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The South Pole, Volume 1 by Roald Amundsen

Part 4 out of 5

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bad weather, darkness, and cold, every time he wanted a piece of ice.

We now had to turn our attention in the first place, before the cold
weather set in, to the arrangement of our dog tents. We could not leave
them standing as they were on the snow; if we did so, we should soon
find that dogs' teeth are just as sharp as knives; besides which, they
would be draughty and cold for the animals. To counteract this, the
floor of each tent was sunk 6 feet below the surface of the Barrier. A
great part of this excavation had to be done with axes, as we soon came
to the bare ice. One of these dog tents, when finished, had quite an
important appearance, when one stood at the bottom and looked up. It
measured 18 feet from the floor to the peak of the tent, and the
diameter of the floor was 15 feet. Then twelve posts were driven into
the ice of the floor at equal intervals round the wall of the tent,
and the dogs were tethered to them. From the very first day the dogs
took a liking to their quarters, and they were right, as they were well
off there. I do not remember once seeing frost-rime on the coats of
my dogs down in the tent. They enjoyed every advantage there -- air,
without draughts, light, and sufficient room. Round the tent-pole we
left a pillar of snow standing in the middle of the tent to the height
of a man. It took us two days to put our eight dog tents in order.

Before the Fram sailed one of the whale-boats had been put ashore on
the Barrier. One never knew; if we found ourselves in want of a boat,
it would be bad to have none, and if we did not have to use it, there
was no great harm done. It was brought up on two sledges drawn by
twelve dogs, and was taken some distance into the Barrier. The mast
stood high in the air, and showed us its position clearly.

Besides all their other work, the four men had found time for shooting
seals while we were away, and large quantities of meat were now
stowed everywhere. We had to lose no time in getting ready the tent
in which we stored our chief supply of seal meat. It would not have
lasted long if we had left it unprotected on the ground. To keep off
the dogs, we built a wall 7 feet high of large blocks of snow. The
dogs themselves saw to its covering with ice, and for the time being
all possibility of their reaching the meat was removed.

We did not let the floor grow old under our feet; it was time to be
off again to the south with more food. Our departure was fixed for
February 22, and before that time we had a great deal to do. All the
provisions had first to be brought from the main depot and prepared
for the journey. Then we had to open the cases of pemmican, take
out the boxes in which it was soldered, four rations in each, cut
these open, and put the four rations back in the case without the
tin lining. By doing this we saved so much weight, and at the same
time avoided the trouble of having this work to do later on in the
cold. The tin packing was used for the passage through the tropics,
where I was afraid the pemmican might possibly melt and run into
the hold of the ship. This opening and repacking took a long time,
but we got through it. We used the pent-house as a packing-shed.

Another thing that took up a good deal of our time was our personal
outfit. The question of boots was gone into thoroughly. Most of us were
in favour of the big outer boots, but in a revised edition. There
were a few -- but extremely few -- who declared for nothing but
soft foot-gear. In this case it did not make so much difference,
since they all knew that the big boots would have to be brought on
the final journey on account of possible work on glaciers. Those,
therefore, who wanted to wear soft foot-gear, and hang their boots
on the sledge, might do so if they liked. I did not want to force
anyone to wear boots he did not care for; it might lead to too much
unpleasantness and responsibility. Everyone, therefore, might do as he
pleased. Personally I was in favour of boots with stiff soles, so long
as the uppers could be made soft and sufficiently large to give room
for as many stockings as one wished to wear. It was a good thing the
boot-maker could not look in upon us at Framheim just then -- and many
times afterwards, for that matter. The knife was mercilessly applied
to all his beautiful work, and all the canvas, plus a quantity of the
superfluous leather, was cut away. As I had no great knowledge of the
shoemaker's craft, I gladly accepted Wisting's offer to operate on
mine. The boots were unrecognizable when I got them back from him. As
regards shape, they were perhaps just as smart before the alteration,
but as that is a very unimportant matter in comparison with ease
and comfort, I considered them improved by many degrees. The thick
canvas was torn off and replaced by thin weather-proof fabric. Big
wedges were inserted in the toes, and allowed room for several more
pairs of stockings. Besides this, one of the many soles was removed,
thus increasing the available space. It appeared to me that now I had
foot-gear that combined all the qualities I demanded -- stiff soles,
on which Huitfeldt-Höyer Ellefsen ski-bindings could be used, and
otherwise soft, so that the foot was not pinched anywhere. In spite
of all these alterations, my boots were once more in the hands of the
operator before the main journey, but then they were made perfect. The
boots of all the others underwent the same transformation, and every
day our outfit became more complete. A number of minor alterations
in our wardrobe were also carried out. One man was an enthusiast
for blinkers on his cap; another did not care for them. One put on
a nose-protector; another took his off; and if there was a question
of which was right, each was prepared to defend his idea to the
last. These were all alterations of minor importance, but being due to
individual judgment, they helped to raise the spirits and increase
self-confidence. Patents for braces also became the fashion. I
invented one myself, and was very proud of it for a time -- indeed,
I had the satisfaction of seeing it adopted by one of my rivals. But
that rarely happened; each of us wanted to make his own inventions,
and to be as original as possible. Any contrivance that resembled
something already in use was no good. But we found, like the farmer,
that the old way often turned out to be the best.

