hem, and winding in and out in a long line among the ledges 
md projecting rocks. The party seemed to be almost exclu 
:ively women and children. The last we saw was a woman 
vho dived into the only visible tent, but soon reappeared with 


an armful of skins and then fled like a rabbit after the rest up 
the slope. Their figures grew smaller and smaller as they in- 
creased the distance between themselves and us, though a few 
women stopped in their curiosity a long way up and observed] 
our proceedings from a projecting ledge. Meanwhile we moved { 
on towards the tent, but no living creature was to be seen save; 
a dog, which, curiously enough, lay quietly before the door. I 
Though we had no business to transact with these people and, 
had no time to stop, we did not like to leave them without; 
assuring them of our harmlessness. We made signs to them! 
we shouted to them the best Eskimo we could, but all to nc 
purpose, as they simply stood and stared at us. But at las j 
one woman seemed unable to withstand the attractions of ou ! 
demonstration, and quietly and hesitatingly she came nearej 
and nearer, with another following a little way behind. Bj 
degrees they came within hearing, though this did not mak 
things much better, since we had nothing to say to them. Bu 
at least they now had the chance of distinctly seeing our friendl 
faces and reassuring looks and gestures, as well as the empt 
tins we displayed as prospective presents. The tins prove 
irresistible. The women assumed looks of extreme embarrass 
ment and hesitation, though their appearance scarcely Justine 
any apprehension that their beauty could lead them into troubl* 1 
But at this moment a man appeared suddenly upon the seen'; 
and inspired them with so much courage that they came almo 
to the water's edge and stood there as we sat a little way out : 
our boats. We now looked one at the other, while the Eskim 
the man acting as precentor, intoned the usual chorus of wond 
and admiration. He indeed looked, as he stood there, for i 
the world like a mad bull, though no doubt there could ha 
been nothing milder or more peaceable than the train of r 
thought at the moment. On his back he had a jacket of son 
cotton stuff, and on his head a " kayak " hat of the usual broa 
flat form worn on the east coast of Greenland, made of a wood 
hoop covered with calico and marked with a cross in red aj 
white, his whole get-up showing unmistakable signs of a cc 


:tion with the trading stations of the west coast We now 
pulled farther in, and one of us jumped ashore with the painter. 
At this manoeuvre the natives at first fled incontinently, but 
then returning to within a few paces and seeing we made no 

I further sign of hostility, they became reassured once more and 
again came nearer. We now magnificently presented them 
with an empty tin, friendship was at once established, and their 
faces beamed with joy and with their admiration for the gener- 
ous strangers. By this time more of them had gathered round, 
and it seemed that the men had been out in their canoes, but 
had been called back by the women's screams. 

The newcomers were all shown the precious gift, and were 
given to understand that our intentions were not hostile. The 
most noteworthy among them was a little hunchbacked fellow, 
with a pleasant oldish face and particularly smart attire. We 
now made our boats fast and walked up the slope, finding, to 
our surprise, a whole encampment of tents which lay behind a 
low ridge and had not been visible before. More astonished 
still were we to see a " Danebrog " flag waving on a little staff 
beside one of the tents. This, we supposed, must have been 

; obtained from Captain Holm some years ago, as he describes 
having distributed Danish flags here and there among the 
Eskimo. It was very strange that they should have been so 
afraid of us, since, if this were the case, they must have come 
into contact with Europeans before. But there must have been 
something uncanny about us, as we came m our own boats and 
our own company, while Holm had boats like those they used, 
and was rowed and steered by their own countrymen. Nor is 
it unlikely that the traditions which they have received from 
the west Greenlanders of the destruction of the "kavdlunak," 
or Europeans, at the hands of their forefathers, and the dread 
that the latter will come one day out of the sea in ships and 
avenge the deed, are still predominant in their minds. In a 
little bay below the encampment was a big family boat, which 

• had evidently been just launched in readiness for flight. 

As I wanted to taste dried seal's flesh and thought besides 


that it would be a wise measure to cache some, if we could 
get it, with the boats, I proceeded to ask for some by the help 
of the appropriate word from my vocabulary, but with the j 
usual unproductive result. But when I went and took hold, 
of a piece of meat which was hanging up to dry in front of one: 
of the tents, they understood me at once and brought out| 
several joints. In return for this I gave them a large darning: 
needle, which magnificent scale of payment produced a lively; 
exchange, and our friends came out with one huge piece of! 
seal's flesh after the other, for which they received more needles.! 
Each of us, too, was presented with a piece, so in addition tc, 
the needles we gave them some more tins. Ravna, however! 
absolutely refused to take any present, and in spite of pressure j 
persisted in his determination. I afterwards heard that thiii 
was because he thought these poor people would have neer 
of their meat themselves, and besides, he considered a needh 
altogether insufficient payment, and would be no party to sue! 
nefarious dealings. 

Balto in his account of this meeting says : " When we ha< 
rowed across the mouth of a fjord, we again smelt a smell o 
rank seal-blubber, but the heathens had taken to flight wit) 
their women and children, and were up on the rocks far abov 
the tents. When we had come into the bay where the tent 
stood, we lay there looking at these poor creatures who ha<j 
run away. Then Nansen shouted to them, ' Nogut piteagag I 
which should mean 'We are friends,' but is shocking ba! 
Eskimo. But they took no notice of this, and stood wavinj 
their hands to us as if to say, 'Go away! go away!' The 
two men came out from behind a knoll. They came down tj 
the water, and when they got close to us, they bellowed likj 
the other heathens. One man did not seem to be more th 
three feet high. Then we went ashore, and asked them to 1 
us have some dried seal's flesh, for we saw some hanging 
round about, and we had read in Captain Holm's book 
dried seal's flesh is very good to eat. We gave them soi 
needles for the meat, and then went on." 



As Balto says, we soon embarked again, and we had not 
got far before we saw some of the men come paddling after us 
and towing enormous pieces of seal-meat which they wished 
to exchange for more needles. Just as we were getting into 

I our boats, too, we had seen the little dwarf in the distance, 
coming along dragging a great piece with him, as he wanted 
to have his share too in the general exchange. He did not 
reach us in time, and we were now surprised to see a little 
fellow paddling along far away in our wake, and to recognise 
in him the same little hunchback. He certainly made a most 
comical figure, as he sat in his "kayak," with his little bent 
back scarcely showing above the gunwale. He was evidently 
exerting himself prodigiously to overtake us and effect a deal 
with his piece of meat ; but in spite of all his efforts, the poor 
little fellow never reached us, and had to turn back disappointed. 
As we advanced we met one " kayak " after the other, the 

| occupants of which all followed us, and were particularly 
friendly and communicative. At last we had an escort of no 
less than seven of them, who, paddling round and round the 
boats, expressed the most unqualified admiration for us and 

; our belongings. 

When they had escorted us a long way and darkness was 
just coming on, they fell off little by little, and then lay still 
on the water for a while to watch us before they turned home- 
wards. Just as the four last of them had dropped behind and 
were having their last look, I caught sight of a seal on a floe 
in front of us. Though this might have provided us with 
some very welcome fresh meat, I could not resist signalling to 
the four " kayaks," for we all wanted to see an Eskimo catch 
his seal. They came to us at once, but could not understand 
what we wanted, as from their low canoes they could not see 
the seal over the edge of the ice. I pointed, they looked and 
looked again, and then suddenly caught sight of him. It was 
a treat to see the " kayaks " get under way and the paddles 

1 fly round, as the four started in pursuit, crouching as they 
went, in order to get near under cover of the ice. Two of 


the men outstripped the others and were fast drawing within 
distance. The seal now seemed a bit uneasy, but every time 
he lifted his head and looked towards them, the " kayakers " 
stopped dead, and did not stir till he turned away again. Then 
came a few more powerful strokes and another halt, and by 
this means they had got so near that we were expecting to see j 
them every moment throw their harpoons, when suddenly the j 
seal plunged into the water. They waited a while longer with , 
their harpoons raised, ready to throw in case their prey showed ! 
himself again, but no seal appeared, so they turned homewards 

We, too, a little disappointed, went on our way northwards, 
and rinding the water open reached the island on which Sav- 
sivik lies, and encamped for the night on an islet off its east j 
side in lat. 63 20' N., long. 41 ° W. This island is known from 
the fact that Graah passed the winter of 1829-30 on its inner 
side at Imarsivik. 

Next day, August 7, we again found the ice awkward and 
difficult, but by dint of energy and perseverance we pushed 
through, and were rewarded again by finding more open water 
farther north. This day, too, we fell in with difficulties oi 
another kind. Hitherto we had got on excellently with Holm 
and Garde's map of the coast, but here there was something 
altogether wrong. There seemed to be a number of islets, 
islands, and fjords which were not marked upon the map ai 
all, or if so, then wrongly, and things came to such a pass ai 
last that I determined to navigate after my own head and trus 
to luck. What was the matter with this part of the map was 
mystery to me, till I got home again and found that Holm hac 
not been able to survey this section of the coast in the shorj 
time at his disposal, and had consequently been obliged tJ 
work from Graah's map instead. Nevertheless one would havj 
supposed that Graah knew this particular neighbourhood well 
seeing that he spent one winter there. 

The coast to the north of this was prolific in sea-fowl, ami 
there were several bird-rocks. Of gulls and guillemots we sho' 


all that came in our way, but we had no time to stop for the 
purpose. On one rock, where numbers of guillemots nested, 
we climbed up to get some of the young ones, but our spoil 
consisted of only two. These birds, as a rule, manage to lay 
their eggs in such inaccessible places that fellow-creatures who 
have no wings cannot often reach them, except at the risk of 
breaking their necks. But the young guillemots are at the same 
time fat and rich, and are a real delicacy. 

As we were shooting gulls and guillemots off a rock beyond 
Cape Moltke, we suddenly heard the whirr of wings and saw a 
flock of eider-duck rushing by us. There was just time to bring 
the gun round and have a shot at them, and two birds fell. 
These were the first eider-duck we met with on the coast. The 
same day, later in the evening, another big flock came flying 
north. I heard Sverdrup from the other boat tell me to look 
out, and I also heard the whirr of their wings, but there was 

i not light enough for a shot, as I could only get a glimpse of 
them against the dark background of the shore. 

Meanwhile, we pushed on steadily northwards, and the mis- 
givings of the Lapps became more visible every day, and were 

• more openly expressed. Balto, the spokesman, had several 
times confided to me that they had felt more comfortable 
since they came across the Eskimo and had seen that they 
were decent folk and not cannibals, as he had been told at 
home in Finmarken, and that it would be possible to pass a 
winter with them in case of need. But now that we had seen 
the last of the natives, as they supposed, and were still going 
northwards, the two had begun to get very uneasy, and to 
complain of the hard work and short commons, and because we 
had had to come so far north, and yet had found no place from 
which to get up on to the ice, for there could be no question of 

1 such a thing on a coast like this, and they were sure it could 
never be any better. I always consoled Balto by telling him 
that farther on by Umivik, or a little way beyond that, the 

' coast was much better, as indeed he must have seen himself 
as we drifted by in the ice on our way south. But he always 


declared that he had seen nothing of the kind, and this parti 
cular day his complaints were so vociferous and high-pitched 
that I grew quite tired of them, and gave him a good sound 
lecture on his miserable cowardice, enforced by the strongest 
language at my command. This brought matters to a head, 
and Balto now resolved to speak his mind, and tell me all that 
he had been nursing up for the last few days. I had told them I 
in Christiania, he declared, that they should have their coffee { 
every day, and just as much food as they liked. But they had! 
only had coffee once in three weeks, and as for the food, why,j 
they had miserable rations served out to them. There was onej 
thing he would tell me, that not a single one of them had eaten I 
his fill since they reached the coast. They were starved, and) 
besides were treated like dogs, were ordered about, and hadj 
to work from early morning till late at night, and harder thar 
beasts. This was too much ; for his part he would gladly giv* 
hundreds of pounds to be safe back at home again. 

I now explained to him that they had had no coffee, first' 
because no promise had been made to them on this point oij 
any other ; secondly, because there had been no time to mak< 
coffee ; and thirdly, because it was not good for them. Ther 
I represented to him what the consequences would be if wi 
were all allowed to eat as much as we liked. The provision: 
might perhaps last us to the middle of Greenland, when it woulc 
be rather too late to repent. We must all share and share alik» 
with the food, and as for the ordering about, he must under 
stand that on such an expedition there must be one will am 
only one. But no, he refused to understand anything of th 
kind, refused to be comforted, and never ceased to deplore tha 
he had fallen among people " who had such strange ways," a 
he expressed it. It was the Lappish nomadic tendency an 
the want of a spirit of submission which came out on thes 
occasions, and it continued to do so in spite of Balto's gooc 
nature and amiability. It was scarcely to be wondered at, ir 
deed, and, as a matter of fact, I saw less and less of it as tim 
went on. 


'here is no denying that it was hard upon us to go through 
the heavy work we did along the coast, and that upon a limited 
ration of dried food. We had been accustomed to eat our fill 
more or less, and our stomachs found it difficult to reconcile 
themselves to this strong but concentrated and compact form 

. of food. By degrees we got used to it, and then things went 

I better. It was, as Kristiansen said, the consciousness that 
what we got was enough for us which kept us going. When 

I he got home he was asked whether he had had a good meal 
all the time. " No," he said, " he had never eaten as much as 
he was good for." " Well," was the answer, " you did not like 
that, did you ? " " No, not at first," said he, " when we were 
not used to it ; but then Nansen told us that what he gave us 
was enough, and that did the trick. And so it was enough, 
you see." 
The coast now began to get less abrupt, and the mountains 

I lower and more rounded in form. We had in fact reached a 
section of the coast at which we could begin to contemplate 
our ascent, and to which I had long been anxious to attain, 
since if any mishap were to befall us and make our farther 

I advance by boat impossible, we could nevertheless take to the 
" Inland ice." Our confidence now almost reached the limits 
of presumption, and our hearts grew very light To this con- 
tributed not a little the fact that we had this evening an excellent 
water-way and brilliant weather, and made rapid progress. 

As on the previous night, too, there was a glorious show of 
northern lights in the southern sky. The great billows of light 
rolled backwards and forwards in long, undulating streams. 
The flickering of the rays and their restless chase to and fro 
suggested crowds of combatants, armed with flaming spears, 
now retiring and now rushing to the onset, while suddenly as 

• if at given signals huge volleys or missiles were discharged. 
These flew like a shower of fiery darts, and all were directed at 
the same point, the centre of the system, which lay near the 

1 zenith. The whole display would then be extinguished, though 
only to begin and follow the same fantastic course again. The 


Eskimo have a pretty legend of the northern lights, and believe 
them to be the souls of dead children playing at ball in heavea 

We encamped for the night on the inner side of the island 
of Kekertarsuak. We had no sooner pitched our tent than we 
were startled by a thundering report from the south, from the 
direction of Cape Moltke. We seemed to feel the air itself j 
vibrate and the very earth tremble. We rushed up to the 
nearest crag and looked southwards, but it was all too far off, \ 
and we could see nothing. The noise lasted some ten minutes, ! 
and the sound was as if a whole mountain side had fallen into j 
the sea, and set the water in violent agitation, so that the waves i 
reached almost to where we stood, and broke against the shore I 
and rocks. Probably it was some enormous iceberg which had 
dissolved into fragments or changed its position in the water, 
though it is not at all impossible that it was an avalanche off 
rocks. At several places along the coast we had seen traces I 
of such. 

The next day, August 8, we proceeded in open water and 
splendid weather, and made an attempt to pass inside the 
Islands at Igdloluarsuk and across Kangerdlugsuak or Bern- 
storffsfjord, but were much surprised to find the fjord simplj 
full of glacier and other ice, which lay close in shore and barrec 
all progress. So after I had been up on the innermost point 
of the island of Sagiarusek, and convinced myself of the im 
possibility of this route, we turned back to go outside the 
island. On the top of this point I found what I at first tool' 
to be a fallen cairn, the stones being laid some across others i 
and forming a kind of oblong chamber. Though the Eskimo 
fox-traps are not generally built exactly in this way, I neverthe 
less think that it must have been an old arrangement of th< 
kind. Again, on the south side of the island, we noticed a 
the end of a small inlet some tall stones standing upright W' 
rowed in to see what they were, and came upon the mos 
charming spot we had yet seen in Greenland, a little flat greei 
meadow, and in front of it a big tarn of fresh water, with sma: 
fish swimming in it of a species which I could not determine 


On one side of the meadow were ruins of Eskimo houses, one 
of them very large, and the rest smaller. There were many 
skeletons in and outside the large house, including a particularly 
well-preserved Eskimo skull, which we carried off. These 
bones pointed to the conclusion that this settlement, too, had 
been depopulated by famine. 
Here we resolved upon a little self-indulgence and enjoyment 

{From a photograph.) 

of life, and, though it was not yet dinner-time, to lie in the long 
grass and rest and bask in the sunshine, while we ate the sorrel 
which, with other plants, grew here in luxuriance. 

The Eskimo certainly knew what they were about when they 
settled in this spot, for there was an excellent and well-protected 
harbour with a good piece of beach for their skin-boats, and, as 
I have said, the situation was charming. The five flat stones 
which were standing upright and first drew our attention to the 


place were long a riddle to me, but after I had had some con- 
versation with Captain Holm on the subject, I was inclined to 
the view that they were stocks for the "umiaks," or large skin- 
boats, that is to say, supports on which the boats are raised to 
be dried, and to which they are fastened when laid up for the 

There are besides many other traces of human occupation on, 
these islands, which are, as a matter of fact, not one island, asj 
they are given on Holm's map, but two, divided by a narrow j 
sound, and the outer being the smaller. On several of the. 
points also I found similar cairns of stones, or, as I suppose,; 
remains of old fox-traps. 

By the outermost islet off Igdloluarsuk we found the mouth j 
of the fjord so full of huge icebergs that we had to go seawards! 
to find a practicable passage. On our way we tried to push 
between the icebergs, but were soon stopped. The floes get 
jammed so fast in between these monsters by the furious cur 
rent that there is no possibility of moving them. So we hac 
to return once more and go further out to sea. 

If in ordinary ice it is necessary to get a look ahead from somt 
high-lying point, it is no less necessary to take the same measure; 
among icebergs such as these. So whenever we came acros: 
one that was easily accessible we naturally mounted it at once 
Imposing as these floating monsters look from below, when on* 
rows beneath them, the effect, as far as regards their magnitude 
is nothing to that produced when one sees them from above 
One we ascended at this particular moment was fairly flat an< 
even on its upper surface, which in fact formed a plateau c 
considerable extent, an entry in Dietrichson's diary declaring 
that it was a quarter of an hour's walk across at its narrowes 
part. The surface was hard snow, and there were slopes whic 
would have suited us and our " ski " to perfection. Its highes 
point was certainly more than two hundred feet above the watei 
If the reader will now bear in mind that the portion below th 
water is in all probability six or seven times as thick, he will b 
able to reckon a total of at least 1400 feet. And when he add 


to this a breadth of 1000 or 1300 yards, or even more, he will 
be able to realise sufficiently distinctly what the lumps of ice 
are actually like which float in these seas, and of which there 
are hundreds and thousands along this coast. Off this one 

1 fjord alone there were incalculable numbers of them. From 
that we were on there was a fine view, and the masses of 
icebergs looked like an alpine landscape of pure ice. Be- 
tween them were chasms at the bottom of which one saw the 
sea. One of these lay at our feet, and we could see a narrow 
strip of dark blue water winding in its channel between two 
precipitous walls of ice, each nearly two hundred feet in height 
The beauty of the whole landscape in this world of ice with its 
blue cliffs and strange outlines is very striking. 

Icebergs are generally of two types, and nowhere could we 
have seen better how well these two types are distinguished than 
here where so many lay in view. One is at once inclined to 

j think that they have had two quite different origins. Some of 
the icebergs have a very broken and riven surface, full of rents 
and irregularities. Such a surface is exactly that of a glacier 
which descends into the sea. These icebergs always have a 

| very irregular outline, and by this and their blue tint one can 
tell them at great distances. Their origin is plain enough, and 
they must be the product of sea-glaciers. 

But there is also a much more prosaic type of iceberg, such 
as that on which we were now mounted. These have the form 
of an immense cube of ice with a comparatively smooth and 
polished upper surface, sharply-cut precipitous sides, and no 
blue crevasses. They are much whiter than the other kind and 
give an impression of far greater solidity. One can row beneath 
them with much more confidence, for they are not nearly so 

, ready to drop fragments upon the head of the passer-by. Though 

1 owing to their smooth surface they are altogether unlike glacier- 
ice, they are without comparison the more numerous of the two 
forms. There are certainly five times as many of these square 

. icebergs as of the more irregular type. 

Now whence do these other icebergs come, and how are they 


formed ? This is a question over which I have long puzzled 
without arriving at any certain conclusion. It is a simple! 
impossibility that there should be glaciers anywhere in these; 
regions which flow so quietly into the sea that their surface is 
smooth and quite devoid of crevasses. Besides these very: 
icebergs may be seen floating in the fjords just off glaciers olj 
the ordinary torn and ragged form. They must consequent) i 
have their origin in these glaciers, from which the icebergs oij 
the former type certainly come. 

The only satisfactory explanation which occurs to me is tha ! 
the irregular icebergs have, since their detachment from th< 
glacier, happened to retain their original position, that is to say 
with the rent and fissured surface uppermost, while the regula 
or cubical forms have, either in the act of calving or subse 
quently, turned over, and now show either the worn and smootlj 
surface of the bottom or side of the glacier or else the plane o 
fracture, which would naturally also be comparatively level am 
free from fissures. 

We saw, to our joy, that beyond the stretches of iceberg 
which nevertheless themselves extended a long way to th 
north, there was good navigable water, apparently as far a 
we could see. So after having laid down a course whic 
would take us without difficulty to this open water, and the 
having chanted a paean in honour of the occasion, we wer 
down to the boats again prepared to work at high pressure i 
order to get through the doubtful part before the ice packec 
This soon happens among these changing currents, and th 
prospect of being wedged fast for the night among these capr 
cious icebergs was not to be thought of. So, as rapidly as on 
oars would take us, we pushed on through the narrow channel 
in which we could see nothing but the deep blue water belo 
us, with here and there a floe on its surface, the cliffs of ice o 
either hand, and high above our heads a slender strip of sky, 

Though several times huge icebergs fell in pieces or turne 
over round about us, setting the sea in violent motion an 
making the air resound, we passed without mishap throug 


the whole mass of them, which extended a long way north of 
I the opening of the fjord. Once we had to seek a passage 
through a tunnel which ran through a great iceberg, and 
I from which the dripping water showered heavily down upon 
us. Whether all this congregation of icebergs comes from 
Bernstorffs Fjord, it is hard to say, but it seems scarcely 
likely, though this fjord is one of those of the east coast 
which provides icebergs in the largest quantity. 

Having passed Cape Mosting and the worst of the ice in 
good order, we spent the night on a small islet or rock lying 

(By A. Block, front an instantaneous photograph, taken that day front a floe.) 

in lat. 63 44' N., long. 40 32' W. As there was no flat 
ground of sufficient extent to accommodate our tent, which, 
besides, we had found too warm to sleep in the last few 
nights, we stretched our sleeping-bags upon the rocks. Just 
opposite us on the mainland was a sea-bird cliff thronged with 
gulls, which made such a disturbance the whole night long that 
we heard them as we slept and wove them into our dreams. 
In order to be level with them, I paid them a visit next morn- 

Iing, which cost a certain number of them their lives, and 
provided us with a pleasant addition to our larder, which was 


already stocked with a fair quantity of game. These young 
gulls, which were just now ready to fly, are excellent meat for 
hungry folk like us. 

We could plainly see that an ascent of the " Inland ice " 
would be fairly easy from any point of the coast along which 
we were now passing. There were some numbers of what the 
Eskimo call "nunataks," that is to say, peaks or masses of rock 
projecting above the surface of the ice. The ordinary belief 
among Greenland travellers is that the ice round these is 
always rough and fissured. But this is certainly only the 
case when the ice has a comparatively rapid movement and 
the rocks form obstacles which divert the stream, as it were, 
and lead to irregularities. In many cases, I am inclined to 
believe, these "nunataks" tend on the other hand to make the 
ice smooth and even, as they check the onward movement, 
which would otherwise be more rapid and give rise to the 
ordinary fissures and dislocations. 

However, there was no need for us to take to the ice yet, as 
the water seemed to be open right away to Umivik, whence 
the distance to Kristianshaab would be considerably less. So 
we continued on our way north in water which grew more and 
more open, and amid continual crashes from the icebergs and 
glaciers around us. 

This particular evening we had a strange experience. We 
were between two icebergs, and just engaged in forcing two 
floes apart, when we heard a crash and saw a huge piece fall 
from the berg on our larboard side on to one of the floes on 
which we were standing, and which it partly crushed, and. 
thereby made us a good passage through. Had we started to 
force our way through here a few minutes sooner, which in- 1 
deed we were very nearly doing, we should undoubtedly have 
been annihilated. Curiously enough, this was the third incident 
of the kind which had happened to us. 

On Kekertarsuatsiak, a little island lying at the mouth of 
Krumpensfjord, where we had our dinner, I climbed to the 
summit, which was very high, and gave me an excellent viewi 


to the north. The water seemed to be open and clear of floes 
as far as I could see in the direction of Umivik. There were 
a great many icebergs and glacier-fragments, especially off 
Gyldenlove's Fjord and Colberger Heide. Seawards, too, I 
had a fine view, and here the ice seemed very much scattered. 
The high mountains by Umivik, and especially the conical 
peak of Kiatak, which marks our eventual destination, seem 

(Front a photograph?) 

quite near, and yet, according to the map, they are still thirty 
miles away. This fact I conceal from the others, who think 
the mountain is so close that we shall reach it to-night, and 
who, therefore, row with increased energy. 

That evening we reached Kangerajuk, a point by Colberger 
Heide, where there was a strip of bare land between two 
enormous glaciers. It was all we could do to draw our boats 
high enough up, and we could find no ground at all to pitch 



our tent upon, so, as on the preceding night, we slept in our 
bags in the open air, on two slabs of rock which would just; 
lodge us. As the dew was very heavy, we passed a moist, 
night, and amid a continual cannonade from the glaciers andi 
the numberless icebergs which lay round about us. 

Early next morning I was woke by a raven which sat and, 
croaked a greeting from a crag opposite us. I found thf 

(By A. Block, from an instantaneous photograph, taken that day from ajloe.) 

glorious sunshine too tempting, and, slipping unnoticed out <j 
my bag, I took a photograph of the view to the north, wil 
a huge arm of the glacier on Colberger Heide in the bac 
ground, and in the foreground my two bedfellows, Sverdri 
and Dietrichson, who were still deep in their morning slee 
and will, I hope, forgive the liberty of this unceremonio* 
presentation. In the distance is the peak of Kiatak, whi<: 
is our goal for the day. 



e now had the most splendid weather and the openest 
water that had hitherto fallen to our lot, and we pushed on 
fast. Dinner was particularly enjoyable, as a gentle breeze 
sprang up from the south, and we were able to hoist our sails 
and make good progress while we ate at leisure. I do not 
think I have rowed towards a mountain so obstinately distant 
as this Kiatak, a peak of some 2500 feet. We had now had 
it in sight for two days, and it seemed as far off as ever. At 
last, however, by the help of sails and oars, we began to draw 
in upon it. Now came a sea-fog to intercept us, but before 
the shore was quite enwrapped, we had come near enough to 
choose a landing-place and take our bearings accordingly. 

Chapter XIII. 


About eight o'clock on the evening of August 10 we landed! 
in a thick fog at our last camping-place on the east coast of 
Greenland Just as I stepped ashore a flock of birds of the j 
snipe kind, possibly dunlins, rose and settled again on a rockj 
close by. A shot brought down four of them, and the acquisi- 
tion of these dainty birds was a good beginning. We had: 
gradually learnt the art of unloading our boats with wonderful; 
celerity, but the speed of this evening surpassed all previous, 
records. All the work was done with keenness and despatch.! 
and the zeal was not lessened by my promise to make some| 
coffee. Balto was especially to the fore and reckless beyonc| 
measure. No sooner was he up on the rocks before he begar) 
to entertain us with an extract from the service after one o! 
the clergymen away in Finmarken. His representation wai 
excellent from an artistic point of view, but the performance 
was a sin which he never ventured to commit unless he wen 
quite sure of his life. To-day, too, he indulged in an oath o 
two, which was the first time for a long while. He even wen 
so far as to give back to Ravna the Lappish Testament whicl 
he had borrowed and had in his possession for a long time 
his idea being that he had no further use for it now. Bu 
when Sverdrup advised him not to be too cocksure, and wame<j 
him that there might be many a slip yet before the west coas 
was reached, he became a little more doubtful, and we had 2' 
least no more swearing. 

In my diary for this day I wrote among other notes : "Whil; 
the boats were being unloaded I set about making coffee, th 


being the second warm meal we had had during the twelve 
days of our voyage up the coast. Supper and the coffee were 
enjoyed on the rocks down by the boat amid general satis- 
faction, and even the Lapps seemed contented. We were 
conscious of having reached one of our destinations and of 
having overcome one of our difficulties. Certainly the worst 
part of the journey still remained, but we should have firmer 
ground to go upon, more trustworthy ice to deal with, no drift- 
ing floes, and no boats liable to be crushed every moment. The 
Lapps especially would be much more at home on the snow- 
fields of the ' Inland ice ' than among the capricious floes." 

" The landscape round about us would certainly not attract 
every one in the same degree as it did us. We sat on grey 
gneiss rocks and had on either hand a glacier running into the 
sea. The fog had lifted to some extent, and now and again 
we could see parts of the mountain Kiatak. In the water 
floated scattered fragments of glacier-ice. The whole scene 
was a study in grey and white, touched here and there with 
blue, a sky of grey, a leaden sea with white spots of floating 
ice, grey rocks with patches of white snow, and blue in the 
j crevasses of the glaciers and in the icebergs out at sea. But 
the dulness of the landscape found no reflection within us. 
This evening we retired to rest in a singular state of elation, 
after having secured a comfortable site for our tent high up on 
the rocks." 

The next day, August 11, rose gloriously bright and fine. 
From our tent we could see the blue sea stretching away to 
the horizon, its surface broken here and there by the wander- 
ing blocks of ice, and its waves, raised by the gentle morning 
breeze, dancing and glittering in the sunshine. To the south 
we saw Colberger Heide rise out of the water with its mantle 
of snow and ice and protruding crags. In front of us, or to the 
east, was the huge conical mass of Kiatak, stretching from the 
blue sea at its foot to the pale, cloudless August sky above. 
Beyond this and to the north lay the white snowfields of the 
"Inland ice," which grew bluer and bluer and more and more 



rent and scarred as it fell towards the sea, and ending in lofty 
cliffs of seamed and fissured ice. From these great blue walls 
come all the icebergs and smaller blocks that are floating in 
the water round. Above, the snowfield is a simple white 
expanse, broken only now and again by the blue streak which 
marks a wide crevasse ; slowly it passes away inwards and out 
of sight, ending in a white ridge which shows almost warm 
against the green-blue sky. 



(From a photograph.^ 

Nature has not many sounds in these parts. Only th 
petulant screams of the terns pierce the ear as one stands an 
gazes at the grand and simple beauty of this desolate lan( 
scape. From time to time, too, one hears from the glacier 
whenever a new fissure forms or some mass of ice is jerke 
suddenly forwards, a sullen rumble which has the most strikir; 



ness to a cannon shot If for a moment one forgets one's 
surroundings, or hears these reports in one's early morning 
sleep, the deception is singularly complete. 

But we have, in fact, no time to spend in the contemplation 
of Nature's wonders. The sun has long been calling us to 
work, so we must get our breakfast over with all speed. Most 
of the party have to go to work at once to scrape the rust of! 
the sledge-runners and then off the steel-shod "ski." In their 
present state, after the ravages of salt-water and damp, they are 
all absolutely useless. Dietrichson's business is to make a map 
of the bay, the point and the adjacent glaciers, while Sverdrup 
and I are to set out upon our first journey on the " Inland ice." 
We must needs discover if an ascent is possible just here, and 
which will be the best course to take. We were indeed con- 
sumed with impatience for the first sight of this undiscovered 
country, in which, as we imagine, the human foot has as yet 
never trodden. But there are certain things to be done before 
we start. We must take some astronomical observations, now 
that we have the sun, and some photographs too, as the weather 
is so favourable. 

At last, now that the sun has passed the meridian and we 
have taken the altitude, we are ready to set off. With our bag 
of victuals, our glacier-rope, and ice-axes we start up the stretch 
of mountain-side on which our tent stands, and which lies like 
an island between two streams of ice. We were soon at the 
head of it, and there found a small moraine, from which we got 
a good view over the ice in front of us. We could now see 
that it was not so level as it had looked from the sea, as the 
white surface was seamed with numerous crevasses on every 
side. They were especially plentiful in the two streams of ice 
which lay on either side of us, one to the north and the other 
to the south. After we had tried the northern branch and 
found it altogether impossible, we could see that our only 
course was along the ridge which lay between the two arms. 
Here we advanced a good way over solid ice. At first it was 
hard and roufi;h, with a rugged surface which crunched beneath 


our feet and cut the soles of our boots unmercifully. Then we 
reached softer and wetter coarse-grained snow in which we sank to 
some extent. But it was not long before we came to crevasses, 
though at first they were narrow and harmless and easily covered 
in the stride. Then they grew broader and opened a view to 
depths unfathomable. These were not even to be jumped, and 
we must needs skirt them either to the right-hand or to the left. 

As most of my readers doubtless know, the crevasses gene- 
rally run across the current of the ice-stream. They are due to 
the passage of the ice over ridges and changes of level in the 
glacier-bed. The lower layers are compressed, while the upper 
are parted by the strain and show a long, continuous rent 
which reaches nearly to the bottom of the whole mass of ice, 
and lies parallel to the ridge which has caused the fracture. 
The numeious inequalities in the bed and the downward move- 
ment of the mass of ice give rise to fissures corresponding in 
number and size, all of them, as a rule, running in about the 
same direction. Again, if the glacier, after passing a cross- 
ridge, sinks into a trough or hollow, where the course of the 
ground thus becomes concave instead of convex, all the fissures 
are closed up and filled with snow and water, which freezing 
together gradually efface them. 

For a long while we got on fairly well, partly because we 
could keep along the crevasses northwards, which did not take 
us much out of our course, and partly because they were in 
themselves not very long, and soon narrowed sufficiently to let 
us jump over them. Often, too, we crossed them on snow-! 
bridges or on narrow strips of ice, left by the incomplete sever- 
ance of the mass, and forming diagonal bridges across the chasms,; 
the bottomless blue depths of which we could see on eithei! 
side as we passed over. As long as the covering layer of snow 
was thin, there was no danger for us, as we could see when wc 
had firm ground beneath our feet, and when it was necessary tc 
be careful or quicken our steps. We had the rope round our 
waists, of course, and kept it tight between us in Alpine fashior 
in order to minimise the consequences of a fall. 


ut as we get farther up the snow increases in depth, we sink 
to our ankles, progress grows heavy, treacherous cornices over- 
hang the crevasses, and sometimes the fissures are completely 
covered. We have to grope and poke before us with our staffs, 
,or we soon find ourselves only separated from the uttermost 
depths by a few inches of wind-driven snow through which the 
pole falls almost by its own weight. We neither of us had bad 
falls, though it was nasty enough now and again when one or 
other of us sank to the armpits and felt his legs dangling in 
space. This was a performance of which we soon got tired. 

(By E. Nielsen, /rem a sketch by the Author.', 

and as soon as we could we changed our line and moved farther 
south, where there was less snow and not so many crevasses. 
Here we could push on with less care and made fair progress. 
In time the crevasses ceased almost entirely, but to make up 
for this the coarse, wet snow was here deeper than ever, and it was 
unconscionably heavy work to plod along, sinking far above the 
ankles at every step. We now bitterly regretted that we had not 
brought our " ski " or Canadian snowshoes with us. We had the 
Norwegian " truger " on our backs certainly, but they were of no 
use, as the bearing-surface was too small for this kind of snow, 


We had ascended pretty gradually since we left the bare 
rock at a height of about 400 feet. In front of us to the! 
north-west was a ridge, which we thought would give us the I 
view we wanted into the interior could we only get there i 
We looked wistfully towards it, but the way was long, and the i 
snow, as I have said, in a villainous state. We are hungry, too, j 
and as the sun is still high enough to let us think of bodily j 
enjoyment, we put our "truger" on the snow, stamp holes inj 
front of them, and thus make ourselves warm and comfortable! 
seats in the sunshine. It was a true relief to get a little rest; 
like this. We set vigorously to work on our pemmican and ; 
biscuits, scanning the landscape meanwhile, and enjoying the! 
brilliant weather and cloudless sky. The reflection of the sun 
from the white surface of the snow troubles our eyes to some] 
extent, and unfortunately we have left our spectacles behind 
in the camp and have no protection against the glare. 

To the south in front of us the furrowed and riven surface 
of the broad ice-stream falls away seawards. We know thai 
there are peaks and rocks below, but they are hidden from uj 
as we sit here, and we see the blue sea stretching from the 
edge of the ice right away to the horizon. There is no rea 
floe-ice in sight, nothing but a few scattered fragments her<j 
and there which come from the glaciers. How different thing: 
were a few weeks ago when we drifted by. Then the ice la; 
in a broad belt stretching from the shore some twenty or thirt; 
miles out to sea, and so closely packed that not even our littl< 
boats could find a passage through. Now a whole fleet coulc 
make its way to land at any point it pleased, and withou 
touching a single floe. Later in the day, when we had mounted 
higher, we could see right away to the mountains by Cape Danj 
The surface of the sea was everywhere smooth and bright, an< 
there was no drifting ice in view. 

But our dinner is over, and we have no time to lose if we ar 
to reach the ridge before sundown, which is the time one get 
the clearest distant views over the surface of the snow. So w! 
trudge off again with the renewed vigour which only food an' 


rest can give one. The snow gets worse and worse. There 
was now a thin crust upon it, the result of the last few days' 
frost, and this took it out of us terribly. It let us through 
pitilessly every time we trod upon it, and hung about our 
ankles as we tried to draw our feet out again. This kind of 
thing will beat the strongest ; and dead-beat we certainly were, 
more especially because our legs were altogether untrained. 
It was many months since they had had any exercise, except 
for a little hauling of the boats about the floes. 

But there was no mercy for us. We must push on in order 
to reach the ridge as soon as possible, as it looked as if we 
should have rain and thick weather up there if we put it off 
till too late. The sky already seemed uncomfortably grey 
and dull along the upper edge. So we redoubled our efforts, 
and determined not to be beaten. It would be too absurd 
to arrive up there just late enough to see nothing, and be 

( obliged to wait there till we could get a view, or else come 
up again next day. So the pace was increased and the stride 
lengthened till Sverdrup — who is short in the leg — came near 
to straining himself in his efforts to keep up with me and make 

, use of the foot-holes which my long legs made in the snow. 
I could hear him cursing my seven-league boots till he must 

, have been blue in the face with the exertion. At last, after 
we had thought again and again that we were there, but found 
the ground still rising in front of us, we reached the top of the 
long-sought ridge. But, alas ! alas ! life is full of disappoint- 
ments ; as one reaches one ridge there is always another and 
a higher one beyond which blocks the view. So it was here, 
and we must go on ; we must inspect the ice farther in, for that 
is the object of our expedition. No doubt we are justified in 
supposing that we have already passed the worst ice in the ten 
miles or so we have gone to-day, but it may well be that there 
is still difficult ground beyond. So we start off again as fast 
as our legs will take us towards the highest point of the ridge 

I in front. There seem to be a number of crevasses, but they 
are not of a kind to stop us. It now began to rain a little as we 


were climbing the rather steep slope in front of us. The going i 
is heavier than ever, and we sink in the snow above our knees. 
Rain and fog may threaten as they please ; we have to stop 
now and again to get our breath, exhausted as we are. This 
time, as far as we can see, we are not to be fooled ; if only the 
rain will let us, we seem likely to get a good view inwards ' 
Already we can see some way, and I even get a glimpse of aj 
projecting peak that has not been visible before. So we stridti 
on with greater eagerness than ever. 

At last we are on the top, and are richly rewarded for all out 
toil and tribulations. The great white snowfield lies before us; 
in all its majesty. The rain is still falling in the form of finej 
dust-like spray, but it is not enough to hinder us from seeing 
all necessary detail even at a considerable distance. The whokj 
surface seemed smooth and crevasseless quite to the horizon ! 
This we had expected, indeed, but what we had not expectec 
was the number of "nunataks," or peaks, small and large, whicl; 
protruded from the great field of snow for a long distance in; 
wards. Many of them were covered and quite white, but man?' 
others showed cliffs and crags of bare rock which stood out ii 
sharp contrast to the monotonous white ground, and served a 
welcome resting-places for the eye. 

We reckoned the distance to the farthest of these peaks t< 
be some twenty-five or thirty miles, and we did not suppos<: 
that we should be able to reach them for many days. Thi 
gradient was even and slight as far as we could see; but thj 
going was anything but good, as we had already learnt ; and th| 
last bit especially had been desperately heavy. If the night 
were not likely to be frosty, our prospects were not brillian 
But the barometer showed that we were now some 3000 fet 
above the sea, and at another couple of thousand feet or s! 
we felt sure of frost, at least at night. Poor unsophisticate 
wretches, who wished for cold in the interior of Greenland ! 

But our object was attained. In spite of " nunataks," an 
in spite of our beginning the ascent from the very sea-level, w| 
had found the passage of the ice quite as simple and straigh! 


forward a business as we had ever ventured to hope. By this 
time we are hungry again ; the evening is far gone ; the sun 
must have set long since, though the rain clouds have hidden 
it from view, and it is not too early for us to sit down upon our 
"truger" and bring out our provision- bag once more. 

Supper being over, we have to contemplate our return. We 
are at least ten, if not fifteen miles from camp. There is no 
sense in going back the way we came ; we came out for a re- 
connaissance, so we must try and discover whether there is not 
an easier route by some other line. Especially we thought it 
possible that a mountain which lay to the south of us would 
give good access to the snow. We should be able to get up 
to a good height with firm ground still beneath our feet, and 
we should avoid the worst of the glacier-ice. It was certainly 
late in the evening for exploring purposes, but there was no help 
for it ; we must explore and put up with the night meanwhile. 

As the snow up here was at its worst and loosest, we put 
our " truger " on, to see whether they would not be of a little 
use to us, and they really were. So we set off refreshed upon our 
homeward way, steering for the mountain that lay to the south. 
, But darkness came on quickly, and we had not gone far before 
it grew uncomfortably difficult to see the crevasses at a satis- 
factory distance. As yet, indeed, there were not many of them, 
but we must be prepared to meet with more than enough of 
them before long. We have to keep along the top of the ridge, 
which just here runs between two depressions which we have 
on either side. By this means we keep fairly clear of them. 
For a while all goes well ; the snow is better, so good indeed 
that Sverdrup takes his "truger" off. We already see our 
mountain at no great distance, and here we hope to find water, 
and mean to have a good rest and stretch our weary limbs on 
1 the bare rock. We longed indescribably for this firm ground, 
and we were sure it could not be far off now. But how often 
are one's reckonings altogether upset when one has to do with 
> ice, whether it be in the form of floe or glacier. We had not 
gone many steps before we began to suspect that our " not fes 



off" might prove to be quite far off enough, and even more too. 
We were now met in fact by longer and nastier crevasses than 
any we had yet seen. At first we managed pretty well, and 
with my " truger " I found I could jump with greater certainty 
than I had done before without their help, and could venture 
more boldly on to the snow-bridges, as they did not let me 
through so readily. When these bridges were too weak to tread 
upon, we had recourse to a more cautious method, and crawled 
over flat on our stomachs. 


By E. Nielsen, from a sketch by the Author.) 

But presently the crevasses became so broad that bridges were 
not to be expected, and we had to go round them. Round them 
we went too with a vengeance, following them often by the half- 
hour, sometimes upwards, sometimes downwards, but they grew 
longer and longer still. At last we reached one broader than 
all its predecessors, and longer too, as we were destined to learn. 
This we determined to follow upwards, as we thought that there 1 
was most chance above of finding its end. This had been the- 


case with most of them, but this time we were thoroughly sold. 
We went on and on, and on again, farther and farther from our 
goal ; the peak of our mountain grew fainter and fainter in the 
darkness, but the crevasse remained as broad as ever. There 
were no bridges, and it was so dark that we could see no sign 
3f change ahead. There was nothing for it but patience, which 
s a jewel indeed on such occasions. But it is a long lane that 
las no turning, and though we still went on and on we came 
:o the end at last. We now promised ourselves that this was 
:he last time we would follow a crevasse upwards. The other 
Way at least brought us nearer to the mountain, where we were 
;ertain to find water for our parched throats. 

By this change of tactics we made greater progress, and we 
iow had the pleasure of seeing our goal loom nearer in the 
iarkness. We had not many more steps to go when we saw 
n front of us a dark stripe or band in the snow. At first we 
( ;hought it was another crevasse, even now separating us from 
he rock, but to our indescribable joy we discovered that it was 
[Vater, glorious running water. We soon had our cup out, and 
'irank, and drank, and drank again, and revelled in it, as only 
,hose can who have waded the whole day long through deep, 
vet snow without a drop of any kind to wet their lips. I 
icarcely think there is a greater enjoyment in life than plenty 
)f good cold water when one is ready to perish of thirst. If it 
3 ice-water, as it was here, one drinks till the numbness of one's 
eeth and forehead bids one stop, then one rests a bit and drinks 
igain, slowly and solemnly drawing the water in, so that one 
nay not have to stop again too soon — the enjoyment is in fact 
livine. When on this occasion we had drunk as much as we 
vere good for, we filled our cup and flask, went on the few 
,:>aces that remained to the cliffs, and finding a comfortable 
;eat on a jutting rock, where we could stretch our limbs at will 
ind get a good support for our weary backs, we turned to the 
)rovision-bag again. What delight we found here too! A 
i.ramp all day in the snow like this produces both hunger 
ind fatigue, and we had more than enough of both to make 


existence supremely delightful as we lay there and devoured 
our pemmican, chocolate, and biscuits. 

But presently it began to rain, which was not quite so de- 
lightful, and the darkness had increased so much that we could 
now not see more than two or three paces in front of us. But 
we had a good way to go to the tent, so we had to start off ! 
again. We kept to the ice along the edge of the mountain 
side, where the surface was tolerably smooth, as it often is along 
the rocks, where the ice has not much movement, or is even I 
frozen fast. For a time progress was easy, but then the incline 
grew so steep and slippery that it was all we could do to find 
and keep our footing. Still more uncomfortable did things I 
become when we found more huge crevasses lying in our path. 
In the darkness we could just see the great chasms which lay j 
ready to receive us as soon as we made a false step or allowed ! 
our feet to slip. The rocks by our side were so precipitous ! 
that there was no escape that way, and we had to follow the 
line we were now taking. Without mishap we reached a rock! 
which jutted out into the ice. Here below us, and between the | 
main mass of the mountain and the glacier, was an enormous j 
" bergschrund," or chasm, some thirty or forty yards across and} 
abysmally deep ; in the ice in front we could just see a number' 
of crevasses, the width of which we could not determine, but! 
they were evidently more than big enough to stop our progress. 
There was nothing for it but to take to the rocks up a gully 
which came down just by us, by this means skirt the project- 1 
ing point and "bergschrund," and see if there were a more 
practicable course down below. It was a true satisfaction to! 
have the firm rock beneath our feet again, and to feel the 
pleasure of a good foothold. In spite of the heavy rain which 
wetted us to the skin, we sat down for a long rest upon some 
boulders. We were now inclined to wait till dawn for a furthei 
attempt upon the glacier, as we felt sure that it would be ful' 
of crevasses further down, and in the darkness we might easilj 
get completely fixed or even come to grief for good and all 
At last came daybreak, red and glowing in the east, and spread 


ng a warm flush over the sky and landscape. Beneath us lay 
:he glacier, which now looked more practicable than we had 
expected. We chose the line which seemed easiest, and set 
off once more. Though we now crossed the glacier not far 
rom the edge which falls precipitously into the sea, the ice was 
lot so full of crevasses and impassable as it had been higher 
lp. It was rough and rugged enough in its way, full of upstand- 
ng pinnacles and sharp ridges divided by clefts and hollows. 
X was often quite sufficiently hard work to cross these latter, 
hough they were not deep; but the real long, bottomless 
crevasses, which we had found up above, were not abundant 
lere, and occurred only in certain parts. The reason why there 
,ire so few of these down here must be that they are filled with 
vater, which freezes and turns them into mere furrows and 
rregularities in the ice. 

Our difficulties were now soon at an end, and after a couple of 
lours' walking we came within sight of the camp. It was five 
Vclock in the morning, and, as we expected, all our comrades 
irere sound asleep. Our first business was to get hold of some 
ood and make the most of what our larder provided. This was 
n indulgence which we thought we had fully deserved after 
!»ur tramp of eighteen or twenty miles. Then we crawled into 
he sleeping-bags, stretched our tired limbs, and soon floated 
nto dreamland, well satisfied with this our first excursion on 
he much discussed and much dreaded " Inland ice " of Green- 
ind, which we had always heard was so impossible of access, 
nd still more impossible to traverse. As we had expected, we 
iad not met with these impossibilities, but the world would no 
ioubt say that we had had the devil's own luck with us, and had 
eached our goal with much more ease than we deserved. 
, Before we were ready for our final start, however, we had 
ertain preparations to make which would take a considerable 
mount of time. Our boots especially needed thorough over- 
ruling and repair, as the excursion of the day before had 
lught us in the most emphatic way that the "Inland ice" 
emanded no common strength and substance of sole. The 




steel runners of the sledges and "ski," too, had to be still 
further scraped and polished; all our baggage had to be re-! 
packed, and everything that we were going to cache here set 
apart. So for the next two or three days all the members of [ 
the party might have been seen sitting about on the rocks out- 
side the tent, busily occupied in the various arts of peace, thatj 
of the cobbler taking a particularly prominent place. It was a 
strange sight to see these figures, which outwardly had very 
little in them to remind an observer of the cobbler's stall, sitting! 
here amid these wild surroundings with boots between thein 
knees, and plying meantime the awl, thread, and bristle with 
as much apparent dexterity as if they had done nothing else al 
their lives. 

(From a photograph.) 


Chapter XIV. 

As I have already said, we spent the first day or two after our 
expedition on the ice in a thorough overhauling and rearrange- 
ment of our equipment. The weather meanwhile was dull, 
rainy, and mild, and we were therefore in no hurry to start, 
as we hoped for bright weather with frost at night. We lived 
during these days almost entirely on sea-birds, which we had 
shot during our voyage up the coast, but had hitherto had no 
time to eat. We enjoyed this fare amazingly, and it must 
have been a fine sight to see the party sitting on the rocks 
round the camp-kettle, which consisted of a tin box previously 
devoted to biscuits, and each member fishing out his own bird 
with his fingers, and proceeding forthwith to tear it in pieces 
and devour it by the help of hands and teeth. Modern ad- 
juncts of the table such as forks, I need scarcely say, were not 
to be found among us, and I can vouch from my own experi- 
ence that such things are not at all necessary, seeing that 
the forks with which nature has provided us are exceedingly 
practical instruments, as long as one does not plunge them 
into inordinately hot cooking vessels ; a discretion which is, of 
course, the outcome of a very short experience. 

On August 14 the weather improved, and we resolved upon 
a start. Sverdrup and I considered that the best route was 
ap the mountain side on which he and I spent the night of 
our glacier excursion, provided at least that it proved easily 
accessible from the sea. 

So we launched our boats once more, loaded them with all 




our baggage, and set off with the intention of beginning our 
climb there and then. But we had hitherto had no view of ! 
this mountain from the water, and we now found its base so 
precipitous that an ascent with our heavy loads would have 
been much too laborious an undertaking. Our only course; 
therefore was to return to our old camping-ground and start 
from there. So our boats were unloaded at this spot once. 


(From a photograph.) 

again, and it was late at night before the day's work wa 

On the morning of August 15 the boats were hauled up tj 
their last resting-place, a little cleft in the rocks, which pre; 
mised them a tolerable degree of shelter and protection. W 
placed them carefully with their keels uppermost, blocke- 
them with stones to keep them steady in a wind, and it is t 
be hoped they are still there iust as we left them. But it i 


quite possible, of course, that the Eskimo have already found 
them, and appropriated the iron parts and fittings of the boats 
and many other wonderful things. If this be so, it is not easy 
to imagine what kind of supernatural beings they have taken 
us for, who have thus abandoned our valuable possessions and 
so mysteriously disappeared. Under them we stored a small 
supply of ammunition, dried seal's flesh, and a few other things. 

(J*rom a photograph.) 

A curiosity among the latter was the Eskimo skull which we 
carried off from Igdloluarsuk, and here deposited in the locker 
of one of the boats. If the natives have come across our 
cache, the discovery of this skull has no doubt scared them 
not a little. A number of tools, chiefly belonging to the boats, 
were also left there, and among them a sail- maker's palm, the 
want of which we afterwards felt acutely. As I have said 
already, I had intended to leave one of our guns here, too, 


but when the time of parting came, we were so overcome by 
its charms that we had not the heart to abandon it to this 
desolate fate. 

On a small piece of paper, too, I wrote a short account of 
the progress of the expedition so far, packed it carefully in a 
little tin, and enclosed this in the bread-box which had be- 
longed to our sealing-boat. In my account I wrote that we 
were quite hopeful of reaching the west coast, if we were only 
favoured with sufficient frost ; as it turned out, we were favoured 
with a good deal more than enough. 

The Lapps maintained that we might just as well leave one 
of the big sleeping-bags behind, as we could easily put four 
men into one of them, while they could sleep in their fur coats, 
Balto even declaring that they could put up with seventy 
degrees of frost. However, I considered it better to see how 
things were before I consented to such a step, and I told them 
it was not unlikely that they might be glad of the bags to sleep 
in after all. Balto still insisted that that would never be, and 
that the extra bag would be only so much dead weight. It 
was not long, however, before he had good reason to change J 
his opinion. 

As it was now too warm in the daytime, and the snow con- 
sequently soft, we determined to do our hauling work at night j 
So at nine in the evening the sledges were finally loaded and 
we started on our way for Christianshaab. 

At first our progress was slow. The snow came nearly down 
to the sea, so we could begin hauling at once ; but the gradient 
was steep, and we had to put three men to each sledge. Our 1 
loads were heavy, too, each sledge weighing somewhat more 
than two hundredweight. When we had got so high that wej 
could think of dragging them singly, we redistributed the weight 
so that four of them were about two hundred pounds ; and the 
fifth, which had two to pull it, weighed about double as much' 
This first night we had fine weather and just enough frost td 
make the snow hard. The ground was favourable except fo: 
the steepness of the incline, and of crevasses we as yet founc 



none. Towards morning, however, we reached some unpleasant 
ice, which was full of depressions and irregularities, but had at 
the same time a hardish surface on which the sledges travelled 
well. After a first stage of some two or three miles we pitched 
our tent at a height of about five hundred feet It was a pleasure 
almost divine to get half a dozen cups of good hot tea with con- 
densed milk and then to creep into our sleeping-bags after this 

(By A. Block, from a photograph.) 

our first spell of sledge-hauling. I have no doubt there was a 
pretty general consensus of opinion among us that we had had 
pleasanter work in the course of our lives, but these opinions 
we kept each to himself. Just as we were proposing to go off 
to sleep it was discovered that we had left our only piece of 
Gruyere cheese at the place where we had halted for our mid- 
' night dinner. To leave this cheese behind was scarcely to be 
thought of, and yet to fetch it, tired as we were, was also too 



much to be expected. But then Dietrichson came forward and 
offered to go and get it, declaring that there was nothing he I 
should like so much, as it would give him a little morning walk j 
before he went to bed, and a look round besides, which would j 
be to the advantage of his map. I remember that it was with 
a feeling of simple admiration that I saw him start gaily off on 
his errand, and that I could not myself conceive that any one 

{By the Author.) 

could find pleasure in such an expedition after the work we had | 
had already. 

On the evening of the day we broke up again and went on 
over ice of the same rough kind. Towards midnight it grew so* 
dark that we could no longer see, so at eleven o'clock we en- 
camped, made some chocolate, and waited for daylight. Before, 
we started off again we took a photograph of the tent and the 
ice to the south stretching downwards towards the sea. 



e now got on to some smoother ice, but the snow grew 
looser and crevasses began to appear, though the first were 
negotiable without any great difficulty. Towards morning it 
began to rain ; as the hours passed things grew worse and worse, 
and existence to us less joyous. We all got into our waterproofs, 
of course, but waterproof these garments were certainly not, and 
the rain poured down upon us till every rag we had on was wet 
through. There was no chance of our getung chilled or frozen, 
though there was a moderately sharp wind blowing, as our work 
kept us warm, and we had to put forth all our strength. But to 
feel one's clothes cling to one's limbs and hinder every move- 
ment is not a state of things to make hard work pleasanter. 
We kept on till past noon ; the ascent was not too steep to 
allow of the sledges being brought up with tolerable ease, but 
we had to put two men to each of them. Crevasses were 
plentiful, so we had to go warily. We could not rope ourselves 
together, as that made the hauling work too difficult, so we 
had to be content with attaching ourselves to the sledges by 
our strong tow-ropes, which were again made fast to the stout 
hauling-strap and belt we each wore. If we went through the 
snow-bridges which crossed the fissures, we were left hanging 
securely, as long as the sledge did not follow us, which, owing 
to its length, was not very likely to happen. As a matter of 
fact, we fell through rarely, and then only to the armpits, so 
that by the help of our staffs we were able to get out again 
without other assistance. 

Now and again, however, one or other of us experienced the 
strange abdominal sensation of having the ground suddenly go 
beneath his feet and his body left swinging in the air from the 
chest downwards. At these times we generally managed to 
recover ourselves without any further invitation from outside. 
It was, as a rule, an easy business to bring our long sledges 
over these crevasses. They had so large a bearing-surface that 
they would run well over with their own impetus, though from 
time to time it happened that the snow gave way slightly be- 
neath them. 


This day we did not stop till nearly noon, when we encamped 
on a flat ledge between two huge crevasses, the weather being 
now altogether impracticable. We found unspeakable conso- 
lation this particular day in dry clothes and hot tea, and the 
number of cups which we consumed passed the limits of cal- I 
culation. After having laid our staffs and " ski " under the 
tent-floor in order to keep our bed reasonably dry, and having j 
taken all possible measures to exclude the rain, we retired to ; 
our bags. The smokers, too, were allowed a pipe of tobacco, I 

(By E. Nielsen, from a rough sketch by the A uthor. ) 

and altogether we made ourselves exceedingly comfortable i 
under cover while the elements raged in all their fury without 
For three whole days, from noon on August 17 to the: 
morning of August 20, we were now confined to the tent b)| 
a violent storm and uninterrupted rain. The whole time wt] 
only left our sleeping-bags for the purpose of getting food ancj 
for other small errands. The greater part of the time we spen 
in sleep, beginning with an unbroken spell of twenty-four hours 
Rations were reduced to a minimum, the idea being that aj 
there was no work to do. there was no need for much food 


though we had to take just enough to keep ourselves alive, the 
whole consumption amounting to about one full meal a day. 
Some of the party found the allowance unreasonably short, and 
piteously urged the clamorous demands of their inner organs. 
When not eating or sleeping, we filled the gaps in our diaries, 
told stories in turn, and read a paper by Professor Helland on 
the "icefjords" of Greenland, besides our "Nautical Almanac," 
our " Table of Logarithms," and the other equally interesting 
books of which our modest library consisted. Ravna and Balto 
read their New Testament as usual on such occasions. Our 
waking moments were, however, perhaps chiefly spent in gaz- 
ing at the tent roof and listening to the rain splashing overhead 
and the wind tearing and shrieking round the walls and among 
the guy-ropes. It is pleasant, no doubt, to lie snugly housed 
while tempests rave outside, but there is also no gainsaying 
that we longed to hear the rain beat a little less pitilessly and 
the wind howl a little more gently round our tent. 

At last, on the morning of August 20, the weather so far 
improved that we could resume our journey, and in prepara- 
tion we fortified ourselves with a supply of hot lentil soup, to 
make up for the famine rations of the three preceding days. 

The ice was still much fissured, and as we were about to 
attempt the ascent of a ridge which lay in front of us, we found 
the crevasses so numerous and formidable that there was no 
possibility of passing them. Here they ran not only parallel, 
but also across each other, a combination before which one is 
completely powerless. We had to turn back and try more to 
the north, and sitting on the sledges we slid down the slope 
again between the crevasses. Below we found the ice less 
broken and the gradient less steep. Progress was here com- 
1 paratively easy, and at places we could even haul our sledges 
J singly, Sverdrup and I going on in front with the heaviest to 
choose the route. The rain had here evidently contributed to 
make the going better for us, as it had made the snow firmer 
J in places and often washed it away altogether. At times, how- 
ever we still sank deep, but could we only have got a little 



frost, things would have been excellent. Yet on the whole the 
surface was very rough, and Balto writes in his narrative : — 

"On August 20" — (he probably means August 22) — "the 1 
ice was terribly rough, like the great waves of the sea. It 1 
was awful work to drag the sledges up these waves, and when ! 
we went down the other side the lumps of ice came rolling j 
after us." (This is a circumstance I do not myself remember.) [ 
" The ropes we pulled with cut our shoulders, till they felt as if : 
they were being burnt." 

{By the Author.) 

Towards eight o'clock that evening the sky looked as if itj 
would clear, and as we felt sure that this would bring us frost, 
we stopped and camped at once to wait till the snow got harder. I 
Next morning, August 21, we turned out at four. The skyj 
was clear, and though the thermometer showed that there) 
was still a certain amount of warmth in the air, the crust on 
the snow was nevertheless sufficiently hard to bear us. Thej 
gradient was still steep, and the crevasses large and numerous,; 
but we pushed on fast and without mishap in the most glorious 
weather, keeping at work till well into the morning, when the| 




ng sun began to make the snow softer and softer. This 
work under such conditions is terribly exhausting, and we 
suffered from an unquenchable thirst. We had already passed 
the limit of drinking-water, and were destined to find no more 
till we reached the west side. All we get is what we can melt 
by the warmth of our own bodies in the tin flasks which we 
carry at the breast inside our clothes and sometimes next the 
very skin. Few of us are long-suffering enough to wait till the 



(By the Author, from a photograph.) 

snow is turned to water, but as it grows a little moist we suck 
out the few drops which it produces. 

About eleven we had reached the top of a ridge which we 
had set as our goal for the day's march, a distance of some 
three or four miles. Beyond, the ice sloped gently inwards, 
and was particularly free from crevasses. So we thought we 
' must have already overcome the first difficulty of our ascent, 
and felt justified in marking the occasion by a festal meal, 



distinguished by extra rations of 
cheese, jam, and oatmeal biscuits. 
We were now all but 3000 feet 
above the sea, and could see "nun- 
ataks" here and there in front of 
us, while we already had a whole 
row of them alongside us to the 

At two o'clock on the morning 
of August 22 we went on again. 
There had been nine degrees of 
frost in the night and the snow 
was as hard as iron, but the surface 
was exceedingly rough, so rough 
indeed that a sledge occasionally 
upset. By nine o'clock the sun 
had such power that we were 
obliged to halt after having again 
accomplished a stage of three or 
four miles. 

We began to feel the want of 
water more and more keenly, and 
were very glad to get a good drink I 
of tea. With a view to making this 
beverage still more refreshing, I 
hit upon the brilliant notion ofj 
putting citric acid into it, for we ; 
had all heard, of course, that 
lemon juice was a most delicate | 
addition. It never struck us that I 
we already had condensed milk in 
our tea, and our disappointment' 
when we saw the milk slowly \ 
curdle and sink to the bottom 
in lumps was indescribable. Wei 
drank the mixture, however, and I,' 
who, as the inventor and patentee,! 
was bound to set the others a good 



example, could say no less than that I 
found the refreshing qualities of the tea 
increased by the addition of citric acid 
in spite of the unwelcome lumps of curd. 
But this dictum did not meet with 
general acceptance, and the experiment 
was never repeated. 

We started off again the same even- 
ing about nine o'clock. The ice was 
still very rough ; we had now to haul 
our sledges up on to the crests of the 
steep waves, now to let them rush down 
into the hollows. The strain on the 
upper part of the body was very trying, 
and Balto was quite right in saying that 
our shoulders felt as if they were burnt 
by the rope. 

But if we often suffered a good deal in 
the way of work, we had full compensa- 
tion during these nights in the wonder- 
ful features of the sky, for even this tract 
of the earth has its own beauty. When 
the ever-changing northern lights filled 
the heavens to the south with their fairy- 
like display — a display, perhaps, more 
brilliant in these regions than elsewhere 
— our toils and pains were, I think, for 
the most part forgotten. Or when the 
moon rose and set off upon her silent 
journey through the fields of stars, her 
rays glittering on the crest of every 
ridge of ice, and bathing the whole of 
the dead frozen desert in a flood of 
silver light, the spirit of peace reigned 
supreme and life itself became beauty. 
I am convinced that these night marches 
of ours over the "Inland ice" left a deep 




mmi : r 

and ineffaceable impression 
upon the minds of all who 
took part in them. 

We presently reached a steep 
incline and our work was worse 
than ever. We had to put 
several men to each sledge, 
but even then the labour was 
cruelly exhausting. Con- 
sequently our astonishment 
and joy knew no bounds when 
we had climbed some hundred 
feet higher and then found the 
surface stretching flat in front 
of us as far as we could see in 
the moonlight, and the snow 
as hard and level as the ice on 
a frozen lake. This glorious 
state of things made us very I 
triumphant. Anything better 
was beyond our imagination, 
and we began to reckon ho\« 
soon we should reach the west! 
coast, if we had such snow tcj 
deal with all the way. 

The question had ariser 
whether it would not be as 
well to reduce the weight o 
our loads without abandoning 
any of our provisions. Baltc 
gave it as his opinion that w« 
could safely leave the Indiai 
snow-shoes behind, as thej 
could be of no use to us. 
agreed that this might be so aj 
long as we had snow of this kimj 
to cross, but it was impossiblj 
to tell how long this woult 



Then Balto broke out : " Good heavens ! just hear what 
Ravna says then. He is an old Lapp ; he has lived forty-five 
years on the mountains, and he says that he has never used 
anything of the sort, and that no one is going to teach an old 
man like him. And I say just the same myself : I am a Lapp, 

(From a photograph.) 

too, and there is no one who can teach us Lapps anything 
about the snow." I laughed and answered: "You Lapps 
think yourselves so precious clever, but you are not unlikely 
to learn a thing or two before you get home again. Do you 
remember, Balto, those snow-spectacles I showed you in 


Christiania? Didn't you want to know what was the good of 
those rubbishy things ? Didn't you say that you Lapps never 
used anything of the kind, and yet you had good eyes ? But 
who was it whose eyes first wanted snow-spectacles, and found 
them excellent things ? Wasn't it you two Lapps ? Take care 
it doesn't turn out just the same with these snow-shoes. Not 
one of them shall be left behind." 

Balto maintained that it was a very different thing with the 
spectacles, and acknowledged that he had found them, not 
only useful, but necessary. But as for these snow-shoes, he 
swore by all his gods that he would never put them on his 
feet. Just at this time he was so confident and pleased withj 
himself that he often indulged in the sin of swearing very em-; 
phatically. This was a state of mind very encouraging to the | 
rest of us, to whom it served as an index of his valorous state j 
of mind. 

Unluckily, our good fortune with the hard, icy surface did; 
not last long, though we had it all that day. There are pro-| 
bably not many who have had such an experience on thej 
" Inland ice." If it had been thoroughly levelled with a plane, j 
the surface could scarcely have been smoother. The ascenij 
was very gradual, and there was a gentle, almost imperceptible! 
undulation. About eleven o'clock on the morning of Augusi 
23 we stopped and pitched our tent, after having done a stage 
of nine or ten miles. This day, as had also been the cast I 
a day or two before, the sun beat down so fiercely on the tent! 
walls that the air inside was rather too warm for us, and om, 
of the party was even constrained to go outside and lie on i 
tarpaulin in the shade of the tent in order to get some sleep. 

At half-past six we were on the move once more. As w 
advanced things altered for the worse again, and the hard, ic 
surface was covered with a coat of freshly fallen snow. 

We already began to see that we should have more frost 2 
night than we cared about, for on the dusty new snow and ii 
the fifteen degrees of frost which we now had the steel runnel 
of the sledges slid no better than upon sand. So seeing th! 



y of now doing our work in the night instead of the daytime 
when the friction of the snow was likely to be less, we halted 
again about ten o'clock. 

We were still speculating whether it were not advisable to 
lighten our loads by abandoning one thing or another. The 
first things to sacrifice were the oilcloth covers of our sleeping- 
bags, as, now that we had advanced so far, there was no mois- 
ture to be afraid of except in the form of snow, which was not 
likely to do them any damage. But it would have been too 
stupid simply to leave them behind without making any use of 
them. Oilcloth was combustible, and we might use them, of 
course, for cooking purposes. This was a happy thought, which 
found immediate favour. 

A cooking-pot was the next thing necessary. But all the 
biscuit-tins leaked more or less on account of the rough treat- 
ment to which they had been exposed on the sledges. At last 
we found one which seemed moderately water-tight, and opera- 
tions were started in the tent. The tin was filled with snow 
as usual, and set up on a stand made of the steel bars which 
had originally been under the runners of the sledges, but had 
succumbed to the rough work among the ice. The oilcloth 
was torn up into strips, placed in a steel snow-shovel, which 
was made to do duty as a fire-basket, and duly lighted. The 
fuel burned bravely ; the flames rose high round the tin and 
shed a fine red glow on the tent-walls and the six figures, which 
were grouped around and sat gazing at the blaze and enjoying 
the real solid comfort of a visible fire. 

It was the first time we had had a fire of this sort inside 
the tent, which wanted something of the kind to make it really 
cosy. But all the joys of this life are fleeting, and none have 
I ever known more fleeting than that which comes from burn- 
ing oilcloth in a tent which has no outlet in the roof. Our 
fuel smoked to such an extent that in the course of a few 
minutes our little habitation was so full that we should scarcely 
have been able to see one another if we could have kept our 
eyes open, which we could not do, as the pain caused by the 


fumes was simply unendurable. If there be a mortal who has 
seen the inside of a barrel in which herrings are being con- 
verted into bloaters, he will be able to form some idea of the 
atmosphere of our tent. It was to no purpose that we opened 
the door, for if a little smoke did find its way out, there came 
more to take its place, and the cloud grew persistently denser 
and denser. Our pleasure at the sight of the fire had long 
died out ; the eye that managed to open could only see a faint 
light glimmering far away in the fog. Most of the party fol- 
lowed the sensible plan of burying themselves in the sleeping- 
bags, and drawing the covers tight over their heads. One or 
two, however, had to sit out the infliction in order to look 
after the fire and get the water for our tea boiled. By dint of 
opening first one eye and then the other, and now and again 
thrusting the head out of the door for a little fresh air, they 
got through their task tolerably well. The snow began to 
melt, but now, by way of filling the cup of our discomfort, the 
tin proved deplorably leaky, and we were obliged to have re 
course to something else. The cover of the tin box which I 
formed our medicine-chest was sound enough, but it held only i 
half the necessary amount of water. It was the only vessel I 
available, however, and by using it in conjunction with the ori- 
ginal tin, which was placed on edge so that its soundest side; 
only was taken into use, we managed fairly well. Then, by firing 
up unremittingly, and turning the tent into a veritable " inferno," 
we eventually succeeded in obtaining some tea of a certain kind ; 
but I am bound to confess that it was the worst tea-making at 
which I ever had the luck to assist, and I emphatically warn 
all whom it may concern against following our example. 

Next morning, nevertheless, we had another oilcloth fire; 
but this time we were prudent enough to arrange the fireplace 
outside. We now managed to get so much snow melted that, 
over and above a good supply of hot soup, we were able fo 
once in a way to get thoroughly the better of our thirst, th 
addition of citric acid, oil of lemon, and sugar turning the 
water into the most delicious lemonade. But this was the last 


satisfying drink we had before we found water on the other 
side. Our small supply of fuel would not allow us any indul- 
gence in this way. 

We were a remarkable sight by daylight next morning. Our 
complexions, hitherto comparatively fair, and washed moderately 
clean by wind and weather, had undergone a complete trans- 
formation. In places the incrustations of soot were so thick 
that they could be scraped off with a knife. All wrinkles and 
depressions were full of this foreign substance, and great masses 
had settled on all outstanding points, such as the eyebrows, 
cheek-bones, under-lip and chin, and the fair hair with which 
nature had provided some among us had been dyed to a raven 
black. The only parts still clean were the eye-balls and teeth, 
and these now shone out quite uncomfortably white in contrast. 

This state of things did not trouble us very much, both be- 
cause soot is a relatively clean dirt, and because, as a general 
f principle, most people, no doubt, wash themselves for altruistic 
reasons, and we had no chance of meeting others of our fellow- 
creatures for some time to come. The tooth of time was left 
to work upon our faces, and the soot by slow degrees was worn 
, away ; slow, indeed, for there was, in truth, enough to withstand 
time's ravages for many a day. 

Possibly when my readers learn that in spite of such disasters 
we did not wash ourselves from the day we left the Jason till we 
reached the west coast, the more narrow-minded among them 
will straightway class us with the least cleanly of four-footed 
beasts. This fate we must be content to risk, and to share 
in the company of many who have not even the crossing of 
Greenland for their excuse; and, besides, if we go a little 
farther back in time, there will be few among our forefathers 
who will not stand upon our side. 

But perhaps it will be as well if I explain that washing was 
in ordinary circumstances one of the habits of our daily life, 
and that if we omitted the practice during this whole period, 
■ the omission was not without its reasons. 

In the first place, while we were in the interior we had no 


other water than the small quantity we melted every morning 
and evening over our cooker, and the still smaller quantity 
that we could melt by the warmth of our bodies in the course 
of the day. But when a man is, as we were, the victim of a per- 
petual and intense thirst, and has the choice whether he will 
use his limited portion of water for washing or drinking, or, as 
a third alternative, for the two purposes combined, washing 
first and drinking afterwards, I think there is little doubt that, 
however conventionally minded he might be, he would devote 
it simply and solely to the assuaging of his thirst. 

In the second place, the pleasure of washing in a temperature 
in which the water turns to ice if it is allowed to stand a couple 
of minutes, in which the fingers grow hard and stiff during 
their passage from the vessel to the face, and in which the 
face itself freezes as soon as water is put upon it, is, to say the 
least of it, highly questionable. I think there cannot be many 
whose love for cleanliness would in such circumstances lead 
them beyond theory and eloquence. 

In the third place, we were absolutely forbidden to wash even 
if we had a superfluity of water, and this at a comfortable tem- 
perature, the reason being that in this sunshine, when the glare 
comes not only from above, but also back from the snow below, | 
it is as well to have as little to do with water as possible. At 
such times the sun attacks the skin mercilessly ; it cracks it and 
peels it off, and will even cause sores, which will lead to a good 
deal of inconvenience as well as undeniable pain. I am con- 
vinced that here again, when the choice must lie between this 
and uncleanliness, the defenders of cleanliness will be found 
few and far between. 

Lastly, though it might be more becoming in us and more in 
harmony with the conventions of the day to confess that we 
found it unpleasant to go so long without a wash or change oi 
clothes, it is better to acknowledge the truth and to say openly 
that in these respects we felt entirely comfortable, and had, 
besides, too much work to do to leave us time even to think 
of the condition we were in. 



On August 24 we had things against us all day, as the snow 
grew heavier and heavier to pull upon, was so loose that we 
sank several inches, and we had, besides, a considerable gradient 
to ascend. In order to keep our spirits up, every mile covered 
, was rewarded with a cake of meat-chocolate per man. At 
dinner-time we cooked our meal again with oilcloth in the 
open air, but this time we also used a spare theodolite-stand 
of ash, which was condemned as superfluous. We further 
consigned to the flames a number of splints, which we had 
brought for possible broken limbs, but most of which we did 
not care to carry farther now that we had passed the crevassed 
ice without mishap. Some we kept, nevertheless, in case any 
of us might come to grief during the descent on the other 

Aftei sunset this evening we again found it distinctly cold, 
the friction grew worse than ever, and we came to a halt. Our 
march had been scarcely more than five miles. As we had 
had our dinner not long before, we were fain to be content with 
a supper of oatmeal biscuits, together with snow over which our 
lemonade mixture had been poured. This makes the most re- 
freshing and exhilarating dish I know, and is much like the 
preparation used in Italy and known as " granita." Indeed, if 
one can get really fine fresh snow, the Greenland form is even 
better. We were all in excellent spirits as we sat outside the 
tent eating our lemon-snow and biscuits, and by careful economy 
prolonging the enjoyment to the utmost, while we watched the 
rays of the moon playing over the endless stretch of white desert. 
My thoughts went back to the last time I had "granita." This 
was also by moonlight, but it was a hot summer night by the 
Bay of Naples, and the moon was shining on the dark waters of 
the Mediterranean. 

On August 25 the rise was still steep, and the snow even 
worse, as it was loose and lav to a depth of six or eight inches. 
To make things complete, there was also a wind blowing full 
in our faces. 

It had struck us that our halts for dinner took up a good deal 



i 1 

liirll lllllll; 

of time, and to-day we evolved the 
very happy idea of cooking as we 
went, and thus saving the long time 
we otherwise had to wait while a 
*£ meal was being prepared. So the 
^5 cooker was put at the back of one 
^ of the sledges, was lighted, and 
5 as the snow gradually melted into 
§ water, the cakes of soup were 
^ added, and we meantime went on 
« our way rejoicing, and very proud 
I of our brilliant invention. When 
§ the soup was on the boil, we halted, 
w pitched the tent, and carried the pot 
g carefully in. But, as luck would 
S have it, just as we were sitting 
g down to the enjoyment of this 
* grand dish, I made some clumsy 
K movement, upset the rickety erec- 
ts tion, and all the precious soup was 
■ running over the tent-floor mixed 
g with burning spirit, water, and 

lumps of snow from the upper 
= vessel of the cooker. We were all 


3 on our legs at once, all loose objects 

< were ejected from the tent, and by 

g seizing the corners of the floor we 
gathered the liquid into the central 

£ depression. Hence it was conveyed 

1 into the pot and set to boil again, 
§ scarcely a drop having been lost 
g In these cases it is an excellent 
i thing to have a waterproof tent- 
b floor. Balto maintains that this 

day's soup "was not altogether pure 
and clean, as the floor of the tent 
was somewhat dirty. But we could 
not help that ; the soup tasted just 



good, for our insides were rather empty." He does not mention 
the fact that there was some methylated spirit in it too, but it was 
not much, and no doubt he thought it improved the flavour. 

While we were now sitting and enjoying our dinner in the 
warmth and comfort of the tent, a snowstorm was getting up 
outside. It was only the drifting of already fallen snow, but 
it met us full in the face when we went on again, and through 
the afternoon the wind grew stronger and stronger, which in from 
fifteen to twenty degrees of frost is distinctly unpleasant. How- 
ever, we plodded on as well as we could up a steep slope with 
our heads bent down and wrapped in our monkish hoods, 
while the fine, dusty snow did its best to find a way into all 
the pores and chinks of our waterproof clothes. It was late 
before we camped and crept into our bags, and there enjoyed 
our frugal supper, while the moon shed its peaceful light 
through a cranny in the tent-door, and we comfortably felt 
that we had shut out the wind and driving snow. 

The storm lasted all night, and next morning, August 26, 
when I was about to turn out to make some coffee, I was not 
a little surprised to find myself, the sleeping-bags, and our 
clothes all buried under the snow, which had forced its way 
in through every crevice and had filled the tent. My boots 
were full of snow ; when we went out to look at the sledges 
they had half disappeared, and great drifts lay high against 
the tent-walls. Nevertheless we spent a very pleasant Sunday 
morning with coffee and breakfast in bed. 

All this day, too, the storm continued, and our work grew 
heavier and heavier as the snow grew deeper. I felt much 
inclined to tie the sledges together, make them into two rafts, 
as it were, and try, by the help of sails, to beat up against the 
wind. If we go on at our present rate, it will be a long while 
before we reach Christianshaab. We hope to get a change for 
the better, but it does not come to-day, and we have to tramp 
along as best we can. A couple of miles fartner on we reach 
a ridge which has to be climbed. We had to put three men 
to each sledge, and even then it was heartbreaking work to get 


them up, the gradient proving to be as much as one foot in 
four. As we were coming down after one haul, Kristiansen, 
who seldom said anything, turned to Dietrichson and exclaimed, 
"What fools people must be to let themselves in for work 
like this I " 

Chapter XV. 


We had reached a height of some 6000 feet above the sea 
when we halted that evening, August 26. Taught by our 
experiences of the night before, we took measures to protect 
ourselves better against the storm and penetrating, dust-like 
snow. We dug a hole which gave us a bank on the weather 
side, and we furthermore turned one of the sledges over and 
covered it with tarpaulins. We thus obtained fairly good 
shelter, and were in excellent spirits as we sat round the singing 
tea-kettle and lamp, which threw a faint light about the tent 
and its strange group of occupants, and showed us the fine 
snow, which, in spite of all our precautions, settled upon every- 
thing and filled the air. When the tea was ready we lighted 
one of the five candles I had brought for photographic purposes, 
and altogether spent a most comfortable evening in defiance 
of the storm which shrieked outside. 

There was no abatement in the wind when we woke next 
morning, but the tent was not so full of snow as it had been 
the day before. I was by this time tired of plodding along 
against the wind in this deep loose snow, and resolved this 
morning to rig the sledges and try a sail. The proposal, how- 
ever, met with a good deal of opposition, especially from the 
Lapps. Ravna put on a most dejected look, and Balto simply 
unbridled his tongue. He had never seen such a lot of lunatics, 
he said. Wanting to sail on the snow, indeed ! Very likely we 



could teach him sailing on the sea and one or two other things 
perhaps, but on land and on the snow, no, never. Such infernal 
nonsense he had never heard. He spoke more than plainly, 
but to little purpose, as he had to put up with the absurdity. 
The sledges were placed side by side and lashed together, two 
going to make one vessel, and three to the other. On the first 
the tent-floor did duty for a sail ; on the latter, which was 
manned by Dietrichson, Ravna, and Balto, the two tarpaulins. 

I had contemplated using the tent-walls too, but when it 
came to the point I dared not, as they seemed too thin, and to 
have our tent torn in pieces in a country like this would have 
been a good deal worse than unpleasant. When the tarpaulins 
were hoisted to the wind, they came apart at once and proved 
unmanageable, which made it necessary to sew them together. 
To sit and sew with bare fingers in the cold wind and drifting 
snow was miserable work, but by dint of keeping our hands 
well rubbed and knocked about, and after toils and tribulations 
of all kinds and six or seven hours' work, we eventually got 
under way in the course of the afternoon. 

We soon found that there was no question of tacking up 
against the wind, as we could not get within less than eight or 
nine points of the wind at best. But I had not really been very 
hopeful on this score, and had, as a matter of fact, other ends 
in view. I now saw plainly that with this heavy going and 
this persistent foul wind there was no chance of our reaching 
Christianshaab by the middle of September, when the last ship 
for Copenhagen would sail, and with it vanish our last chance 
of getting home this year. At the time I looked upon this 
eventuality as most unfortunate, seeing that we should have to 
waste a whole winter in Greenland, while the men would no 
doubt all be consumed with home-sickness. I had, too, very 
vague ideas as to the traffic of the west coast, and I argued 
that the last boat which sailed from Christianshaab would also 
call at the more southerly ports, and that therefore we should 
have a better chance of catching her if we made for one of these, i 
for preference Godthaab. In favour of this particular line there i 



re other reasons, and above all the fact that an exploration 
of the ice along this route would be particularly interesting, 
seeing that it was absolutely unknown, while Nordenskiold's 
two expeditions had already obtained much valuable informa- 
tion about the tract to the south-east of Christianshaab through 
which we should otherwise pass. Again, it was now late in the 
year, and the autumn of the " Inland ice " was not likely to 
prove a gentle season, so the fact that it was a considerably 
shorter crossing to the head of one of the fjords in the neigh- 
bourhood of Godthaab than to Christianshaab was another argu- 
ment which had its weight. We should thus be able to reckon 
upon sooner reaching more hospitable surroundings, even though 
we knew nothing of the condition of the ice just there and 
whether a descent was likely to be practicable, and even though 
we might not actually get to the colony of Godthaab any earlier 
than to that of Christianshaab by the longer route. For in the 
former case the land journey after one leaves the ice is much 
longer than in the latter, and indeed it was quite possible that 
we should find this part of the route very difficult. However, 
we had no doubt that by one means or another we should be 
able to find our way to the colony, and if there were no other 
access, then in the last resort by sea. 

All these considerations filled my head this particular morn- 
ing. I consulted the map again and again, made the calculations 
to myself, and finally determined upon the Godthaab route. I 
was quite prepared to find the ice difficult to deal with just here, 
since there are so many glaciers converging at this point, but I 
felt sure we should be able to compass the descent somehow. 

The point where I thought of getting down was that which 
we actually hit, and which lies at about lat. 64 10' N. I aimed 
at this particular spot because there seemed to be no glacier 
just here, while according to the map — which I may say, in 
passing, was absolutely wrong — there were huge ones both to 
the north and the south. My notion was that we should find 
between these two great streams of falling ice a kind of back 
eddy, so to say, or belt in which the surface lay comparatively 


calm and level. My experience, so far as it went, had led me 
to this conclusion. 

The rest of the party hailed my change of plan with acclama- 
tion. They seemed to have already had more than enough of 
the " Inland ice," were longing for kindlier scenes, and gave their 
unqualified approval to the new route. So the sails were hoisted, 
and about three in the afternoon we got under way, keeping as 
well up to the wind as we could. We could not do much in 
this way, as I have said, and as it blew about N.W., our course 
necessarily lay a good deal to the south of Godthaab ; but since 
the wind was now on our side, we all preferred this deviation 
to unassisted hauling. By putting two men in front to pull, 
and keeping a third behind to steer, we got on moderately well, 
and though we started late and knocked off work early we did 
a good five miles before we stopped for the night. 

I now began to consider what would really be our best route 
when we got off the ice on the other side. According to the 
map it was rather a rough country, much cut up by mountains, 
valleys, and fjords. Things looked most promising near Narsak, 
a settlement at the mouth of Ameralikfjord and to the south 
of Godthaab. But it seemed very likely that we should have 
a good deal of trouble here, too, and I felt more and more 
inclined for the sea-route. Here we had obviously plenty of 
materials for boat-building in our waterproofs, tarpaulins, and 
tent-floor j we had wood for the ribs, oars, and other parts in 
our " ski," sledges, staffs, and bamboo poles. So far we were ex- 
cellently provided, and if all hands went to work at once the 
job could not take us long. As soon as I had come to this 
conclusion, I confided in Sverdrup, who, after some considera- 
tion, quite agreed with me. And now, as it is always a good 
thing to have something to give definite occupation to one's 
thoughts, we began to discuss, as we went along, how we had 
better build our boat in cas<* such a course were advisable. 

For the next two days the weather remained unchanged; 
there was the same storm and driving snow. At night I often 
feared the tent would be torn in pieces ; in the morning, when 

we prop 


proposed to start, the sledges had to be dug out of the drifts 
and unloaded to have their runners scraped clean of snow and 
ice. Then they had to be lashed together and rigged again, 
and the whole was a task which we found anything but grateful 
in the biting wind. The lashing especially, which had to be 
done with the bare hand, if it was to be any good, was parti- 
cularly detestable work. Then when we at last managed to get 
under way, it was a case of tramping the whole day in the deep 
snow — a heavy and exhausting business, whether one was in 
front with the rope or walking behind to steer. But the cruellest 
work of the whole day was getting the tent up in the evening, 
for we had to begin by lacing the floor and walls together, and 
as this had to be done with the unprotected fingers, we had to 
take good care not to get them seriously frozen. One evening 
when I was at this work I suddenly discovered that the fingers 
of both my hands were white up to the palms. I felt them and 
found they were as hard and senseless as wood. By rubbing 
and beating them, however, I soon set the blood in circulation 
again and brought their colour back, and so escaped any further 
consequences that time. 