By the evening of February 21 we were again ready to start. The sledges
-- seven in number -- stood ready packed, and were quite imposing
in appearance. Tempted by the favourable outcome of our former trip,
we put too much on our sledges this time -- on some of them, in any
case. Mine was overloaded. I had to suffer for it afterwards -- or,
rather, my noble animals did.

On February 22, at 8.30 a.m., the caravan moved off -- eight men, seven
sledges, and forty-two dogs -- and the most toilsome part of our whole
expedition began. As usual, we began well from Framheim. Lindström,
who was to stay at home alone and look after things, did not stand
and wave farewells to us. Beaming with joy, he made for the hut as
soon as the last sledge was in motion. He was visibly relieved. But
I knew very well that before long he would begin to take little turns
outside to watch the ridge. Would they soon be coming?

There was a light breeze from the south, dead against us, and the sky
was overcast. Newly fallen snow made the going heavy, and the dogs had
hard work with their loads. Our former tracks were no longer visible,
but we were lucky enough to find the first flag, which stood eleven
miles inland. From there we followed the dried fish, which stood out
sharply against the white snow and were very easy to see. We pitched
our camp at six o'clock in the evening, having come a distance
of seventeen miles. Our camp was quite imposing -- four tents for
three men apiece, with two in each. In two of them the housekeeping
arrangements were carried on. The weather had improved during the
afternoon, and by evening we had the most brilliantly clear sky.

Next day the going was even heavier, and the dogs were severely
tried. W e did no more than twelve and a half miles after eight hours'
march. The temperature remained reasonable, +5° F. We had lost our
dried fish, and for the last few hours were going only by compass.

February 24 began badly -- a strong wind from the south-east, with
thick driving snow. We could see nothing, and had to steer our
course by compass. It was bitter going against the wind, although
the temperature was no worse than -0.4° F. We went all day without
seeing any mark. The snow stopped falling about noon, and at three
o'clock it cleared. As we were looking about for a place to pitch
the tents, we caught sight of one of our flags. When we reached it,
we found it was flag No. 5 -- all our bamboos were numbered, so we
knew the exact position of the flag. No. 5 was forty-four and a half
miles from Framheim. This agreed well with the distance recorded --
forty-four miles.

The next day was calm and clear, and the temperature began to
descend, -13° F. But in spite of this lower temperature the air
felt considerably milder, as it was quite still. We followed marks
and fish the whole way, and at the end of our day's journey we had
covered eighteen miles -- a good distance for heavy going.

We then had a couple of days of bitter cold with fog, so that we did
not see much of our surroundings. We followed the fish and the marks
most of the way. We had already begun to find the fish useful as
extra food; the dogs took it greedily. The forerunner had to take up
each fish and throw it on one side; then one of the drivers went out,
took it up, and put it on his sledge. If the dogs had come upon the
fish standing in the snow we should soon have had fierce fights. Even
now, before we reached the depot in 80° S., the dogs began to show
signs of exhaustion, probably as a result of the cold weather (-16.6°
F.) and the hard work. They were stiff in the legs in the morning
and difficult to set going.