On August 28 Kristiansen had been unlucky enough to tread 
unwarily on the edge of a hard drift and strain his knee. For 
several days he was so lame that he could only walk with diffi- 
culty, which kept us back to some extent, but a persistent use 
of " massage " soon restored him. It was a curious sight to see 
him sitting with his leg bare, while Dietrichson rubbed him, 
in the drifting snow and bitter wind. The same day, too, the 
Lapps' eyes were not quite right. They, strangely enough, as 
I have already said, were the first to suffer from snow-blindness, 
and, in fact, the only ones among us who did so at all. I even 
had to treat Balto with cocaine, but the attack was of short 
duration and little consequence, and by the help of snow- 
spectacles and red silk veils they both soon recovered. The 
rest of us went scot-free from this complaint, which many Arctic 
travellers have considered inevitable. If dark spectacles or veils 
are used, there is no doubt that it can be avoided. 


Though we only had the sun in the daytime, it was the cause 
of a good deal of trouble to us, and in the middle of the day I 
its action was simply intense. This was largely due to the want ! 
of density in the air at this altitude, 6500 feet ; but partly also, [ 
of course, to the reflection of the rays from the huge level ex- 
panse of snow. Our faces were all more or less affected ; we j 
were burnt brown, of course, and none of us escaped losing 
a certain amount of skin from the nose and other prominent 
points. Kristiansen's face was very severely handled ; his 
cheeks swelled and blistered, as if they had been badly frost- 
bitten, and caused him a good deal of pain. After this we j 
were more careful in the use of our veils, and thus escaped any 
serious inconvenience. 

It was an odd sight to see these fine red veils fluttering against 
the blue sky. They led one's thoughts instinctively to the life 
and fashion of our promenades at home, to smart carriages, 
graceful figures, and bright eyes, while here were six men with 
grimy, weather-worn faces, and figures anything but graceful, 
dragging carriages of a certain sort, but which were scarcely 
open to the reproach of smartness. 

On the afternoon of August 29 the wind so far dropped that it 
no longer paid to sail, and we therefore unrigged our vessels; 
and set to work in the old way, taking a course straight for] 

This day too the snow was so loose and deep that Sverdrup,! 
Dietrichson, and I took to the Indian snow-shoes. These) 
implements caused us a good deal of trouble at first, as we 
had, in fact, had no practice with them previously. Our pre- 
liminary attempts brought us time after time headlong. At first 
we did not keep our feet wide enough apart : one snow-shoe 
caught against the other leg and over we went Then, though' 
for a time we managed to avoid this fault, we would put onei 
shoe down on the top of the other, and the next attempt at aj 
step brought us flat on our faces again. Then we learnt toj 
straddle sufficiently and keep them clear of each other, and goti 
on admirably for a time. But presently we would catch the! 



nose of one of the shoes in some hard snow, and again come 
to utter grief. In this way we went on, time after time plunging 
into the snow, and then struggling on for a while with more or 
less success. But we soon got accustomed to the peculiarities 
of these snow-shoes, and then we found them of great practical 

(From a photograph. ) 

use. They bore us well up in the snow and gave us good and 
firm foothold, and we now regretted that we had not taken to 
them before. 

Kristiansen tried the snow-shoes, too, but failed utterly to 
get upon satisfactory terms with them, and after he had fallen 
• on his face a score or so of times, he grew so disgusted that he 
threw them upon his sledge and would have no more to say to 


them. He then tried the Norwegian " truger " instead, but they 
proved very inferior, as they sank deep in the snow and made 
walking much heavier work. The Lapps, who had already 
vowed by all that they held holy that they would never use 
these "idiotic things," would not, of course, condescend to try 
them now, and it was with much contempt and disapprobation 
that they saw us make our first experiments with them. Con j 
sequently it was with unconcealed satisfaction that they watchecj 
us dive head first into the snow no sooner than we had started | 
But when things began to go better, and it was obvious that wij 
had a great advantage over them, Balto could contain himselj 
no longer, and cautiously ventured the inquiry whether th 
snow-shoes were really good to walk with, a question which h 
subsequently repeated several times. It was evident that h 
was on the point of giving way and making the experiment 
in spite of his previous condemnation of them. But on th 
morning of August 30 the snow was in a condition to alio 1 
of "ski" being used, and he took to them instead. Ram 
waited a while, but presently upon Balto's recommendation h 
put on his " ski," and Kristiansen soon followed them. I coi 
sidered, however, that the snow-shoes were better as long i 
we had the rise of the ground much against us, and so Sverdru 
and I kept to them till September 2, while Dietrichson gai 
them up for his " ski " the day before us. Henceforth till v 
reached the west coast we all used our " ski " invariably. 

All this time, or for more than three weeks on the whol 
our life was simply inordinately monotonous, with not a tra 
of any important occurrence. It is no wonder, therefore, th 
the veriest trifles were magnified into circumstances of co 
sideration and were made to pad our diaries during the peric 
Our last sight of land, of course, came in for mention, and w 
recorded by Dietrichson as follows : " About ten in the moi 
ing of August 31 we saw land for the last time. We were up» 
the crest of one of the great waves, or gentle undulations in ti 
surface, and had our final glimpse of a little point of rock whij 
protruded from the snow. It lay, of course, far in the interij 


and for many days had been the only dark point, save ourselves 
and the sledges, on which our eyes could rest. Now it, too, 
disappeared." We christened this last point of rock " GameTs 

Nor could so notable an incident as the sight of a snow- 
bunting be passed over. My diary says : " An hour or so after 
we had lost sight of our last rock we were no little astonished 
to hear the twitter of a bird in the air and suddenly to see a 
snow-bunting come flying towards us. After having circled 
round us two or three times it settled down close by, put its 
head on one side, regarded us for a moment, hopped a little 
way on the snow, and then with a chirp flew off again north- 
wards and was soon lost in the distance. This was our last 
greeting from land." 

At the end of August we were still ascending. We were 
always hoping to reach the uppermost plateau, and that the 
ascent we were just then making would prove our last; but 
when we came to the top we always found a level stretch and 
then another rise beyond. 

On the evening of September 1 we reached the top of one 
of these long slopes and saw before us a huge flat plain with 
an almost imperceptible rise westwards. There was a very 
marked change in the weather and appearance of the sky. Far 
away in the west, and almost at the level of the horizon, were 
closely packed banks of cloud of the round cumulus form, which 
we had hitherto not seen lying above the snow. I thought 
they must be formed by currents of moist air which rose from 
the sea and had followed the western slope of the continent up 
into the interior, and I therefore supposed that we must have 
got far enough to have this long-looked-for slope in view. 

To the south and east there were also clouds, while the sky 
was clear overhead and to the north. In the latter direction 
the snowfield showed a distinct rise, while it fell away to the 
east and south. Everything seemed to point to the conclusion 
that we had reached the high plateau of the interior. The 
announcement of this to the party produced general rejoicing, 


for we were all heartily tired of the long slopes we had to climb, 
and which just lately had been especially trying. Sanguine as 
we were, we hoped soon to reach the westward slope, when it 
would all be downward travelling and pure delight, and it was 
in the most triumphant mood that we saw the sun sink that 
evening in all his glory behind the banks of clouds and trans- 
form the western sky into one scheme of glowing colour. All 
that we knew of beauty in this desert was contained in the 
evening and setting of the sun ; our hopes lay in the same 
direction, but it was destined to be long before we saw the 
goal we sought. 

We thought it no more than reasonable to keep this evening 
as a festival, and we marked it as usual by extra rations of 
oatmeal biscuits, cheese, and jam. The smokers, too, were 
allowed a pipe, and on the whole we had a thoroughly cheer- 
ful night 

The height to which we had now mounted had brought us 
to the end of the millimetre scale of our aneroid barometers. 
They marked a pressure of 550 mm., the elevation we had 
reached being about 7930 feet, and if we were to ascend still 
higher it would be difficult to continue our observations. By 
the help of the movable scale, however, we managed fairly well.; 

But the long-expected change of level would not come. For 
days — I might almost say weeks — we toiled across an inter- 
minable flat desert of snow; one day began and ended like 
another, and all were characterised by nothing but a weari 
some, wearing uniformity which no one who has not ex 
perienced the like will easily realise. Flatness and whitenesf 
were the two features of this ocean of snow ; in the day w( 
could see three things only — the sun, the snowfield, and our 
selves. We looked like a diminutive black line feebly tracec 
upon an infinite expanse of white. There was no break o 
change in our horizon, no object to rest the eye upon, an< 
no point by which to direct the course. We had to stee 
by a diligent use of the compass, and keep our line as well a 
possible by careful watching of the sun and repeated glance 

, . 


back at the four men following and the long track which the 
caravan left in the snow. We passed from one horizon to 
another, but our advance brought us no change. We knew 
to a certain extent where we were, and that we must endure 
the monotony for a long time to come. 

The surface over which we were passing all this time was 
almost absolutely level, though the tract from one slope to 
the other was marked throughout by long, gentle undulations 
scarcely discernible to the eye, the ridges and furrows of which 
ran nearly due north and south. 

An entry in my diary for August 30 says : "The loose fresh 
snow which lies upon the old hard frozen surface is scarcely 
more than four or five inches thick to-day. It lies smooth and 
level, whereas for the last few days there has been a layer a 
foot thick, which was blown into drifts, upon which the sledges 
dragged heavily." From this day onwards the surface was 
smooth and even as a mirror, with no disturbance in its uni- 
formity save the tracks we made ourselves. 

Our day's marches were, as a rule, short, and varied between 
five and ten miles. The reason of this was the persistently 
heavy going. Had we come earlier in the season, say about 
midsummer-time, we should have found an excellent, hard, and 
slippery surface, such as that we had during the first day or 
two of our ascent. On such a surface both " ski " and sledges 
would have run well, and the crossing could not have taken 
us long. 

Now, however, the old hard frozen layer was covered with a 
loose coat of freshly fallen snow, which was as fine and dry asj 
dust, or else packed by the wind in drifts, on the cloth-lik 
surface of which both "ski" and sledge-runners are very 
to move. The severe cold we experienced made things, 
this respect, unusually bad ; the snow, as we were fond 
saying, was as heavy as sand to pull upon, and the farther w< 
got into the interior the worse it became. If, as was often th< 
case, the upper layer were fresh and loose, then perhaps it wai! 
worst of all. On the whole, the going was so unconscionably 


heavy that it was only by the exertion of all our strength that 
we were able to make any progress at all. At every stride we 
had to do everything we knew, and work at this high pressure 
is of course very wearying in the long run. 

A few extracts from my diary at this time will show what we 
actually thought of the state of the snow at the moment. On 
September 1 I wrote : " To-day it was unusually hard work ; 
about eight or nine inches of freshly drifted snow as fine as 
dust and heavy as sand lay on the top of the older crust. This 
was about two inches thick and covered another layer of loose 
snow. At noon the effect of the sun made things worse than 
ever. In our despair Sverdrup and I unscrewed the steel plates 
from the runners of our sledge, as we thought the wood was 
likely to move better. The gain was, however, questionable ; 
the sledge still went heavily. It seems to us that it goes worse 
every day." 

A day or two later I wrote : " Now and again things are 
certainly a little better, but the improvement never lasts long 
and seems to be followed by a period which is worse than ever. 
At night there is often a little fall of fresh snow, which is even 
heavier than the older drifts to haul upon. Though the sun 
shines hot upon us it has not power even at noon to melt the 
surface and so give us an icy crust afterwards. The whole way 
the snow is loose and dusty or sticky like cloth." 

As a matter of fact we had a thin crust like this on August 
30. My diary records my opinion that this must have been 
formed by the powerful effect of the sun at noon and the 
subsequent frost. This crust was not thick enough to bear 
the sledges, but it helped to make them move easier. We 
only had it, however, for that one day. 

On September 8 again : " The snow was incredibly heavy 
going to-day, heavier than it has ever been before, though the 
surface was hard and firm. The wind-packed snow is no better 
than sand. We had the wind to pull against too." The next 
day I wrote : " It began to snow in the middle of the day, 
and our work was heavier than ever. It was worse even than 



yesterday, and to say that it was like hauling in blue clay 
will scarcely give an idea of it At every step we had to 

{From a photograph.) 

use all our force to get the heavy sledges along, and in the 
evening Sverdrup and I, who had had to go first and plough 


a way for ourselves, were pretty well done up. The others 
who followed us were a little better off, and besides, their steel 
runners moved easier. The evening in the tent, however, 
with a savoury stew, helped us to forget the toils of the day." 

These notes will be sufficient to show the difficulties and 
labour the state of the snow entailed upon us. I ought, how- 
ever, to add that the sledge which Sverdrup and I pulled 
together always travelled much worse than any of the others, 
so much so, indeed, that we were ultimately constrained to 
abandon it altogether. On September 1 1 I wrote in my diary : 
" To-day Sverdrup and I found our sledge heavy to pull beyond 
all toleration, and it was really as much as we could do to make 
it move at all. We could not quite understand what was wrong 
with it; it had always been worse than all the others, and 
Sverdrup declared that we must have had the Evil One him- 
self for a passenger behind. This morning we therefore decided 
to abandon it, and take Balto's instead, while he put his load 
on Ravna's sledge, and the two Lapps for the future pulled 
together. This change caused a new sun, as it were, to rise 
upon our existence; Sverdrup and I, with our new sledge, 
pushed on so fast that the others had hard work to keep up 
with us. We now found life almost enjoyable." 

Nor were we the only two who found the work heavy. The 
Lapps never ceased to complain, and one day Balto stopped 
and said to me : " When you asked us two Lapps in Christiania 
how much we could pull we said that we could manage a 
hundredweight. But now we have two hundredweight apiece, 
and all I can say is, that if we drag these loads across to the 
west coast we are stronger than horses." 

Lest any reader should be led to believe, by what I have 
here said about the state of the snow and the difficulties we 
met with, that our " ski " were of little or no use to us, I ought 
perhaps to state once and for all that they were an absolute 
necessity, that without their help we should have advanced very 
little way, and even then died miserably or have been com- 
pelled to return. I have already said that " ski " are consider- 


ably better than Indian snowshoes, even for hauling purposes. 
They tire one less both because they have not to be lifted, 
but merely driven forwards, and because the legs are kept 
no wider apart than in ordinary walking. For nineteen days 
continuously we used our " ski " from early morning till late i 
in the evening, and the distance we thus covered was not 
much less than 240 miles. 

The weather during almost the whole time of our crossing 
was so far clear that we could see the sun, and there were not i 
many days on which the sky was completely overcast. Even 
when there was snow falling, which often happened, it was not 
thick enough to prevent the sun showing through. The snow 
which fell was always fine, and was more like frozen mist, so 
to say, than the snow we are generally accustomed to in 
Europe. It was exactly the same as is known in certain parts 
of Norway as " frost-snow," which is due to the fact that the 
moisture of the air falls directly to the earth without going 
through the intermediate cloud-stage. 

When the sun shone through the fine falling snow there was 
always a ring round it, which, together with mock-suns and 
the intersecting axes, were phenomena which occurred almost 
daily during our journey across the interior. When the sun 
sank so low that the halo partially disappeared below the 
horizon, there were generally bright mock-suns at the points 
of section, as well as another one immediately under the sue 

As we came farther and farther in the cold increased ir 
proportion. The sun had, however, a powerful effect wher 
the weather was clear, and at noon the heat was, for a while 
even oppressive. In my diary for August 31 I noted tha 
just about that time the sun had been so hot that it made th<i 
snow wet and sticky, so that the sledges ran badly, and our fee 
got rather wet. When the sun began to sink, and it froze again 
the sledges went better certainly, but it was a bad business fo 
our feet, and we had to take care not to get them frost-bitten! 
It happened not infrequently that when we took our shoes of; 


at night, they, our thick, rough socks and ordinary stockings 
were all frozen together into a solid mass. 

After this time the sun was not sufficiently powerful to melt 
the snow, but it had a great effect, owing to the height at which 
we were, and the fact that the air was so thin and absorbed 
comparatively little of the warmth of the rays. On September 
1, for instance, a spirit thermometer marked in the sunshine 
85 Fahr. (29. 5 ° Cent.), while the real temperature of the air 
as obtained by a sling thermometer was very little more than 
25 Fahr. ( - 3.6 Cent.). In the night we had had nearly 
twenty-nine degrees of frost (- 16 Cent.). On September 3, 
again, a spirit thermometer laid in the sun on one of the sledges 
at noon showed as much as 88° Fahr. (31.5 Cent), while a 
sling thermometer gave the real temperature of the air at the 
same time as 12 Fahr. (- n° Cent). 

This great difference between sun- and shade-temperature 
is plainly due to the excessive radiation in the dry, thin air of 
this high plateau. A similar phenomenon was observed many 
years ago in Siberia by our celebrated countryman, the astro- 
nomer Hansteen. In a letter from Irkutsk, dated April 11, 
1829, he writes: "The considerable elevation of the country, 
together with its distance from the sea, makes the air ex- 
ceedingly dry and causes a strong radiation, which is one 
reason of the low temperature of this place. The power of 
the sun is so great here in the spring, that at midday, when 
the temperature in the shade is as low as - 20 R. ( - 13 F.) 
or - 30 R. ( - 35° F.), the water drips from the roofs of the 
houses on the sunny side." * 

As the afternoon advanced and the sun began to draw near 
the horizon, the temperature fell in an astonishing way, though 
the change was most marked at sunset. 

The scale of our sling thermometers only read as low as 
- 22 Fahr. (- 30 Cent), as no one had expected such cold 
at this time of year in the interior of Greenland. But after 

* Astronom Nachrichten^ voL vii. p. 327. 



September 8 the mercury quickly retired below the scale a| 
soon as the sun disappeared in the evening. The lowesj 
temperature we experienced could not therefore, unfortunately) 
be determined with accuracy. But when I went to bed on thi 
night of September n I put a minimum thermometer undej 
my pillow. In the morning the spirit was a good way belov 
the scale, which marked - 35° Fahr. (-37 ° Cent). Th 

(By A. Block, from a photograph.") 

temperature was, no doubt, below - 40 Fahr. ( - 40 Cent.; 
and this was in the tent, in which six men were sleeping, ar 
in which we had cooked our food with the spirit-lamp. 

The most remarkable fact in connection with the temperatu :. 
was the great difference between night and day limits. It w;; 
more than 40 Fahr. (20 Cent), a difference which cannot occi 
in many parts of the globe. Something corresponding to th: 
state of things has been observed in the Sahara, where in Januaj 


It may be intolerably hot in the day and so cold that water left 
in the open air will freeze at night. 

It is remarkable that this extraordinarily rapid fall of the 
temperature in the course of the night on the " Inland ice " of 
Greenland has not been observed before. The reason, no 
doubt, is that those of our predecessors who have penetrated 
any appreciable distance have done so at higher latitudes and 
at a time of year when the sun has been above the horizon the 
whole, or nearly the whole, night. Nor have these expeditions 
as a matter of fact published any full meteorological records. 

Reckoning from the way the temperature sank at the approach 

of evening, Professor Mohn, of Christiania, has calculated that 

our lowest records must have reached something like - 50 Fahr. 

( - 45 Cent.). On these days the temperature of the air at noon 

rose to between - 4 Fahr. ( - 20 Cent.) and + 5 Fahr. ( - 15 

Cent.). This was in the middle of September, and these tem- 

' peratures are without any comparison the lowest that have ever 

I been recorded at the time of year anywhere on the face of 

I the globe. What the minimum reached in midwinter can be it 

is impossible as yet to form any idea. 

As to the question of the highest temperature attained in the 
middle of summer in these regions, and whether there is any 
considerable melting of snow, we can form some estimate by 
examining the strata of the upper surface of the snowfield and 
finding whether the older layers show signs of having melted. 
This was done by us as often as we had time and opportunity. 

Up to August 30, when we had reached a height of 6530 feet, 
we found the old snow consistently frozen hard, and often trans- 
formed into a kind of loose, granular snow. This had evidently 
been exposed to violent thaws and subsequently frost. Over this 
old layer there was generally a coat of from five to ten inches, 
or even a foot, of loose, dry snow, which must have fallen after 
the hot season was over. 

On the evening of August 31 we found, to our astonishment, 

. when we were ramming our staffs in, preparatory to the pitching 

of the tent, that, though there was certainly a solid crust under 


the upper layer of fresh snow, yet when we had passed through 
this we could drive the poles down to an indefinite depth. This 
was a clear proof that we had already reached a height — it was 
then all but 7500 feet — at which the sun even at midsummer 
has only power enough to make a thin layer of snow wet and! 
sticky, and that this freezes afterwards as the sun gets low again. 
At this height, therefore, melting can do absolutely nothing to| 
reduce the quantity of snow, for the insignificant amount ofj 
water thus formed can get no way, as it is at once intercepted j 
by the following night-frost. 

We found a similar state of things throughout the upper 
plateau, there being practically no melting of the snow. On 
the whole the stratification was very remarkable. An entry in 
my diary for September 3 shows me that I tried the snow severa! 
times that day and found, as a rule, uppermost about three 
inches of fresh snow, then a crust about half an inch in thick 
ness, then seven inches of loose snow again, then another crust 
which could only be bored with difficulty, and that after thi; 
the staff could be driven down for a foot or more through 1 
mass which grew gradually harder and harder, till about tw( 
feet from the surface it came to a standstill altogether. 

I had tried at another place somewhat earlier the same day 
Here the upper layers were much the same as I have just de 
scribed, but in this case the staff could be rammed down son* 
four feet altogether, though with increasing difficulty, while i 
finally stopped against an absolutely solid mass. 

This stratification we also found throughout the highest tract 
but as a rule we could drive our staffs down as far as we would 
Everything shows that in the very interior the only meltinj 
that goes on is the moistening of the upper surface just at th< 
warmest period of the year, while this layer is solidified agaii 

Chapter XVI. 


Constant exposure to the cold which I have described in my 
last chapter was, as may be imagined, by no means pleasant, 
The ice often formed so heavily on our faces that our beards 
and hair froze fast to the coverings of our heads, and it was 
then difficult enough to open the lips to speak. This incon- 
venience can of course best be prevented by shaving, but this 
was a task for which we had neither time nor inclination. 

There was less pleasure still at these altitudes when we had 
the wind in our faces, as an entry in my diary will best show : 
"On the morning of September 4 the weather was glorious and 
the air still. There had been a light fall of snow in the night, 
The sun shone over the infinitely monotonous snowfield, which, 
rising almost imperceptibly, stretched away and away in front 
of us like one huge white carpet, glittering with diamonds, soft 
and fine in texture as down, and laid in long, gentle undulations 
which the eye could scarcely follow. But in the afternoon the 
aspect of our landscape changed entirely. A biting wind got 
up from the north-west, which drove the snow before it in one 
huge, overwhelming whirlwind. 

" The sky above then cleared completely and it grew colder 
and colder, the thermometer falling a degree or two below zero. 
The wind increased in strength ; it was bitter work toiling along 
against it, and we had to be careful not to get badly frozen. 
First my nose hardened, but I discovered this in time to save it 
by rubbing it well with snow. I thought myself safe now, but 
then I felt a queer, chilly feeling under my chin, where I found 


that my throat was quite numb and stiff. By more rubbing, 
and wrapping some mittens and other things round my neck, I 
put matters straight here. But then came the worst attack ol 
all, as the wind found its way in through my clothes to the 
region of my stomach and gave rise to horrid pains. This was 
met by the insertion of a soft felt hat, and I was now armed at 
all points against the enemy. Sverdrup suffered pretty much 
as I did ; how the others behind fared I do not know, but they 
can scarcely have been much better off. The bodily comforts j 
of our tent were more welcome than usual that evening." 

Next morning things were quiet again, but in the afternooni 
we had another storm of drifting snow from the south-west 
This went on all night, the wind working round more and more 
to the south, and I rejoiced in the hope of a sail, but in the 
morning again, September 6, it had so far fallen that we die 
not think it worth while to rig up the sledges. A little later. 
however, it freshened up and at noon blew due south. I was 
for sailing, therefore, but the proposal was met with so man) 
objections on the part of the others, who were little inclined foi 
the necessary rigging and lashing in this bitter weather, that 1 
unfortunately gave way. This we all had reason to regret, fo? 
as we went on the wind worked round behind us more anc 
more and at the same time increased in force. 

We had soon a full snowstorm blowing from east-south 
east or east. It was therefore behind us, and carried both the 
sledges and ourselves on our "ski" along well, and as th< 
ground was also slightly in our favour we made good progress 
The driving snow soon grew so dense that Sverdrup and ] 
could not see the others at twenty paces' distance, and we hac 
to wait for them repeatedly in order not to part company. I 
was no easy matter to get the tent up that evening when w< 
stopped at about eight o'clock, and those unlucky ones amonj 
us who had clad themselves insufficiently in the morning ane 
now had to take off their outer clothes to put something extra 
on beneath had a terrible time. The wind blew in to the ver 
skin ; the snow drove through all the pores of shirt and jersey 


one felt completely naked, in fact ; and I myself nearly sacrificed 
my left hand to the frost in the process, while it was with the 
greatest difficulty that I could get all buttoned up snug again. 
The tent we did eventually manage to get up, but we could 
cook nothing that evening, as the snow drove in much too 
thick at all crevices and apertures. A few biscuits and some 
dried meat had to suffice, and we were glad enough to crawl 
as soon as possible into the sleeping-bags, draw the covers well 
over our heads, devour our food there, and as we slept leave 
the storm in undisputed possession outside. We had pushed 
on a long way that day, not much less than twenty miles, as we 

The storm raged all night through, veering gradually round 
to due east. Next morning, the 7th of September, as I woke 
and was still lying half-unconscious, I heard something go out- 
side. It was one of the guy-ropes on the east side, where the 
wind was now blowing with such violence that every moment 
I expected the tent-wall to give way, more especially as there 
was now a great bulge in it owing to the broken rope. By the 
help of some bags we made the weak side somewhat stiffer, but 
I still expected it to split, and was wondering what we should 
do when we had the snow driving straight into the tent upoe 
us. The only course could be to creep deep into the bags and 
leave ourselves to be buried. 

We hoped, however, that the wind would drop, and mean- 
while I set the lamp going and cooked some stew and tea, 
which comforted us greatly. Then the weather began to look 
a little better, and I thought we might prepare to start. So we 
got ourselves up in our best storm-gear and were about to go 
out to rig the sledges, as we meant to sail to some purpose that 
day. Balto was ready first and crawled out of the tent-door — 
which was not an easy job, as the way was barred by a snow- 
drift It was not many seconds before he came plunging in 
again, absolutely breathless, and with his face and clothes 
covered with snow. The wind had completely taken his breath 
away, and the first words he said when he had recovered him* 



self were, " There is no going on to-day ! " I put my head ou 
and at once saw that he was right, as the whole place was a sej 
of drifting snow. 

So we had to stay where we were, though the tent had to b| 
supported and victuals fetched in from the sledges before wj 
were quite snowed up. This work Balto and Kristiansen wei; 
set to do. They rigged themselves out for the purpose, ani 
tied themselves up at every possible point to prevent the snoj 
blowing in. Balto was ready first, and I looked out after hiij 
as he went, but he had not taken more than a few steps befoij 
he fairly disappeared in the mist of whirling snow. The sledg<| 
had almost entirely vanished, and he had to grope about fij 
them before he found them, and it was then no easy matter j 
get hold of the food we wanted. When Kristiansen went out i 
put some storm-guys on the weather side of the tent, the wir| 
fell upon him with such force that he had to go on all fours. I 

In spite of all obstacles we managed to put things faiij 
straight By the help of some " ski " we braced the tent-wil 
up from the inside, some poles along the ridge of the roof stiffen! I 
the whole structure, and we now felt moderately safe. Then 4 | 
stopped all openings and crevices as well as we could with reser! 
clothes and such things. We never could get the tent quite sno [ 
tight, and great drifts by degrees collected inside. Of space i 
had none to spare already, but it gradually grew less and l<j> 
under the encroachment of the drifts within and pressure II 
the snow on the walls without. We were snug and comfcj- 
able enough, however. The ever-gathering drifts outside, whip 
threatened to completely bury the tent in time, protected Is 
well against the wind and kept us nice and warm. 

Then suddenly, a little after midday, the wind dropped all It 
once as abruptly as if the current had been cut off short wii 
a knife. There was an absolute calm outside, and an uncom- 
fortable silence came upon us too, for we all knew that the wijJ 
would presently fall upon us with still greater violence frjo 
the opposite quarter. We sat listening intently, but the atfck 
did not come at once, and some of us thought that the storm vi 


possibly over. But presently there came a gentle gust from 
the north-west, the door side of our tent, and this was soon fol- 
lowed by blast upon blast, each more furious than its predecessor. 
The storm overwhelmed us with greater fury than before, and 
the inside of the tent even was a mist of flying snow. Balto 
had taken advantage of the interval of calm to go out and fill 
the cooking tins, and it was all he could do to find his way back 
again. We were now in great straits, as the door side, against 
which the storm now blew, was the weakest part of the tent, and 
we always made a point of turning it away from the wind. By 
the help of " ski " poles, snow-shoes, and articles of clothing we 
managed to strengthen this side of the tent just sufficiently and 
to make the doorway tolerably snow-tight, but we were row caged 
as fast as mice in a trap, and there was no getting out for us, 
however much we wished it. Meantime we made life as pleasant 
as possible ; the smokers were allowed the consolation of a pipe ; 
we made some coffee, which had by this time been discontinued 
as a daily drink, crawled into our bags, and amused ourselves 
as best we could. 

Ravna alone, in spite of the coffee, was inconsolable, though, 
as a nomad Lapp, he ought to have been quite accustomed 
to this kind of thing. I tried to cheer him up, but he said, 
" I am an old Lapp ; I know what a snowstorm is upon the 
mountains in September ; you won't see the end of it yet 
awhile." In spite of all encouragements he refused to be 
comforted, and persistently maintained that he was " an old 
Lapp, who had lived in the snow for forty-five years." 

When we woke next morning the wind had dropped so much 
that we found we could move on again. But it was no easy 
matter to get out of our prison ; the tent was buried so deep 
that only the ridge of the roof remained above the snow, and 
we had to dig our way through the drift that blocked the door. 
Of the sledges there was practically nothing to be seen, and 
we had a good deal of work to do before we got them out and 
were ready to start. When we did get off we found the going 
as usual heavier than ever. 


In Balto's description of this day in the tent, he says : " One 
day we had terrible weather, storm and driving snow, but we j 
pushed on all the same till the evening. At first the wind I 
came from the north" (he means south, by the way) "and! 
then it went round to the east. Next morning after we hadj 
made some coffee" (this is a doubtful statement, but it may, 
pass) " one of us was going out for some purpose or other, but | 
as soon as he opened the tent-door, he was driven back again, j 
as the weather was so frightful outside that it seemed impossible { 
to get out. Then I put a coat over my head, covering it soj 
that I only left a peep-hole for my eyes, and ventured out. I| 
went a few steps away from the tent to look for the sledges, but 
there was not one of them to be seen, as they were all buried in 
the snow. I could not see the tent either now, so that I had 
to take to shouting, and it was only when they answered me 
from inside that I could find my way back. The tent, too, 
was nearly covered by the snow. Next day the weather was 
fine again, and we had enough to do to dig all our things out 
of the snow again." 

During this, the middle period of the crossing, our daily life 
went its monotonous round, unrelieved by any really notewortW 

The worst work of the day was turning out in the morning 
an hour earlier than the others in order to do the cooking 
This was generally my pleasant lot, for the efforts of the other: 
usually ended in a loss of time or spirit, of neither of whicl 
things we had a superfluity. When I woke I generally founc 
my head completely surrounded with ice and rime. This wa: 
inside the sleeping-bag, where the breath had frozen and settle( 
upon the hair of the reindeer-skin. Once awake and consciou; 
one found one's self sitting in a room, the temperature of whicl I 
was something like -40 Fahr., and the walls, except that on th<j 
wind side, covered with inch-long fringes of hoar-frost, whiclj 
gave one an uncomfortable shower-bath if one were unfortunate 
enough to knock up against them. Then followed the lighting] 
up of the cooking apparatus. The mere touching of the meta; 


in this temperature was unpleasant enough, and no less so the 
filling of the lamp and arrangement of the wicks. The latter, 
if they were to burn well, had to be thoroughly soaked with 
spirit, which one of course got upon one's fingers, to one's great 
pain and infinite regret. To keep the wicks nice and dry, 
and thus save as much trouble in this way as I could, I gene- 
rally carried them in my trousers' pocket. The lamp being 
eventually lighted and the cooker placed upon it, the wicks 
had to be attended to further, or the flame would get too high, 
make the lamp too hot, and cause a very undesirable explosion. 
The lamp often did get too hot, and it then had to be cooled 
down by the application of snow. Nor could the flames be 
allowed to burn too low, or much time was wasted in the 
cooking. Towards the end of our journey Balto became so 
skilled in the management of the cooker that he was quite 
equal to the work single-handed. He was very proud of the 
trust, and I gladly handed the task over to him, as one does 
not readily surrender an hour of one's morning sleep without 
dire necessity 

When the tea or chocolate was at last ready, the others were 
called, but breakfast was as a rule enjoyed in bed. Breakfast 
over, the next thing was to get ready for the day's march with 
the least possible waste of time. The sledge-runners had to be 
scraped clean, the baggage well packed and lashed fast, and 
the tent struck. Often again an observation was taken with 
the boiling-point thermometer before we broke up camp. Two 
or three times, too, samples of air were secured in the way I 
have already described. 

When all this was done we put our " ski " on, harnessed our- 
selves to the sledges, and got under way, but after a couple of 
hours' march we generally halted, and a cake of meat-chocolate 
was served out to each man. Then we went on till dinner- 
time came, the meal being eaten as we sat on the sledges and 
as quickly as possible. After another two hours or so we 
stopped for another cake of meat-chocolate apiece, and then 
two or three hours' more marching brought us to afternoon 


tea at about five o'clock. We now kept at work till night, 
the period being only broken by a third halt for the chocolate 

In this extreme cold the taking of astronomical observations 
was often anything but agreeable. It was difficult to handle the 
instruments in heavy gloves and mittens, and if it was necessary 
to have the readings really accurate, the bare hands had to be 
used, and good care taken that the fingers were not frozen fast 
to the metal. But in spite of obstacles our observations both 
with theodolite and sextant were quite as good as one could 
expect to get them with such instruments. In the driving snow 
it was almost an impossibility to use the sextant and artificial 
horizon, for the latter was at once obscured, and we had to be 
very sharp to see anything at all. If this were out of the ques- 
tion the theodolite had to be used. This gave us twice the 
trouble, but equally good results. 

When we stopped for the night, most of the party set to work 
at once to clear the ground for the tent, put it up and support 
and strengthen it with tarpaulins on the wind side. Ravna's 
evening task, and, I really think, the only regular work he had 
besides hauling during the whole journey, was to fill the cooking 
vessels with snow. As an old Lapp who every winter used snow 
for his cooking-pot instead of water, he knew well what was the 
best kind for melting. So as soon as we stopped, he would steal 
silently off with the cooker, dig himself a hole down to the old 
coarse snow, which melts into far more water than the newer, 
bring his pot back to the tent, and then, if it were already up, 
crawl in and sit with his legs crossed under him, not to move 
again till supper was ready. It was not till I had set him to 
this work for many days in succession that Ravna showed him- 
self possessed of sufficient enterprise to undertake even this little 
job of his own accord. But little as it was, it completely satis- 
fied him, and therewith he considered his mission in this world 
far more than accomplished. 

The evenings in the tent, when all the party were seated 
round on their clothes-bags, after having carefully brushed 

,•*•*■ ■»».. 




themselves of snow, in order to bring as little of it as possible 
inside, were without comparison the bright spots in our exist- 
ence at this particular time. However hard the day had been, 
however exhausted we were, and however deadly the cold, all 
was forgotten as we sat round our cooker, gazing at the faint 
rays of light which shone from the lamp, and waiting patiently 

(By E. Nielsen, front a sketch by the Author.) 

for our supper. Indeed I do not know many hours in my life 
on which I look back with greater pleasure than on these. 

And when the soup, or stew, or whatever the preparation 
might be, was cooked, when the rations were served round, 
and the little candle-stump lighted that we might see to eat, 
then rose our happiness to its zenith, and I am sure all agreed 
with me that life was more than worth living. 



Then after supper there were various small preparations foi 
the coming day — the cooker to be filled with snow, or the 
chocolate to be broken up. When all this was done we crawled 
into our sleeping-bags, shut the hoods close over our heads, 
and slept as sound a sleep as the best of European beds could 
have given us. 

It is not unnatural that food was the axis on which our 
whole life revolved, and that our ideal of enjoyment was 

{From a photograph.) 

enough to eat in one form or another. It was to fatty food 
that our fancy especially turned, for, as I have said, our supply 
of fat was far too short. We were reduced in the end to ar 
absolute famine, and could have looked forward to no greateif 
treat than the full and unrestricted possession of a pound oil 
two of butter, or lard, or something of the kind apiece to worti 
our hungry wills upon. The remnants after the first assaull 
would certainly have been small. Each man had half a pounc 


of butter served out to him a week, and as long as the ration 
lasted one of our favourite enjoyments was to eat our butter in 
large lumps, and the tin box in which we kept it once open, it 
was difficult indeed to put the lid on again. To some of us 
I this enjoyment was of short duration. Kristiansen was the 
worst of all in this way, as he used to devour his half-pound 
the first day, which was of course very crude economy. To 
such an extent did the craving for fat go that Sverdrup asked 
me one day whether I thought our boot-grease, which was old 
boiled linseed oil, was likely to disagree with him. 

As a rule, of course, the rations for each meal were all care- 
fully weighed out, for which purpose we used a small letter- 
scale. The amount which I considered fully sufficient was 
about one kilogramme, or 2} lbs., per man per day. When we 
approached the west coast, however, all were allowed to eat 
as much as they liked of the dried meat, of which we had an 
abundance. But even then it seemed impossible to attain to 
a feeling of repletion. 

Our daily bill of fare was as follows : — Breakfast. — Chocolate 
made with water— and when we had come to the end of the 
chocolate, tea — biscuits, liver pate\ and pemmican. Dinner. — 
Pemmican, liver pat£, and biscuits, this followed by oatmeal 
biscuits, and by lemonade to pour over some snow. Afternoon 
tea. — Biscuits, liver pate, and pemmican. Supper. — Pemmican, 
biscuits, and pea-, bean-, or lentil-soup. Instead of plain soup 
we sometimes had a stew or concoction of pemmican, biscuits, 
and pea-soup, all of which together made an exceptionally 
grateful dish. Sometimes, too, tea took the place of soup or 

The weekly ration of butter we were of course free to use at 
whatever meal we pleased. Generally we had it at dinner-time, 
as we found that butter eaten alone quenched the thirst well, 
which is a somewhat noteworthy fact, seeing that it was salted. 

As to our method of cooking, I must allow that I have seen 
food prepared more cleanly. I have already had occasion to 
point out that we had no superabundance of water. There was 


therefore nothing to wash the cooking-pot with, nor would such ] 
washing have been at all pleasant work if we had had water. } 
So after we had made our pea-soup or stew in the evening, the 
pot was handed over to be cleaned, as a special grace, by some 
one who had helped in the cooking. Balto was generally the 
lucky man, and his mode of performing the task was by licking 
and scraping the vessel as clean as tongue and fingers could 
make it. This was well enough as far as it went, but not very 
much can be done in this way in a deep, narrow pot, as any 
one who has tried will allow. The bottom of our cooker was 
in fact all but inaccessible. 

Next morning chocolate or tea was made in the same vessel, 
and when after this it was emptied it was not an uncommon 
sight to see on the bottom a wonderful conglomeration of the 
remains of soup or stew mixed with half-dissolved lumps of 
chocolate or obtrusive tea-leaves. On the top of all this the 
soup was cooked in the evening again. 

At these ways of ours no doubt many a housekeeper will 
turn up her nose, but I must assure her with all respect that 
never in the course of her career and with all her cleanliness 
has she prepared food which gave its consumers such supreme 
satisfaction as ours did us. Many will perhaps accuse us of 
simple piggishness; but it is a piggishness which in the cir- 
cumstances is no more than inevitable. At the same time our 
methods suited us ; we had no time to do more than simply 
eat for eating's sake ; and the interior of Greenland is certainly 
not the place for the fastidious or the epicurean. 

The high place held by butter in our regard was disputed 
only by the claims of tobacco. I had taken but a small supply, 
as I considered the indulgence harmful at times of severe exer- 
tion. So the Sunday pipe was economised to the last degree ; 
the tobacco was smoked first, and then the ash and wood of 
the bowl as long as they could be induced to burn. This! 
would not of course last the whole week out, so the pipe was 
next filled with tarred yarn as the best procurable substitute. It 
was Balto who felt the want of tobacco most keenly, and there 


was nothing which the promise of a pipe would not extract from 
him. Of chewing tobacco we had none; but several of the 
party chewed great bits of tarred rope instead. I thought the 
same practice might relieve one's burning thirst, and made the 
experiment one day myself ; but the rope was no sooner in my 
mouth than out, for a viler taste have I rarely known. 

A thing I did find good to chew as we went along was a chip 
or shaving of wood, as it kept the mouth moist and diminished 
one's thirst. I made a great use of a piece of bamboo in this 
way, but there was nothing that came up to a shaving off one 
of our "truger," or Norwegian snow-shoes. These were partly 
made of bird-cherry wood, and the bark of this was excellent. 
Sverdrup and I in fact went at the " truger " so persistently that 
there was very little left of them when we reached the west coast 
But luckily this was the only use we had to put them to. 

Chapter XVII. 


As the middle of September approached, we hoped every day 
to arrive at the beginning of the western slope. To judge from 
our reckoning it could not be far off, though I had a suspicion 
that this reckoning was some way ahead of our observations. 
These, however, I purposely omitted to work out, as the an- 
nouncement that we had not advanced as far as we supposed 
would have been a bitter disappointment to most of the party. 
Their expectations of soon getting the first sight of land on the 
western side were at their height, and they pushed on confi i 
dently, while I kept my doubts to myself and left the reckoning! 
as it was. 

On September 1 1 the fall of the ground was just appreciable! 
the theodolite showing it to be about a third of a degree. Or 
September 12 I entered in my diary that " we are all in capita 
spirits, and hope for a speedy change for the better, Balto anc! 
Dietrichson being even confident that we shall see land to-day 
They will need some patience, however, as we are still 900c 
feet above the sea" (we were really about 8250 feet that day) 
"but they will not have to wait very long. This morning ouj 
reckoning made us out to be about seventy-five miles from ban 
land, and the ground is falling well and continuously." Th* 1 
next day or two the slope grew more and more distinct, but tht 
incline was not regular, as the ground fell in great undulations' 
like those we had had to climb in the course of our ascent 

On September 14 the reckoning showed that it was only abou 
thirty-five miles to land. But even now we could see nothing 


which the Lapps thought was very suspicious. Ravna's face 
began to get longer and longer, and one evening about this time 
he said, " I am an old Lapp, and a silly old fool, too ; I don't 
believe we shall ever get to the coast." I only answered, " That's 
quite true, Ravna ; you are a silly old fool." Whereupon he 
burst out laughing : " So it's quite true, is it — Ravna is a silly 
old fool ? " and he evidently felt quite consoled by this doubtful 
, compliment. These expressions of anxiety on Ravna's part were 
very common. 

Another day Balto suddenly broke out : " But how on earth 
can any one tell how far it is from one side to the other, when 
no one has been across ? " It was, of course, difficult to make 
him understand the mode of calculation ; but, with his usual 
intelligence, he seemed to form some idea of the truth one day 
when I showed him the process on the map. The best consola- 
tion we could give Balto and Ravna was to laugh at them well 
for their cowardice. 