On February 27, at 10.30 a.m., we reached the depot in 80° S. The
depot was standing as we had left it, and no snow-drifts had formed
about it, from which we concluded that the weather conditions had been
quiet. The snow, which we had found very loose when we were there
before, was now hardened by the cold. We were lucky with the sun,
and got the position of the depot accurately determined.

On our way across these endless plains, where no landmarks of
any kind are to be found, we had repeatedly thought of a means of
marking our depots so that we might be perfectly sure of finding
them again. Our fight for the Pole was entirely dependent on this
autumn work, in laying down large supplies of provisions as far to
the south as possible in such a way that we could be certain of
finding them again. If we missed them, the battle would probably
be lost. As I have said, we had discussed the question thoroughly,
and come to the conclusion that we should have to try to mark our
depots at right angles to the route, in an east and west direction,
instead of in a line with the route, north and south. These marks
along the line of the route may easily be missed in fog, if they
are not close enough together; and if one thus gets out of the line,
there is a danger of not picking it up again. According to this new
arrangement we therefore marked this depot in 80° S. with high bamboo
poles carrying black flags. We used twenty of these -- ten on each side
of the depot. Between each two flags there was a distance of 984 yards
(900 metres), so that the distance marked on each side of the depot
was five and a half miles (nine kilometres). Each bamboo was marked
with a number, so that we should always be able to tell from this
number on which side the depot lay, and how far off. This method
was entirely new and untried, but proved afterwards to work with
absolute certainty. Our compasses and sledge-meters had, of course,
been carefully adjusted at the station, and we knew that we could
rely on them.

Having put this in order, we continued our journey on the following
day. The temperature fell steadily as we went inland; if it continued
in this way it would be cold before one got to the Pole. The surface
remained as before -- flat and even. We ourselves had a feeling
that we were ascending, but, as the future will show, this was only
imagination. We had had no trouble with fissures, and it almost looked
as if we should avoid them altogether, since, of course, it might
be supposed that the part of the Barrier nearest the edge would be
the most fissured, and we had already left that behind us. South of
80° we found the going easier, but the dogs were now beginning to
be stiff and sore-footed, and it was hard work to get them started
in the morning. The sore feet I am speaking of here are not nearly
so bad as those the dogs are liable to on the sea-ice of the Arctic
regions. What caused sore feet on this journey was the stretches of
snow-crust we had to cross; it was not strong enough to bear the dogs,
and they broke through and cut their paws. Sore feet were also caused
by the snow caking and sticking between the toes. But the dog that has
to travel on sea-ice in spring and summer is exposed to worse things --
the sharp ice cuts the paws and the salt gets in. To prevent this kind
of sore feet one is almost obliged to put socks on the dogs. With the
kind of foot-trouble our dogs experienced it is not necessary to take
any such precautions. As a result of the long sea voyage their feet
had become unusually tender and could not stand much. On our spring
journey we noticed no sore-footedness, in spite of the conditions
being worse rather than better; probably their feet had got into
condition in the course of the winter.

On March 3 we reached 81° S. The temperature was then -45.4° F.,
and it did not feel pleasant. The change had come too rapidly; this
could be seen both in men and in dogs. We pitched our camp at three
in the afternoon, and went straight into the tents. The following
day was employed in building and marking the depot. That night was
the coldest we observed on the trip, as the temperature was -49°
F. when we turned out in the morning. If one compares the conditions
of temperature in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, it will be seen
that this temperature is an exceptionally low one. The beginning of
March corresponds, of course, to the beginning of September in the
northern hemisphere -- a time of year when summer still prevails. We
were astonished to find this low temperature while summer ought still
to have lasted, especially when I remembered the moderate temperatures
Shackleton had observed on his southern sledge journey. The idea at
once occurred to me of the existence of a local pole of maximum cold
extending over the central portion of the Ross Barrier. A comparison
with the observations recorded at Captain Scott's station in McMurdo
Sound might to some extent explain this. In order to establish it
completely one would require to have information about the conditions
in King Edward Land as well. The observations Dr. Mawson is now engaged
upon in Adélie Land and on the Barrier farther west will contribute
much to the elucidation of this question.