The very pronounced fall of the ground on September 17 
certainly was a comfort to us all, and when the thermometer 
that evening just failed to reach zero we found the temperature 
quite mild, and felt that we had entered the abodes of summer 
again. It was now only nine miles or so to land by our 

It was this very day two months that we had left the Jason. 
This happened to be one of our butter-mornings, the very 
gladdest mornings of our existence at the time, and breakfast 
in bed with a good cup of tea brought the whole party into an 
excellent humour. It was the first time, too, for a long while 
that the walls of our tent had not been decorated with fringes of 
hoar-frost. As we were at breakfast we were no little astonished 
to hear, as we thought, the twittering of a bird outside ; but the 
sound soon stopped, and we were not at all certain of its reality. 
But as we were starting again after our one o'clock dinner that 
day we suddenly became aware of twitterings in the air, and, as 
we stopped, sure enough we saw a snow-bunting come flying 
ifter us. It wandered round us two or three times, and plainly 


showed signs of a wish to sit upon one of our sledges. But the 
necessary audacity was not forthcoming, and it finally settled 
on the snow in front for a few moments, before it flew away for 
good with another encouraging little twitter. 

Welcome, indeed, this little bird was. It gave us a friendly 
greeting from the land we were sure must now be near. The 
believers in good angels and their doings must inevitably have 
seen such in the forms of these two snow-buntings, the one 
which bid us farewell on the eastern side, and that which offered 
us a welcome to the western coast. We blessed it for its cheer- 
ing song, and with warmer hearts and renewed strength we 
confidently went on our way, in spite of the uncomfortable 
knowledge that the ground was not falling by any means so 
rapidly as it should have done. In this way, however, things 
were much better next day, September 18 ; the cold consistently 
decreased, and life grew brighter and brighter. In the evening, 
too, the wind sprang up from the south-east, and I hoped we 
should really get a fair sailing breeze at last. We had waited 
for it long enough, and sighed for it, too, in spite of Balto's 
assurances that this sailing on the snow would never come to 

In the course of the night the wind freshened, and in the 
morning there was a full breeze blowing. Though, as usual, 
there was no great keenness to undertake the rigging and lash- 
ing together of the sledges in the cold wind, we determined, of 
course, to set about the business at once. Kristiansen joined 
Sverdrup and me with his sledge, and we rigged the two with the 
tent-floor, while the other three put their two sledges together. 

All this work, especially the lashing, was anything but de- 
lightful, but the cruellest part of it all was that while we were 
in the middle of it the wind showed signs of dropping. It did 
not carry out its threat, however, and at last both vessels were 
ready to start. I was immensely excited to see how our boat 
would turn out, and whether the one sail was enough to move 
both. the sledges. It was duly hoisted and made fast, and 
there followed a violent wrenching of the whole machine, but 



during the operations it had got somewhat buried in the snow 
and proved immovable. There was enough wrenching and 
straining of the mast and tackle to pull the whole to pieces, 
so we harnessed ourselves in front with all speed. We tugged 
with a will and got our boat off, but no sooner had she begun 
to move than the wind brought her right on to us, and over we 
all went into the snow. We were soon up again for another 
try, but with the same result ; no sooner are we on our legs than 
we are carried off them again by the shock from behind. 

(By A. Block.) 

This process having been gone through a certain number of 
imes, we saw plainly that all was not right. So we arranged 
hat one of us should stand in front on his " ski " and steer by 
deans of a staff fixed between the two sledges, like the pole of 
carriage, leaving himself to be pushed along by his vessel, and 
>nly keeping it at a respectful distance from his heels. The other 
wo members of the crew were to come behind on their " ski/' 
ither holding on to the sledges or following as best they could. 

We now finally got under way, and Sverdrup, who was to 



take the first turn at steering, had no sooner got the pole under 
his arm than our vessel rushed furiously off before the wind.j 
I attached myself behind at the side, riding on my "ski" and* 
holding on by the back of one of the sledges as well as I could. j 
Kristiansen thought this looked much too risky work, and camel 
dragging along behind on his "ski" alone. 

Our ship flew over the waves and drifts of snow with a speed j 
that almost took one's breath away. The sledges struggled and; 
groaned, and were strained in every joint as they were whirlecj 
over the rough surface, and often indeed they simply jumpec 
from the crest of one wave on to another. I had quite enough 
to do to hang on behind and keep myself upright on the "ski.' 
Then the ground began to fall at a sharper angle than any wt 
had had yet. The pace grew hotter and hotter, and the sledge? 
scarcely seemed to touch the snow. Right in front of me was 
sticking out the end of a "ski," which was lashed fast across ! 
the two sledges for the purpose of keeping them together. ]i 
could not do anything to get this " ski "-end out of the way j 
and it caused me a great deal of trouble, as it stuck out acros:j 
the points of my own "ski," and was always coming into colli j 
sion with them. It was worst of all when we ran along th<j 
edge of a drift, for my "ski" would then get completely jammed 1 
and I lost all control over them. For a long time I went 01! 
thus in a continual struggle with this hopeless "ski "-end, whil<! 
Sverdrup stood in front gaily steering and thinking we wen 
both sitting comfortably on behind. Our ship rushed on faste 
and faster; the snow flew round us and behind us in a cloud 
which gradually hid the others from our view. 

Then an ice-axe which lay on the top of our cargo began t( 
get loose and promised to fall off. So I worked myself care 
fully forward, and was just engaged in making the axe fast whei 
we rode on to a nasty drift. This brought the projecting " ski " 
end just across my legs, and there I lay at once gazing afte 1 
the ship and its sail, which were flying on down the slope, an(; 
already showing dimly through the drifting snow. It made on<j 
quite uncomfortable to see how quickly they diminished in size. 


I felt very foolish to be left lying there, but at last I recovered 
myself and set off bravely in the wake of the vessel, which was by 
this time all but out of sight. To my great delight I found that, 
thanks to the wind, I could get on at a very decent pace alone. 
I had not gone far before I found the ice-axe, in trying to 
secure which I had come to grief. A little way further on I 
caught sight of another dark object, this time something square, 
lying in the snow. This was a box which contained some of 
our precious meat-chocolate, and which of course was not to 
be abandoned in this way. After this I strode gaily on for a 

(By A. Bloch.) 

long time in the sledge-track, with the chocolate-box under one 
arm and the ice-axe and my staflf under the other. Then I 
came upon several more dark objects lying straight in my path. 
These proved to be a fur jacket belonging to me, and no less 
than three pemmican boxes. I had now much more than I 
could carry, so the only thing to be done was to sit down and 
wait for succour from the others who were following behind. 
All that could now be seen of our proud ship and its sail was a 
little square patch far away across the snowfield. She was going 
ahead in the same direction as before, but as I watched I sud- 
denly saw her brought up to the wind, the tin boxes of her cargo 


glitter in the sun, and her sail fall. Just then Kristiansen came I 
up with me, followed not long after by the other vessel. To ! 
them we handed over some of our loose boxes, but just as we ! 
were stowing them away Balto discovered that they had lost no 
less than three pemmican tins. These were much too valuable i 
to be left behind, so the crew had to go back and look for them, j 

Meanwhile Kristiansen and I started off again, each with a 
tin box under his arm, and soon overtook Sverdrup. We now 
sat down to wait for the others, which was not an agreeable job 
in this bitter wind. 

Sverdrup told us that he had sailed merrily off from the very 
start, had found the whole thing go admirably, and thought all 
the time that we two were sitting comfortably on behind. He 
could not see behind him for the sail, but after a long while he 
began to wonder why there was not more noise among the 
passengers in the stern. So he made an approach to a con- 
versation, but got no answer. A little further on he tried again 
and louder, but with the same result. Then he called louder 
still, and lastly began to shout at the top of his voice, but still 
there was no response. This state of things needed further 
investigation ; so he brought his boat up to the wind, went 
round behind the sail to see what was the matter, and was not 
a little concerned to find that both his passengers had dis- 
appeared. He tried to look back along his course through the 
drifting snow, and he thought he could see a black spot far; 
away behind. This must have been my insignificant figure; 
sitting upon the lost tin boxes. Then he lowered his sail, which 
was not an easy matter in the wind that was blowing, and con- 
tented himself to wait for us. 

We had to sit a long time before the others caught us up 
again. We could just see the vessel through the snow, but her 
sail was evidently not up, and of her crew there was not a sign. 
At last we caught sight of three small specks far away up the 
slope and the glitter of the sun on the tins they were carrying. 
Presently the sail was hoisted, and it was not long before they 
joined us. 



We now lashed the sledges better together and made the 
cargo thoroughly fast, in order to escape a repetition of this 
performance. Then we rigged up some ropes behind, to which 
the crew could hold or tie themselves, and thus be towed com- 
, fortably along. In this way we got on splendidly, and never in 
my life have I had a more glorious run on "ski." 
A while later Sverdrup declared that he had had enough of 

(By A. Block, from photographs.) 

steering, and I therefore took his place. We had now one good 
slope after another and a strong wind behind us. We travelled 
as we should on the best of " ski "-hills at home, and this for 
hour after hour. The steering is exciting work. One has to 
keep one's tongue straight in one's mouth, as we say at home, 
and, whatever one does, take care not to fall. If one did, the 
•whole conveyance would be upon one, and once under the 
runners and driven along by the impetus, one would fare badly 


indeed, and' be lucky to get off without a complete smash up. 
This was not to be thought of, so it was necessary to keep one's j 
wits about one, to hold the " ski " well together, grip the pole 
tight, watch the ground incessantly, so as to steer clear of the i 
worst drifts, and for the rest take things as they came, while 
one's " ski " flew on from the crest of one snow-wave to another. 

Our meals were not pleasant intervals that day, and we there- 
fore got through them as quickly as we could. We stopped and 
crept under shelter of the sails, which were only half lowered 
on purpose. The snow drifted over us as we sat there, but the 
wind at least was not so piercing as in the open. We scarcely; 
halted for the usual chocolate distributions, and took our refresh- i 
ment as we went along. 

In the middle of the afternoon — this notable day by the way| 
was September 19 — just as we were sailing our best and fastest, 
we heard a cry of joy from the party behind, Balto's voice being 
prominent as he shouted " Land ahead ! " 

And so there was ; through the mist of snow, which was jusl 
now a little less dense, we could see away to the west a long, 
dark mountain ridge, and to the south of it a smaller peak. Re j 
joicings were loud and general, for the goal towards which we 
had so long struggled was at last in sight. 

Balto's own account of the occurrence runs as follows : " Whill 
we were sailing that afternoon I caught sight of a black spot i 
long way off to the west I stared and stared at it till I saw thai 
it really was bare ground. Then I called to Dietrichson, ' I cai| 
see land ! ' Dietrichson at once shouted to the others that Balt<i 
could see land away to the west. And then we rejoiced to see thi 
sight, which we had so often longed to see, and new courage cam 
into our hearts, and hope that we should now happily and with 
out disaster cross over this ice-mountain, which is the greates 
of all ice-mountains. If we had spent many more days upon th 
ice, I fear that some of us would have fared badly. As soon a 
Nansen heard this he stopped and gave us two pieces of mea 
chocolate each. It was always our custom, when we reache. 
a spot which we had long wished to reach, to treat ourselves t, 



best food we had. So when we came to land after drifting 
in the ice, when we reached Umivik, when we had climbed to 
the highest point of Greenland, when we now first saw land on 
the west side, and lastly, when we first set foot upon bare ground 
again, we were treated to our very best — which was jam, American 
biscuits, and butter." 

Though this first land we saw lay a little to the north of the 
line we had hitherto been following, I steered for it neverthe- 
less, because the ice in this direction seemed to fall away more 
rapidly. However, the point was soon hidden in the snow 
again, and we went on with the wind straight behind us for 
the rest of the afternoon without getting any further sight of 
land. The wind grew stronger and stronger, we flew down 
slope after slope, and everything went famously. 

A while later both the gradient and the wind slackened off 
for a time, but as evening began the breeze freshened and the 
slope grew steeper, and we rushed along through the dense 
driving snow more furiously than ever. It was already grow- 
ing dusk, when I suddenly saw in the general obscurity some- 
thing dark lying right in our path. I took it for some ordinary 
irregularity in the snow, and unconcernedly steered straight 
ahead. The next moment, when I was within no more than 
a few yards, I found it to be something very different, and in 
an instant swung round sharp and brought the vessel up to the 
wind. It was high time, too, for we were on the very edge of 
a chasm broad enough to swallow comfortably sledges, steers- 
man, and passengers. Another second and we should have 
disappeared for good and all. We now shouted with all our 
might to the others, who were coming gaily on behind, and 
they managed to luff in time. 

Here also Balto has something to say : " The same evening 
while we were still sailing along — it may have been about half- 
past seven and it was rather dark — we saw Nansen, who was 
in front on his ' ski,' signalling wildly to us, while he shouted 
4 Don't come here ; it is dangerous ! ' We, who were tearing 
along at full speed, found it difficult to stop, and had to swing 



round and throw ourselves on our sides. At the same timet 
we saw in front of us an awful crack in the ice, which was 
many hundred feet deep." 

As to the rest of the day's sail my diary says: "This was 
the first crevasse, but was not likely to be the only one, and j 
we must now go warily. It was suggested that it was hardly 
advisable to sail any further that evening, but I thought it too I 
early to stop yet, as we must take advantage of the wind. So 

(By A. Block, from a sketch by the Author.) 

I left the sledges and went on in front to reconnoitre, while 
Sverdrup undertook the steering of our boat, and the sails of j 
both of them were taken in a bit. The wind was strong! 
enough even to blow me along, and I could run long stretches 
without moving a muscle, and so covered the ground fast 

" When the snow looked treacherous I had to go cautiously 
and use my staff to see whether I had solid ground under 
foot, and, if not, to signal to the others to wait till 1 had 


found a safer route. In spite of all precautions, Sverdrup and 
Kristiansen all but came to grief once, as the snow fell in 
behind them just as they had passed over an unsuspected 
crevasse. Meantime the wind was steadily increasing, and the 
J sails had to be taken in more and more to prevent the sledges 
overrunning me. As we were all getting hungry biscuits were 
served out, but no halt was made to eat them. 

"It was rapidly getting dark, but the full moon was now 
rising, and she gave us light enough to see and avoid the worst 
crevasses. It was a curious sight for me to see the two vessels 
coming rushing along behind me, with their square viking-like 
sails showing dark against the white snowfield and the big 
round disc of the moon behind. 

" Faster and faster I go flying on, while the ice gets more 
and more difficult. There is worse still ahead, I can see, and 
in another moment I am into it The ground is here seamed 
with crevasses, but they are full of snow and not dangerous. 
Every now and then I feel my staff go through into space, 
but the cracks are narrow and the sledges glide easily over. 
Presently I cross a broader one, and see just in front of me 
; a huge black abyss. I creep cautiously to its edge on the 
slippery ice, which here is covered by scarcely any snow, and 
look down into the deep, dark chasm. Beyond it I can see 
I crevasse after crevasse, running parallel with one another, and 
showing dark blue in the moonlight. I now tell the others to 
stop, as this is no ground to traverse in the dark, and we must 
halt for the night. 

" In the west we could now see land again against the evening 
sky, which still shows a faint trace of day. They were the same 
mountains we had first seen, but they now tower high above the 
horizon, and to the south of these peaks again there is a long 
ridge of rock protruding from the snow. 

" It was a difficult business to get the tent up in this strong 
wind, and on the hard, slippery ice, which gave no hold for our 
guy-ropes, and we had to cut deep holes before we could make 
our staffs do duty as pegs. At last, after having fared worse 


than usual with the cold, we got the tent up and were able to 
crawl into a partial shelter. No one was inclined to do anyj 
cooking that evening, as even inside the tent the wind was much 
too aggressive, and the little feast which was to do honour to thei 
day, and which we had much looked forward to, was put off till j 
next morning. So we were content to divide our last piece of j 
Gruyere cheese, and then, well pleased with ourselves and our| 
day's work, creep into our sleeping-bags. I now discovered fori 
the first time that I had got the fingers of both my hands frozen j 
during the afternoon's sail. It was too late now to rub them: 
with snow, as they had begun to thaw on their own account, 
but that night the pain they gave me was almost unendurable, 
till I fell asleep in spite of it." 

Early next morning, September 20, I started up with the 
consciousness that I had forgotten to wind my watch up over 
night. Unluckily Sverdrup had done exactly the same, anc 
though we wound them both up at once it was now too late 
This was, of course, rather unfortunate for our longitude ob 
servations, but we were now so near land that we could reckor 
our position with tolerable exactitude nevertheless. 

When we looked out of the tent we could see the whol»j 
country to the south of Godthaabsfjord lying spread out befonl 
us, a rough mountainous tract with many deep valleys and loft; I 
peaks. Those who remember their first sight of a mountaii| 
landscape in their childhood, with its sunlit peaks and stretche 
of glittering snow ; who can remember how this new mysteriou! 
world fascinated and allured them — they will understand wha| 
our feelings were this morning. We were just like children, a] 
we sat and gazed, and followed the lines of the valleys dowr 
wards in the vain search for a glimpse of the sea. It was a fin 
country that lay before us, wild and grand as the western coas 
of Norway. Fresh snow lay sprinkled about the mountain tops; 
between which were deep black gorges. At the bottom of tries' 
were the fjords, which we could fancy, but could not see. *\ 
journey to Godthaab in this kind of country looked anythin: 
but a simple matter. 



e enjoyed our grand breakfast at our ease and leisure this 
morning, made tea unlimited, and simply revelled in cheese and 
oatmeal biscuits. It was glorious to have a treat like this once 
in a way. The morning was well gone before we got finally on 
the move. In the darkness of the evening before we had sailed 
into some very rough fissured ice, and we now had to bear away 
to the south to avoid the worst crevasses and reach smoother 
ground. The snow throughout this day's march was partly 
blown into drifts, especially where there was any unevenness in 

(By the Author,/rom an instantaneous photograph.) 

the ice to catch it, and partly swept away by the wind, leaving 
the surface slippery and bare. 

Presently we reached the top of a long, steep slope which 
had to be descended Sverdrup and I started down on our 
" ski " and had a fine run. But our sledge was difficult to steer, 
and we had huge crevasses on each side, so at last we were 
constrained to take our " ski " off for safety's sake. We then 
went on, standing each on a runner of the sledge, and scraping 
and breaking with our feet in order to keep clear of the crevasses. 
The Lapps during this run were especially reckless, and let their 


sledge rush ahead much as it pleased. A little farther down we 
came upon a flat piece of ice, which was so slippery that it was 
quite difficult to cross. It looked like the frozen surface of a 
lake or pool. Beyond this we found ourselves in some nasty 
ice again, and after I had fallen through the snow several times! 
I thought it best to put the " ski " on again. With them onel 
is of course much safer, as when one slides across the narrower! 
crevasses their great length will generally hold one up. At this 
time we had a nasty experience, as our sledge came lengthways 
upon a crevasse, the snow-cornice of which gave way under one 
of the runners, and we only managed to drag it on to firm ground 
just as the whole mass of snow was falling in beneath it. Ravna 
and Balto nearly got into a worse scrape once, when they tried 
to take a short cut instead of following our course. They slid 
down on to a huge wide fissure, whereupon one of the runners 
cut straight through the snow and all but upset the sledge, and 
it was only by the skin of their teeth that they escaped. I was 
furiously angry with them, of course, and rated them well for not 
being content to let us who went in front run such risks as were 
necessary. Kristiansen, too, was once on the point of losing 
his sledge in much the same way. 

In the afternoon we had a hailstorm from the south and 
south-east. The hail stung our faces and the wind continually 
blew the sledges round, so that hauling became hard and dif-l 
ficult work. In this respect Sverdrup and I were worst off, asj 
our load was very bulky and lay high on the sledge, which there- 1 
fore exposed a large surface to the wind. The steel bars or keels 
under the runners would here have been an advantage, but they 
had long ago given way on the rough ice of the east coast. 

We stopped for the day on a little flat, on which there was 
just enough drifted snow to hold our staffs, and the pitching 
of the tent was thus a simple matter. We had flattered our- 
selves that we should come within very easy distance of land, 
if not reach it altogether, this evening, and we were consider- 
ably disappointed when it seemed to us at the end of the day! 
that we were almost as far off as ever. 



ext day, September 2 1 , snow was falling, and we could see 
nothing either of the land or the ice round us. We had to 
grope our way as best we could, and there was no possibility 
of choosing the most advantageous course. 

Towards noon we stopped in order to get an observation, if 
it were possible, as the sun now and again showed through the 
clouds. It was most important that we should know where 
we were, and the day before I had been too late for the pur- 
pose, having made a mistake about the time owing to my 
omission to wind my watch up. Luckily this time the sun was 
visible for a while, and I was able to get the altitude, my 
reckoning putting us at about lat. 64 13' N. This position 
was a little more northerly than I should have liked, the reason 
being that I had, as I have said, steered too much to the north 
as we were sailing after we came within sight of land. As it 
will appear, we now had to pay some days' penalty for the 
mistake. If we had kept our original more southerly course, 
we should probably have been able to sail right down on to 
the land itself. 

We now, therefore, turned more to the south when we set 
off again. In the course of the afternoon Sverdrup and I had 
a disagreement as to our best route — a thing which rarely 
happened. He wanted to take us more to the right up on to 
a ridge, as he had through the snow seen crevasses down below 
in front of us. I had seen nothing of the kind, and preferred 
to keep away to the left ; but after some discussion Sverdrup 
prevailed, and we climbed the ridge, but only to find ourselves 
in the middle of some terrible crevasses. They were worse 
than any we had hitherto had to deal with, and we were very 
glad to clear out again and bear away more to the south. Here 
we found a tolerably smooth stretch of ice forming the bottom 
of a valley between two ridges, which were both quite a net- 
work of fissures. This alley or furrow narrowed in front of us, 
and ended in a defile, where the two ridges almost met Here 
there was an abrupt fall in the ground, and the ice was uncom- 
fortably rough. The place looked all but impracticable, and 


it was clearly no use trying to push on any farther while the I 
weather was so thick. It seemed very likely that we had come ! 
too far already. 

So it was settled that Dietrichson, Ravna, and Balto should j 
pitch the tent, while Sverdrup, Kristiansen, and I should go i 
down and see whether this broken ice would allow of a passage. | 
Balto in his quality of under-cook was told to set the apparatus i 
going, and have everything ready by the time we came back- 
some good pea-soup and plenty of hot water in the upper I 
vessel, so that we could have some lemon-grog after supper. 

We three soon had the Alpine rope round our waists and 
set off downwards. The ice was unusually rough and hard to 
pass, a simple chaos of sharp edges with fissures in between ; 
but it was not dangerous, as the clefts were as a rule not deep. 

We had not gone far before, to my astonishment, I saw a 
little dark spot down below us between some ridges covered 
with snow. It looked amazingly like water, but it was quite 
possible that it was only ice, so I said nothing to the others. 
But when I reached it and, putting my staff in, met with no 
resistance, our surprise and delight were quite unbounded. We 
threw ourselves down, put our lips to the surface, and sucked 
up the water like horses. After a month of incessant thirst 
and limited rations, the pleasure of having abundance of drink 
was indescribable. How many quarts we swallowed I should 
not like to say, but we plainly felt ourselves swell within and 
without during the operation. We then went on refreshed, but 
before we had gone far we heard some one shouting behind, 
and saw little Ravna running after us as fast as his short legs 
would carry him. We waited, fearing that there was something 
wrong in the camp, and I was much relieved to hear, when he 
came up, that all he wanted was the wicks for the spirit-lamp, 
which I usually carried in my pocket to keep them dry. I was 
anxious to know whether he had seen the water, for Ravna was 
the worst of all of us to drink when he had the chance, and I 
was half afraid that he would go at it till he made himself ill. 
He had seen the water, he told us, but had not had time to 


attend to it as he came down, though he meant to make up for 
the omission on the way back. 

So we sent him off again and went on with our exploration. 
We presently found ourselves among the roughest ice I had 
ever seen, and all that I knew of from Captain Jensen's 
descriptions was nothing compared to this. Absolutely im- 
passable it was not, but ridge upon ridge, each sharper and 
more impracticable than its neighbour, lay in all directions, while 
between them were deep clefts, often half-full of water, which 
was covered with a thin skin of ice not strong enough to bear. 

Darkness was already coming on when we finally turned 
homewards. We were wretchedly done up by having to toil 
over this rough ground, on which the soft snow lay deep in 
places, and were much comforted when we at last caught sight 
of the tent in the distance. As we passed the pool again we 
must needs have another drink. We lay down and let the 
water fairly flow down our throats. Our foreheads grew numb 
and cold, but that did not stop us. It was a truly divine 
pleasure to be able once more to drink to the very end of 
one's thirst. A cheering smell of good pea-soup met us as we 
entered our little tent, where we found the others squatting 
round the cooking machine. Balto had everything hot and 
ready for us, and was very proud of having carried out his 
orders to the letter. 

His description, too, will serve to tell us what the rest of the 
party did while we were away. 

11 The other three went off with a rope round their waists to 
look for a way, while we — that is, Ravna, Dietrichson, and I 
— stayed behind to put up the tent. I had to make some pea- 
soup, too, for I was cook. So I got the machine out, but then 
found that there were no wicks, as Nansen had them in his 
pocket. So I sent Ravna off to get them, and when he came 
back he said he had found water and drunk his stomach full. 
When I heard this I caught up a tin box and ran as hard as I 
could go till I reached the pool. Then I threw myself down 
and began to drink. I had to lift my head up now and then 


to get breath, and then I went on drinking again. It tasted 
just like fresh, sweet milk, for we had not had any water for a 
whole month. Then I filled the tin and carried it up to the 
tent, and when Dietrichson saw it he lay down and drank till 
he could not hold any more. The tin was a very big one, but 
there was only just enough left for the pea-soup afterwards. 
We found plenty of water every day after this." 

I am sure we all remember September 21, when we first 
found water. I really think it was one of the best days of the 
whole expedition. 

Balto's fragrant soup was soon served out, and we set to 
work upon our supper with more than usual keenness, which 
means considerably more than it seems to say. Even Ravna 
could eat that night. He used to declare he never could make 
a good meal because there was not enough to drink. This 
used to induce him to save up his rations, and he would often 
annoy us, and make our mouths water fruitlessly, by bringing 
out four or five spare biscuits at a time to show us. The truth 
probably was that his little body did not need as much food 
as our larger ones. 

After supper we had lemon-grog, which consisted of citric 
acid, oil of lemon, sugar and hot water, a compound which to 
our tastes was nothing short of nectar, and which we sipped and 
enjoyed to the utmost as we lay in our sleeping-bags. For my 
own part it was a long time since I had been so tired. The 
laborious wading in the deep, fresh snow had tried my legs 
severely, and I do not fancy that the others were much better. 
But an evening like this in the tent brings a feeling of comfort 
and gratitude upon one, and a veil of forgetfulness is gently and 
soothingly drawn over all the pains and tribulations of the day. 

A candle-end — the last we have — has been lighted for supper. 
This over, and all our preparations for the morrow made, we 
put out our light, bury our heads well beneath the hoods of the 
sleeping-bags, and pass sv/iftly and lightly over into the region 
of dreams. 

Chapter XVIII. 


Before breakfast on September 22, while Balto was making 
:he tea, Sverdrup and I climbed the ridge of ice which lay to 
:he south of the tent for a reconnaissance. It was seamed with 
Droad crevasses of unfathomable depth, most of them running 
Darallel. Once I fell through a snow-bridge, but the fissure was 
;o narrow that I could keep my hold on both its sides, and after 
iome amount of struggling I managed to extricate myself. From 
he top of the ridge we had a fine view over the surrounding ice, 
ind could see that our best course would probably be to keep 
1 westerly direction for the present and turn southwards again 
ower down. As far as we can see, in front of us the ice seems 
lie in fissured ridges, which all run westwards towards Godt- 
laabsfjord. We had been in doubt as to what valley or fjord the 
lepression right before us could be, but we could now see that it 
nust be Kangersunek. Altogether we were able to make out our 
thereabouts very well, and it was quite plain that we had come 
lown four or five miles farther to the north than we had meant. 
We found breakfast ready when we got back to the tent, and 
fterwards it was settled that Sverdrup and I should go out again 
nd explore the ice to the west, keeping to the north of the part 
/e examined the previous evening. The others meanwhile must 
Dllow us with the four sledges as far as they could in the same 
irection, and, if they could get so far, stop at the last ridge we 
ould see from here. As they had a fair wind behind them, I 
nought they would be able to manage a sledge each without 
luch difficulty. 


So Sverdrup and I started off, and with the wind behind us 
ran fast down on our slippery oak " ski." The ground was fairly J 
easy till we came tar enough to see down into the fjord, which 
was full of floating glacier-ice. Then the crevasses began, but 
at first they ran parallel, and we pushed a good way farther on. 
But presently things became utterly hopeless, a simple network 
of interlacing fissures, the ice protruding in small square islands 
from the midst of the blue abysses. Even the fancy could form' 
no idea of the depth of these chasms, and the sight of the riven j 


(By the Author, after a photograph.) 

and chaotic mass was unearthly in the extreme. Not a ste 
farther could we go; there was nothing for us to do but eat ou 
dinner and go back to look for the others. We found shelte 
in a little crevice, where the sun did its best to comfort us an 
temper the keenness of the biting wind. 

On the way back I had the ill-luck to fall into a crevasse, 
was left hanging by my arms, and the position was neither easi 
nor pleasant. The fissure was narrow indeed, but it was ver| 
difficult to get a footing with my " ski " on the slippery edge! 

{By E. Nielsen.) 



I was alone, too, as Sverdrup had taken a different line, and, being 
a long way on in front, saw nothing of my disaster. However, 
after struggling for a while, I at last managed to scramble out 
by myself. Strangely enough, none of us ever went further into 
these crevasses than to the armpits. 

We had not gone far before we caught sight of the tent, which 
lay a little way to the north of us and on the very ridge where 

(By the Author.) 

the party had been ordered to halt. They had reached this point 
about half an hour before, and the coffee was already under way.i 
I must explain that we were now so near the coast that the coffee! 
prohibition was not so stringently observed. It was not quite 
ready, and a short rest after our little "ski " excursion did us good 
After we had finished our coffee the tent was struck, and we set 
off in a southerly direction in order to skirt the ice stream whicb 



flowed down to the fjord, and in the middle of which we had just 
been. At first the ground was easy and we made good progress, 
though the wind did its best to hinder us by blowing the sledges 
round. In the evening, when it was already growing dusk, we 
reached a ridge of nasty, broken ice, which we had seen in the 
distance that morning, and which there seemed to be no way of 


{By E. Nielsen, front a photograph. ) 

avoiding. It was necessary to explore the ground here before 
moving any farther, and so there was nothing to be done but 
encamp and wait for daylight. While supper was preparing 
two of us went out again. The ice was undeniably awkward, 
but with enterprise we could no doubt get through. The ridge 
1 was luckily not broad, and the best route was evidently the 
straightest and shortest. 


Next morning, September 23, Sverdrup went out upon another 
prospecting expedition, and came back with comparatively re- 
assuring intelligence. The ice was not so bad as it had seemed 
to be at first sight, and it would be possible, if we put three men 
to each sledge, to get them along without carrying them. 

Then we broke up camp and set out upon the heaviest bit 




(By the Author, front a photograph,) 

of ice-travelling which we had yet had. In many places we 
had to carry each sledge bodily up the steep slopes of the 
ridges we had to cross, while as we descended the other side) 
the unfortunate man who went behind had to hold it back with 
all his might. If he slipped, down went he and the sledge on 
to the heels of the others in front, and the whole group slid on I 
together. Often, however, we were lucky enough to hit upOD 



the course of a frozen river, which gave us an easy though 
somewhat winding passage among the hummocks and ridge* 
of ice, which often formed cliffs with nearly perpendicular walls. 
In one case we had to pass through a narrow cleft which only 
just gave us room, and at the bottom held a little stream only 
partially frozen, the water of which stood well above our ankles. 
In the afternoon we at last passed out of the worst of the 


(By A . Block, from a 

ice, and could again take the sledges singly. The surface was 
now tolerably good, and it grew still better, but the wind was 
awkward, as it was always blowing the sledges round. A good 
way further on I discovered a moraine running across the ice , 
in an easterly direction from the land. I imagined that this j 
moraine must mark the limit between the streams of ice, more 
especially because it lay in a depression, and as I could not 
see any good in getting into the full current of another ice 


stream, I determined to work down towards land on the north 
side of the moraine. We now halted, and the tent having 
been pitched and Balto sent out to look for water for the 
coffee, Sverdrup and I set off downwards towards the land to 

I see whether the ice were practicable here. We had not gone 
far before we saw that our opportunity had come. We seemed 
to have crossed to the south side of the stream of ice which 
fell into Godthaabsfjord, for the surface seemed to fall away to 
the south, or more correctly towards the land which lay straight 
before us. We went back with the encouraging news, and the 

! whole party drank their coffee in the highest spirits. The 
prospect of once more feeling dry land beneath our feet was 

i now not far off, and this was enough to fill us with delight. 
As soon as we could we went on again, and with the wind 
behind us made good progress, the ice being relatively smooth 
and yet often falling rapidly. We were disappointed, however, 
in our hope of reaching land that evening, as, owing to the 
gathering darkness, we presently had to stop. But on the 
whole we were more than satisfied with the day's work, as we 
had advanced a good deal farther than we had had any reason 
to hope in the morning. 

Next day, September 24, we turned out early and set off 
with the determination to reach land that day. This time, too, 
we were not disappointed. We pushed on fast, as the gradient 
was often tolerably steep and gave us much help. The wind 
was fair, too, the ice easy, and everything promising. Some 
way down a reconnaissance proved necessary, as the ice here 
got rather rougher. I went on in front and soon found myself 
upon the brow of an ice-slope which overlooked a beautiful 
mountain tarn, the surface of which was covered with a sheet 
of ice. Beyond was a gorge through which a river from the 
tarn ran downwards, while to the right the great glacier sloped 
evenly down to its end moraine, and would have formed the 
most magnificent coasting-hill imaginable, but for the stones 
that lay scattered over its surface. Here was an easy descent 
for us, and no obstacles to separate us from our goal. I sood 



had the whole party by me, and we stood enjoying the sight of 
the land below. After I had taken a couple of photographs, 
we set off down the last ice-slope. It was steep, steeper per- 
haps than any we had run down before, and we had to use our 
brakes ; but the sledges went gaily, and soon we were safe and 
well upon the frozen tarn below the glacier, with the " Inland 
ice " for ever left behind 


(By A. Block, from a photograph.) 

We now pushed across the tarn towards the river on the othe j 
side. The ice was not everywhere quite safe, but by moving i 
carefully we reached the rocks beyond without mishap, took of 
the " crampons " which we had been using the last few days, and 
like schoolboys released, ran wildly about the shore. WordiS 
cannot describe what it was for us only to have the earth anc 



stones again beneath our feet, or the thrill that went through us 
as we felt the elastic heather on which we trod, and smelt the 
fragrant scent of grass and moss. Behind us lay the " Inland 
ice," its cold, grey slope sinking slowly towards the lake ; before 
us lay the genial land. Away down the valley we could see 
headland beyond headland, covering and overlapping each other 



{From a photograph.} 

ar as the eye could reach. Here lay our course, the way 
down to the fjord. 

But it was high time to think of dinner. Neither the highest 
spiritual enjoyment nor the overwhelming sense of an end at- 
tained is sufficient to make one oblivious of bodily wants, but 
on the contrary, the consciousness of difficulty overcome renders 


material indulgence doubly sweet. There was now a trace olj 
gladness to be discovered even in Ravna's face. He had oveij 
and over again abandoned all hope of feeling solid earth beneath! 
his feet again, poor fellow 1 and the first thing he and Balto die 
when they had brought their sledge safe to shore was to rur 
straight away up the mountain side. 

While dinner was preparing and the last remnant of ouil 
much regretted jam being weighed out, Sverdrup and I wenj 
on a little way down the valley to examine the ground. We! 
passed a couple of small lakes with a moraine between, and be I 
yond the second we climbed up the mountain side and got i 
good view downwards. The valley, at least as far as we couk 
see, seemed tolerably easy of passage. When we got bad 
dinner was waiting for us under the shelter of some grea 
boulders, where stretched in the heather we could enjoy it 
pleasures to the full. 

Afterwards we went to work to prepare each his burden fo 
the land march down to the fjord. Our object was to take a 
much as possible of the most necessary things, but not to oveii 
load ourselves, or we should get over the ground too slowl>| 
seeing that we wished to despatch two men to Godthaab a 
soon as could be. So that we might have the necessary materia 
for boat-building to begin upon at once, we took some bambo! 
poles with the idea that we could fetch some more while th! 
work of construction was going on. 

I now for the first time was able to form some idea of Ravna'l 
real strength. During the crossing he had had a lighter loa<l 
than any of us, and nevertheless he was always complainini 
that it was so heavy for an old man like him, while not seldor, 
he lagged behind and kept us waiting for him. But now ther 
were six piles of necessary things, as large as we thought wj 
could manage, and I was fairly astonished when I saw Ravn 
catch up his bag of clothes and other private property in add' 
tion to his load. I told him that it would be too much fo: 
him and that I did not mean him to carry both, but he dti 
clared that he would not part with his clothes-bag, which ha»/ 

K.'c T 


his Testament in it, and that he could manage the whole very 
well. And though his load was thus nearly double as heavy as 
ours, which we found quite heavy enough, he actually managed 
to carry it, and went quite as well as any of us. No doubt he 
thought that there was no need to save up his strength now, 
and that he would show us for once in a way what he was good 
for. It was quite true what Balto was always saying in admira- 
tion, " Ah ! he is a strong chap, that Ravna, and no mistake 
about it." 

The rest of our things were packed on the sledges and well 
covered with tarpaulins. These preparations together with our 
afternoon tea being finished, we set off down the valley. The 
descent was steep in many places : our course lay over piles of 
debris and stretches of bog, and as our loads were heavy, the 
progress was naturally only slow. Several times on the way 
Ravna exclaimed enthusiastically, "It does smell good here, 
just like the mountains in Finmarken, where there is good 
reindeer pasture." And, true enough, the whole valley was 
redolent of mountain grasses and reindeer-moss, and we all 
breathed the fragrant air slowly and with infinite delight. 

Late in the afternoon we reached a long, narrow lake, into 
which we saw, to our surprise, that a huge glacier projected from 
the western side of the valley. It was evidently an arm which 
protruded from the main body of the " Inland ice " beyond the 
mountain which lay to the west of us. When after descending 
a steep slope we came to the lake, Sverdrup and Balto hit upon 
the idea of putting their two loads together and dragging them 
across the ice on a sledge hastily made of the bamboo poles 
which they carried. Ravna and I, the smallest and biggest of 
the party, then followed their example, and put our burdens 
together ; but it was no easy matter to construct a sledge which 
we could use out of nothing but a "ski "-staff and the wooden 
theodolite-stand. After a number of attempts, however, we 
succeeded fairly well, but by this time the others had pushed 
on a long way ahead, and we had to hurry. The ice on the 
lake was anything but strong, and it rocked uncomfortably under 



our tread in many places. When we reached the middle of th 
lake, and had passed a little island, we found it worse than eve 
Here the ice had been much broken up, apparently by the fa 
of fragments from the glacier opposite, many of which la 
scattered round about us. We now proceeded with rath* 


{From a photograph.) 

more care, and I presently discovered in the dusk a dark pat(i 
of open water lying right in front of us. The pieces of ice ( 
which we now stood were not even frozen together, and th< 
rocked so violently beneath us that it was quite difficult to kee 
one's balance. The others shouted to us from shore with ; 
their might, but without their warning it was plain that we mu 


beat a hurried retreat, and we were glad indeed to get on to 
firmer ground again without having had a ducking. We now 
kept closer to the others and closer in to shore, but as we went 
on the ice grew worse and worse, and presently we had finally 
to take to the land. We now found an excellent camping-place, 
and as it was already late in the evening, and our unaccustomed 
loads had made us tired, we determined to halt for the night. 
For the first time we had real good springy heather to lie upon, 
and we stretched ourselves upon the soft couch with supreme 
delight, while the mountain air blew over us with a peculiar 
resinous and narcotic fragrance which comes from a kind of 
heath abundant in Greenland. 

While we were eating our supper inside the tent, Ravna, who 
sat next the door, was told to light up a fire of heather outside. 
The necessary material had been already collected, and we 
thought we should like to have the cheering blaze of a camp- 
fire to look at. But Ravna did not see it in this light at all, 
and, with the usual perversity of a nomad Lapp, had a number 
of objections ready at hand. He did not see any use in it, as 
we should want the fuel next morning to boil our water with. 
I considered there was plenty of stuff lying round about us, but 
this argument Ravna met by asserting that he had no birch-bark 
to make a fire with. At this we all burst out laughing, and I 
represented to him that this obstinacy was not at all amiable, 
that he would not have more birch-bark at his disposal if he 
waited till the next morning, and that we should be much 
obliged to him if he would go and light the fire at once. There- 
upon he went out, and it was not long before we had a great 
fire crackling and blazing outside and throwing a warm and 
romantic glow into the dark little tent and upon the figures of 
its occupants, whose weather-beaten faces shone strangely and 
picturesquely in the fitful light. It was quite a novelty to us 
to be able to see what we were eating, and a very welcome 
change after the absolute darkness to which we had often been 

I now asked Ravna several times to come in again, as there 


was no need to attend to the fire any longer, which would burn 
quite well by itself; but now that he had once undertaken the 
work he was not to be prevailed upon to abandon it. 

After supper the smokers had a pipe of moss or grass, and 
we all stretched ourselves at length round the blazing firej 
comforting ourselves to the full with the feeling that we had 
seen the last of the " Inland ice," and had gained our long- 
wished-for goal. The light of our camp-fire spread out into the 
night, and the flames rose high against the dark starry sky, 
where the familiar northern lights were playing and the yet 
unrisen moon showed faint signs of her approach. 

I lay and amused myself by watching the look of glee and 
something approaching to roguishness which was visible ir 
Ravna's hitherto discontented face. He was all smiles now. 
and to the question what he thought of the country, he answered 
with enthusiasm that he would like to live here. I then asked 
him seriously whether he would like to bring his reindeer over 
He said he would indeed, but it would cost him too much ; but 
when I suggested that in that case the Danish or Norwegian 
Government might send him over free, he declared that he 
would not hesitate a moment. Good pasture there was, anc 
plenty of wild reindeer, for he had seen their tracks that after 
noon, and he would get rich in no time. The only difficult) 
would be to find anything to burn in the winter, but no doubi 
he could manage as some Lapps had done on an island a 
home in Finmarken — cut peat for winter fuel. Old Ravns 
finished his eulogy by saying, "I like the west coast well; it 
is a good place for an old Lapp to live in : there are plenty 
of reindeer; it is just like the mountains in Finmarken." Hf 
evidently felt almost as if he were back in his native haunts. 

It was a glorious night, with the peculiar mild air of i 
summer evening at home. The conversation dies away o 
itself, thought follows thought out into space, each seeking anc 
attaching itself to the rays of the moon which is just rising 
above the distant ridges, and all are at last spun together intc 
one tangle of ideas, till every thread is lost in the confusion 



and the thinker drops into a comfortable dose. It was late at 
night before we recovered ourselves sufficiently to go decently 
to bed. Sverdrup declares that never in his life has he had so 
glorious an evening as when he lay by that heather fire and 
smoked his pipe of moss. Several of us no doubt are ready to 
support him here. 

(From a photograph.) 

Next morning, September 25, after 1 had taken a photograph 
)f the glacier opposite, we set off again with our loads on our 
across the ridge on which the tent had stood. On the 
we found a well-trodden reindeer path which led down to 
arm of the lake below. This arm was not entirely frozen, 
it we managed to find a passage across it. At the farther end 
the lake we halted for a rest, and while there saw a hare come 



bounding along in the distance and stop under a rock. I got 
rifle out at once and stalked her to within a hundred yards < 
so. I could scarcely distinguish her yellowish white coat fro: 
the snow, and the distance was long. But as there seemed r 
hope of getting nearer, I fired, and she fell stone-dead with tl 
ball through her neck. The others were much delighted, ; 
they had been waiting in great excitement to see whether th< 
were going to have fresh meat for supper or not. 

Then we went on again down the narrow valley, scramblir 
down steep declivities and over stony moraines. Some wj 
farther on on the west side another arm of the " Inland ice 
reached into the valley. This drove a huge moraine in fro:j 
of it, and formed here and there high pinnacles and ridgej 
which were, however, so covered with clay and stones that 
was often difficult to distinguish ice from bare land. 

Later in the morning we came out upon the top ot a pi 
cipitous slope, at the foot of which was a lake, into which tl 
" Inland ice " descended from the east. From here we cou 
see a long way over the great icefield, as far as Nunatarsuk, tl 
land on the eastern side of Kangersunek. The river we h; 
been following hitherto now joined that which flowed out 
this lake not far from its point of exit The map we had be 
trusting to proved completely wrong; we had still some twelj 
miles at least to go before we reached the fjord, and our ho 
of getting there to-night was vain. 

At noon we reached another lake with broad, flat shor< 
Here we saw abundant traces of geese, which showed it to 
a very favourite resort. Possibly it was a general resting-pla 
during the autumn passage down the edge of the " Inland io 
while the lakes are still open. 

Here, too, in the clay, as all along our route where su 
marks could be left, the tracks of reindeer were very numeroil. 
and some of them at least were not more than two or thij: 
days old, but they all pointed downwards towards the fjoij 
I kept my eyes well about me, and scanned unremittingly □ 
brown slopes that lay around us on every side, but to no pi 


pose, as not a sign of deer was to be seen. On the south shore 
of the lake, which we christened " Goose Pool," we camped in 
the deep heather to enjoy our dinner. 

It was a splendid day : the sun shone warm and bright, the 
sky lay clear and blue above, and round about us was as fine 
shooting-ground as a sportsman could wish to see. It must be 
a simple Eldorado earlier in the year, when the reindeer are 
here in their numbers, and the wild geese fly screaming along 
the lake, in concert, perhaps, with duck and snipe and many 
other of the Greenland waders. 

In the evening we camped on a flat piece of ground by a 
little tarn amid brown slopes of heather and the best reindeer 
ground imaginable. We set about to cook our hare in a vessel 
which had originally been a spirit-can. Just as it was ready 
the pot upset into the fire, and we lost all our soup. The hare 
was rescued and divided, but her poor meagre little body gave 
little enough to each of six hungry men. The small portion we 

1 got, however, was enjoyed amazingly. We were not accustomed 
to fresh meat, and it was marvellously easier to bite than the 
hard pemmican, which is very difficult for any one with defective 
teeth to deal with. Sverdrup and I, who were the worst off of 

: the party in this respect, used always to select the most mouldy 
parts, as they were softer and easier to masticate. The even- 
ing was clear, like yesterday ; the northern lights were playing 
above us, the camp-fire burning brightly by our side, and our 
spirits were perhaps even brighter still. 

On September 26 we had at last a reasonable expectation of 
reaching the fjord. We followed the river downwards, passing 
at times over sandy hills and terraces, at times across flat, sandy 
stretches in which the river ran in a deep channel between 
steep banks. The ground was often covered with thickets of 
willow and alder, the bushes of a man's height or so. The 
alders were still green, but the willow leaves yellow and withered, 
the result apparently of the early frost of some few nights ago. 
Now, on the contrary, we had 55 ° Fahr. in the daytime in the 
shade, while the nights were as mild as September nights at 


home. The cause of this high temperature was evidently j 
warm and dry easterly or south-easterly wind very like th| 
" fbhn " of the Alps. Such winds are not unusual on the wesi 
coast of Greenland. 

These flat stretches of ground are often, too, cut transversel j 
by watercourses which come from the adjacent slopes. Thes: 
have ploughed deep in the soft, sandy clay, and they werj 
sometimes unpleasant enough to cross when their steep bank I 
were thickly overgrown with willow scrub. Geologically thi| 
valley was extremely interesting, and very instructive to thj 
observant eye. At one spot a long way down, the sandban; 
had lately fallen into the stream, and masses of old musstj 
shells were exposed to view. These shells tell us plainly hoN 
these great, sandy stretches have been formed. Once th 
fjord has filled this valley, and the clay and sand brough 
down by the river from the glacier moraines have settled upo 
the sea-floor, forming a gradually increasing deposit which hs| 
finally taken the water's place. Subsequently the land hz\ 
risen, and that it has done so is clearly shown by the presenc 
here of these shells of a salt-water mussel (Mytilus edulis) of 
post-glacial period. Whether this rise of the land has take 
place at intervals and by jerks, or gently and continuously, 
as yet uncertain. The latter view is commonly adopted, an 
is supported by most of the phenomena. No doubt the lay© 
of sand and clay lie in terraces, but even if the land has rise 
gently and continually, it is held that this might be explaine 
by the supposition that during certain climatic periods of heavi 
rain- and snow-fall, the river has brought down considerab! 
more matter than during the intervening and less products 
periods, an alternation of conditions which might well lead 1 
this step-like formation. I cannot for several reasons subscrit 
to this view, but as the subject is difficult and its discussic 
would take too much space here, I must be content to ackno) 
ledge the question as still open. 

The sea-floor thus having at one time or other risen, tl 
river proceeded to cut its winding channel through the deposi 


of sand and clay which now lie high and dry. Soft stuff like 
this is easy to cut through and undermine, and bank after bank 
has therefore slipped into the river, and in the course of ages 
been carried along by the stream to its outflow in the fjord, 
where it has gone to form new but precisely similar deposits. 
The mighty forces of nature which work in these regions are 
never at rest ; some are chiselling out valleys and fjords, leav- 
ing peaks and ridges behind ; others, or, more correctly, other 
forms of the same forces, are striving to level and fill up the 
excavations already made. 

The glaciers are excavating and hollowing out the valleys 
and fjords — these characteristic narrow glacier-fjords with their 
smooth, precipitous sides, simple chasms gouged out of the 
hard gneiss rock. The same streams of ice are driving before 
them their huge moraines, which, as the great moving mass 
from time to time draws back, are left as long barriers stretch- 
ing across the fjord-mouth or valley-floor. At the same time 
the clay and grit of which these moraines consist, as well as 
that of the so-called "ground-moraines" which lie beneath 
the ice, are carried off again by the milky glacier river and 
deposited in the fjord at its mouth. Here the material does 
its filling up and levelling work, and forms eventually the flat, 
sandy stretches that lie at the head of Greenland and Scandina- 
vian fjords. These are the " orer " which appear so commonly 
in such Norwegian place-names as Trondhjesmoren and Lserdal- 
soren, and are to be seen in hundreds on the Greenland coast. 

For the geologist, therefore, Greenland, which is now pass- 
ing through its ice-age, is of great importance. Phenomena, 
which would be otherwise unintelligible to him, are here made 
clear throughout their history ; here he can see close at hand, 
and in their full activity, the mighty forces which he can behold 
elsewhere only in the mirror of his fancy, or which he can at 
most study in the pigmy remnants which we still have in Europe 
— remnants from the time when the north of the continent and 
the high regions of the Alps were buried under mantles of ice 
like that which now forms the great " Inland ice " of Greenland. 


A long way down the valley we had to wade the river, but 
soon afterwards discovered, to our annoyance, that the othei 
side was impracticable. Here the river was too deep tq 
wade, and it was either a case of going back or of climbing! 
the shoulder of the mountain to the west to see if we coulcj 
thus obtain a passage. While we were discussing the poinij 
we thought we would stop and have our dinner, and then set 
what was to be done. 

After we had finished, Balto disappeared, and presently 
caught sight of him high up on the mountain side. He wa: 
waving his hat in high glee and looking westwards ; he coulc 
evidently see the fjord. He soon joined us again, carrying 
big reindeer-horn, and told us that he had seen a great shee 
of blue water which must be the fjord, and that the inner enc 
was covered with ice. We all now climbed the slope as fast a 
our legs would take us ; we longed to get a sight of the sea 
possibly the whortleberries which Balto promised enticed us too 
and, what was more, the flies down below made a longer sta 
there unendurable. From the ridge we had a glorious view dowi 
the valley. The river went winding along through the sand 
flat, and beyond lay the fjord, a blue expanse stretching fa 
away among the high mountains which hemmed it in. Wha 
Balto had taken to be ice we could now see to be the estuar 
sands, which quite filled the head of the fjord. 

We had not far to go now. Our joy was great when w 
found a little lower down some old footprints from a Greer 
lander's boots in the sand by the river-side. They were pre 
bably the tracks of some reindeer hunter, who some month 
ago had visited the now deserted valley, in which the wel 
trodden paths showed that at certain seasons it must b 
frequented by numbers of deer. Here we rested by the fin 
signs of human life which we had found on the western sid< 
if we except certain equivocal traces Balto had hit upon, an 
doubtfully attributed by him to either man or bear. 

After we had climbed one more willow-grown ridge we ha 
the fjord at last straight before us, and to the bare sandi 


through which the river still wound for a long way farther, we 
had only a short slope to descend. Just below us was a little 
flat stretch grown with heather and scrub and close by a tarn. 
This was the very spot for our camp, as the hill would shelter 
us from the east wind, which was now blowing down the 
valley straight from the "Inland ice." We ran down, threw 
our burdens into the heather and ourselves by their side, and 
allowed the consciousness of having reached our destination to 
comfort and soothe our wearied bodies. Much remained for 
us yet to do certainly ; four were to go back and fetch the rest 
of the baggage, while Sverdrup and I were to go to Godthaab 
and take measures — of what kind we had as yet but vague ideas 
—for the relief of the others. One thing at least is certain, that 
we are once more at the sea level, if not exactly at its edge, and 
are in all probability at the end of our toils and sufferings. A 
difficulty has been overcome, a difficulty which many, perhaps 
most, of those qualified to judge have deemed insuperable. 
It is no wonder then that the mood of the party was at this 
moment one of pure, unalloyed satisfaction. 

After a little rest and refreshment two of us went up the 
mountain side to the east to have a look down the fjord. On 
its north side the ground, as far as we could see from here, 
was so rough that there was very little probability of our being 
able to reach Godthaab that way. To get to Narsak, which 
lies on the south side, would no doubt be easier, but we were 
not certain of finding any people who understood a European 
language. The sea route was obviously the safest, and after 
determining to set to work with our boat-building at once, we 
went back to the tent 

We had brought down with us two bamboos and one " ski n 
staff, but had nothing for the ribs. For these the bent ash rods 
fixed at the back of the sledges would have been just the thing, 
but they were up by the ice, and it would have taken two or 
three days to get them. So it was necessary to find something 
else, and our thoughts went straight, of course, to the willow 
bushes, which lay in plenty round about us, and were some- 


times as much as six or seven feet high. Ribs made of these 
would not be as straight as we could wish, and would not stretch 
the canvas very evenly. Our boat was not likely to prove very 
fast in these circumstances, but the main thing was to get her 
to carry us. We set about detaching the tent floor at once, so 
as to have it ready for next morning. It was settled that Balto 
should stay and help us with the sewing, while tLe other three 
were to go back for the rest of our goods after breakfast. 

We turned out early on the morning of September 27 and 
made a very meagre breakfast of bread and pemmican, to which 
our last ration of tea was added. Of the pemmican we had 
brought down a good provision, but it had disappeared amaz- 
ingly fast, and of the remainder Sverdrup and I wanted as much 
as we could get for our voyage, seeing that it was impossible tc 
tell how long it would last. 

After breakfast Sverdrup and Balto went to work upon the 
boat at once, while I took some observations and the others 
made preparations for their return. After having received theii 
rations for the day, they were ready to start, and I gave their j 
their final instructions. First and foremost they were to secure 
the instruments and diaries, and then bring as much of the res) 
as they could, including of course all the provisions. Balto was 
to join them later. 

Then they started off up the valley with our best wishes anc 
in the most glorious weather, while we went on with our work 
Originally it had been my idea to build the boat long and narrow 
in order that she might travel better, but Sverdrup considerec 
that this would entail too much sewing, and that it would be 
better to use the tent-floor just as it was, giving it the form o 
a boat and patching it wherever necessary. This would nol 
make an ornamental craft of her, but it would save an immense 
deal of sewing, and to Sverdrup, as a sailor, I of course at oncej 
gave way. Unluckily, as I have already said, we had left oui< 
sailmaker's palm behind in our cache on the east coast. If wd 
had had it now we should have got through our work a gooc 
deal faster, for as it was we had to drive the needle through th 



hard canvas with our bare hands. Another difficulty, and a 
worse one, which we had to contend against, was a plague of 
small black flies, which swarmed round us, settled on our faces, 
necks, and hands, and bit us villainously. It was impossible 


{From a photograph. ) 

to escape them, and they were almost worse than the mosquitoes 
on the other side of Greenland. 

After I had tried my hand at the sailmaker's needle for a 
while, and found that it was work to which I was eminently 
unsuited, I left the task to the others, who at this kind of thing, 



as well as at much else, were simply masters, and went oft with 
my axe to the forest, or, more correctly speaking, to the nearest 
thicket of willows, to look for some branches which would make 
ribs for the boat In many places the bushes of the thicket were 
so high that I quite disappeared in them, and the tops of some 
I could scarcely touch with the tips of my fingers. There were 
plenty of branches that were thick enough, and one bush had 

(From a photograph. ) 

stems as massive at the root as a grown man's thigh, but they 
were as a rule desperately crooked, and to find any that would 
serve our purpose was by no means an easy matter. At last I 
managed to collect as many as we wanted. They were anything 
but straight and even, but as we had nothing else we must need 
put up with them. By the evening the boat was finished. She 
was no boat for a prize competition indeed ; in shape she was 


lore like a tortoise-shell than anything else, but when we tried 
in a pool close by we found she carried us both well, and 
Itogether we were hugely pleased with her. Her dimensions, I 
ty add, were : length, 8 ft. 5 in. ; breadth, 4 ft 8 in. ; depth, 2 ft. 
As yet, however, we had no oars made. I had found some 
willow branches, which I intended to stretch canvas 
so that we could use them as blades, while for the 
fts we had pieces of bamboo. I had not got on very far 
this job, however, as on this particular day, as well as on 
le two or three preceding, I had a racking headache, and was 
)t up to much work of any kind. 

Next morning, September 28, Balto also left us. We watched 

im stride away up the valley, and the active fellow joined the 

lers up by the edge of the ice the very same evening. By 

>n our two pair of sculls were made, and the boat ready to 

launched. The most difficult part had been the thwarts, 

we had nothing to make them of but a slender round ash 

leodolite-stand and two thin pieces of bamboo. They were, 

ideed, the scantiest seats it has ever been my ill luck to sit 

1, and I devoutly hope never again to have to go through 

a similar penance. 

After we had had our dinner — which was as meagre a meal 
as our breakfast had been — we packed up the sleeping-bags, 
our clothes, and everything that we were not going to take, in 
the tent, which was covered with stones, and protected as well 
as we could manage it against the weather. In the boat we 
stowed our clothes-bags with as much clothing as we thought 
necessary. To sleep in we had borrowed the two reindeer-skin 
tunics of the Lapps, and we each also had our pair of Lapp boots 
with the necessary grass lining. We took also the camera, a 
gun and cartridges, a stock of provisions packed partly in tins 
and partly in canvas, a supply of biscuits being stowed away in 
my canvas trousers, two cups which were also to do duty as 
balers, and lastly a cooking-pot, which was really the upper 
vessel of our great cooker deprived of the original felt covering. 
As soon as all our preparations were made we got under way. 


First we took our baggage down to the sands, and then the boat 
itself. We had hoped to be able to row all the way down the 
river and straight out to sea, but here, again, we met with the 
most unexpected difficulties, as the water was so shallow that 
rowing was out of the question. When we were both in the 
boat it was an absolute impossibility, so I, as the heavier, got 
out to walk across the sands, while Sverdrup sat in to try and 
punt himself along alone. But this was no great improvement, 
as he had soon to get out and wade in the cold water, while 
he towed the boat behind him, which was no agreeable work. 
It was seldom that he could punt, and still more rarely that 
he could row, and progress was therefore very slow. 

Nor was it much fun for me to tramp over the sands, for the 
ground was soft and I often sank well up to my knees. We 
both had incredibly hard work in one way and another ; again 
and again we were buried to the hips in mud and water, and 
half a day's toil of this kind told terribly on our legs. The sticky 
stuff held our feet fast at every step, and we were thoroughly 
tired out when we at last reached a certain point well out in the 
fjord, where we had hoped to be able to finally put to sea. 

But here we discovered that we were by no means at the end, 
as the river now spread out in a delta, the branches of which 
were so shallow that it became impossible even to drag the 
boat, and it had to be carried for the rest of the way. But it 
was now evening, and we thought we might as well halt for the 
night. So we carried the boat up on to higher ground with 
the idea of turning it over and using it as a tent to sleep under. 
Then we brought up our things, and to our great comfort got 
some dry clothes on after our long wade in the icy water. Next 
we found a good place for a fire, put a hoop of copper wire on 
our cooking-pot, and I went off to get some water while Sver- 
drup made the fire up. There was no lack of fuel round about 
us, and by the time I got back the pile was blazing well. The 
pot was hung over it, and when we had put our reindeer-skin 
coats on and drawn up to the fire we felt thoroughly comfortable. 
We had enjoyed our comfort just long enough to see the water 


begin to boil, when the pot and all its contents fell into the fire 
and completely extinguished it. The ears of the vessel to which 
the hoop had been fastened had melted off and caused the 
disaster. There was nothing to be done but begin from the 
beginning again. We put a new hoop on the pot — this time 
with more solidity — more water was fetched, the fire resuscitated, 
and we were soon able to enjoy the sight of boiling water again. 
The pea-soup was excellent, and we had another splendid even- 
ing. The last flush of day soon vanished behind the moun- 
tains in the west ; the stars grew more and more distinct in the 
darkening sky, and presently the moon came too and shone 
down upon us as we sat by our sinking fire and talked of the 
" Inland ice " as a distant dream. 

Afterwards we each chose out a willow-bush, crept under, 
curled ourselves up in our fur coats, and were soon asleep. To 
use the boat as a tent, we thought, when it came to the point, 
was an unnecessary waste of energy. 

Chapter XIX. 


Next morning, September 29, we carried the boat down to the 
water. It was desperate work plodding along with it through 
this sticky sand, in which our feet sank deep, and fixed them- 
selves, and wheezed like the piston of an air-pump as we pulled) 
them out again at each step. But at last we reached the water's 
edge, and set the boat down, to go back and get the rest of our 
things. There were any number of gulls down here, and we had 
looked forward to the prospect of a supply of fresh meat ; but, I 
unfortunately, they kept at a respectful distance, and we had* 
no chance of a shot. When we got back to our camping-place, 
we came to the conclusion that we had had quite enough of the 
sands, and determined to carry the other things over the higher 
ground, rough and difficult though it was. 

When we got down to the shore again, we saw that the boat 
was now afloat a long way out in the water, as, while we had 
been away, the fjord had risen to such an extent as to flood 
all the outer part of the sands. Luckily Sverdrup had been 
thoughtful enough to moor her fast by driving a stake into the 
ground, though we had left her so far from the edge of the water 
that we thought she was quite safe. He now waded out to her, 
and rowed her in to a point of land close by, while I moved 
the baggage to meet him at the same spot Thus, at last, after 
a day's labour, we had overcome one more obstacle, and were 
ready to embark on a good sea-way. 

After we had had our dinner we set out upon our first voy- 
age, our destination being the farther side of the fjord, along 
which we meant to coast on our way outwards. We discovered 



once that our boat travelled much better than we had ex- 
pected. She did not prove to be a fast craft, certainly, but we 
could get along in her, and reached the other side of the fjord 
after what we considered to be a remarkably quick passage. Nor 
was water-tightness one of our boat's virtues, for we had to take 
to baling with one of the soup-bowls about every ten minutes. 

Just here, the head of the fjord formed a little bay or inlet, 
which seemed to us, in our present state of mind, an unusually 
attractive spot. It ended in a peaceful, gentle valley — a valley 
of long, brown slopes and stretches of moss and stones, and 
skirted by low, round hills; just the ground that is most 
welcome to the reindeer and his pursuer. Our interests still 
centred in all that we could connect with food and the pursuit 
of game, and the more poetic reader must forgive us. To us, 
at this time, this was the most beautiful side of Nature ; and for 
her true beauty — the lofty peaks, the snow-clad mountains, the 
precipitous cliffs, and all the glories of barrenness, glories of 
which Ameralikfjord has enough and to spare — we had no eyes 
of appreciation. Such delights are for that true lover of Nature, 
the tourist, as he wanders among them on his comfortable 
steamer, with abundance of warm clothing and good food. 

Then we worked along the stupendous cliffs which form the 
northern shore of Ameragdla, as the inmost branch of Amera- 
likfjord is called, and stopped for the night at a spot where we 
could land our boat and find flat ground enough to sleep upon 
— accommodation not to be procured everywhere. We had not 
advanced much that day, but we were quite satisfied, and very 
pleased to be on the sea once more. Our chief delight, how- 
ever, was the prospect of eating our fill of good fresh meat after 
nearly seven weeks of the driest of food. During our row I had 
shot six big blue gulls. At first I missed several times, as the 
birds kept out of range, but at last one ventured nearer, and 
then I had no further trouble. Gulls, as most people know, 
are inquisitive birds ; so when I had thrown one dead body out 
to float, the others must needs come to look at it, and I brought 
down one after the other, and stocked our larder for the time. 



These gulls are big birds, and we determined to have two 
apiece for our evening meal. They were skinned, put two atj 
a time into boiling water, and cooked as little as possible. 

(By A. Black, after photograph and tketch.) 

Sverdrup was afterwards asked whether he took care to clear! 
them properly. " Oh, I don't know," he answered ; " I sav-i 
Nan sen pull something out of them, and I suppose it was parj 
of the inside ; and some more came out in the pot while the]) 


cooking. All I can say is, I never tasted better birds in 
my life." And he was quite right : we both thought we had 
never had anything which could be compared with those gulls ; 
the tenderest of chickens could not have been better. Whether 

, the cause lay in our appetites, or the peculiar method of pre- 
paration, I will not attempt to decide. We looked for no 
reason at the time, but tore our birds in pieces as fast as teeth 
and fingers would allow. It was not long before the first two 
had disappeared, and then we set to work upon the second 
with greater deliberation and more prolonged enjoyment. We 
finished with the broth in which they had all been boiled. This 
had a very characteristic, gamey taste, which added much to 
its peculiarity, though we were not quite certain to what we 
should attribute its origin. 

Language, in fact, has no words which can adequately de* 
scribe the satisfaction of the two savages who sat that evening 
on the northern shore of Ameragdla, and dipped each his hands 
into the pot, fished out the body of a gull, and conveyed it, 
piece by piece, head, feet, and all, into the depths of his hungry 
stomach. The light of the fire meanwhile was almost dimmed 
by the brighter glory of the northern lights. The whole heaven 
blazed, both north and south ; the lights swept onwards, and 
then returned again ; and suddenly a whirlwind seemed to 
pass across the sky, driving the flames before it, and gathering 
them together at the zenith, where there was a sparkling and 
a crackling as of burning fire, which almost dazzled the eyes 
of the onlooker. Then the storm seemed to cease, the light 
died slowly away, there was nothing left but a few hazy flecks, 
which sailed across the starlit sky as we stood there still gazing. 
Such a display of northern lights I have never seen, either 
before or since. And there, below us, lay the fjord, cold and 
impassive, dark and deep, and girt round about by steep 
walls of rock and towering mountains, the familiar fjord land- 
scape of the west of Norway. 

i ; Next day things did not go quite so well with us, as in the 
course of the morning a head-wind sprang up, which blew so 


hard that, instead of making progress, we were almost driven 
backwards, and our little cockle-shell danced up and down 
upon the waves to such an extent that there seemed every 
chance of our capsizing. She proved a good sea-boat, how- 
ever, and never shipped a drop of water, except that which ran 
in unceasing streams through her bottom. Against the breeze, 
though, she travelled very heavily, and there was nothing to be 
done but land, rest meanwhile, and hope that the wind would 
drop towards evening. This it eventually did, and we em- 
barked again. It was not long before we reached Nua, as the 
point is called which lies at the mouth of Itivdlek Fjord, the 
northern branch of Ameralik. Here the country was less wild 
and broken, and, with its low ridges covered with moss and 
heather, promised excellent reindeer-ground. 

It was a fine, still evening, and we now set about to cross 
the fjord. This was the longest sea-passage we had as yet 
attempted ; but all went well, and we were soon across by the 
opposite shore. It was dark by this time, and we put to land 
to get some supper. Here, however, we found neither fuel nor 
water, and had to eat our food cold and without drink, a state 
of things to which we were, nevertheless, well used. We had 
thought of pushing on farther during the night, but we now 
saw some ominous storm-clouds coming up from the west, and 
gathering about the sharp, wild peaks on the north side of the 
fjord. The night, too, was so dark that it would have been 
difficult to cross the fjord again, as we wished ; and so we 
determined to bring the boat ashore, and get a little sleep, in 
the hope that the moon might come to our help later. During 
the operation of beaching the boat, Sverdrup was unlucky 
enough to fall into the water, which is not very pleasant just 
before bedtime, and when one has so little in the way of a 
change of clothes. 

There was no improvement in the weather, and we slept till 
the morning of October i. It was a splendid sunny day, and 
there was a gentle wind blowing to help us. 

In the course of the morning we crossed the fjord again, and 



went ashore to get ready a substantial dinner of two gulls apiece 
and a soup of unsurpassed excellence. To the broth in which 
the birds had been cooked we added peas and bread, and the 
compound was so invigorating that we literally felt the strength 
grow in us as we took down one basin after another. 

Unluckily, at this spot where we had landed there was a great 
abundance of crowberries, and as a matter of course we added 

{From a photograph.) 

them to our bill-of-fare. It was long since we had had access 
to fresh, wholesome, vegetable food, and we actually indulged 
ourselves beyond the bounds of reason. First we ate the berries 
standing; and then, when we could stand no longer, we ate them 
sitting ; and when this posture became at last too wearisome, we 
i lay prone at our ease, and prolonged the debauch to incredible 
lengths. When we landed there had been no wind, but now a 
; stiff northerly hreeze sprang up, which blew ud the fiord, and 


made any attempt at farther progress on our part quite out of the 
question. All we could do, therefore, was to lie here, and go on 
with our crowberries. At last we grew so torpid that we had not 
the energy to pick the berries any longer with our hands, and so 
we turned on our faces, and went on gathering them with our 
lips till we fell asleep. We slept till evening, and when we woke, 
there hung the great black, luscious berries still before our very 
lips, and on we went eating them till we dozed off again. If what 
people say is true, that gluttony is one of the deadly sins, then 
may Heaven's mercy save us from the dire punishment that must 
await us for what we did that day in Ameralikfjord. It has 
always been a cause for wonder to me that we did not pay the 
penalty then and there ; but, as a matter of fact, we suffered no 
ill-effects from our excesses. 

At midnight the wind dropped, and I turned the crew out. 
In spite of the crowberries, Sverdrup had had sufficient energy 
in the course of the evening to collect some wood and fetch water 
in the event of our needing a meal in the night. We now, there- 
fore, fortified ourselves for work, and by one o'clock we were 
afloat, ready to push on with renewed energy. We made our way 
quickly along the shore in intense darkness. The phosphor- 
escence of the water was almost as brilliant as anything that 
tropical seas can show. The blades of our oars gleamed like 
molten silver, and as they stirred the surface the effect was seen 
in the glittering radiance that stretched far below. The whole 
scene was very grand as we passed along under the beetling cliffs, 
where we could see scarcely anything but the flashes of phos- 
phorescence which flitted upon the water round about us, and 
danced and played far away in the eddies of our wake. 

We seemed to have luck with us just now — a state of things 
to which we were not much accustomed. The weather was fine, 
and there was no wind; so, to make the best use of our oppor- 
tunities, and keep the steam up, we had recourse to frequent 
stimulants, in the way of meat-chocolate. Rations were served 
out often and liberally, and with apparent effect, for we made 
rapid progress. 




At dawn, while we were resting at a certain spot, we heard 
numbers of ptarmigan calling in the scrub close by us. It would 
have been easy to bag some, and I was tempted to try ; but we 
thought we had no time to waste on land for such a purpose, 
, so we showed an heroic determination by rowing away from 
the enticing spot. 

We rowed on all the morning without stopping, except for 
chocolate. Along the whole stretch of shore the rocks fell so 

(By Th. Holmboe, after a photograph.) 

abruptly into the water that there were but two or three places 
where a landing was possible. About noon, to our great astonish- 
ment, we found ourselves approaching the mouth of the fjord. 
Here we came upon a point with a nice flat stretch of beach, 
and pulled in to land. The spot seemed a favourite camping 
place, for there were several rings of stones marking the sites 
of Eskimo tents, and masses of seals' bones and similar refuse 
strewn about the place. 


The consciousness of having got so far made us unusually 
reckless. We felt that we should soon be in Godthaab now, 
and in honour of the occasion we contrived a dinner which, 
in magnificence, surpassed even that of the day before. We 
had now no need for parsimony or self-restraint, and no meal 
throughout the course of the expedition came up to this in 
extravagance. We began with sea-urchins, or sea-eggs, which 
I collected in numbers on the beach close by. The ovaries 
of these are especially good, and little inferior to oysters, and 
of this delicacy we consumed huge quantities. We then went 
on to gulls and guillemots, which were followed by the usual 
excellent soup. Biscuit and butter we had in abundance, and 
there were plenty of crowberries for him that had recovered 
from the surfeit of the preceding day. It was, indeed, a dinner 
worthy of the name, as Sverdrup said. It was no easy matter 
for us to convey ourselves into the boat again, and bend over 
the oars to do our proper work. If at any time afterwards I 
wished to bring Sverdrup into a thoroughly good humour, 
I had only to call to mind our notable dinner at the great 
camping-place in Ameralikfjord. 

Fortune was strangely kind to us that day : we now had a 
fair wind behind us, and, in spite of our torpor and laziness, 
we made rapid progress during the afternoon. Everything was 
rosy to us now, and we pulled away in sheer fulness of heart. 
There was one thorn in the side of our happiness, neverthe- 
less. This came from the absurdly thin little rails on which 
which we had to sit instead of thwarts. I suffered so much 
that I felt I could well do without a certain part of the body 
altogether. We shifted, and shifted again, but with little relief 
to our soreness and discomfort. The happiness of this world 
is, indeed, seldom pure and unalloyed. 

Thus we passed out of the fjord, and saw the sea, islands, 
and scattered rocks spread out before us, and lighted by the 
most glorious of sunsets. The whole expanse seemed to be 
suspended in an atmosphere of gently-glowing light. The 
vision stopped us, barbarians as we were, and deprived us of 


speech and power of action. A feeling of home and familiar 
scenes came over us ; for just so lie the weather-beaten islands 
of the Norwegian coast, caressed by flying spray and summer 
haze, the outskirts of the fjords and valleys that lie behind. 
} It is not to be wondered at that our forefathers were drawn to 
this land of Greenland. 

We had set ourselves the task of passing the mouth of 
Kobbefjord, an inlet which lies just to the south of Godthaab, 
that evening, so that, in the event of bad weather next day, we 
could, nevertheless, easily reach our destination overland. We 
now came to a little fjord which is not marked sufficiently 
clearly on the map we had, and which we therefore wrongly 
assumed to be Kobbefjord, though I thought at the time that 
it lay suspiciously near to the mouth of Ameralik. 

Consequently, we thought we might as well land there and 
then, as we sat simply in torture, and our legs were stiff with 
the pain and discomfort of the position. But then it struck 
us that we had better keep on till we could see the lights of 
Godthaab, for, in our innocence, we supposed them to be 
visible from the south. We saw, however, nothing at all, and, 
as the current now ran hard against us, we were at last obliged 
to desist and go ashore. This was at a point which lies at 
. the foot of a high mountain, which we afterwards found to be 
Hjortetakken. It was now about nine o'clock, and, with the 
exception of short intervals for breakfast and dinner, we had 
been fixed to those seats of affliction for a good twenty hours. 
It was indeed a welcome change to have a broad surface to 
stretch ourselves upon. 

Phenomenal as our dinner had been, the supper which now 
followed was not much less so. For the first time since we 
left the Jason we could go to work upon bread, butter, and 
liver "pat£" without restraint and stingy weighing out of 
rations. We drank lemonade to our heart's desire, and did 
> our very best to prevent any of that provender which we had 
been economising so long from remaining over, to be carried 
to people among whom it would have no value. This thought 


it was that harassed us, and urged us to further effort ; but in 
the end we were obliged to desist, with our task as yet undone. 

This was the last of these wonderful nights which we had 
a chance of enjoying before our re-entrance into civilisation. 
We felt that it was our farewell to Nature and to the life 
which had now grown so familiar and so dear to us. The 
southern sky was as" usual radiant with the northern lights, 
streamer after streamer shooting up to the zenith, each more 
brilliant than the last ; while the stars glittered in their usual 
impassive way, their brightness more or less eclipsed as the 
rival lights waxed or waned in intensity. 

We were both of us in a strange mood : our wanderings were 
all but ended ; we had met with many mishaps and many un- 
foreseen obstacles, but we had succeeded in spite of all. We 
had passed through the drifting ice, and pushed our way up 
along the coast; we had crossed over the snow-fields of the 
continent, and made our way out of the fjord in our miserable 
little boat, in defiance of adverse winds ; we had worked hard, 
and undeniably gone through a deal of tribulation to reach 
the goal which now lay so near to us. And what were our feel- 
ings now ? Were they feelings of triumph or exultation ? For 
my own part, I must confess that mine were not of this lofty 
order ; to no other feeling could I attain than a sense of gross 
repletion. It was a feeling grateful enough to me ; but as for 
our goal, we had been kept waiting too long — there was too 
little surprise about its eventual attainment for us to give 
much thought to it. 

We curled ourselves up in our fur pelisses, chose each a 
stretch of heather among the rocks, and slept our last night 
under the open sky as well as we had seldom slept before. 

It was late before we woke next morning, October 3, and when 
we at last shook off our sleep, the wind had long been blowing 
freshly up the channel leading to Godthaab, and calling us to 
work. But we felt that for once we need not hurry — we could 
sleep to the end, and yet reach our destination in good time. 

We began breakfast again with the worthiest intentions of 


consuming to the last morsel the provisions which remained ; 
but though we attacked them manfully, we had to put to sea 
once more with this end still unattained. With the wind be- 
hind us we made rapid progress northwards, and when we 
passed the spit of land on which we had camped for the night, 
we found that we had been all the time on the south side of 
Kobbefjord. This fjord now lay before us set in a circle of 
wild, lofty mountains, among which Hjortetakken was most 
conspicuous, with its sides sprinkled with fresh snow, and its 
peak from time to time wrapped in light, drifting mist. 

We now set about to cross the fjord to the south side of the 
promontory on which Godthaab itself lies. As we reached 
the middle we heard, for the first time for many weeks, the 
sound of unfamiliar voices. They were evidently Eskimo 
women and children from whom the sounds came. They 
were screaming and shouting; but, though we listened, we 
could make out nothing, and though we looked, there was no 
one to be seen. Some time afterwards we learned that these 
voices must have come from a party of folk who had gone over 
to " Store Malene," a mountain lying to the east of Godthaab, 
to gather berries. They had caught sight of us, and were 
shouting to one another that they could see two men in half a 
boat, and were much exercised to know what new sorcery this 
could be. Such a vessel they had never seen before, and they 
did not at all like the look of it 

This Eskimo description of our little craft as half a boat was 
really very happy, as it did much resemble the forepart of an 
ordinary boat. Some way farther on we saw in the distance 
the figure of a man sitting, as it were, in the water. This 
was the first "kayaker" we came across on the west coast. 
Presently we caught sight of two more; they were out after 
seal, and took no notice of us. This was either because they 
preferred their own business, or because they thought there 
was something wrong about us. There is no doubt that they 
saw us long before we saw them, for the Eskimo has the 
keenest of eyes, and never fails to use them. 


As we rounded the next point, Sverdrup, who was rowing 
bow, caught sight of some houses which he thought must be 
Godthaab. I turned my head in astonishment, and saw some 
Eskimo huts, but could not think them to be Godthaab, as, 
according to the map, the settlement did not lie just there. 
Sverdrup then said : " But those big houses can't belong to 
these wretched Eskimo." I then turned quite round, and 
could now see the slated roof of a long building, surmounted 
by a little tower, and was quite ready to agree that this could 
not be an Eskimo abode, though it struck me that it might 
very well be a warehouse. But as we passed another point, 
we found we had before us no warehouse, but a church and a 
number of Eskimo huts lying by a little bay. We did not 
think it was any use landing here, and were for keeping straight 
on ; but suddenly a fresh breeze sprang up, and made it very 
heavy work to row, and we concluded that it would be better 
to go ashore at once, and proceed to Godthaab overland. 

So we turned our little tub shorewards, and found that a 
number of Eskimo, chiefly old women, were already swarming 
out of the houses, and coming down to the beach to receive 
us. Here they gathered, chattering, and bustling to and fro, 
and gesticulating in the same strange way as we had seen their 
fellows of the east coast often do. We could see little or no 
difference between the two branches of this people we had 
met ; here there was just the same outward aspect— the same 
ugliness, and the same beaming friendliness and good humour. 

When we landed they thronged round us, and helped us 
disembark our goods, and bring the boat ashore, all the while 
jabbering unceasingly, and laughing, in wonder and amuse- 
ment, at us two poor strangers. While we were standing there, 
mounting guard over our gun and the more valuable of our 
possessions, and ignoring the crowd of people round us, whom, 
of course, we could not understand one whit, Sverdrup said : 
" Here comes a European ! " I looked up, and saw a young 
man advancing towards us. He was clad in an attempt at a 
Greenlander's dress, but had a Tam-o'-Shanter cap upon his 


head, and a fair, good-looking face, which was as little like an 
Eskimo's as could well be. There could be no mistake about 
him ; he and his whole demeanour were, so to say, a direct 
importation from "the King's Copenhagen," as it is called 
here. He came up to us, we exchanged salutations ; then he 
asked, " Do you speak English ? " The accent was distinctly 
Danish, and the question somewhat discomfited me, as I thought 
it a little absurd for us to set to work at English instead of our 
own mother-tongue. But before I could answer, he luckily 
inquired : " Are you Englishmen ? " 

To this I could safely answer, in good Norse : " No ; we are 
Norwegians." " May I ask your name?" " My name is Nansen, 
and we have just come from the interior." "Oh, allow me to 
congratulate you on taking your Doctor's degree." This came 
like a thunderbolt from a blue sky, and it was all I could do to 
keep myself from laughing outright. To put it very mildly, it 
struck me as comical that I should cross Greenland to receive 
congratulations upon my Doctor's degree, which I happened to 
have taken just before I left home. Nothing, of course, could 
have been more remote from my thoughts at the moment. 

The stranger's name was Baumann. He was a good-natured, 
sociable native of Copenhagen, who was now in the Greenland 
'Service, and acting as assistant, or, as they call it, " Volontor," 
to the Superintendent of the colony of Godthaab. We subse- 
quently had a good deal of his society. The Superintendent, 
he told us, was just now away from home, and in the name of 
his superior he offered us a hearty welcome to the colony. Godt- 
haab itself was close by, and it was quite by chance that he had 
just walked out to Ny Herrnhut, the spot where we landed, to 
see the missionary. This is one of the few stations established 
by the German Moravian Mission in Greenland. 

The first question I asked, as soon as I could get an oppor- 
tunity, was about communication with Denmark, and whether 
the last ship had sailed. From Godthaab I learned that the last 
I ship had gone two months or more ago, and there was none now 
that we could catch. The only possible chance was the Fox, 


at Ivigtut, but she was to leave in the middle of October, and 
the place was 300 miles away. 

These tidings were anything but welcome. It had been the 
thought of catching a ship to Europe which had spurred us on 
during our crossing of the ice ; the vision ol a ship had haunted 
us unceasingly, and never allowed us the enjoyment of rest or 
ease. We had consoled ourselves with the thought that we 
could make up for lost time on board, during our voyage home ; 
and now, when the time came, we found that our ship had sailed 
before ever we started upon our journey across the continent. 
It was a magnificent structure of hopes and longings that now 
sank into the sea before our eyes. As far as I was concerned 
personally, this was not of much account, for, on the contrary, 
I was quite ready to spend a winter in Greenland ; but for the 
other poor fellows it was another matter. They had friends 
and relatives — one of them wife and children — away at home, 
whom they longed to see, and they had often talked of the joys 
of their return. And now they would have to wait through 
the long winter here, while their people at home would think 
them long since dead. This must never be ; a message must 
be sent off at once to the Fox, our last hope of relief. While 
we were talking the matter over, we were joined by another 
European — the Moravian missionary, Herr Voged. He greeted 
us very kindly, gave us a hearty welcome, and would not hear 
of our going by his door unentertained. 

He lived in the building with the tower which had first caught 
our attention, and which served both as church and as a resi- 
dence for him. We were received here by the missionary and 
his wife with unaffected heartiness, and it was with a strange 
mixture of feelings that we set foot once more in a civilised 
dwelling, after four months of wild life on shipboard, in our 
tent, and in the open air. The room we were taken into will 
always remain vividly impressed upon my memory. Its dimen- 
sions were not grand, and its features were uniformity and 
simplicity ; but for us, who were used to a cramped tent, and 
the still greater simplicity of the open air, the appointments oi 

this 1 


is house were nothing less than luxury itself. The mere sit- 
ting upon a chair was a thing to be remembered, and the cigars 
to which we were treated were a source of unconcealed satis- 
faction. Then the cup of welcome was handed round, while 
coffee and food were being prepared for us. It was a queer 
change to be sitting at a table again and before a white cloth, 
and to be using knife and fork upon earthenware plates. I 
will not say, unreservedly, that the change was altogether for 
the better, for we had been thoroughly comfortable when sit- 
ting by the camp-fire, and tearing our gulls to pieces with our 
teeth and fingers, without forks, plates, and formalities. 

While the meal was in progress, the pastor of Godthaab, Herr 
Balle, arrived ; soon after him came the doctor of the place, 
whose name was Binzer. The news of our coming had already 
reached the colony, and they had hurried out at once to bid us 

I welcome. We were now beset with questions as to our journey : 

\ as to why we had changed our route, how we had got out of the 

fjord, where we had left the others, and so on ; all our accounts 

being followed with the most lively interest. Then the party 

broke up, and we took our leave of our kind host and hostess. 

When we got out of doors, we found, to our surprise, that it 

[was raining. Our luck was true to us this time, and we had 
■ reached the habitations of men none too soon, for the rain 

|1 would have been very unpleasant to us in our little boat. 

We were assured that our boat and things should be taken 

llcare of and sent on, and then we started off to walk in the rain 
over the hills to Godthaab. 

After a time our way brought us out upon a projecting point 
of rock, and we saw the colony lying below us. There were not 

I 'a great number of buildings — four or five European houses, a 
church perched upon an eminence, and a good many Eskimo huts. 
The whole group lay in a small hollow between two hills, and by a 
pleasant little bay. The Danish flag was flying on its high mast, 
which stood on a mound down by the water. Crowds of people 
j were swarming about. They had all come out to see the mysteri- 
ous strangers from the interior who had arrived in half a boat 


Then we made our way down ; but we had hardly reached 
the houses before a gunshot rang out over the water, and was 
followed by one after another, in all a complete salute. We 
had parted from civilisation amid the thunder of cannon, and 
with this same thunder we were received into the civilised 
world again, for to such the west coast of Greenland must cer- 
tainly be reckoned. It might have been supposed that we were 
individuals of the most warlike tendencies. How many shots 
they fired in our honour I cannot say, but the salute was well 
sustained. The little natives had all their work to do round 
the guns under the flagstaff, as we were passing among the 
houses and between long rows of Greenlanders of both sexes, 
who crowded round and lined the way. They — and especially 
the women — were a striking sight in their picturesque attire. 
Smiles, good nature, and here and there, perhaps, a little un- 
affected wonder, beamed from all the faces about us, and added 
a new sunshine to the surroundings. 