In 81° S. we laid down a depot consisting of fourteen cases of dogs'
pemmican -- 1,234 pounds. For marking this depot we had no bamboo
poles, so there was nothing to be done but to break up some cases
and use the pieces as marks; this was, at any rate, better than
nothing. Personally, I considered these pieces of wood, 2 feet high,
good enough, considering the amount of precipitation I had remarked
since our arrival in these regions. The precipitation we had observed
was very slight, considering the time of year -- spring and summer. If,
then, the snowfall was so inconsiderable at this time of the year
and along the edge of the Barrier, what might it not be in autumn
and winter in the interior? As I have said, something was better than
nothing, and Bjaaland, Hassel, and Stubberud, who were to return to
Lindström's flesh-pots on the following day, were given the task of
setting up these marks. As with the former depot, this one was marked
for nine kilometres on each side from east to west. So that we might
know where the depot was, in case we should come upon one of these
marks in a fog, all those on the east were marked with a little cut
of an axe. I must confess they looked insignificant, these little
bits of wood that were soon lost to sight on the boundless plain,
and the idea that they held the key of the castle where the fair one
slept made me smile. They looked altogether too inconsiderable for
such an honour. Meanwhile, we others, who were to go on to the south,
took it easy. The rest was good for the dogs especially, though the
cold prevented their enjoying it as they should have done.

At eight o'clock next morning we parted company with the three who
went north. I had to send home one of my dogs, Odin, who had got an
ugly raw place -- I was using Greenland harness on him -- and I went
on with five dogs. These were very thin, and apparently worn out;
but in any case we had to reach 82° S. before we gave up. I had had
some hope that we might have got to 83°, but it began to look as if
we had a poor chance of that. After 81° S. the Barrier began to take
on a slightly different appearance instead of the absolutely flat
surface, we saw on the first day a good many small formations of
the shape of haycocks. At that time we did not pay much attention
to these apparently insignificant irregularities, but later on we
learned to keep our eyes open and our feet active when passing in
their vicinity. On this first day southward from 81° S. we noticed
nothing; the going was excellent, the temperature not so bad as it
had been, -27.4° F., and the distance covered very creditable. The
next day we got our first idea of the meaning of these little mounds,
as the surface was cut up by crevasse after crevasse. These fissures
were not particularly wide, but were bottomless, as far as we could
see. About noon Hanssen's three leading dogs, Helge, Mylius, and Ring,
fell into one of them, and remained hanging by their harness; and it
was lucky the traces held, as the loss of these three would have been
severely felt. When the rest of the team saw these three disappear,
they stopped short. Fortunately, they had a pronounced fear of these
fissures, and always stopped when anything happened. We understood
now that the haycock formations were the result of pressure, and that
crevasses were always found in their neighbourhood.

That day was for the most part thick and hazy, with a northerly wind,
and snow-showers from time to time. Between the showers we caught
sight of lofty -- very lofty -- pressure ridges, three or four of them,
to the eastward. We estimated their distance at about six miles. Next
day, March 7, we had the same experience that Shackleton mentions on
several occasions. The morning began clear and fine, with a temperature
of -40° F. In the course of the forenoon a breeze sprang up from
the south-east, and increased to a gale during the afternoon. The
temperature rose rapidly, and when we pitched our camp at three in
the afternoon it was only -0.4° F. At our camping-place that morning
we left a case of dogs' pemmican, for use on the homeward journey,
and marked the way to the south with splinters of board at every
kilometre. Our distance that day was only twelve and a half miles. Our
dogs, especially mine, looked miserable -- terribly emaciated. It
was clear that they could only reach 82° S. at the farthest. Even
then the homeward journey would be a near thing.

We decided that evening to be satisfied with reaching 82°, and then
return. During this latter part of the trip we put up our two tents
front to front, so that the openings joined; in this way we were able
to send the food direct from one tent to the other without going
outside, and that was a great advantage. This circumstance led to
a radical alteration in our camping system, and gave us the idea
of the best five-man tent that has probably yet been seen in the
Polar regions. As we lay dozing that evening in our sleeping-bags,
thinking of everything and nothing, the idea suddenly occurred to
us that if the tents were sewed together as they now stood -- after
the fronts had been cut away -- we should get one tent that would
give us far more room for five than the two separate tents as they
were. The idea was followed up, and the fruit of it was the tent we
used on the journey to the Pole -- an ideal tent in every way. Yes,
circumstances work wonders; for I suppose one need not make Providence
responsible for these trifles?