Then our eyes fell upon a more familiar sight — the figures of 
the four Danish ladies of the colony, who were coming to meet 
us, and to whom we were duly presented. At the same time, it 
struck us somewhat curiously to see European petticoats again 
among all the skin jackets and trousers of the fair Eskimo. 

As we reached the Superintendent's house, the salute was 
brought to an end, and the native gunners, under the lead of 
one Frederiksen, gave us a ringing cheer. The Superintendent's 
wife now welcomed us, on her own part and that of her hus- 
band. Here, again, we were temporarily entertained, and also 
invited to dine with the doctor at four o'clock. 

We had still a long time to get through before then, how- 
ever, though we had plenty to do in the way of washing and 
decorating ourselves. We were shown up into our new friend 
Baumann's room, the aspect of which, again, was sufficiently 
unfamiliar to us to make a very vivid impression upon our 
minds. Here a musical-box played to us " The last Rose of 
Summer," an air which will hereafter never fade from my 
memory ; and here we were, for the first time, horrified by the 


sight in a glass of our sunburnt and weather-beaten faces. After 
our long neglect in the way of washing and dressing, we seemed 
to ourselves little fit for presentation in society, and, both in our 
faces and clothes, a considerable number of the hues of the rain- 
bow were intrusively conspicuous. 

It was an indescribable delight to plunge the head into a 
basin of water once more, and to go through the ceremony of 
an honest Saturday night's wash. Cleanness was not, how- 
ever, to be obtained at the first attempt. Then we attired our- 
■ selves in the clean linen, so to say, which we had brought all 
the way across Greenland for the purpose ; and, thus recon- 
stituted, we felt ourselves quite ready for the good things of the 
doctor's well-provided dinner-table. 

By all the Danish inhabitants of Godthaab we were enter- 

I .i tained with unprecedented hospitality, and the luxury displayed 
li) on all sides was quite astonishing. We had expected to find 

that the Europeans exiled to this corner of the world would 
B be so influenced by the nature of their surroundings, and the 
H primitive section of humanity amid which they dwelt, that they 

I I would have inevitably forgotten a certain amount of their native 

I etiquette. And therefore our surprise was great when we saw 
I ! the ladies appear at social gatherings in the longest of trains and 

gloves, and the men in black coats and shirt-fronts of irreproach- 

II able stiffness, and even on occasions going to the extremity of 
lithe conventional swallow-tail. Surrounded, as we were, by the 
f natives in their natural and picturesque attire, and thoroughly 
H unaccustomed as we had grown to all these things, to us the 
1 1 absurdity of European taste in such matters seemed altogether 

We two were now safe in port, and the next thing to be done 
i was to send relief to our comrades in Ameralikfjord with the 
Ijleast possible delay. They had no means of knowing whether 
fcwe had reached our destination, or had gone to the bottom of 
I the fjord, and left them to starve to death out there. And after 
, this was done, we must despatch a message to the Fox. 

In the course of the afternoon we tried, therefore, to arrange 


matters, but without success. No sooner had we arrived than 
a storm from the south had sprung up, and the weather was so 
bad that the Eskimo, who are bad sailors in anything but their 
" kayaks," would not venture upon the voyage into Ameralik- 
fjord. The letter to the Fox was to be sent by one or two 
" kayakers," but we could find no one in the colony who would 
undertake to start in this weather, and we were therefore obliged 
to wait till next day. 

When night came, and lodging had to be found for us, Sver- 
drup was quartered upon the before-mentioned Frederiksen, the 
carpenter and boat-builder of the place, while Herr Baumann's 
room was put at my disposal. It was strange, too, to find my- 
self in a real bed again after six months' absence. There can 
be few who have enjoyed a bed as completely as I did this one. 
Every limb thrilled with delight as I stretched myself on the 
soft mattress. The sleep which followed was not so sound as 
I could have expected. I had grown so used to the bag of 
skin, with the ice or rock beneath it, that I felt my present 
couch too soft, and I am not sure that, after a while, I did not 
feel a faint longing for the old order of things. 

On the morning of October 4 I was roused from my unquiet 
dreams by the gaze of the Eskimo maid-servant who had come 
with the morning supply of tea and sandwiches. After this 
early meal I got up, and went out to look round the place. 

Down by the beach there was just now a deal of life and 
movement, for a boat's load of seals, which had been caught 
not far off, had just come in, and the so-called " flensing," or 
process of cutting the blubber out, was now in progress. I 
went down with Baumann to study this new phase of life. The 
Eskimo women, with their sleeves rolled up, knelt in numbers 
round the gashed and mangled seal. From some the blood was 
taken, and collected in pails, to be afterwards used in the manu- 
facture of black puddings, or analogous delicacies ; from others 
the intestines were being drawn, or the blubber or flesh being 
cut All parts were carefully set aside for future use. 

After having seen enough of the sanguinary spectacle, and 


I women, as well as the good looks of some among them, we went 
across to see Sverdrup, and, if he were up, to ask him to come 
and have breakfast at the Superintendent's house. 

When we entered, however, we found him already at table 

with his host, Herr Frederiksen, and engaged upon a breakfast 

of roast ptarmigan and other delicacies. I expressed my regret 

that this was the case, as I had hoped that wo should breakfast 

I together. But Sverdrup could see no reason why we should 

not do so still. He was now occupied with his first breakfast, 

certainly, but so good a thing would easily bear repetition, and 

I he expressed himself ready at once to begin again. So he 

I : actually did ; and, as a matter of fact, he made at this time a 

\ regular practice of eating his meals twice over. For three days 

he stood the strain ; but after this he succumbed, and had to 

[ keep his bed for some hours in consequence. It was a long 

1 time, indeed, before any of us returned to decent ways again, 

and were content to take our food like civilised beings. 

In the course of the morning a man was found who was 

J considered equal to the task of carrying our despatches south- 

f wards, and was at the same time willing to undertake the 

j journey. The man's name was David, and he was a resident 

\ of Ny Herrnhut. He was to go to Fiskernaes, a small settle- 

t ment some ninety miles to the south, and there to send the 

■ letters on by other "kayakers." An errand of this kind is 

t usually undertaken by two men in company, as risks of a fatality 

I ire thus much lessened. But as the same David was not afraid 

rf pf the undertaking, and had expressed his readiness to start the 

I same afternoon, I, of course, had no objection to make. I 

I promised him, as well as the others to whom he was to hand 

I che despatches on, extra pay in case they caught the Fox. 

I then wrote a hurried letter to Herr Smith, the manager of 

:he Cryolite quarry at Ivigtut. The Fox being the property 

I }f the company who own this quarry, it lay really with the local 

< manager to decide what course the vessel should take; but I 

nso wrote to the captain of the ship. In both these letters I 

3 A 


asked that the vessel should be allowed to come up to Godthaab 
to fetch us, if possible. I did not propose that she should wait 
at Ivigtut till we could join her there, because, in the present 
uncertain state of the weather, it was quite impossible to calcu- 
late how long it would take us to get the rest of the party fromj 
Ameralikfjord, and cover the necessary 300 miles in open boats. 
As far as we could judge, we could not reckon upon reaching 
Ivigtut by the middle of the month — the date at which the 
ship was expected to sail — and we could not ask her to waitj 
an indefinite time for us down there. On the other hand, ill 
seemed to me that, if she thought of doing anything on ouij 
behalf, it would be to come and fetch us. By these means shel 
could save time, and it would be possible to reckon, with a fail 
amount of accuracy, how many days the voyage to Godthaat 
and back would take her. 

Furthermore, in case my messengers should catch the Fox\ 
but she could not see her way to fetching us, I hastily wrote i\ 
few lines to Herr Game*l, of Copenhagen. 

This letter, and one from Sverdrup to his father, brought t< 
Europe the first news of our having reached the west coast 
Greenland, and contained all that was known of our journey 
for six months. In one respect they hold, perhaps, a somewha 
unusual position, for their postage came to no less than ^17. 

Our messenger promised me that he would start that ver 
afternoon. He did make the attempt, but, as far as I coulc 
learn, was driven back by stress of weather. 

As things were just as bad in this respect when evening 
came, and it was the general opinion that no boat would bJ 
able to make the voyage into Ameralikfjord next day either, th<j 
Pastor proposed that a couple of men should be despatches 
in " kayaks " to take to our companions the news of our saf 
arrival, together with a temporary supply of provisions, witl 
which they could console themselves until the boats could b> 
sent to fetch them away. This proposal I accepted, of course 
most gratefully; and while the Pastor went to secure hij 
" kayakers," two plucky brothers, named Terkel and Hoseas, 


who belonged to Sardlok, but happened at this moment to 

be at Godthaab, the ladies of the colony set busily to work to 

collect a supply of the most unheard-of delicacies. These were 

stowed away in the two canoes, while I supplemented them with 

some simpler articles of food, such as butter, bacon, and bread, 

and last, but not least, some pipes and tobacco. Among the 

latter was a big Danish porcelain pipe with a long stem, and 

a pound of tobacco, for Balto's private delectation — a present 

which I had promised him up on the " Inland ice " on some 

occasion when he had surpassed himself in handiness. As soon 

as the " kayaks " were ready packed, I gave Terkel, the elder of 

> the two brothers, through the medium of the Pastor, an exact 

description of the spot where the others were to be found, and 

I pointed it out to him on the map, which he understood well. 

Next morning, therefore, October 5, three Eskimo left 

Godthaab — two bound for Ameralikfjord, and the third for 

I Fiskernses. The first two, who were excellent hands at their 

I tfork, made good use of their time, and found our companions 

on the morning of the following day. But the latter, who was 

an inferior " kayaker," had to turn back, and was a long time 

; before he finally got off. As far as I could make out, he was 

1 seen hanging about Ny Herrnhut, which was his home, some 

I' days later. 

This same morning, too, a boat for Ameralikfjord made an 

I attempt to start, but only to come back a couple of hours after- 

I wards. As I have already said, these Greenlanders are no great 

f performers with the oar. In the afternoon they had another try, 

H and this time, strange to say, we saw no more of them ; but, as 

we subsequently learned, they got no farther than to an island 

P a little way to the south, where they disembarked, and passed 

[ the next few days in a tent instead of returning, though they 

p were no more than an hour's row distant all the while. There 

I was a very good reason for this odd conduct, as it appeared, for 

had they come back they would have lost all the pay which they 

> ; now managed to put to their credit ; and, besides, they would 

have had nothing like so good a time at home as in their tent 


on the island, and therefore they felt no call to move till they 
had consumed their whole supply of provisions. 

Next day the Superintendent of the colony, Herr Bistrup, 
returned, together with Herr Heincke, the German missionary 
from Umanak, a Moravian station up the fjord, some forty 
miles from Godthaab. The Superintendent had been in 
Umanak, when a "kayaker," who had been sent off from 
the colony, brought him the news of our arrival. He and | 
the missionary had thereupon at once despatched a couple ! 
of men in canoes into Ameralikfjord. They also carried a 
supply of provisions sent by the missionary and his wife, and 
were told to remain with our party, and help them in every 
possible way. 

On October 7, Terkel and Hoseas came back from Ameralik- 
fjord with a letter from Dietrichson, telling us that they now 
felt quite comfortable in there, as they had an abundance of 
provisions, and now knew of our safe arrival at Godthaab. 

Two days later, or on October 9, the weather was sufficiently 
favourable to allow of my sending off an ordinary Eskimo boat, 
which I had borrowed of Herr Voged, the German missionary 
whom we had first met. The crew consisted as usual chiefly 
of women. The same day, too, the first boat, commonly known 
as "the whaler," finally left the island on which its crew had 
hitherto been picnicking. 

Several days now passed, and as we had heard nothing of our 
companions, we began to expect their arrival every moment. 
The Greenlanders in particular were extremely anxious to see 

Like all Eskimo, they have the liveliest imaginations, of the 
fruits of which we had some noteworthy examples. The very 
day after our arrival the strangest rumours were flying about 
among the natives of the colony as to our experiences upon 
the " Inland ice." We were said to have taken our meals in 
the company of the strange inhabitants of the interior, who are 
double the size of ordinary men. We had also come across 
the tiny race of dwarfs who inhabit the rocks in the recesses 


of the fjords. Of the feet of these little people we had seen 
numerous traces in the sand, and we even had two specimens 
of the race in our company. 

On the other hand, it was reported that two of the members 
of the expedition had died on the way ; but of this sad occur- 
rence we, as was quite natural, had no desire to speak. 

At first, indeed, we were regarded as possessing certain 
almost supernatural attributes, and it was feared that we had 
achieved the heroic feat of crossing the dreaded "Inland ice" 
by the aid of means not strictly orthodox. And, therefore, as 
soon as Sverdrup or I showed ourselves in public, the natives 
assembled in their numbers to gaze at us. I, especially, on 
account of my size, was a favourite object of their regard. We 
received appropriate names at once : Sverdrup was called 
" Akortok " — that is to say, " he who steers a ship " ; while 
I was honoured with two appellations — " Angisorsuak," 01 
" the very big one," and " Umitormiut nalagak," which means 
" the leader of the men with the great beards," under which 
description the Norwegians are generally known. 

It had also come to the knowledge of these good people that 
we had two Lapps in our company — members of a race which 
they had never seen. The two " kayakers " who had come back 
from Ameralikfjord had minutely described their meeting with 
the strangers. "There were two men," they said, "of the 
people who commonly wear great beards, and two who were 
like us, but were clad in a wonderful dress." They were thus 
quite acute enough to see that the Lapps, in spite of all dis- 
tinctions, belonged to a race somewhat on a level with them- 
selves, and were widely different from all Danes and Norwegians. 

At last, early on the morning of October 12, the two Eskimo 
who had been sent into the fjord from Umanak arrived with 
a note from Dietrichson, saying that the whole party were now 
on the way. 

The entire colony, Europeans as well as natives, now turned 
out, and awaited their arrival in great excitement. At last we 
could see, by a movement among the "kayaks," which lay 


below us, that the boats must be in sight. Presently, too, 
" the whaler " appeared from behind a projecting point. The 
"kayaks" simply swarmed round her, and we soon caught 
sight of our four companions, seated in the stern, in front of 
the steersman, and already waving their caps in the air by way 
of salutation. It was a little strange to me to see them sitting 
there as passengers, instead of working at the oars. 

The boat came slowly on, with a long string of "kayaks" 
tailing out behind, and soon put in to shore under the flagstaff 
mound, where the four strange beings from the interior landed, 
and were heartily welcomed by the Europeans of the colony, as 
well as by crowds of Eskimo, to whom, of course, they were a 
source of renewed wonder and admiration. The Lapps came 
in for marked attention. The Greenlanders set them down as 
women, because they wore long tunics something like the cloaks 
of European ladies, as well as trousers of reindeer skin, which 
particular garments are only used by the women of the Eskimo. 
Balto seemed to take the attention which fell to his share with 
the greatest complacency and nonchalance. He talked away, 
related his experiences, and was soon on an intimate footing 
with all the inhabitants of the place. Ravna, as usual, went 
his own silent way ,• he came up to me, ducked his head, gave 
me his hand, and, though he said very little, I could see his 
small eyes twinkle with joy and self-satisfaction. 

They were all glad enough to have reached their destination, 
and the announcement that there was a very doubtful prospect 
of their getting home this year did not seem to have much effect 
upon their good spirits. 

Of course, there now followed an interminable series of ques- i 
tions and answers. I will leave chiefly to Dietrichson the| 
task of chronicling the events which occurred after Sverdrup andj 
I parted from the others in Ameralikfjord. 

Chapter XX. 


This short account of the movements of the rest of the party 
after Sverdrup and I set out upon our voyage to Godthaab is 
the work of Lieutenant Dietrichson, who was left in charge of 
the detachment ; but I have also thought it as well to insert an 
extract or two from Balto's narrative : — 

" The task which had been entrusted to us, the remainder of 
the party, was to fetch the baggage, which we had been obliged 
to leave meanwhile up by the ice, down to Ameralikfjord, and 
on September 27 Kristiansen, Ravna, and I set off on our errand, 
leaving the other three busy at their boat. We had about eighteen 
miles to go, but hoped to reach our destination before dusk, as 
we expected to be able to shorten the distance to a certain extent 
by crossing some of the lakes on the ice. The upper lakes indeed 
were just frozen, but the ice was altogether too thin to bear us, 
bo we had to make our way as best we could along the steep 
valley-side and over the rough surface of the moraines, while 
the swollen streams also contributed not a little to delay our 
progress. It was therefore not till half-past seven or so, or 
long after the sun had gone down, that we' eventually came to 
the end of our day's march. After a somewhat primitive and 
miscellaneous supper of fragments we crept into our sleeping- 
bag and spent the night in the open air. 

" The morning of the next day was devoted to arranging and 
packing our goods, so that they could be carried on the back 
with tolerable comfort, and we were not ready to make a start 
till noon. We considered it best to move the things in sections 
and by short stages, and began by conveying our first lot down 



to a certain lake, to which we had given the name of ' Langvand.' 
When we got back to the starting-place we found Balto already 
there. He told us that after a day's work the boat had pro- 
gressed so far that his aid was thought no longer necessary, and 
so he had been despatched to help us. He had taken about the 
same route as that we had followed on the way down, except 
that he had had to go round nearly all the lakes. Langvand, 
however, for the sake of the short cut, he had tried to cross. At 
first the ice was tolerably firm, but in the middle of the lake it 
was so weak that he had had to go on all fours, and even then 
only just managed to get across without going through. 

" Next morning, September 29, we carried our last load down 
to Langvand. Balto again tried the ice and crossed a little arm 
of the lake, going on his ' ski ' and dragging a sledge behind him. 
I was busy making a map of the valley, and as I had fallen a 
good deal behind, I thought I would make up for lost time by 
following Balto's example. So I set off like him on my * ski ' and 
pulling a sledge behind me. When I was half-way across I felt 
that the ice was on the point of giving way under me, but as I 
saw there was a second layer below, I went confidently on. The 
upper layer, however, now grew weaker and weaker, the lower 
came to an end, and the only course left me was to scramble to 
shore by the shortest way. But the ice now refused to bear me 
altogether, and I sank slowly down into the water, ' ski ' and all. 
The ' ski,' however, were luckily not bound fast to my feet, so 
I slipped them off at once and swam to land." 

Balto, who had gone on before and only crossed the same 
ice with great difficulty, thus describes the situation : — " As I 
was afraid that Dietrichson would try and cross this bad ice, 
I pulled out my whistle n — he means by this one of the small 
horns that we carried for signalling purposes — "and ran up on 
to some high ground and blew away. Dietrichson answered at 
once, and I then ran in his direction to see what was going to 
happen. Just as I got down to the lake, he was well out in the 
middle, and I could see that the ice was very weak. So I called 
to lum to come straight to shore, but after a few steps he went 


in through the ice. Then I told him to leave the sledge and 
j ski ' and swim to land, which he did, and when he got out we 
pulled the instruments out of his pockets to prevent them getting 
wetter than was good for them. We were now at our wits' end 
to know how we should get the sledge and ' ski,' and Dietrichson 
wanted to swim out again and fetch them. But I said, ' Don't 
do that, man, you'll freeze to death ! ' and I shouted to Kris- 
tiansen to bring one of the long bamboo poles and a rope. But 
Dietrichson would not wait, and went on to the ice again. He got 
on to a loose piece at once, which tipped up, and he went head 
first into the water once more. Then he swam back to shore 
again. I now ran up on to a hillock and blew with all my might. 
Kristiansen then shouted, * What's the matter?' I shouted back, 
1 Bring a bamboo and a rope ! Dietrichson has fallen into the 
lake, and the sledge is left out on the ice.' Kristiansen was much 
frightened at this ; he thought Dietrichson was drowned, and that 
only the sledge was left on the ice. He came running as hard as 
he could go with the pole and rope, and we drew the sledge and 
gun to shore. We then went on to the place where the others 
had a fire and were making coffee, and where we stopped for the 
night, for Dietrichson of course was quite wet through." 

" After getting the things ashore," resumes Dietrichson, " we 
went on to the others, who were getting a meal ready. A cup 
of coffee and a partial change, for I had not enough for a com- 
plete one, soon made me warm and comfortable again. 

" We now had all our goods collected at this spot, but we 
could see that we should not be able to carry the large loads 
we had brought so far all the way. On the other hand, if we 
took them in three portages, instead of two, we should lose so 
much time, and should not reach the fjord as soon as we wished. 
So I determined to abandon one sledge and one pair of ' ski,' 
and then to make sure that every man had a fair share of the 
weight, I made a pair of scales out of ' ski,' bamboos, and rope, 
and while the others were busy distributing the things equally, 
I went on down the valley surveying for my map in order to 
avoid being delayed by these operations next day. 


" Next morning we started at six o'clock, and after a hard 
day's work got all our things down to another lake, which we 
had called ' Gaasedammen,' or ' Goose Pool,' where we spent 
the night. 

" Next day, October i, after two hours' march, we came to 
a long and steep, but fairly smooth and grassy slope, down 
which our loaded sledges ran capitally. But when we came 
to the river below we met with an unexpected obstacle. The 
volume of water was quite four times as large as it had been 
five days before. Cross it we must, however, as farther down, 
and on the same side on which we stood, it ran close under a 
steep wall of rock quite impassable to us, and furthermore the 
tent and our other things lay on the opposite side. At the 
best wading-place we could find the river was some seventy 
yards wide, and this breadth of water we had to pass three 
times before we conveyed all our loads over. The two Lapps 
kept all their clothes on to protect themselves better against 
the cold water, but Kristiansen and I preferred to divest our- 
selves of trousers and stockings. The stream ran very fast, 
and we had to use our bamboo poles diligently and carefully, 
for had we lost our footing the loads on our backs would have 
made it very difficult to recover ourselves. It was a chilly 
business, indeed, wading this seventy yards three times over, 
and with the water nearly up to our waists. Kristiansen's and 
my legs were simply blue with cold when it was all over, but 
a good rub and our dry clothes soon brought back the warmth 
again, and then we were in better case than the Lapps, who 
had nothing dry to change into. A couple of days later we 
should have found it quite impossible to get our things across 
the river, had it gone on increasing in the same way. 

" Though it was not yet noon, we determined, as there was 
plenty of fuel hereabouts, to light a fire and have our dinner. 
We all felt that some hot soup would be very grateful and 
comforting after our cold bath. 

" At two o'clock in the afternoon of October 2 we reached 
the fjord with our first loads. The rest of the things we left 


where they were for the present, and spent the remainder of 
the day getting the tent in order. The original tent-poles had 
been used for the boat, and we now had to supply their place 
with others. 

" During the six days which had passed since we were here 
last we had been unusually lucky in the weather. The days 
had been bright, but not too hot, and the nights clear, but 
mild enough to make it a simple pleasure to spend them in 
the open air with no other protection than our sleeping-bag. 

" Early next morning, October 3, we were on the move, and, 
after breakfast, we started up the valley to fetch the rest of our 
things. By noon, we had them all down by the fjord, and as 
there was now a prospect of our having to spend some days 
here inactive, we unpacked a number of our goods and made 
the tent and camp generally as comfortable as we could. We 
took stock of our provisions also, and found that, besides a 
good supply of pemmican, we had biscuit for six days and 
pea-soup for five. In the way of fat we had nothing left, and 
our stock of salt had also come to an end. 

" Every day now we might expect to hear from Godthaab ; 
we had even had faint hopes of finding a boat already arrived 
to fetch us when we got down to the fjord with our baggage. 
As yet we had no reason to feel anxious about our two comrades, 
but if another week were to go by without our receiving news of 
them, we should have to try and reach the colony by land, for 
in that case we should be justified in supposing that they had 
come to grief. By that time, too, we should have come to the 
end of all our provisions, except the pemmican, which would 
just suffice for the proposed land journey. 

" Outside the tent we made 'a camp-fire, and lying round it 
enjoyed to the full a hardly-earned rest. The whole afternoon 
we thus spent stretched on the elastic heather, and gloating over 
the thought that our worst labours and trials were over, and that 
we had now a few days of ease and leisure before us. 

" We turned in early, and it was not till late next morning 
that we left the tent again. I spent the first part of the day 


finishing my surveying, and Kristiansen went out with the gun, 
but came back an hour or two afterwards empty-handed. This 
day and the next as well we practically devoted to rest. 

" On the morning of October 6 I started off along the stretch 
of higher ground which ran out into the fjord to the end of the 
river sands, partly to look for a landing-place for the boat we 
expected, and partly to see if there was anything to shoot. When 
I was about half-way to the point I heard a shot. I hurried up 
to the top of the ridge to see who it could be, and soon caught 
sight of two Greenlanders coming up from the water and carrying 
packs on their backs, attached by the peculiar broad forehead- 
strap which the Eskimo use for this purpose. I shouted and 
they stopped, and then came to meet me. As I had, of course, 
guessed, they proved to be two men sent off in 'kayaks' by 
Nansen. A letter they brought told me that he and Sverdrup 
had arrived safely at Godthaab, that he had sent off a temporary 
supply of provisions herewith, that a boat with more things of 
the kind would be soon despatched, but that owing to stormy 
weather no one had yet been found willing to undertake the 

" We three now started for the camp, our way lying over a 
high headland of rock which jutted out towards the river. When 
we reached the top of this I shouted to the others in the tent, 
who all came rushing out and, at once apprehending the situa- 
tion, set up shrieks and cheers of joy. I had gone out to look 
for game, but though I had found nothing I have never in my 
life come back from shooting with a better bag than these two 

" The whole party now gathered round the welcome supplies. 
First I read the letter, which contained nothing but pleasant 
news except the announcement that there was little hope of our 
reaching home this year. But in the first rush of joy we had 
not much room for this disappointment. Then we began to 
unpack, with all the curiosity of children round the Christmas 
tree. We feasted our eyes on the sight of all these good things 
■^bread, meat, coffee, tobacco, and all the rest, and above all 



pon the butter and bacon, for which we simply craved. Cakes 
even and sweetmeats were not wanting, for the Danish ladies of 
the colony had collected for us all manner of delicacies. We set 
to work upon them at once and with unprecedented fury." 

Balto's account of this incident may be added. He writes : — 

" While Dietrichson was out I climbed up on to a crag which 
was 300 feet high. When I reached the top I saw three men 
coming towards me. One of them I knew, for it was Dietrich- 
son, and he had met the two men who had been sent from 
Godthaab to bring us victuals. I ran straight down to the tent 
and told the others that I could see some men coming. They 
would not believe it, but I began to collect dry wood and made 
a fire, fetched some water, filled the coffee-pot, and put it on, as 
I knew these people must have some coffee with them. As 
soon as they all reached the tent Dietrichson began to look at 
what had been sent us. I saw Nansen had sent me a pipe and 
some tobacco, which I caught hold of at once and began to 
smoke, while the others set about eating. We cut slices of bread 
an inch thick, spread half an inch of butter on them, put bacon 
on the top of that, and then we had coffee afterwards." 

"While we were still engaged upon our meal," Dietrichson 
continues, "we heard two or three more shots in the direc- 
tion of the point, and presently two men appeared on the high 
ground above. When they came down they handed us some 
letters, one from Herr Bistrup, the Superintendent of Godt- 
haab ; another from Herr Moller, a Greenlander of the same 
place ; and a third from Herr Heincke, the German missionary 
at Umanak, at which settlement the two former were on a visit. 
Besides these letters they also brought a supply of provisions 
from the Superintendent and the missionary. 

" We asked our new visitors to come into the tent and in- 
spect our arrangements. When they saw the sleeping-bags they 
pointed first to themselves, then to the bags, laid their hands 
on their cheeks, and shut their eyes. Then they pointed to the 
tent and all it contained, pretended to lie down on their backs, 
and finally nodded in the direction of the fjord. From all this 


pantomime we understood that they meant to spend the night 
with us, and that they would conduct us to the colony. The 
provisions they had brought were down by the fjord with their 
canoes, and so Kristiansen and Balto prepared to go and help to 
bring them up. The two Eskimo from Godthaab also made 
signs of moving, and as I managed to get out of them that they 
meant to go back at once, I wrote a few lines to Nansen thank- 
ing him for the supply of provisions and telling him how we 
were getting on. 

" When the new consignment of good things arrived another 
solemn unpacking began. The names of the different things 
were shouted as they were turned out, and as soon as some one 
named spirits, another sugar, and a third candles, we determined 
to make the evening memorable by drinking a bowl of punch 
in the tent. It was already late, and we set to work at once. 
The water was boiled and sugar and spirits added, the latter 
being a luxury which we had not tasted since we left the 
Jason. Our grog did not promise to be of much strength, 
however, for Balto had boiled an absurd amount of water. But 
this was perhaps as well, as the spirits proved to be the ordinary 
Scandinavian ' akvavit,' which is really impossible in combina- 
tion with water, and a stronger mixture would therefore have 
been most undrinkable. As it was we thought it excellent." 

Balto, however, a connoisseur in these matters, reproachfully 
observes in his narrative that " one cannot expect grog to be 
anything but weak when one has to add five bottles of water to 
one of spirits," and that " this did not taste of anything at all." 

" Cigars too had been sent us, and we were soon working 
away at them with a will to make up for lost time. Nansen's 
letter said that he and Sverdrup were living like princes at 
Godthaab, but we were just as well pleased with our fate and 
ourselves in the little tent, and we all agreed that this was 
undoubtedly the pleasantest evening we had spent together. 
There were six of us again in our little dwelling, and as we 
grew lively a bewildering confusion of tongues prevailed. With 
the Greenlanders we managed to carry on a fairly satisfactory 


conversation by means of gestures and the aid of our Eskimo 
dictionary and conversation-book. Our two guests, Peter, a 
seal-catcher from Godthaab, and Silas, a mighty hunter of 
Umanak, were both intelligent and well-informed men, who 
could not only read and write but even draw. Their sketches 
of some of the buildings of Godthaab and Umanak were so 
true that we afterwards recognised the originals at first sight. 

" We enjoyed ourselves so thoroughly that evening that we 
were all loth to go to bed. Eventually Kristiansen, Balto, and 
I packed ourselves into one bag, while Ravna and the two 
Greenlanders occupied the other. Sleep did not come at once, 
however, as our two guests presently set to work to sing hymns. 
They went through three in all, then finished with a prayer. 
This little service was probably due to the fact that the day was 
Sunday, though it may have been called forth by their appre- 
hension at the prospect of a night in the midst of strangers. 

"Next morning Silas went out to look for reindeer. He 
told us that in August last he had some sport among these 
very mountains, but I must confess that I had not much faith 
in his luck when he started off this morning with his rusty old 
muzzle-loader over his shoulder, though at the same time I felt 
a strong temptation to go with him. However, I had settled 
that we would to-day begin to move our things down to the 
extreme end of the point, where was the only available landing- 
place. I did not like to shirk this work, and besides my help 
was necessary because Ravna was now of scarcely any use, as 
during the latter part of the crossing he had rubbed one of his 
feet so badly that he was now almost completely lame. So Silas 
went off alone, and the rest of us began to move the sledges and 
other things that we had no further need of down towards a 
new camping-place at the end of the point. 

" At one of our scanty meals upon the ice we had discussed 
what particular preparation of food would have been most 
welcome to us at the moment. Most of us had given our 
votes for a good bowl of porridge with plenty of butter, and 
this delicacy Nansen had promised £0 treat us to as soon as we 


reached Godthaab. But among the good things now sent us 
was some meal, so we thought we would set about making the 
long-looked-for porridge for this day's dinner. 

"This was in fact our first hot meal since the provisions 
arrived, and after it was over we were lying stretched on the 
grass smoking our after-dinner pipes, when we caught sight of 
Silas at some distance up the mountain-side. He was coming 
down towards the tent and had something large and heavy on 
his back. We scarcely dared think it was a reindeer, but pre- 
sently we saw the horns sticking up above his head, and there 
was no longer room for doubt. We all rejoiced ; the Lapps 
were simply wild with delight at the prospect of again enjoying 
some of their national food, which they had had to do without 
so long. Balto ran to meet the hunter, skipped and danced 
about him, clapped him on the back, and knew not how best 
to express his overflowing joy. 

" Silas soon reached us, and laid down his burden before us 
It was the hide, head, suet, marrow-bones, and one haunch 
that he brought, the rest having been left behind to be fetched 
next day. He distributed the marrow-bones and suet among 
us, and gave us to understand that we must put the pot on at 
once and cook the whole supply. The Greenlanders eat their 
meat quite as willingly raw as cooked, and our two friends had 
already begun their meal. For our parts it was little more 
than an hour since we had eaten our fill of porridge, but never- 
theless we put the pot on at once, and, grouping ourselves round 
it in Lapp fashion, took bit after bit out with our fingers, so 
that by the time the larger pieces were properly done most of 
us were already satisfied. In the evening, however, we set to 
work again and finished our first supply of good fresh meat." 

Balto's recollection of the reindeer moves him to say that 
" from this time things grew brighter, we began to forget the 
hardships we had gone through — the hunger, the thirst, the 
cold, and the desolation of the ice." 

" Next day the two Greenlanders went off to fetch the rest 
of the reindeer, while we moved the tent and our other things 


down to the point in expectation of the boats. Ravna's foot 
was still so bad that he could scarcely manage to climb over 
the high bluff which barred our way. 

"On their return the Greenlanders took the reindeer meat 
down to the spot where their ' kayaks ' lay, and presently made 
their appearance at our new camping-place with a great piece, 
which was put on to boil at once. Peter also presented us 
with a ptarmigan which he had shot. First, however, he took 
the entrails out and devoured them forthwith, to our great con- 
sternation, but his own undisguised delight. 

"Our constant watch for the boats met with nothing but 
disappointment. Hitherto, as I have said, we had had splendid 
weather, but now it began to rain, and at times so hard that 
we were constrained to keep within the tent, I only showing 
myself outside when meteorological observations had to be 
taken. This confinement grew at last very wearisome, and we 
began to await impatiently the hour of relief. On October 9 
there was a fairly strong wind blowing from the east, which 
would delay the boats considerably, and if it went on increasing 
in force, there was a chance of our remaining fixed here for 
some time yet. So in order to provide against a possible dearth 
of provisions, we had to take to limited rations again, though 
there could be no real famine in prospect as long as we had 
the reindeer to rely upon. 

"No pleasanter diversion than a stalk during this period of 
waiting could have been wished for, but all my attempts to 
induce Silas to go with me were in vain. He only shook his 
head and declared the wind to be in the wrong quarter. 

"The last few evenings our two Greenlander guests had, in spite 
of the incessant rain, left us and spent the night down by their 
tjcanoes. I supposed that this was in order to keep watch in case 
the boats should arrive in the middle of the night, but possibly 
ithe motive was sheer modesty and consideration for us, from the 
idea that they were a burden to us, seeing that the boats were so 
long in coming. Even before this they had disappeared from 
the tent once or twice just before a meal was going to begin. 

2 a 


"At last, at seven o'clock on the morning of October n, we 
were awoke by the sound of several shots. We guessed at once 
what they meant, and jumped from our bags and fired in answer 
out of the tent-door. Very soon afterwards we were dressed 
and outside on the look-out for the new arrivals. Presently, 
above a little rise in the ground, we saw one Eskimo head 
after the other appear. We began to count, but their number 
actually baffled us, as they seemed to swarm. Fourteen there 
were in all, men and women, chattering eagerly together as they 
neared the tent. When they reached us one of the party ad- 
vanced, and, in a mixture of Danish and Eskimo, announced 
that they had come with two boats to carry us away. It was 
one Terkel, a smith in the Danish service, who thus acted as 
interpreter. The result of the performance was that we under- 
stood a little of what he said, and he practically nothing of all 
the questions we put to him. We extracted from him, how- 
ever, that they had arrived at the point the night before, after 
having spent five days on the voyage. It was less than sixty 
miles from Godthaab, but there had been a storm on the coast 
outside which had forced them to put in and wait when they 
were only four or five miles from the colony. 

"Often as we had struck our tent and broke up camp, wej 
had never performed these operations so speedily as to-day. 
The things were packed, each of the new-comers took his 
burden, and the whole caravan moved off towards the boats, 
which lay a short half-mile from the encampment. Down at 
the point stood the Greenlanders' tent in which they had spent 
the night. Terkel now informed me that they had run out of 
provisions, owing to the length of their voyage, and asked if we 
would give them something, so that they could make a meal 
before we started, as they had now eaten nothing for a long 
while. They had brought us another good supply, so we now 
had plenty for everybody, and I promised that they should 
have what they wanted, but not till we reached the other side 
of the fjord. It was just now high water, and I feared that ifi 
we delayed we might not be able to get the boats off. 



" The relief party had come in one wooden boat, belonging 
to the Danish Greenland Service, and one ordinary Eskimo skin- 
boat, the property of the German Mission. We embarked in 
the former and stowed our baggage on board the latter. The 
packing seemed likely to take some time, so leaving Balto to see 
that nothing was left behind, the rest of us started and rowed 
across the fjord to look for a convenient landing-place and make 
ready for the distribution of food to the Greenlanders. 

" As soon as the other boat arrived supplies were served out, 
and the natives were presently hard at work upon the long- 
expected food. I have already mentioned that we had seen to 
our astonishment Peter devour the entrails of a ptarmigan. We 
were now introduced to another Greenland delicacy. Silas pro- 
duced the stomach of the reindeer he had shot, and the very 
sight of it made the mouths of his fellow-countrymen water. It 
was then cautiously opened and the contents distributed among 
the party, all of whom, after eating their share with evident satis- 
faction, carefully licked their fingers lest they should lose even 
a stray fragment of the highly prized delicacy. 

" At last we were ready to start in earnest and got under way, 
Peter escorting us and Silas the other boat in their quality of 
'kayakers.' It was not long, however, before our companions 
had to put in to land again. Their boat had now been so many 
days in the water that the skin was soaked to such a degree that 
it was quite necessary to take it ashore and dry it. We therefore 
gave the crew a quantity of provisions and went on our way alone. 

" The weather had grown finer and finer as the day wore on, 
and at noon the sun was shining brilliantly. We lay at our ease 
in the stern of the little white boat, leisurely contemplating the 
grandeur of the landscape round us. Towards evening, as the 
sun sank lower and the mountains thrust their long shadows far 
over the surface of the fjord, the solemnity of the scene seemed 
to inspire even the Eskimo, who had hitherto been so gay and 
lively. The cheerful conversation and merry laughter by degrees 
died away and gave place to absolute silence. Thus we rowed on 
for a long while, with not a sound but the monotonous splash of 


the oars, and not a sign of life to be seen. At last the intensity 
of the silence became too much for the Greenlanders, and with 
an earnestness which seemed the outcome of the surrounding 
nature they broke out into a hymn. This was followed by 
another, and to the accompaniment of their chants we now 
rowed on through the gathering darkness. 

" Except for a break of half-an-hour our crew had been at 
their oars since nine o'clock in the morning. So at eleven we 
put in to land, to give them a well-earned rest, and pitched our 
tents for the night. 

" Though we were up at five next morning, we found that the 
other crew whom we had left behind the day before had been 
astir still earlier. Their boat was already in sight, but only Silas, 
their 'kayaker,' caught as up before we started, and henceforward 
he kept us company as well as our own attendant Peter. 

" We calculated that we should reach the colony somewhere 
about noon to-day. We got under way at six o'clock, and, as a 
nice breeze was blowing from the east, we hoisted sail and 
our boat shot quickly by one little spit of land after the other. 
The wind soon dropped, however, and the crew had to take to 
their oars again. We now left Ameralikfjord and turned north- 
wards among all the islands which lie between it and Godthaab. 
When we came within two or three miles of the colony our 
two ' kayakers ' went on in front to announce our approach. 

" As we turned the point of one little promontory we came 
within sight of a long, low, red house with a little tower and sur- 
rounded by Eskimo stone-huts. This we supposed to be Godt- 
haab, but the boats passed on, and we were told it was the* 
German missionary station, Ny Herrnhut. Another promontory 
was passed, and we saw the settlement itself lying before us. 
There were already a number of people down by the beach, and 
the Danish flag was hoisted as we came into view. We landed 
and were received in the heartiest way by the Superintendent, 
Herr Bistrup, and his wife, to whom we were afterwards indebted 
for so much kindness and hospitality, and by the other Danish 
families, all of whom had come down to offer us a welcome." 

Chapter XXI. 


The first thing to be done, now that we were all together again, 
was to find lodgings for the whole party. It was not yet quite 
certain that we should spend the winter here, but at all events 
we needed shelter for a time. Dietrichson, Sverdrup, and I 
were hospitably received by the Superintendent, while the 
other three were assigned a room in the building known as 
the " Old Doctor's House." Here they cooked for themselves, 
and did their own housekeeping generally. 

The new-comers were, of course, for a long time a source 
of great interest to the Greenlanders. Of their arrival Balto 
writes : — 

" The first evening, all the time we had a light in the room 
— there were no blinds or curtains before the windows — as soon 
as we had a light, there came a crowd of Eskimo girls outside 
the window, and peeped in at us as long as we were up. They 
came every single evening all the time we had no blind to the 

It was not long before we were all on good terms with the 

natives, and made many friends among them. The three in 

the " Doctor's House " had an unbroken stream of visitors, and 

card-playing, fiddling, and talking went on from early morning 

till late at night. Here Balto, of course, was supreme. He 

took upon himself the duties of host, as he would say, " quite 

and altogether alone." He held forth to the devoutly listening 

Greenlanders, partly in his broken Norwegian, to which a 

flavour of Danish was soon added, and partly in excruciating 

Eskimo. He had quickly picked up a number of words of this 



{From a photograph by C. Ryberg.) 



formidable language, and these he twisted and turned to his 
purposes with the greatest confidence and self-satisfaction. 
The subject of his discourse, which was always attended by an 
abundance of illustrative gestures, was at one time our journey 
across " Sermersuak," or "the great Inland ice" — when he 
would describe how we Norwegians, who were evidently, in his 
estimation, the finest of fine fellows, had managed to find our 
way across this terrible desert of snow, where there was no 
coffee to be had and only a pipe of tobacco every Sunday; 
and at another time the frightful perils of the ice-floes, where 
"these Norwegians ate raw flesh, and we Lapps were almost 
(i.e., very much) afraid." 

All this, of course, was highly interesting to the Greenlanders, 
but I think Balto impressed his hearers most when he dis- 
coursed to them of his own native country, and told and showed 
them " how we Lapps drive reindeer," and how " clothes and 
boots are made in the land of the Lapps." Here he was in 
touch with the Greenlanders' own manner of life, and had their 
full sympathy and interest. There are few of them, indeed, 
who understand any Danish or Norwegian, but pantomime is 
a " Volapiik " which is intelligible all the world over. 

Kristiansen, on the other hand, who rarely let his tongue get 
the better of him, assumed a humbler position, and gladly left 
the leading part to Balto. If there was card-playing, however, 
Kristiansen would readily join in, while old Ravna wandered 
silently about, mutely protesting against the whole proceedings. 
Often he would plaintively say to me, "I am an old Lapp, 
and I don't like all these people about." When the room was 
crammed full with smoking, card-playing, chattering Green- 
landers, Ravna would either be sitting up on a bed in a corner, 
looking indescribably miserable, or else he would steal out, and 
go and pay a visit to one of the Eskimo houses, where he was 
always welcome, and where he would take his place upon a 
bench. Here he would sit for hours, gazing at the ground in 
front of him, and saying never a word, and then would go out 
again. Why these visits of his were so highly appreciated, and 



why he went through the performance day after day, is still a 
mystery to me. 

This want of sympathy between Ravna and his younger 
companions is easily to be explained if it be remembered 
that he was an elderly and sedate father of a family, while the 
other two were young and lusty. Not that, as far as I could 

(From a photograph.') 

learn, anything that could shock him was ever done in the 
room. The visitors were of one sex only, for, to avoid possible 
complications, it had been decided that the feminine part of 
the population should not be allowed admittance. 

This rigorous prohibition was not, however, sufficient to pre- 
vent Balto being deeply enamoured of a young Eskimo, who 
was rather attractive than really pretty. Unfortunately, she 


was already betrothed to an Eskimo Catechist, who was now 
stationed at a colony further to the north, and to whom she 
was to be married the following year. This state of things 
was, however, no obstacle to the growth of a pretty platonic 
attachment between Balto and his beloved Sophie. It was 
a romantic story altogether, and Balto was in course of time 
moved to write Sophie a long letter, which a Greenlander 
helped him to turn into Eskimo. In this he told her of his affec- 
tion, explaining that he loved her, but that she must not mis- 
understand his love. He had no intention of marrying her, 
not only because she was already bound to another — this 
engagement, I think I may say with confidence, would as a 
matter of fact have gone little way to deter either of them — 
but because, if he took her with him to the land of the Lapps/ 
she would not be comfortable, as she would never accustom 
herself to the ways of this strange people; while, on the 
other hand, if he were to settle here in Greenland, he would 
always be pining for his relatives and friends at Karasjok. For 
this reason he would now say good-bye to her, and tell her that 
he was very fond of her,' but did not wish to marry her. 

This letter was a great source of joy to Sophie, as well as to 
her mother, who was very proud of the direction which Balto's 
affection had taken. She, indeed, used to say quite openly 
that she would much rather have Balto for a son-in-law than 
the unfortunate Catechist. 

In spite of the letter the two lovers saw just as much of one 
another as before, and when Balto began to talk about Sophie 
his eloquence would rise to its highest pitch. She was not 
like the others, he declared ; she was so modest, so retiring ; 
she never ran up and down the road after the men-folk, as the 
other girls did. When he went away in the spring, I am sure 
he left some portion of his heart behind him. The parting was 
a hard one. On the voyage he spoke of Sophie several times, 
and it was only the fair ones of Copenhagen that completely 
effaced her memory from his mind. 

The first Sunday evening after our instalment at Godthaab 



there was dancing in the assembly-rooms of the colony— that 
is to say, in the cooper's workshop. I hope it is unnecessary 
to say that all the members of our party, except Ravna, were 
present on the occasion, and whenever there was a dance, 
which was not seldom. 

(By A. Block, from a photograph by Carl Ryberg, Inspector of South Greenland.) 

I fear I can scarcely describe how I was impressed the 
first time I saw these Greenlanders dance. The picturesque 
coloured dresses in closely-packed, swaying groups, the grace- 
ful forms in rapid movement, the beaming faces every muscle 


of which was full of life, the boisterous voices, the infectious 
laughter, the nimble little legs and feet clad in boots of white, 
red, or blue, the perfect time which they all kept in their reels 
and other numerous dances — the whole was a scene of teeming 
life and unrestrained enjoyment. 

It was all so new at that time to us wanderers from the 
deserts, so strange and attractive, that we were carried away in 
spite of ourselves. It was as if we had suddenly discovered 
what a spring of pleasure and delight life really contains. 
Among these folk at least joy is not yet a forgotten thing. 

It really does one good to see the way in which they dance 
in Greenland. Here they do it to move their limbs and refresh 
their minds. Here there are no bitter-sweet visages of uncom- 
promising propriety, no misshapen forms or extravagant dresses, 
no bored wearers of black coats, white shirts, and gloves ; none, 
in fact, of all that futility that stalks about a European ballroom 
and takes the place of the Graces and other good spirits that 
should be found there. How these Greenlanders would laugh 
were they to see the funereal performance which we entitle a 
fashionable ball ! 

I need hardly say that we did not remain spectators for long. 
Our absolute ignorance of the dances was no bar, we were un- 
ceremoniously seized and set in motion by the little Eskimo. 
Here there was no modest waiting for engagements; all our 
partners were obviously proud when they could get possession 
of one of us, which was, as a rule, no difficult matter. But at 
the same time they laughed at us most unmercifully when we 
danced wrong or awkwardly, as we all did of course at the 
beginning. For a long time afterwards, indeed, we used to see 
the more mischievous among the girls dancing for the benefit 
of their friends in the road before the houses, and mimicking 
our ways and movements so accurately that we could well 
recognise ourselves as we passed by. These Greenlanders 
have a wonderfully keen eye for the comic side of things. 

We were industrious pupils, however, and after a time one 
or two of us learnt to dance well enough to inspire respect 



The Lapps, however, were quite hopeless. As a people they 
have no dances, and Ravna was not even to be induced to go 
and look on. Balto both looked on and joined in, but he re- 
mained to the very end a simple caricature, whether it was a 

(From a photograph by C. Ryberg.) 

reel or round dance in which he performed. He sprawled and 
jumped about like a man of wood, while the Greenlanders 
laughed at him till they nearly died. This ridicule did not 
deter him in the smallest degree, however. He was only too 
glad to manage the whole concern, to officiate as master of the 


ceremonies, to lead off or arrange a dance, and tell every one 
what he had to do. In the qualities of enterprise and self- 
confidence he was rarely wanting. 

The Eskimo dances are not national. They are for the most 
part reels imported by English and American whalers, but 
adopted with such appreciation by the natives that they have 
become general along the whole west coast, and have in time 
assumed a certain national character. A few round dances, 
such as the waltz and the polka, are also in favour, but they 
are not held so high in estimation as the reels. 

The only Greenlanders who do not dance, or, more strictly 
speaking, are not allowed to dance, are the so-called " German 
Greenlanders," who are members of the Moravian congrega- 
tions. According to the teaching of the Moravian missionaries 
it is a great sin to dance or look at others dancing, and they 
have therefore been narrow-minded enough to forbid these 
poor people to practise one of their few amusements. The 
idea may have been to protect the morality of their charges, 
but as far as I could learn, this does not stand higher among 
the German congregations than elsewhere in Greenland. The 
answer to this might be, however, that the charges dance in 
spite of the prohibition. 

However this be, I feel sure that every one who has wit- 
nessed and taken part in a Greenland dance must see at once 
what a healthy and glorious recreation it is, as well as a most 
attractive sight. Many an evening, too, did we commit the 
sin of taking our enjoyment with these childlike folk, while the 
floor rocked under the rhythmic tread, and the fiddler sat on 
the carpenter's bench, and worked till his strings gave way. 

The first period of our stay at Godthaab was strangely de- 
lightful after our march across the snow. Danes and Green- 
landers alike did all they could to make things pleasant for us, 
and I think we could all say with Balto that we very soon 
forgot " our hard life and all the desolation of the ice." At the 
same time we all grew in bulk to such an astonishing extent that it 
was reported that the difference could be seen from day to day. 


In spite of all this, however, there was one thing which 
prevented our being thoroughly comfortable — the uncertainty 
whether we should be here for the winter or not. None of 
us had much hope that our messenger had caught the Fox, 
but all the same we felt as if we were expecting every day to 
see a ship come under steam and sail inwards from the horizon. 
The presentiment that something might happen was for a long 
time in our minds. 

But the ship did not come, and I had long ago persuaded 
myself that the Fox had never had my message. Sverdrup 
and I, however, had for a time been thinking over another idea. 
There was an old sloop at the colony, belonging to the Green- 
land Trade Service, which was used to take goods to the neigh- 
bouring settlements. Now we thought that, if we could get 
this sloop, it would be an easy matter to put across to America 
and get home that way. This project came to nothing, however, 
because the Superintendent conceived that he had not the right 
to lend this vessel, which, as is set forth in his instructions, must 
not leave the colony except for official purposes, and a voyage 
to America could scarcely be brought under that head. So we 
must needs be content to stay where we were. 

Then one day, while we were sitting at dinner, word was 
brought that there were " kayaks " coming up from the south, 
and soon afterwards a packet of letters was given me. They 
were opened in silent expectation, no one understanding what 
they could be, and our surprise was great when they proved to 
be from Herr Smith, the manager of the cryolite mine at Ivigtut, 
and several of the Superintendents farther south. The first 
letter told me that my messenger had caught the Fox at the 
last moment. The ship had started the day before, but had 
been obliged by stress of weather to seek shelter close by. The 
following day she was just about to weigh anchor, when two 
"kayakers" were seen in the distance paddling at full speed 
and signalling to her to wait. Thus the captain got my letter, 
and was induced to go in to consult with the manager as to 
what was to be done, though in his opinion there could be no 


question of the Fox going up to Godthaab. The two agreed 
that this was impossible, as the captain did not know the water 
and was afraid of the dark nights, while the deciding argument 
was that he had forty passengers on board, men from the mine 
who were on their way home. They dared not run the risk of 
the ship being wrecked up north, and of these men having to 
winter somewhere, as, for instance, at Godthaab. An increase 
of this magnitude to the number of consumers might possibly 
have led to serious consequences in the way of famine. 

The result was that the Fox went off without us, but 
taking my letter to Herr Gam£l and Sverdrup's to his father. 
Thus it came about that the old 'Fox, the same vessel that 
had carried McClintock on his celebrated search for Franklin, 
brought to Europe the first news of our having successfully 
crossed Greenland. 

Had these two Eskimo paddled very little less vigorously, no 
intelligence would have come. But in that case what heroes we 
should have been, and what a welcome back to life we should 
have received, if in the spring we had suddenly risen from our 
laurel-crowned graves in the ice ! It was an unlucky thing 
indeed for ourselves as well as the newspapers. 

With the voyage of the Fox on her way home we need not con- 
cern ourselves, though I may mention as worthy of note that 
she was obliged by want of coals to put in at Skudesnaes, and 
it was therefore my own country after all that received our first 
greeting. As to the arrival of the news in Europe on November 
9, 1888, I need say nothing, but leave it to the reader to supply 
a description which I do not feel myself qualified to give, for 
this reason among others, that I was over in Greenland at the 
time, and little suspected what giants we suddenly became in 
the eyes of the world that day. 

As we now knew that we had no chance of getting home this 
year, we became resigned to our fate, and reconciled to the idea 
of spending the winter where we were. 

As time went on our intercourse with the natives grew closer, 
and the interest we took in them of course increased. It was 



not only the Eskimo of Godthaab and Ny Herrnhut whose ac- 
quaintance we made, but we also paid visits to other settlements 
in the neighbourhood. Thus in the middle of October some of 
us made an excursion in the company of the Superintendent to 
Kangek, some ten miles from Godthaab, and another in Novem- 
ber to Narsak, which lies beyond the mouth of Ameralikfjord. 
I myself spent most of the winter in studying the peculiarities 

(From a photograph taken by the Author at Sukkertoppen.) 

of native life. I lived with the Eskimo in their huts, studied 
their methods of hunting and seal-catching, their customs and 
manner of life generally, and learnt, as far as I could in the short 
time at my disposal, their difficult language, in which latter task 
I received at the outset valuable assistance from the doctor of 
the place. 

Upon the occasion of our arrival a poem was composed by 



Greenlander of the name of Christian Rosing, and published 
in the same " Atuagagdliutit." As it will give the reader some 
idea of modern Eskimo poetry, I insert it here with a translation. 

Angutit arfinigdit 
Norgemit autdlarput, 
Sisamat Norskiussut 
mardluk Lappiussut 
Norskinut ilauvdlutik 
tunumut nhiput, 
sakutitik tamaisa 

Sermfkut ingerdlaput 
ardluatakaralik ; 
kavfinik nungutsiput 
taimaitdlutingme ktsa 

Six men 

Journeyed from Norway ; 

Four were Norwegians, 

Two were Lapps ; 

They sailed upon a Norwegian ship, 

Landed on the eastern coast, 

And carried all their implements 

With them. 

They journeyed across the " Inland ice' 
And suffered much by the way ; 
They had no great store of food 
And only one suit of clothes ; 
Their coffee came to an early end 
And likewise their tobacco. 
And yet they crossed the " Inland ice" 
And reached the western coast. 

Mardluk Nungmut tikiput 
ilatik sisamaussut 
Lappinik tusarpugut 

Two of them came to Godthaab 

Out of Ameralikfjord ; 

They had a boat, 

Which was exceeding strange. 

Four of them 

Had been left behind ; [them ; 

We heard that there were Lapps among 

We longed much to see them. 

Klsame likilerput 

Lappit ilatigdlo, 

asltdlime uvagut 

aterfiorpavut ; 







nfsunik kardlekartok 




taimaingmat kalalerkat 


Chr. Rosing. 

At last they came, 

The Lapps and the other two ; 

We went as usual down 

To the sea-shore to receive them. 

One of the Lapps 

Was somewhat lame ; 

He was very small 

And had a tall, pointed cap. 

The other big one of the Lapps 

Had a four-cornered cap ; 

He had trousers upon his legs 

And a great pelisse. 

He was very kind 

And very talkative ; 

For this reason the little Greenlanders 

Grew very fond of him. 

2 C 

(By A. Block, front photographs.) 

Chapter XXII. 


The Eskimo " kayaks " were, of course, a great attraction to us 
strangers, and as soon as possible I possessed myself of one. 
The necessary balance in this narrow, crank little vessel is 
very difficult for a beginner to acquire. One feels as if he 
were swinging on a knife-edge, and it is very necessary, so to 
speak, to keep your hair parted well in the middle. Yet when 
one sees the Eskimo dancing like sea-birds on the crests of the 
waves the whole performance seems simply child's play. 

As soon as my " kayak " was ready I took it down to the 
shore. I found it no easy matter to force my legs and as 
much else of me as was necessary through the narrow opening 
into the place where I was to sit. This done, I was carefully j 
pushed out into the water, but the feeling that seized me just 
as I left dry land was one of unspeakable insecurity. The 1 
little craft rocked first to one side and then to the other, and 



every moment promised an immediate capsize. It seemed to 
me a simple impossibility that I should ever learn to sit it, 
and I looked with despairing envy and desire at the Eskimo, 
who were of course out to enjoy the sight of Nalagak in a 
"kayak," and were darting hither and thither over the water, 
and throwing their little spears about with as much ease and 
indifference as if they were sitting safe on the floor at home. 


{Payment for this work is always made in coffee.) 

(By E. Nielsen, from a photograph.) 

But practice has a wonderful effect, and after one or two 
outings I began to feel tolerably comfortable. I got on better 
still when I had a pair of outriggers or supports made to help 
me. These are miniature " kayaks," about two feet long, and 
are fastened one on each side of the canoe, just behind the 
seat. They make things considerably easier for the uninitiated 
of course, but the Eskimo themselves rarely use them, and I 
myself abandoned them after a while. 


One day, when I was out shooting, I found myself in the 
middle of a shoal of white whales, which I followed up. They 
took me well out to sea, and in my excitement I did not notice 
that the day was closing in. When at last I turned homewards 
it was already beginning to get dark. Unfortunately, too, be- 
fore I had gone far a strongish breeze from the south got up, 
and as it caught me sideways it made paddling hard work, and 
I did not reach Godthaab till well into the evening. The folk 
there had meanwhile been getting very anxious on my account, 
for all the native " kayakers " had come in a long time ago, 
and the whole settlement was on the move. 

As I passed the last point and entered the bay I thought I 
saw some dark objects against the snow, and heard at the same 
time the sound of childlike voices. I answered with a vigorous 
shout, which at once seemed to turn the whole place into one 
prolonged shriek. Then as I rode on the top of a wave in to 
the landing-place, there came a general rush of black forms 
down the white hillside to meet me. The snow swarmed with 
figures large and small, which pressed round partly to help 
scrape the ice from the canoe, and partly to look upon one 
who had risen, as it were, from the dead. 

This little event Balto describes as follows : — 

"When it began to grow dark, we fell to wondering that 
Nansen had not yet come. We waited for him a good while, 
but he did not appear, and then we all began to be very 
sorrowful. We had heard that he had not gone to Ny Herrn- 
hut, where there was a birthday-party at the missionary's. We 
sent a message, however, to ask, but he was not there, and then 
I stretched myself upon my bed and the tears began to flow. 
Bistrup called all the people of the colony together and told 
them to get ready to go out and look for Nansen. They were 
soon ready, and Dietrichson took a gun, a lantern, and a horn 
to make him hear. Just as they were putting off in the boat 
Nansen came in to shore safe and well. The Greenlanders set 
up a frightful yell, and shouted ' Kujunak, Kujunak, Nansen 
tigipok, ajungilak,' which means 'Thank God, Nansen has 



IDme home ! ' or, ■ Let us give thanks, Nansen has come ; all 
well.' Then my heart returned to its own place, and we 
ere as happy as before." 
After I had been some time practising, and the others saw 
that I got on tolerably well, some of them felt inclined to try 
too. Sverdrup was the first to get himself a "kayak," and he 
soon became very proficient. Balto had begun to express his 
eagerness to try as soon as he arrived at Godthaab, and had 

(By A. Block.) 

asked me whether I thought it was difficult. The Danes oi 
the place meanwhile, none of whom understood the art, re- 
presented to him the danger of it, and told him how many lost 
their lives over it. 

Balto, at no time distinguished for his courage, had given up 
the idea, and quietly looked on while I was out on the water. 
But now that Sverdrup had begun too, the temptation became 
too strong. 


Both Sverdrup and I told him that it was not the easiest 
thing in the world to sit a " kayak," and that he would have to 
mind what he was about. But Balto was just now in a great 
state of elation, and said he was sure he could manage it, as he 
was used to driving a Lapp reindeer-sledge. Sverdrup pointed 
out to him that the two processes were not exactly identical, but 
Balto stood his ground and determined to make the experiment. 
Sverdrup's canoe was carried down ; there were a number of 
spectators gathered round to watch, and I paddled about a little 
way from shore ready to fish him out. 

Balto placed himself in the "kayak," made himself comfort- 
able, and tucked his great pelisse round him. He made all 
his preparations with the most confident air, and evidently in- 
tended to show us what a Lapp really could do when he tried. 
When he was ready he eagerly seized the paddle in both hands, 
and boldly gave orders to push off. 

But no sooner did the canoe touch the water than its steadi- 
ness began very perceptibly to diminish, and Balto's expression 
grew less confident. Yet he was determined to carry it off 
well, and even helped to push the canoe along. At last it was 
so far out that only the point was left resting upon the shore. 
Balto's valour now gave place to the most absolute terror, while 
at the same time the " kayak " slid out into the water and began 
to rock uncomfortably. Then came some desperate flourishes 
with the paddle in the air, which were apparently preparatory 
to strokes in the water ; his face was one picture of horror and 
despair; he made frantic efforts at some unholy ejaculation, 

but no further than the first letter, " D D D j 

could he get. His mouth and the whole concern went under 
together, and his emotion vanished in a simple gurgle. All we 
could see was the bottom of the canoe and his great square cap 
floating on the surface of the water. 

I paddled up, but luckily the water was so shallow that Balto 
could touch the bottom with his hands, and the " kayak " was so 
near the shore that the spectators could pull it and its occupant 
out. Balto was greeted with a pitiless shout of laughter from 



le bystanders, especially the girls. Then he got out of the 

moe, and as he stood there on the rocks, throwing his arms 

id legs about, while the water poured out of his voluminous 

garments, which now hung close and lank about his body, he 

looked for all the world like an ordinary scarecrow. 

The first thing he said was, " Well, I am almost wet." Then 
he reflected a moment, and added with all the fervour of con 



(From a photograph by C. Ryberg.) 

viction, "And I will say that that 'kayak' is a very devil of 
a boat." 

It was some time before Balto tried the "kayak" again. 
Soon after this Dietrichson had one made, and was not long 
in learning the use of it. His success induced Kristiansen to 
try his luck, and even brought Balto to the point once more. 

Both of them set to work to build their own vessels. The 


Greenlanders helped them with the frames, and they were 
then covered with skin, as usual by the Eskimo women. As 
soon as they were ready both the beginners set about practis- 
ing vigorously. Balto's experience had, however, made him 
cautious, and he had the outriggers put on at once. Kris- 
tiansen was more reckless, and frightened us all by starting 
without these supports and going right out to sea. But, for 
the first time, he got on surprisingly well. 

Towards the end of the winter all the members of our party, 
except old Ravna, were often to be seen out in their " kayaks " 
after sea-birds. 

There are not many seal about in the winter, so it does not 
pay to go after them for mere amusement. We found the birds 
better worth our attention, and the flight-shooting of the eider- 
duck was especially attractive. In the earlier part of the wintei 
this generally goes on in the evenings, when the duck come 
flying in large or small flocks along the shore on their way into 
the fjords. The "kayaks" are drawn up in line, especially 
just off the promontories. It was quite exciting work to lie 
there in wait for the duck, and reminded me of the flight- 
shooting at home when the woodcock come back in the 
spring. One's eyes are turned southwards, whence the duck 
should come. Suddenly you see the man in the furthest 
canoe stoop forward and paddle away as hard as he can go, 
while the rest of the line meanwhile dress up to him. Then 
he stops, there is a moment's waiting, and then come a flash 
and a report, which are taken up by the next, and so follow 
down the line. You see a dark mass to the south of you 
silently skimming the water. You bring your canoe up a bit 
to get better into range; you put your paddle in under its 
strap and get your gun ready. By this time you can dis- 
tinguish every bird. Just as they sweep by you, you let fly 
into the thickest part of the flock, and if you are lucky you get 
a couple or more to your shot. Then you load again, gather 
up your birds, and wait for the next flight. So you go on till 
it is dark, the line of "kayaks" shifting backwards and for- 


wards just as the duck happen to fly close to or further from 
the shore. 

This shooting needs a considerable amount of skill, for the 
duck fly strongly, and a good command of your canoe is neces- 
sary if you are to keep within range and shoot tolerably straight. 
Many of the natives are amazingly good hands at it The 
quickness with which they bring the canoe up to the point, 
secure the paddle, and get the gun to the shoulder, as well as 
the accuracy of their aim, even if they have only one bird to 
cover, is enough to secure the admiration of the best of shots, 
especially as the little boats in which they sit are the whole 
time bobbing up and down upon the waves. 

(From a photograph by C. Rybcrg.) 

Chapter XXIII. 


In due time Christmas came, in the keeping of which the 
Greenlanders cannot be said to be far behind the rest of the 
world. The preparations begin months before; the women 
have their hands full with the making of any amount of fine 
new clothes, tunics, breeches, and boots, all with the most 
garish decorations. The whole family, from the youngest 
children to the aged grandparents, must appear as smart as 
possible, and in new things from top to toe. 

The young unmarried women, of course, are the most ex- 
travagant. If they belong to the more well-to-do families, who 
are employed by the " Service," the parents will generally have 



ordered something from Copenhagen for the occasion ; some- 
thing really good, better than anything the colonial store sup- 
plies, of silk may be, though it is even said that some have 
had velvet imported for them. In this new finery, which is 
generally made up in secret, these girls suddenly appear on 
the festal day, each one more irresistible than her neighbour. 

If women are in the habit of talking about dress and decora- 
tions elsewhere in the world, the Christian Greenlander is bv 

{From a photograph by C. Ryberg.) 

no means behind her sisters. But I cannot deny that she really 
does look bewitchingly attractive at Christmas-time in her 
picturesque Eskimo costume. I fear a competition would 
not always prove the superiority of her rivals across the sea, 
in spite of all their European advantages. 

But it is not only dress that engages the attention on the 
approach of Christmas. With the idea of simply revelling in 
creature-comforts, the Eskimo saves up his money, so far in- 
deed as he can contrive to do so, for a long while before. If 


he has no money when the season comes, why, he simply 
raises it by selling one of his chief necessaries. It has been 
no uncommon practice to take the down out of the coverlets 
and sell it to the Trade for the purpose of buying some luxury 
or other. The thriftless one must then, of course, lie and 
shiver under nothing but cotton for the rest of the winter. 
The first thing of all that there must be an abundance of is 

So it will be seen that our great festival has not been im- 
proved in character by its transplantation to Greenland soil. 
It is, in fact, here as elsewhere, the despair of the father and 
the ruin of the stomach. It brings a transitory joy perhaps, 
but one that is followed by a more permanent privation. It is 
needless to say that an institution of this nature is thoroughly 
appreciated by the Eskimo, who has made the Christian precept, 
" Take no thought for the morrow," pre-eminently his own. 

In our host's house the usual preparations were also in full 
swing. Our hostess, Sverdrup, and Dietrichson had long been 
busy making bags, baskets, and other receptacles of coloured 
paper, while the Superintendent himself was at work upon a 
Christmas-tree, which he constructed by fastening branches of 
Greenland juniper into a piece of wood which did duty for 
a stem. 

On the morning of Christmas Eve this tree was dressed. 
At two o'clock there was a grand ceremony in the church. 
The children were to be catechised, and no Eskimo could fail 
to be present at so amusing a function. As soon as this was 
over the children, in accordance with old custom, rushed one 
and all across to the Superintendent's to receive each his bag 
of figs. These they carried home, and then they presented 
themselves at our rooms to receive another supply. There 
was a regular stampede of all these little skin-clad creatures. 
All who could walk came by themselves ; those who were too 
young were carried by their mothers, while the smallest of all 
appeared by proxy. 

At five o'clock theie was choral service in church. Hymns, 


written in or translated into Eskimo by the " catechists," were 
sung by a large choir of natives, who had surreptitiously been 
practising a long while before. The performance impressed 
one by its charm of simplicity, and the melodies were fresh 
and cheerful. An elderly half-civilised Greenlander, who never 
hid his light under a bushel if he could help it, declared that 
the singing was not so good as when he had a hand in it, but 
it was " very pretty " all the same. It reminded one so much, 
he said, of a gull-rock, where the birds are always flying up and 
down and screaming. 

After supper at the Superintendent's, to which all our party 
were invited, the tree was lighted and general excitement pre- 

Just as the merriment was at its highest the door opened 
and a great round head with a huge shock of hair appeared. 
This was part of our friend Joel, who had come to inquire 
about a bottle of beer he had received from the Lapps in 
exchange for some eider-ducks, but which he had left behind 
with something else when he went to pay a visit to the doctor 
on the chance of getting a dram or two in honour of the occa- 
sion. As far as this errand went he seemed to have been 
eminently successful. He set us all laughing at the lively 
gestures by which he described that everything had disappeared, 
and that he had found " Bovase nami, mitit nami, elisa nami, 
damase nami ; " that is to say, " No bottle, no duck, no fishing- 
line, no anything." He was, however, soon consoled with 
another bottle of beer. His astonishment, and the glitter of 
his dark eyes, which turned to two bright round beads, when 
he saw the Christmas-tree and all the lights and decorations, 
were most amusing to see ; but the wildness of his delight was 
still greater when he was given some bags of sugar-plums. As 
rich as Crcesus and far happier, he reeled off across the rocks 
to join his charming consort at Ny Herrnhut. 

On Christmas morning, about six or seven o'clock, just as I 
was sleeping my sweetest and fancying myself back at home, 
the songs of children were suddenly wafted through the air and 



took their place in my wandering dreams. The sound grew 
louder, and I woke to hear the carolling of a large choir in the 
passage outside our door. They had been singing at the Eskimo 
houses all night long, and had now come, faithful to tradition, 
to wake the Europeans of the place. I allow that the custom 
is charming, and that I had never been woke in so pleasant a 

(By E. Nielsen, from a photograph.) 

way before ; but I must add that when the strains had ceased, 
and the choir departed to sing at other doors, I gently dozed 
off again to pick up the lost thread of my interrupted dream. 

When I went into the kitchen that morning I found Balto 
there haranguing the girls. He was holding forth at length on 
the virtues of the Eskimo Christmas, which he had found " very 


jolly." He was fluent as usual. He had been wandering from 
house to house the whole night ; and what a place it was for 
coffee ! It was not yet ten o'clock, and he had had twenty- 
four big cups already " that morning." As his eyes and speech 
showed, something stronger than coffee had also been exhibited, 
but this was not mentioned. He had never had such a Christ- 
mas before ; it all really was "very jolly." 

Soon after noon the adult Eskimo of the place, men and 
women alike, came round as usual to all the Europeans, to 
shake hands with them and wish them a merry Christmas. 
To this greeting it is only necessary to answer " Itlidlo," or 
f The same to you," but even this gets somewhat monotonous 
when it has to be repeated to fifty people or more. 

At three o'clock the leading natives — that is to say, the 
" catechists," the printer, the men employed by the "Service," 
and the seal-catchers — were invited, together with their wives, 
to an entertainment of chocolate, coffee, and cakes at the 
Superintendent's. They came in their best Christmas array, 
paid their respects to the host and hostess, and ranged them- 
selves in silence along the walls. It was a very solemn per- 
formance, but that is not to be wondered at, since these poor 
folk were now in the state apartment of " the Merchant," one 
of the highest in the land. Presently, however, the refresh- 
ments had their usual effect, and the gathering assumed a more 
genial tone. One of the men, who had been in Copenhagen 
and wished to show his fellow-countrymen how things were 
done in the great world, went up to one of the more prominent 
of the native ladies and offered her his arm with an awkward 
bow. She, of course, did not understand the manoeuvre, and 
he was obliged to drag her away by force in order to conduct 
her, as he said, to a worthier place further up the room. When 
he had accomplished this he turned to me to explain how 
stupid his compatriots were, and how often they had to be 
instructed how they should behave in polite society. " Now," 
he went on, " suppose you take my wife and lead her up to a 
more honourable place." I thanked him for the great compli 


ment he was paying me, and deplored that I did not feel myself 
at all worthy of the distinction. The man had evidently had 
a little more than was good for him. He was one of the few 
Greenlanders who are so far trusted that they have spirits given 
into their keeping on such occasions. He was celebrating the 
festival by indulging himself as long as his supply lasted. Every 
night he was quite unmanageable, and his nice little wife had 
to leave the house or sleep in the garret, though she had taken 
all possible precautions beforehand, by making signs and 
binding amulets under the seats of the chairs, with a view to 
charming her husband into a gentle drunkenness, as Eskimo 
superstition ordains. 

At last the guests took their leave, and went off on their 
Christmas pilgrimage to another house, there to begin the 
festivities again. 

Two days later the Superintendent gave another entertain- 
ment to the employes in the " Service " and the leading seal- 
catchers. On this occasion rooms were borrowed in the 
hospital, and there was a great supply of pea-soup, bacon, salt 
reindeer, and stewed apples; spirits were not wanting, and 
afterwards came punch, coffee, and cigars. On such field-days 
the combatants come armed with plate, cup or bowl, spoon, 
and some vessel for the punch. All that a man does not eat 
of his ration he carries home to his wife and children, who, 
indeed, often put in an appearance at the meal itself to make 
their share secure. 

This entertainment came to an end in the course of the 
evening, and the company then adjourned to the cooper's 
workshop for further jollification. 

{By the Author.) 

Chapter XXIV. 


February 6. — I am now living half underground in an earth- 
hut, which is so low inside that I can scarcely stand upright. 
As in all Eskimo houses, the entrance is a long passage, which 
is so small that one is almost obliged to go through it on all- 
fours. Outside the snow is deep enough to bury the hut. All 
that is to be seen is part of the window, which is kept as clear 
as possible, and the hole which serves as entrance to the above 

I had long had it in my mind to pay a visit to Sardlok, 
and as the doctor, one day in January, was coming out here 
to see a sick man, I started off at the same time in the com- 
pany of JoeL 


The distance is thirteen or fourteen miles : my arms were 
not quite used to the exercise, and the cramped position which 
the "kayak" entails upon one tired me considerably before I 
reached my journey's end, and as the afternoon went on I began 
to long for Sardlok. In Joel, however, as the reader will sur- 
mise, I had a cheery companion. At one time he sang songs, 
" Den evig glade kobbersmed " among them of course ; at an- 
other he gave me any amount of unintelligible information about 
the places we passed ; then whenever he saw a flock of eider- 
duck come flying by he made desperate attempts to get his gun 
out, which he only did once in time, and then he shot wide. 
Then, again, he would grunt out that he must go ashore to empty 
his canoe, and would paddle off as if his life depended on it 
The little vessel was half full of water indeed, as, like the rest 
of him, it was in very bad repair and leaked unmercifully. 

Jt was a dark evening : the " Saddle " and other peaks rose 
menacingly above us and shut in the east side of the fjord ; 
over our heads the net of stars shone brilliantly, and while we 
worked along silently side by side there was no sound to be 
heard save the splash of the paddles and the rippling of the 
water against the sides of the canoes. 

At last we rounded a point, saw a friendly light shining to 
greet us, and found ourselves at our destination. The doctor had 
arrived a little while before. The passage of the narrow little 
tunnel, the entry into a small but cosy room like this, and the 
welcome of Eskimo hospitality, all have attractions of their own. 

I am staying in the house of Johan Ludvig, an old "cate- 
chist." Its other occupants are his wife, one daughter, and 
two sons. Johan Ludvig told me with obvious pride that his 
grandfather was a Norwegian, and had been renowned for his 
gigantic strength. He has himself been a clever seal-catcher 
in his day, but he goes out no longer, as he is more than 
seventy years old. He has had several sons, who have done 
him credit, though two of them were lost in their "kayaks." 
The youngest, who is now at home, a boy of eighteen, is no 
seal-catcher. His parents are afraid to let him go out. 



It is no active life I am leading here ; in fact, I am fast turn- 
ing Eskimo. I live as the natives do, eat their food, and am 
learning to appreciate such dainties as raw blubber, raw halibut- 
skin, frozen crowberries mixed with rancid blubber, and so on. 
I talk to the people as well as I can, go out in my "kayak " 
with them, fish, and shoot on land and water. In fact I begin 
to see that there really is nothing to prevent a European turning 
Eskimo if he only have his time before him. 


{From a photograph by C Ryberg. ) 

One cannot help being comfortable in these people's society. 
Their innocent, careless ways, their humble contentment with 
life as it is, and their kindness are very catching, and must clear 
one's mind of all dissatisfaction and restlessness. 

My original idea had been to do some reindeer-stalking, and 
I went out one day on " ski," but as there was not even a track 
to be seen I have done nothing more in that way. My chief 


amusement is to go halibut-fishing. Pulling up these huge, 
strong fish, which are big enough to upset a boat, from a little 
canoe is the best sport in the way of sea-fishing that I have yet 
come across. 

To begin with, one may wait half or even the whole day and 
not get a bite. This is no pleasant work in thirty or forty degrees 
of frost, with a bitter north wind blowing, and perhaps in driv- 
ing snow. Care has to be taken or some part or other of the 
face will be caught by the frost. 

But if the bite does come at last, all hardships are forgotten. 
At first, as a rule, there is no violent tug, but the line is drawn 
down by a slow and irresistible force ; then come some distinct 
jerks ; the paddle is slipped under its strap, 1 you take the line 
in both hands and pull as hard and violently as you can ; then 
you feel if the fish is still on, and if he is you go at it again. You 
tug and tug and tug again, time after time, for it is necessary to 
get him well hooked. You look like a lunatic all the while this 
is going on, but if one has to transmit the jerks the whole length 
of a hundred fathom line it is indispensable to put one's back 
into the work. 

At last you have him fast and you begin to haul in. It is a 
slow business, as the fish resists and the line is long, and the strain 
tells on the arms. The line is coiled up on the " kayak " mean- 
while, and drenched with water from time to time to prevent its 
freezing into a mass. In case the fish should make for the bottom 
again and take all the line out, you throw the bladder which is 
fastened to the end out to the side; if he does do this you simply 
follow the bladder, which remains on the surface, and take the 
line up again when he is more exhausted. 

The length of one of these lines is extraordinary. At last the 
end comes ; you can see the, cord twisting with the fish's move- 
ments. The resistance increases, and it isall you can do to pull; 

1 It is passed through certain straps which are fixed to the " kayak " just 
in front of the occupant, and then projects from the vessel laterally. The 
blade thus lying on the water of course very much increases the steadiness 
of the canoe. 



hand over hand, however, the line comes in ; the sinking-stone 
appears, and then a huge head rises above the water with a mouth 
and eyes that are enough to make your blood run cold. You 
seize the club which lies behind you and give him a couple of 
prodigious whacks in the region of his brain, but with a desperate 
effort he drags his head under water and with the speed of light- 
ning darts off to the bottom again. Woe betide you now if you 

-- -griN 

(By A. Block, after a rough sketch by the Author.) 

have not your line clear and it hitches anywhere ; you are upside 
down before you know where you are. As the fish reaches the 
bottom the pace slackens, and you can begin to haul in again. 
A second time you get him up, and perhaps a second time he 
returns to the depths. To pull a big halibut up three or possibly 
four times from a hundred fathoms of water is fairly exhausting 
work. When you really have him in hand at last you give him 
a few well-directed blows, which make him somewhat quieter ; 


then you let fly at him as hard and fast as you can manage 
perhaps he makes one or two more despairing attempts to break 
away, but as the blows shower down upon him he gradually grows 
stupid and inactive. Then you drive your knife into his brain 
and spine till he is as dead as you can manage to make him for 
the time being. You now attach the bladder to his mouth to 
make him float, and tow him ashore in order to fasten hirri 
properly to the canoe. 

While I was at this work one day I found I had got both cheeks, 
as well as my nose and chin, well frozen. However, by rubbing 
them with salt water and ice, of which there was plenty on the 
"kayak," I succeeded in reviving them and preventing further 

To get your fish to land you take the line between your teeth 
and then paddle away. I must confess that I found this towing 
the least agreeable part of the whole business. Every time the 
canoe is carried on the top of a wave you are suddenly pulled 
up by the line with a jerk almost hard enough to wrench your 
teeth out. This is a difficulty, perhaps, which does not present 
itself to the Eskimo, whom nature has provided with teeth so 
strong that he can easily pull nails out with them. 

When you have brought your fish ashore you tie him fast to the 
side of the canoe, with his head foremost, so that he is as little 
drag upon you as possible. To arrive at Sardlok with one of 
these huge fish in tow, and to be received on the beach with 
the same beaming welcome that awaits every one who brings in 
a catch, was an experience which recalled the triumphant return 
home with one's first game in the days of childhood. 

This fishing is a sport well worthy of the name. The fish 
weigh from two to four hundred pounds, and they make good 
food at a time when there is little else to be had. On two 
which I caught we lived, five of us, for nearly three weeks, and 
ate scarcely anything else the whole time. 

One day as we were out fishing in still, calm weather, the 
sky suddenly darkened to the south. We knew the wind was 
coming, and gathered up our lines with all h?ste. But before 


we were ready the storm was upon us, first with a few pre- 
paratory gusts, and then in all its wild fury. The sea flew 
black and white before it, the calm surface was soon one sheet 
of foam The current and the wind met here ; the green waves 
broke in crests of white spray, and the canoes were lost to each 
other in the hollows. We had to make for shore to save our 
fish and ourselves, and we paddled away as fast as we could 
go with the sea on our beam. 

An occasion like this, which was, of course, a regular ex- 
perience of the Greenlanders, had all the charm of novelty to 
me, and my mastery of the " kayak " was put to a hard test. 
You have to keep a sharp eye on these big breaking seas, fot 
if one of them catches the canoe before the paddle is well out 
on the lee-side there is every chance of its occupant going to 
the bottom for ever and a day. 

When we reached the shore we kept along it under shelter. 
Then we ran northwards fast before the wind, and now the 
u kayak " was even harder to manage than before. The big 
seas came rolling up from behind, and it was no easy matter 
to keep an even keel. As the wave comes you give a couple 
of powerful strokes and let the paddle float out to the side. 
Then the stern is lifted high in the air and you lean hard back. 
As the wave breaks you feel a heavy blow on the back, while 
the spray showers round you, and you seem to fly through space 
on the foaming crest. Then it rolls by you, you sink into the 
hollow, and with a few more vigorous strokes you ride again 
on to the back of the next wave. 

I had a good companion and instructor in Eliase, who kept 
the whole time as close to my side as the sea would let him. 
Now he would shoot past me on the top of one wave, and then 
I would ride by him on the next. It was a dance with the 
waves and a game with danger. 

Presently the shore turned westwards and again offered us 
shelter. But first there was a belt of ice to pass, and it was 
necessary to bring the canoes through without getting them 
crushed between the moving floes. We found an opening and 



seized the opportunity, and with a few quick strokes sailed 
through on the top of a sea. 

Terkel, the leading seal-catcher of Sardlok, and his brothei 

(By A. Block, from a photograph by C. Ryberg.) 

Hoseas, were of our party. They each had a halibut in tow, 
and came into shelter a little while after us. We hoped that 
while the fish were being lashed fast and other preparations 
were being made the wind would drop. But it was equally 


strong when we started again for Sardlok. We had it all 
behind us, however, made a good passage, and were soon safe 
at home. 

I am often asked out to eat halibut in the other houses, 
generally just after I have had my fill of it here at home. But 
I have to go from one to the other and continue eating as long 
as my system will consent to be imposed upon. I go most to 
Terkel's, which is the biggest house in the place. The other 
evening as I sat there I witnessed a very comical performance. 
Hoseas' son, a little boy rather more than twelve months old, 
was dancing the "mardluk," a kind of reel, with Terkel's 
daughter, a child of three. The boy had nothing but his shirt 
on, which reached about half-way down his stomach ; his arms 
were held out stiff like pump-handles ; with an air as grave 
as any professor's he went through his steps. First he hopped 
on one leg and then on the other, then he twirled round, and 
all was executed in perfect time with the singing of the air, and 
with the same grave contemplation of his partner. She was 
a pretty little girl, was dressed just like a woman, and had her 
hair tied on the top of her head in the orthodox way, and an 
arch, coquettish look on her face which suggested that this was 
not the first time she had been in masculine company. The 
whole sight was enough to make a hermit laugh. The Eskimo 
children are precocious indeed. 

On February 14 I went back to Godthaab, having already 
been at Sardlok nearly a month. We were a party of three, 
Hoseas joining Joel and me. All our " kayaks " were well laden 
with halibut, birds, and such things, and very inopportunely a 
strongish west wind sprang up on the way. As long as we kept 
close under the western shore we did well enough, but when we 
were about to cross over to Godthaab things grew worse. The 
further we got out the bigger the waves became, and we quite 
disappeared between them. As it came on to snow, too, and 
we could see nothing, the Eskimo began to hesitate, and called 
to me to turn back and shelter under the land again. I thought 
we could find our way across well enough in spite of the snow, 



and wanted to push on. So we went on for a while, with the 
waves rolling in on our quarter; but things grew worse and 
worse, my companions would listen no longer, and turned to- 
wards shore without waiting for my consent. So we worked 
back against the wind, and lay in shelter to see if the weather 
meant to improve. Meanwhile we landed a good deal of our 
cargo, and packed it away under stones and snow, so that we 
could fetch it next day if the weather were better. It is bad, of 


(By Th, Holmboe,from a rough sketch by the Author.) 

course, to have too much on the canoes in a sea, as they capsize 
so much the more easily. A little later, as the snow cleared off 
and the wind dropped a little, we went on our way again, and 
got safely across to Godthaab. 

I came out to Kangek on February 17. It is a good place 
for practice in the " kayak." The current is exceptionally fast, 
and off the headlands and between the islands it runs like a 
river. Where it meets the great waves coming from the open 
sea they rise and break like the surf over a sunken rock. So 

it is 



is no wonder that the natives of Kangek are the cleverest 
i kayakers " hereabouts, and I doubt whether there are better 
in all Greenland. They get their living in the open sea at the 
risk of their lives, and though many are lost they go out calmly 
to their daily task. It is a pleasure to see them on the great 
sea-waves, riding them like horses, while the foam floats round 
them like a long white mane. There is scarcely a sea they can- 

(By A. Block, after a rough sketch by the Author.) 

not ride ; if a wave presses them too hard, they fasten the paddle 
under the strap on the weather side, stoop down, and let it roll 
over them. Or they lay the paddle out flat, and as the wave 
breaks throw themselves into its very jaws, and so lessen the 
shock, rising again on the paddle when all is over. I have 
even been told that really masterly " kayakers " have a prettier 
manoeuvre still- When a sea is so heavy that they think they 



cannot manage it in any other way, they capsize at the moment 
the wave breaks, and let the bottom of the canoe receive the 

The blow such a wave can give must be very severe. I have 
heard of a man who was struck by the full force of a sea, which 
bent him down in the canoe and wrenched his back so badly 


CATECHIST" and seal-catcher of kangek. 
(From a photograph by C. Ryberg.) 

that he became a cripple for life ; and yet he was not upset. 
The presence of mind and command of their little craft that 
these men can show is simply marvellous. 