On March 8 we reached 82° S., and it was the utmost my five dogs could
manage. Indeed, as will shortly be seen, it was already too much. They
were completely worn out, poor beasts. This is the only dark memory of
my stay in the South -- the over-taxing of these fine animals -- I had
asked more of them than they were capable of doing. My consolation is
that I did not spare myself either. To set this sledge, weighing nearly
half a ton, in motion with tired-out dogs was no child's play. And
setting it in motion was not always the whole of it: sometimes one
had to push it forward until one forced the dogs to move. The whip had
long ago lost its terrors. When I tried to use it, they only crowded
together, and got their heads as much out of the way as they could;
the body did not matter so much. Many a time, too, I failed altogether
to get them to go, and had to have help. Then two of us shoved the
sledge forward, while the third used the whip, shouting at the same
time for all he was worth. How hard and unfeeling one gets under such
conditions; how one's whole nature may be changed! I am naturally fond
of all animals, and try to avoid hurting them. There is none of the
"sportsman's" instinct in me; it would never occur to me to kill an
animal -- rats and flies excepted -- unless it was to support life. I
think I can say that in normal circumstances I loved my dogs, and the
feeling was undoubtedly mutual. But the circumstances we were now in
were not normal -- or was it, perhaps, myself who was not normal? I
have often thought since that such was really the case. The daily hard
work and the object I would not give up had made me brutal, for brutal
I was when I forced those five skeletons to haul that excessive load. I
feel it yet when I think of Thor -- a big, fine, smooth-haired dog --
uttering his plaintive howls on the march, a thing one never hears
a dog do while working. I did not understand what it meant -- would
not understand, perhaps. On he had to go -- on till he dropped. When
we cut him open we found that his whole chest was one large abscess.

The altitude at noon gave us 81° 54' 30'',
and we therefore went the other six miles to the south, and pitched
our camp at 3.30 p.m. in 82° S. We had latterly had a constant
impression that the Barrier was rising, and in the opinion of all
of us we ought now to have been at a height of about 1,500 feet and
a good way up the slope leading to the Pole. Personally I thought
the ground continued to rise to the south. It was all imagination,
as our later measurements showed.

We had now reached our highest latitude that autumn, and had reason
to be well satisfied. We laid down 1,370 pounds here, chiefly dogs'
pemmican. We did nothing that afternoon, only rested a little. The
weather was brisk, clear and calm, -13° F. The distance this last
day was thirteen and a half miles.

Next day we stayed where we were, built our depot, and marked it. The
marking was done in the same way as in 81° S., with this difference,
that here the pieces of packing-case had small, dark blue strips
of cloth fastened to the top, which made them easier to see. We
made this depot very secure, so that we could be certain it would
stand bad weather in the course of the winter. I also left my sledge
behind, as I saw the impossibility of getting it home with my team;
besides which, an extra sledge at this point might possibly be useful
later. This depot -- 12 feet high -- was marked with a bamboo and a
flag on the top, so that it could be seen a great way off.

On March 10 we took the road for home. I had divided my dogs between
Wisting and Hanssen, but they got no assistance from these bags of
bones, only trouble. The other three teams had held out well. There
was hardly anything wrong to be seen with Hanssen's. Wisting's team
was looked upon as the strongest, but his dogs had got very thin;
however, they did their work well. Wisting's sledge had also been
overloaded; it was even heavier than mine. Johansen's animals had
originally been regarded as the weakest, but they proved themselves
very tough in the long-run. They were no racers, but always managed
to scramble along somehow. Their motto was: "If we don't get there
to-day, we'll get there to-morrow." They all came home.