A skilful seal-catcher from Karusuk, Anton by name, came 
out to Kangek one day in his canoe. There was a high sea 
running, and as he did not know the water he was carried by a 
big wave over a sunken rock and there left high and dry. Here 


another sea rolled in upon him ; he thought all was over, but 
bent forward and held his paddle fast, while the wave floated 
him clear and left him riding as gaily as before. 

The sport I cultivate most here is eider-duck shooting. One 
of the best places is a small group of islands known as Imerigsok. 
Far out on the sea side of these the birds are especially abundant, 
but here there is always a swell and the current runs fast, so that 
for a new hand the shooting is difficult. But on the whole it is 
the best form of sport that I have yet had in the " kayak." 

Here the method is different from that practised at Godthaab, 
as we paddle about to find our duck. When you catch sight 
of them you work well off to windward before you bear down 
on them. As a rule you cannot get very close in, but as they 
must rise against the wind they are generally forced to fly by 
you within range. But the thing is to get your canoe into the 
right position to give you a shot. As the " kayak " does not 
give one much turning room, a man who does not shoot from 
his left shoulder cannot cover his right side, but must be con- 
tent with straight ahead or left side shots. So, as the duck 
rise, and you see which direction they are going to take, you 
swing the canoe round if necessary, fix the paddle, slip your 
right mitten off, fetch out the gun and bring it to your shoulder ; 
but if you are to have any chance of dropping your bird this 
must all be done in an instant. And if there is any sea running 
you must be so thoroughly at home in the canoe that you can 
handle your gun with as much certainty as if you were ashore, 
to say nothing of keeping your balance at the moment of firing. 

Many of the Kangek men are masters at all this, and I have 
seen them, in a heavy sea, bring their half-score birds down 
without a miss. Now and then I have met out at sea a man 
of the name of Pedersuak — that is to say, " the great Peter " — 
and we have generally gone on in company. Sometimes we 
have tried our skill together, but as he is an excellent shot at 
these birds I have come off second best, much to his amuse- 
ment and satisfaction. 

One dav when we were together two duck came sweeping by 



us down the wind They were out of range for me, but were 
making for Pedersuak. I shouted to him and he saw them, 
but quietly let them pass him. I could not understand what 
he meant, but presently he raised his gun and brought them 
both down. He explained to me afterwards that he had only 
waited to get them in line before he fired. I thought it was 

(From a photograph by C. Ryberg.) 

simply a fluke, but we had not paddled far before two more 
duck came by, and still better within my companion's reach. 
He fixed his paddle and held his gun ready, but did not fire. 
Then, when they were a long way past, the report came and both 
birds fell. I have often witnessed this performance, and have 
even seen three birds brought down at one shot in the same way. 
These folk have only muzzle-loaders, but they use heavy 


charges, and shoot at what we should call absurdly long dis- 
tances. I have often been out with them and have let birds 
pass me as being out of range, while an Eskimo by my side 
has not hesitated to fire, and has, moreover, brought off his 
shot The loading of these guns when the sea is breaking 
over the " kayak " is not easy. The natives put the butt of 
the gun forward on the canoe, and hold the muzzle against 
the face, or rest it on the shoulder, while they take out powder, 
cap, and wadding, which they always carry in their caps to 
keep them dry. In this way they manage to load in almost 
any sea without getting water down the barrel. There is a 
special bag to contain the gun on the canoe in front, so that 
it is always ready to hand. 

Another way of getting these birds, which is really better 
sport still, is spearing them with the dart ; but it is exceedingly 
difficult, and needs a great deal of practice. Here, again, the 
Kangek people are supreme. It is truly delightful to see the 
darts fly from the throwing- stick as if they were shot from a 
bow, and birds hit from the same distance at which one would 
fire with a gun if they were lying on the water. I understand 
that birds are even killed flying in this way. It is the auk 
especially that they use their darts upon, and in November 
ind December, when these birds are most plentiful, though 
they have no more than one or two of these little weapons 
lying before them on the " kayak," they come home often with 
a bag of sixty or seventy. This is more than one can get with 
a gun, which frightens the birds a long way round, while by 
the dart only the very nearest are disturbed. 

While I have been here this sport has not been very good, 
as the birds are said to be shyer now the sun has got so high. 
Yet the men will bring home twenty, which have been killed 
in the course of the morning, all by the strength of the arm 
and an instrument made of wood and bone. Where, then, are 
the great advantages which our firearms were to bring these 
people ? The advances of civilisation are not always so huge 
as we are often ready to imagine them. 



After spending three weeks at Kangek I returned, and on 
the home journey fell in with a good instance of Greenland 
superstition. When I reached Godthaab I was received as 
usual on the beach by a number of fair Eskimo. I must have 
been more surly and taciturn than usual, possibly because I 
was tired from having paddled about among the islands after 

(.From a photograph by C. Ryberg.) 

birds the whole day. But the Greenlanders at once came to 
the conclusion that I had come across a horrid big ogre qi 
supernatural being named "Tupilik," because of his tent-like 
shape, who haunts some of the islands, and has the uncomfort- 
able habit of displaying himself to solitary "kayakers" who 
trespass upon his domain, and frightening them out of their 



wits. When the men come back after seeing this apparition 
they are always silent and moody for a season. The belief 
in this is absolute, and the men therefore dare not go out to 
these islands by themselves. It was considered, too, that I 
ought not to be allowed to paddle about alone so much, but 
now my friends hoped that I had had my experience and paid 
for it. 

2 E 

Chapter XXV. 


We had long had it on our minds to make a little expedition 
to the "Inland ice" as soon as spring came, to see whether 
that season were not likely to be the best for exploration of 
the outer margin. We thought, from what we had observed 
in September, that all the fissures and irregularities would be 
rilled up and smoothed down by the heavy snowfalls and con- 
tinual wind of the winter. 

It was my idea, therefore, that future "ski" expeditions 
which are intended to investigate the outskirts of the ice-field 
ought to utilise the months of April and May, and perhaps a 
part of June, and that then they would be able to pass over 
with comparative ease ground on which they would be other- 
wise much hampered by the obstacles which are exposed by 
the subsequent melting of the snow. Again, if such an ex- 
pedition contemplated using a special vessel built for sailing 
on the snow, which I am persuaded would be a great help, the 
spring and early summer would be best for this purpose, since 
not only would the snow be in good condition, but there would 
be more wind. It is quite possible that with such a vessel 
one could easily sail along the edge of the ice-field from the 
southern part of the country a very long way north, if not to 
its extreme end. 

There was much, therefore, to urge me to visit the " Inland 
ice " again, and I thought it would be most interesting to ex- 
plore first that part where we came down, in order to see what 
changes there had been since we were there in the autumn. 


But it was thought possible at the colony that the ship from 
Europe which was to take us home might arrive as early as 
April 1, and after that time, of course, we should not be able 
to leave the place for long. So some of us determined to make 
an attempt in March, though this was too early to produce any 
great result. Our equipment this time was in several respects 
very poor. The only provisions we could scrape together were 
dried capelan fish, ship's biscuit, and butter. Of spirit for 
melting snow we had a very small supply. With what we 
could get, however, three of us, Sverdrup, Kristiansen, and I, 
started for Ameralikfjord on March 21, I in my "kayak," and 
the other two in a boat. 

We reached Kasigianguit, where we hoped to get a few 
reindeer to stock our larder with, but here we were kept by 
snowstorms and mild weather for five days. Most of the time 
we spent in the tent, and lived on our fish, biscuits, and butter, 
while the wet snow accumulated on the top of us, and that on 
which we lay melted away underneath. The last day or two, 
in fact, we lived in a simple pool, and once, as we thought the 
sleeping-bag was rather damp, we examined it, and found so 
much water inside that we could bale it out with our hands. 
This was of little use, however, as it found its way in again just 
as fast. Sverdrup opined that our life in the tent up on the 
"Inland ice" had been pure enjoyment compared with this. 

As the end of the month was now near and the ship might 
soon be expected to arrive, we did not see the use of going on 
any further, so on March 28 we returned to Godthaab. 

At the same time as we left for this excursion, Dietrichson 
and Balto had started on a " kayak " tour into Godthaabsfjord 
to visit the settlements of Sardlok, Kornok, Umanak, and 
Karusuk. They came back some days after us. The last day 
of their tour, as they were on the way home, and were just off 
the mountain known as " Sadlen," Balto called out to Dietrich- 
son that he must go ashore, as his canoe was leaking fast and 
would soon be half full. Dietrichson answered that he did not 
see what good that would be, for the shore was so steep that 


there was nothing to land on ; they had better paddle on a bit 
and try to find a better place. In the most heartrending tone 
Balto replied, "Then I suppose I shall have to sink." However, 
they paddled for dear life, and presently found a rock or two, 
on to which Balto could just crawl out, so that they could 
empty the canoe. They found a hole in the bottom, but all 
they had to plug it up with was a mitten and some butter, 
which they made to serve the purpose, and so went on. 

Soon afterwards they were suddenly caught in a storm, but 
luckily just by a spot where they could land, for if this had 
happened a little earlier or a little later there is no saying how 
things would have gone. There was no other possible place to 
go ashore, and the storm was so violent that they could scarcely 
have weathered it on the water. On this very occasion a native 
was lost off Umanak. Seven hours they had to spend on 
the little shelf of rock on which they had landed. Then the 
weather improved somewhat, and in the evening they arrived 
safely at Godthaab, where they were joyfully welcomed by the 
Eskimo, who thought they had done well to travel on such a 
day when they themselves had not ventured to go out. 

After I had waited nearly a week at Godthaab and there was 
no sign of the much-expected ship, I determined to make one 
more attempt on the " Inland ice." So on April 4 I set off in 
my "kayak" with Aperavigssuak — that is to say, "the great 
Abraham" — a well-known old "kayaker" of Kangek, into 
Godthaabsfjord. The same day we reached Kornok, which is 
about 36 miles from Godthaab, and next morning I went on 
with two men named Karl and Larserak further up the fjord 
towards Ujaragsuit, where I meant to make my ascent. As the 
head of the fjord was frozen we went into an inlet by Kangiusak, 
beached the canoes and took to our " ski." Then we crossed 
the end of the inlet, which was also frozen, and went on over 
a promontory till we joined the fjord again. Here we pitched 
the tent, which we had carried across along with some pro- 
visions. Our supply of the latter was by no means sufficient, 
and it was necessary to shoot some ptarmigan. These were 


devoured raw in the usual Eskimo way, and treated in this 
very simple manner they are certainly excellent. They must 
be allowed to get cool, however; one day, when I was very 
hungry, I set to work upon one directly after I had shot it. 1 
did not get far, and never repeated the experiment ; it had a 
most peculiar taste, and the flesh still quivered between my teeth. 

{From a photograph by C. Ryberg.) 

Next day, April 6, we crossed over the ice on our " ski " and 
went up Ujaragsuitfjord. Half-way up I went on shore after 
ptarmigan, and from a height I had climbed I could see that 
the head of the fjord was entirely open, owing to the amount 
of water brought down by the glacier-river that runs into it, so 


that it would be impossible for us to land there. To reach the 
" Inland ice " it would have been necessary to land at Ivisartok 
on the eastern shore, but we should have taken at least two days 
to get there by this route, and as I could not give so much time 
to it there was nothing to be done but turn back. 

This time, however, the result of the journey was not so 
meagre as last time. I had not reached the edge of the ice 
where I wished, but I had at least seen the glacier which comes 
down between Ivisartok and Nunatarsuak. This proved, how- 
ever, not to have so much snow on it as I had expected, and the 
ice was nearly as blue and fissured as ever. There was also 
astonishingly little snow on the ground hereabouts. The bare 
land showed through in long stretches, and the difference be- 
tween this place and Godthaab was very striking. Evidently 
the high mountains to the west and south had attracted most of 
the moisture. 

The change that takes place in the surface of the ice during 
the winter is possibly not so great as I had expected where there 
is a broad strip of land separating it from the sea, as there is 
just at this part of the coast. The land in this case attracts to 
itself a large portion of the snow. Another result of this little 
excursion was the observation of the great quantity of water 
which this glacial river had brought down into the fjord even 
in the winter-time. It had not yet been warm enough foi 
any real melting of the snow along the coast even at Godthaab 
Now it is well known that it is always considerably colder in 
here by the edge of the ice than outside, and the difference 
that there is between the temperature on the surface of the ice- 
field and on the land which skirts it we had had an opportunity 
of seeing on our journey. But in spite of all this the river was 
now running, as it were, in flood, and, according to the Eskimo, 
it was in the habit of so running the whole winter through. 
The consequence is, in the lower layers of the great ice-sheet 
melting must go on independently of the temperature of the 

In the evening we camped on a point at the mouth oi 


Ujaragsuitfjord. As we were in no real hurry we arranged 
things as comfortably as possible. Of grass we could collect 
any amount on the bare spots, and with this we covered the 
floor of the tent and made ourselves a good dry couch. We 
then made some coffee, and the Eskimo produced one of their 
dainties, the red fish "bergylt," which was eaten frozen and 
raw; besides this we had our ptarmigan, and altogether en- 
joyed ourselves immensely. Then we slept just as we were, 
as we had brought no bag this time, because I thought it would 
be too heavy to carry. 

Next morning we crossed the fjord again. I was very much 
inclined to stay a little longer in this hunter's paradise, for 
Ivisartok and Nunatarsuak are well known as excellent rein- 
deer-ground. Besides, there were a number of seal on the 
ice, and they afford most exciting sport. The old Norsemen 
knew what they were about when they settled in here. This 
and Ameralikfjord were probably the richest part of the old 
"Western Settlement," and there are many traces of theii 
occupation still left, Ujaragsuit in particular being celebrated 
for its extensive ruins. 

When we crossed the ridge which we had passed over on 
our way up, we had rather a steep descent to Kangiusak, where 
we had left our " kayaks." I now found to my cost how bad 
these Greenlanders are on their "ski." They had already been 
lagging behind the whole way, and I had had to relieve one of 
them of nearly all he was carrying to enable him to keep up at 
all. When they came to this descent they did not hesitate to 
take their " ski " off and carry them. I rushed down, and then 
had the pleasure of waiting nearly an hour at the bottom while 
they plunged along through the deep snow down the cliffs. Nor 
was it till they reached the ice on the fjord that they ventured 
to put their " ski " on again. One of them certainly did try 
once on a little slope, but he began by falling and made no 
further attempt. 

On the ice, too, Karl shot a ringed seal, which also had to 
be dragged along to the " kayaks." We reached them in the 



course of the afternoon, but did not know how late it was, a.« 
the sky was clouded and none of us had a watch. I wanted 
to reach Kornok that day, as there might possibly be news of 
the ship. So, though Larserak especially was very little inclined 
for it, we got into the " kayaks " and set off. But we had not 
gone far before we saw that it was much later than we thought, 
for it was already quite dark ; and as we were met in the fjord 
by a stiffish westerly breeze things became anything but pleasant. 

(By T. Holmboe,from a sketch by the Author.) 

As long as we could hug the shore we got on tolerably well, but 
when we reached the headland of Kangersuak it was a case of 
crossing the fjord to get to Kornok. This was worst of all, as 
off the point we met the full force of the sea, and in the dark 
it was not easy to keep one's eye on the big waves. So we 
stopped and considered matters ; the two Greenlanders asked 
me if I thought I could manage it, but I did not like to show 
the white feather, and inquired in return whether they thought 


they could. Finally they started, but we soon found that it 
was not altogether a joke. Karl was worst off, as he had the 
seal lying on the " kayak " behind him. He shouted out that 
he must go ashore to take it off, but there was no place to land 
along these precipitous cliffs. So we pulled his seal off for him, 
and he towed it for a while. This, however, kept him back, so 
we had to help him put it on to the " kayak " again. At first 
the night had been completely dark, but now the clouds lifted 
a little, and occasionally the wind parted them enough for the 
moon to shine through and help us to see the waves and find 
our way. It was hard work to paddle against the wind, but at 
last we reached the opposite shore. Here, too, we met with a 
new difficulty in the shape of masses of drift-ice, which for a 
time quite shut us in. 

It was not till one o'clock that we reached Kornok, much to 
the consternation of the inhabitants, as the natives rarely travel 
at this time of night. 

There was no news of the ship yet, so next day I went in to 
Umanak to see the place, which is one of the Moravian stations, 
and to visit the missionary, Herr Heincke, with whom I spent 
four pleasant days. 

On April 1 2 I was in Kornok again. The next day it rained, 
and my companion on the way out, Aperavigssuak, did not 
care for the journey. He had spent the whole time while I 
was in the fjord in going the round of all the houses at Kornok 
and Umanak. So instead of going back I gave a great ball 
to all the inhabitants of Kornok. Dancing began at four in 
the afternoon, and the entertainment consisted of coffee and 
ship's biscuits. We amused ourselves thoroughly till late in the 
evening, when I grew so sleepy that I had to ask my guests 
to go. 

The following day, April 14, we paddled back to Godthaab 
in tolerably fine weather. As an instance of the rate one can 
travel in the " kayak," I may say that, though for the first three 
hours we had the current against us, and for the last hour 
a stiff breeze, we covered the thirty-six miles in eight hours. 



This is little compared with what a really good " kayaker " can 
do. Herr Heincke told me that when his wife had been taken 
very ill a couple of years before, in December, a seal-catcher 
named Ludvig, belonging to Umanak, had gone off before 
dawn to Godthaab to consult the doctor. In spite of the short- 
ness of the day he was back before evening, the whole distance 
that he had travelled being over eighty miles. 

On April 15 we had thick weather and snow, and we all 

(From a photograph.) 

agreed that the ship would not come that day. But after 
dinner, as we were sitting over our coffee at the Superinten- 
dent's, and having a chat with the doctor, suddenly the whole 
settlement rang with a single shriek, " Umiarsuit ! Umiarsuit ! " 
(" The ship ! The ship ! ") We rushed out and gazed sea 
wards, but could see nothing but the flying snow. All at once 
we caught sight of some dark object looming high up in the air 
Vt was the Hvidbj omen's rigging, and the vessel was already 



nearly in the bay. We jumped into boats and "kayaks," and 
as we boarded the ship the Norwegian flag was hoisted and 
a thundering salute fired in our honour. We were welcomed 
and congratulated by the captain, Lieutenant Garde, whom 
I have already mentioned more than once in connection with 
the Danish east coast expedition, and by some of the Greer* 
land officials who had spent the winter in Europe. 

(From a photograph.) 

Greetings were given us from home, and there was a general 
questioning and exchange of news. An entertainment was at 
once prepared on board, and it was late in the evening before 
we escaped from the festive scene and got back to Godthaab. 

Then came the hour of departure. I had long shrunk from 
the thought of leaving, but now there was no way of avoiding 


it. It was not without sorrow that most of us left this place 
and these people, among whom we had enjoyed ourselves so 

The day before we started one of my best friends among 
the Eskimo, in whose house I had often been, said to me : 
"Now you are going back into the great world from which 
you came to us ; you will find much that is new there, and 

perhaps you will soon for- 
get us. But we shall never 
forget you." 

Next day we started, 
and Godthaab, still in its 
winter garb, smiled a 
melancholy farewell in the 
beams of the spring sun. 
We stood looking at it for 
long, and the many happy 
hours we had spent there 
with Greenlanders and 
Europeans alike came 
back into our minds. Just 
as we were leaving the 
fjord we passed three 
"kayaks," in which were 
Lars, Michael, and Jona- 
than, the three best seal- 
catchers in Godthaab. 
They had paddled out 

{From a sketch by the Author.) here tQ ^ ug a last 

touching farewell, by a salute from their three guns. We were 
steaming fast out to sea, and for a time saw them bobbing up 
and down upon the waves, till at last they disappeared. 

Our ship had to go northwards to Sukkertoppen and Hol- 
stensborg before she set her course for home. We reached the 
first place on April 26. Here we found a good instance of the 
postal facilities in Greenland, for no one knew that we had been 





spending the winter at Godthaab, which is only ninety miles to 
the south. On May 3, after six days at Sukkertoppen, and a 
deal of merry-making, we left again for Holstensborg. On the 
way we fell in with the Nordlyset, a bark belonging to the 
" Trade Service." She was fast in the ice, so we went to her 
help, and towed her in to Sukkertoppen. In the evening we 
left again to go northwards, but we found the whole sea full of 
ice ten inches thick, through which it was impossible to push. 

(From an instantaneous photograph.) 

There was, therefore, nothing to be done but give up Holstens- 
borg and turn back. On the morning of May 4 we anchored 
at Sukkertoppen for the third time, and the same day said our 
last farewell to Greenland. 

That evening, when we were well out in Davis Strait, Balto 
was standing at the tarTrail in deep thought, and gazing towards 
land, though it had long since disappeared from view. Dietrich- 
son asked him why he was so melancholy. " Have you forgotten 
Sofia ? " he answered. 


We were now seventeen days on board the Hvidbjbrnen. 
In the captain we had excellent company, for few could have 
taken more interest in our expedition than he. Thanks to 
hospitality the time went pleasantly, and in spite of wind and 
sea we drew slowly nearer home. Many of us will remember 
the morning revels, at which we drank the champagne and 
ate the good things sent out from Europe for us — very different 
entertainment from that of the " Inland ice." 

On May 21 we were in Copenhagen. To describe the wel- 
come and hospitality accorded us here, as well as in Norway 
afterwards, my pen would be far too feeble, and I will forbear 
to make the attempt. Nor will I try to account to the reader 
for all the speeches that had to be heard, and all those that had 
to be made in return ; nor for all that had to be eaten or drunk 
on such occasions ; nor to give him an idea of the incredible 
sufferings that those tormentors of the human race, those ghouls 
of modern life, by courtesy called interviewers, are allowed to 
inflict on people as innocent as ourselves. It was no pleasant 
or easy thing to cross Greenland, but I must say, in full earnest, 
that the toils and hardships of our return were even worse to 

In glorious weather, on May 30, we entered Christiania Fjord, 
and were received by hundreds of sailing-boats and a whole 
fleet of steamers. It was a day that I do not think any of us 
will forget. Even Ravna, I am sure, was impressed in his own 
way. When we got near to the harbour, and saw the ramparts 
of the old fortress and the quays on all sides black with people, 
Dietrichson said to Ravna : " Are not all these people a fine 
sight, Ravna ? " " Yes, it is fine, very fine ; — but if they had 
only been reindeer ! " was Ravna's answer. 



Air samples, apparatus for taking, 45, 70, 

Akorninap-kangerdlua Fjord, 209 
" Akortok " (Sverdrup's Eskimo name), 373 
Akvavit, 382 

Alcoholic drinks in cold climates, 40-42 
Amaut, the, 182 
Ameragdla, 351, 353 
Amerahk, 354, 359 
Ameralikfjord, 270, 351, 356, 358, 367, 370, 

37i, 372-375. .388, 400, 4.35. 439 
Angekoks (Eskimo magicians^ 170. 
" Angisorsuak " (the author's Eskimo name), 

Angmagsalik, 5, 105, 125 

Anikitsok, 253 

Anorak (jacket), 155 

Anton, 428 

Aperavigssuak, 436, 437, 441 

Ardluk (killer-whale), 89 

" Atuagagdliutit," the, 401 

Auk, 73, 431 

Aurora borealis, 217, 255, 336, 360 

Ausivit, 202 

Austrian and Hungarian expedition to Franz 

Joseph Land, 23 
Awkward predicament, 323 
Azimuth dial, the, 43 

Baffin's Bay, 93 

Balle, Herr, 365 

Balto, Samuel Johannesen, 10 «, 12, 18, 20, 
33, 46, 69, 70, 88, in, 114, 119, 122 124, 
131, 132, 134, 135, 139, x 40, 151, 154. 158, 
178, 184, 212, 213, 215, 228, 246, 251-253, 
256-258, 264, 267, 271, 274, 281, 289, 290- 
293. 3<», 302-304, 308, 310, 311, 316, 318, 
319-321, 329, 332, 333, 342, 344, 347, 371, 
374-376» 381-383. 387, 389, 391-393. 396, 
397. 404-408, 414, 435, 436, 445 

Balto's Nunatak, 255 

Barometers, 43 

Baumann, Herr, 363, 366, 368 

Bears, 57, 102, 133 

Beauvais, Herr, 39 

Bergen, 30 

Bergen Museum, 7 

Bergylt {Scbastes norvegicus), 93, 439 

Bergschrund, 240 

Bernstorffsfjord, 218, 223 

Berufjorden, 70 

Bindalen, 14 

Binzer, Dr., 365 

Biscuits for the expedition, 40 

Bistrup, Herr, 372, 381, 388, 404 
Bladder-nose seal (Cystophora cristata), 8« 

89, 91-104, 128, 129 
Blosseville coast, 105 
Blue seal (Phoca. barbata), 91 
Blue whale (Balanoptera Stbbafdii), 90 
Boas, 432 

Boat, making a, 347 
Boats, 28, 29, 109, us; stored, 244 
Bolette, 396 

Boots used by the explorers, 32, 33, 241 
Bottle -nose whales (HyPeroodon diodon) 

89. 94 
Bread for the expedition, 40 

Cache, 244, 245, 344 

Cape Adelaer, 153 

Cape Bille, 163, 201 

Cape Dan, 5, 6, 87, 107, 108, 115, 234 

Cape Farewell, 138, 142, 187, 189 

Cape Garde, 153, 154 

Cape Moltke, 215, 218 

Cape Mdsting, 223 

Cape Nord, 75 

Cape Rantzau, 152, 153 

Cape Tordenskjold, 149 

Capelan fish, 435 

Capri, 72 

Caps used by the explorers, 34 

Caravan on the march, 277 

Chocolate as a drink in cold climates, 40, 150 

Choral service, 412 

Christiania, 12, 14, 16, 28, 43, 46, 58, 63, 64, 

69, 109, 258, 281, 285 
Christiania Fjord, 426 
Christianshaab, 6, 246, 265, 268, 269 
Christianssand, 69 

Christmas in West Greenland, 410-417 
Clothing for the expedition, 31 
Coal-fish, 90 

Coats, the explorers', 32, 33 
Coffee as a drink in cold climates, 40, 41, 188 
Colberger Heide, 225, 226, 229 
Compasses, pocket, 43 
Cooking apparatus, 36-38 
Copenhagen, 268 
Costume, Eskimo, 411 
Crevasses, 231-233, 235, 237-241, 246, 249- 

253. 3", 3i3. 315 
Crowbernes, 355 

Dancing in Greenland, 394-397 
Danebrog flag, 211 
Darts, Eskimo, 431 



David, 369 

Davis Strait, 443 

Denmark Strait, 69, 84, 94, 99, 102 

Dickson, Baron Oscar, 64 

Dietrichson, Lieutenant Oluf Christian, 9, 
12, 16, 84, 85, in, 115, 126, 128, 136, 139, 
203, 204, 220, 226, 231, 248, 266, 268, 271, 
272, 274, 302, 310, 318, 319, 320, 37 2 -374, 
376, 377, 38i, 389, 404, 4<>7. 4", 435, 445. 

Dietrichson, Peter Wilhelm Krejdahl, 16 

Dietrichson's Nunatak, 255 

"Dijmphna" expedition, the, 4 

Disco Bay, 6 

Disco Island, 6 

Diver (Colymbus), the, 154 

Dogs, ai, 143 

Dog-skin, 30 

Dress, Eskimo, 166, 411 

Duck, 128, 429 

Duck-shooting, 429 

Dunlins, 228 

Dyrafjord, 69, 75-77 

Eagle's Nest, the, 197 

Eider-duck, 215, 408, 418, 429 

Eliase, 423 

Elk, 57. 

Elvelapper, 10 n. 

Equipment for the expedition, 21, 65 

Escape, narrow, 311 

Eskimos' (East Greenland) couches, 167 ; 
encampments, 143, 145 ; family relation- 
ships, 176 ; garments, 166 ; hospitality, 
176; leave-taking customs, 186; oil-lamps, 
169 ; personal appearance, 172 ; shopping 
expeditions, 187 ; tents and tent-life, 165- 
169 ; use of snuff, 186 ; welcome to the 
explorers, 164 ; women rowing, 193 

Experimental trip, 46 

Eyafjallajokul, 72 

Eye-protectors, wooden, 34, 35 

Eyrie, 197 

Faroe Islands, 68, 70, 188 

Finmarken, 9, 10, 12, 18, 22, 89, 215, 228, 

333, 336 
r innesko, 27, 32-34 

Fin-whale (Bal&noptera muscul%u\ 90 
Fiskernaes, 369, 371 
Fjeldlapper, 10 n. 
Flies, plague of small black, 345 
Floe-ice, first impressions of, 79 
Food for the expedition, 38 
Fox, the, 363, 364, 367-37°i 398, 399 
Fox-traps, 218, 220 
Foyn, Sven, 102 
Franklin, Captain, 23, 399 
Frederiksen, Herr, 366, 368, 369 
Friis, Professor, 12 
Frost-bite, 314 
Fuel for the expedition, 36 
Fylla, the, 76 

Gaasedammen, 378 

Gained, Herr Augustin, 4, 370, 399 

OemeTs Haven, 151 

GameTs Nunatak, 264, 275 

Garde, Lieutenant V., 153, 158, 160, 161, 195 

_ 2I 4. 443 

Geese, 338 

German expedition to Greenland, 23 

German Moravian Mission Station, 362, 387, 

Geysir of Tonsberg, 86 
Glaciers, 240, 241, 329, 333, 337, 341 
Gloves for the expedition, 34 
Glutton, 58 
Goat's-hair socks, 32 
Godthaab, 42, 268-270, 272, 314, 332, 343, 

358-363, 365, 367, 370-372, 375, 379, 381, 

382, 386, 388, 393, 399, 400, 404, 405, 425, 

426, 429, 432, 435, 438, 441-444 
Godthaabsfjord, 314, 329, 435 
Goose Pool, 378 
Gothenburg, 14 

Graah, Lieut. W. A., 136, 160, 214, 331 
Gram, Herr, 76, 77 
Great Auk {A lea impennis), 73 
Greely expedition, 23, 24, 37 
Greenland Alps, 137 
Greenland, first sight of, 87 
Greenland Trade Service, the, 39R, 445 
Griffenfeldt's Island, 205 
Guillemots, 214, 215, 358 
Gulf of Bothnia, 87 
Gulls, 147, 214, 215, 350, 351, 355 
Guns for the expedition, 43 
GyldenlSve's Fjord, 225 

Hailstorm, 316 

Halibut, 42, 420, 424, 425 

Halibut-fishing, 420, 424 

Hansteen, 283 

Hares, 37, 337, 339 

Harp seal, 94 

Heilman, Ane and Lars, 390 

Heimaey, 72 

Heincke, Herr, 381, 441, 44* 

Hekla, 73 

Helgeland, 14 

Helland, Professor, 251 

Helland s Nunatak, 254 

Herring, 90 

Hestetruger, 28 

Hjortetakken, 359, 361 

Holm, Captain, 5, 105, 143, 152-154, 158, 160. 

172, I95, 20I, 202, 211, 212, 214, 220 

Holm's Nunatak, 264 

Holstensborg, 444 

Hood of bladder-nose seal, 92 

Hoseas, 370, 372, 424, 425 

Hovgaard, Captain, 39 

Humpbacked whale {Megaptera boops), 90 

Hvidbjdrnen, the, 442, 446 

Icebergs, 113, 147, 199, 200, 206, 220, 221 

Iceland, 68 

Igdloluarsuk, 131, 136, 199, 218, 220, 245 

Imarsivik, 214 

Imerigsok, 429 

Ingerkajarfik, 198 

Ingolfstjeld, 107, 125 

Inigsalik. 116. 125 

2 F 



Inugsuarmiuttjord, 207 
Inugsuit, 150 
Irkutsk, 283 
Isafjord, 69, 73, 75, 77 
Isafold, the, 76, 77 
Isbjomen, the, 102 
Itivdlek Fjord, 354 
Iversen, Captain, 105 
Ivigtut, 364, 369, 370, 398 
Ivisartok, 438, 439 

Sacobsen, Captain Mauritz, 69, 76, 86, in 
akobshavn, 6 
an Mayen, 69, 80, 93, 94 
Jason, the, 42, 68, 75-77, 79, 84-88, 90, 101, 
105, 109-112, 114, 117, 118, 128, 131, 207, 
261, 303, 319, 359, 382 
Joel, 413, 417, 418, 425 
lohnstrup's Nunatak, 253 
Jokkmokk, io«., 64 
fomfruer Nunatak, 256 
Jonathan, 444 

lumping feats on "ski," 61-63 
funiper bushes, 151 

Kamiks, 155 

Kangek, 152, 400, 426-429, 431, 436 

Kangerajuk, 225 

Kangerdlugsuak, 218 

Kangersuak, 440 

Kangersunek, 321, 338 

Kangiusak, 436, 439 

Karasjok, 10 «., 11, 18, 115, 393 

Karesuando, 10 «. 

Karl, 436, 439, 441 

FCarra akungnak, 143, 153, 154 

Karusuk, 428J 435 

Kasigigianguit, 435 

Kautokeino, 10 n. 

Kayak-hats, 402 

Kayaks and kayakers, 154, 155, 158, 164, 165, 
179, 183, 186, 191, 192, 195, 196, 201, 210, 
213, 214, 361, 368-374, 380, 387, 388, 398, 
402-404, 406, 408, 419, 420, 422, 423, 425- 
427, 429, 431, 432, 436, 439, 440-444 

Kekertarsuak, 147, 218 

Kekertarsuatsiak, 2^4 

Kiatak, 225-227, 229 

Killer-whaie {Orca gladiator), 89 

Kittiwakes, 78 

Kjerulfs Nunatak, 256 

Klapmyts-whales, 89 

Kobbetjord, 359, 361 

" Konebaad " expedition, the, 5 

Kong Oscars Havn, no 

" Kongespeilet," 52 

Kornerup s Nunatak, 253 

Kornok, 440, 441 

Kretora, 394 

Kristiansen, Kristian (Trana), 9, 17, in, 1x4, 
122, 133, 134, 136, 145, 181, 217, 266, 271- 
374, 290, 299, 304, 306, 308, 313, 316, 318, 
375i 377, 378, 380-383. 39 1 . 4<>7, 4°8, 435 

Kristiansen s Nunatak, 255 

Kristianshaab, 224 

Krumpensfjord, 224 

Kutdlek Island, 147, 149 

Kutsigormiut, 200 
Kvickjock, 10 

Labrador, 93, 94 

Laerdalsoren, 341 

Lamps, Eskimo, 169 

Langvand, 376 

Lapps, the, 2, 9, 10, 18, 32, 40, 58, 64, 65, 
114, 118, 119, 121, 125, 131, 132, 134, 136, 
138, 145, 148, 156, 167, 169, 176, 178, 1 $4, 
215, 229, 246, 257, 258, 267, 271, 274, 281, 
291, 295, 303, 315. 335. 336, 347. 373. 374, 

. 378, 39i. 393. 396. 406, 413 

Lars, 444 

Larserak, 436, 440 

Lauparsko, 72, 33, 66 

Leith, 69 

Levanger, 16 

Leverpostei, 39 

Lighthouse in Iceland, the only, 73 

Ludvig, 442 

Ludvig, Johan, 418 

Ludvig, Johannes, 418 

Lynx, 57 

McClintock, Sir Leopold, 399 

Magdalena, the, 85 

Mardluk (dance), 425 

Medicine chest for expedition, 46 

Meteorological observations, 126, 295, 385 

Michael, 444 

Mogeni Heinesens Fjord 143, 198, 199 

Mohn, Professor H., 44, 285 

Mohn's Nunatak, 255 

Moller, Herr, 381 

Moraines, 231, 328, 329, 332, 338, 341 

Moravian missionaries, 313, 397, 441 

Mosquitoes in Greenland, 207 

Mountain-Lapps, 9, 10 «., n, 18, 19 

Mysost (cheese), 151 

Mytilus edulis (salt-water mussel), 340 

Nagtoralik, 199 

" Nalagak " (author's Eskimo name), 403 

Nares, Captain, 23 

Narsak, 270, 343, 400 

Natit, the (Eskimo indoor dress), 167 

Navfalik, 202 

Nordenfeldt submarine boat, 14 

Nordenskiold, Baron, 2, 35, 64, 269 

Nordheim, Sondre Auersen, 62 

Nordland, 14 

Nordlyset, the, 445 

Norsemen, 439 

Northern lights, the, 217, 255, 330, 360 

Norwegian University, 4 

Norwegian Whaling Company, 76 

Nova Zembla, 94 

Nua, 354 

Nunarsuak, 202 

Nunataks, 143, 224, 236, 253-256 

Nunatarsuak, 438, 439 

Nunatarsuk, 338 

Ny Herrnhut, 363, 369, 371, 388, 400, 404. 

Observation taking, 296 



Olaus Magnus, 5a 
Onundafjord, 74 
OraefajQkull, 71 
Orer, 341 

Payik, Julius, 23 

Peary, Robert, 26 

Peary s Nunatak, 256 

Pedersuak, 429, 430 

Pemmican, 39, 4°. 233, 240, »99» 3° 8 , 3°9> 

Perkin, Son, & Rayment, 43, 44 
Peter, 283, 384, 385, 387 
Pettersson, Professor, 45 
Photographic apparatus, 45 
Photographs, taking natives', 182 ; scenery, 

226, 248, 330, 337 
Pike-whale {Balanoptera rostrata), 90 
Pikiudtlek, 116, 125, 131 
Plateau, Central, of Greenland, height of, 

275, 302 
Poetry, Eskimo, 401 
Pony for the expedition, 76, 128, 131 
Polar ice, first meeting with, 83 
Post, the Arctic Sea, 85 
Provisions for the expedition, 38 
Ptarmigan, 57, 357, 384, 437 
Puisortok glacier, 152, 154, 157, 158, 160, 161 

Racing contests on "ski," 64 

Rae, Dr. John, 23 

Ravens, 128, 131, 134, 226 

Ravna, Ole Nielsen, IX, 18, 20, 42, 69, 11 1, 

114, 120, 121, 128, 131, I34t 139. I4<>» 144. 

145, 185, 212, 228, 251, 257, 267, 274, 281, 

2911 2 95. 3°3» 3 l6 , 3*9. 3201 332. 333. 335. 

336, 374, 375. 383-38S. 39L 392. 394. 396, 

408, 446 
Reindeer, 9, 10, 21, 22, 333, 336-338, 34*. 35* 
Reindeer-skin, 30, 374 

Requisites for an exploring expedition, 21-47 
Reykjanaes, 73 
Reykjavik, 73 
Rink's Nunatak, 254 
River-Lapps, 10 «., 18 
Rflros, 22 

Rosing, Christian, 401 
Rousseau's chocolate, 39, 40 
Ruds Island, 195 
Ryder, Lieutenant, 35 

Saddle peak, 418 

Saddleback or harp -seal (Phoca Green- 

landica), 94 
Sadlen, 435 
Sagiarusek, 218 
Sahara, the, 284 
Sandefjord, 68 

Sardlok, 371, 417, 418, 422, 424, 425, 435 
Savsivik, 214 
Scandinavia, 57 
Schley, 23 
Scientific instruments for the expedition, 

Scoresby Fjord, 5 
Sea- Lapps, 10 n. 

Seal, 84-86, 89,90, 93-106, 128, 129, 213, 368 ; 
ringed, 439 

Sea-urchins, 358 

Sehested's Fjord, 205 

Seie-whale (Batieno/>tera borealis), 89 

Sennegraes, 33, 34, 184 

Sermersuak, 391 

Sermilik, 125 

Sermilikfjord, 6, 108, no, 112, 113, 1 15-117, 
119, 125 

Sextant, 43 

Shoes for the explorers, 32-34 

Shooting bladder-nose seals, 98 

Siberia, 57, 58, 83 

Silas, 383-385. 387. 388 

Simon, 428 

Singiartuarfik, 209 

Sinklar, 69 

Skade, 56 

Ski, 3, 6, 7, 9, 14, 16, 24, 26-28, 33, 35, 48-67, 
231, 233, 242, 270, 274, 278, 281, 282, 288, 
290, 291, 293, 305, 306, 309-311, 315, 316, 
322, 324, 376, 377, 419, 434. 436, 437. 439 

Skien, 16 

Skikjaelke (sledge), the, 24 

Skilober, 3 »., 4-7, 14, 48-67 

SkilSbning, 3 «., 27, 48-67 

Skistav, the (pole), 59 

Skjoldungen, 136, 207, 209 

Skogn, 16 

Skuas, 131 

Skudesnaes, 399 

Sledge-sailing, 268, 305-321 

Sledges used in the expedition, 23-27, 242, 246 

Sleeping-bags, 29-31 

Smith. Herr, 369, 39S 

Smith s Sound, 32 

SnefellsjSkull, 73 

Snefellsnass, 73 

Snow-blindness, 234 

Snow-buntings, 149, 275, 303 

Snowshoes, 3 «., 6, 27, 28, 233, 273 

Snuff-taking among the Eskimo, 186 

Socks for the explorers, 32 

Solapper, 10 n. 

Soley, 23 

Sophie, 393, 445 

Sorrel, 219 

Spectacles, snow, 34, 35, 119, 233, 257, 271 

Speed of a kayaker, 441, 442 

Spitzbergen, 91, 93 

Staalbjerghuk, 84 

Staerkodde*-, the, 105 

Stavanger Preserving Company, 42, 117 

Stenkjer, 14 

Store Malene, 361 

Storm, great, on central plateau, 288-291 ; at 
Sardlok, 423 

Storthing, 4 

Sukkertoppen, 443-445 ; girls from, 392 

Superstition, Eskimo, 432 

Sverdrup, Captain Otto, 9, 12, 14, 16, 18, 42, 
66, 84, 85, in, 113, 114. i 21 , I22 . 124, 129, 
142, 144, 153, 204, 215, 226, 228, 231, 235, 
238, 243, 251, 270, 272, 274, 279-281, 288, 
209, 301, 304, 305, 309, 312-318, 320-322, 
324, 326, 329, 332, 333, 337. 339. 343. 344. 



348, 350, 352. 354. 356. 358, 362. 368, 369, 
373-375. 380, 382, 389, 398, 399, 405, 4 o6, 
412, 435 

Sverdrup. Ulrik, ia 
Sverdrup s Nunatak, 255 

Tana, river { 10 n. 

Tea, use of, in cold climates, 40, 41, 188 

Telemarken peasants, 58, 59 

Tents, 35, 36 

Terkel, 370-372, 386, 424, 425 

Theodolites, 43 

Thermometers, 44 

Thermometrical observations, 283-286 

Thingeyre, 75. 76 

Throwing-stick, 405, 431 

Thyra, the, 70, 73, 75 

Tingmiarmiut, 142, 156, 199, 202 

Tobacco, effects of use of, in cold regions, 41, 

Tobias, 430 
Toboggan, the, 23 
TSnsberg, 85, 86 
Trana, Kristian Kristiansen ; seg under 

Trondhjem, 12, 16 
Trondhjesmoren, 34 r 
Truger, 6, 27, 233, 234, 237, 238, 273, 301 
Tuorda, Lars, 64 

" Tupilik " (Eskimo ogre), 432 
Tyttebaer (Vaccinium vitis ideea), 151 

Ujaragsuit, 436, 439 

Ujaragsuitfjord, 437, 439 

Umanak, 156, 204, 205, 372, 373, 381, 383, 

435, 436. 44i. 442 
Umanarsuak, 203, 204 
Umiaks, 179, 183, 192, 220 
" Umitormiut nalagak" ( author's Eskimo 

name), 373 
Umivik, 215, 224^, 225, 311 
Up- and down-hill on "ski," 51 
Uvdlorsiutit, 201 
Uvivak, 205 

Vestmanna Islands, 71 
Viking, the, 6 
Voged > Herr, 364, 372 

Watches as timekeepers in cold climate 44 

Whales, 89, 404 
Whortleberries, 342 
Whymper's Nunatak, 256 
Willow-grouse, 57 
Wolf, the, 85 
Wolf-skin, 30 
Wood-naphtha 37 


Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson &> Co. 
Edinburgh <^ London 






Nans en, Fridtjof 
• The first crossing of