Our original idea was that the homeward journey should be a sort of
pleasure trip, that we should sit on the sledges and take it easy;
but in the circumstances this was not to be thought of. The dogs had
quite enough to do with the empty sledges. The same day we reached the
place where we had left a case of dogs' pemmican, and camped there,
having done twenty-nine and three-quarter miles. The weather was cold
and raw; temperature, -25.6° F. This weather took the last remnant of
strength out of my dogs; instead of resting at night, they lay huddled
together and freezing. It was pitiful to see them. In the morning they
had to be lifted up and put on their feet; they had not strength enough
to raise themselves. When they had staggered on a little way and got
some warmth into their bodies, they seemed to be rather better --
at any rate, they could keep up with us. The following day we did
twenty-four and three-quarter miles; temperature, -32.8° F.

On the 12th we passed the depot in 81° S. The big pressure ridges
to the east were easily visible, and we got a good bearing, which
would possibly come in useful later for fixing the position of
the depot. That day we did twenty-four and three-quarter miles;
temperature, -39° F. March 13 began calm and fine, but by half-past
ten in the morning a strong wind had sprung up from the east-south-east
with thick driving snow. So as not to lose the tracks we had followed
so far, we pitched our camp, to wait till the storm was over. The wind
howled and took hold of the tents, but could not move them. The next
day it blew just as hard from the same quarter, and we decided to
wait. The temperature was as usual, with the wind in this quarter;
-11.2° F. The wind did not moderate till 10.30 a.m. on the 15th,
when we were able to make a start.

What a sight there was outside! How were we going to begin to bring
order out of this chaos? The sledges were completely snowed up;
whips, ski-bindings, and harness largely eaten up. It was a nice
predicament. Fortunately we were well supplied with Alpine rope,
and that did for the harness; spare straps came in for ski-bindings,
but the whips were not so easy to make good. Hanssen, who drove first,
was bound to have a fairly serviceable whip; the others did not matter
so much, though it was rather awkward for them. In some way or other
he provided himself with a whip that answered his purpose. I saw one
of the others armed with a tent-pole, and he used it till we reached
Framheim. At first the dogs were much afraid of this monster of a whip,
but they soon found out that it was no easy matter to reach them with
the pole, and then they did not care a scrap for it.

At last everything seemed to be in order, and then we only had to get
the dogs up and in their places. Several of them were so indifferent
that they had allowed themselves to be completely snowed under,
but one by one we got them out and put them on their feet. Thor,
however, refused absolutely. It was impossible to get him to stand
up; he simply lay and whined. There was nothing to be done but to put
an end to him, and as we had no firearms, it had to be done with an
axe. It was quite successful; less would have killed him. Wisting took
the carcass on his sledge to take it to the next camp, and there cut it
up. The day was bitterly cold -- fog and snow with a southerly breeze;
temperature, -14.8° F. We were lucky enough to pick up our old tracks
of the southern journey, and could follow them. Lurven, Wisting's
best dog, fell down on the march, and died on the spot. He was one
of those dogs who had to work their hardest the whole time; he never
thought of shirking for a moment; he pulled and pulled until he died.

All sentimental feeling had vanished long ago; nobody thought of giving
Lurven the burial he deserved. What was left of him, skin and bones,
was cut up and divided among his companions.

On March 16 we advanced seventeen miles; temperature, -29.2° F. Jens,
one of my gallant "Three Musketeers," had been given a ride all day
on Wisting's sledge; he was too weak to walk any longer. Thor was to
have been divided among his companions that evening, but, on account
of the abscess in his chest, we changed our minds. He was put into an
empty case and buried. During the night we were wakened by a fearful
noise. The dogs were engaged in a fierce fight, and it was easy to
guess from their howls that it was all about food. Wisting, who always
showed himself quickest in getting out of the bag, was instantly on
the spot, and then it was seen that they had dug up Thor, and were
now feasting on him. It could not be said that they were hard to
please in the way of food. Associations of ideas are curious things;
"sauce hollandaise" suddenly occurred to my mind. Wisting buried the
carcass again, and we had peace for the rest of the night.

On the 17th it felt bitterly cold, with -41.8° F., and a sharp
snowstorm from the south-east. Lassesen, one of my dogs, who had
been following the sledges loose, was left behind this morning at
the camping-place; we did not miss him till late in the day. Rasmus,
one of the "Three Musketeers," fell to-day. Like Lurven, he pulled
till he died. Jens was very ill, could not touch food, and was taken
on Wisting's sledge. We reached our depot in 80° S. that evening,
and were able to give the dogs a double ration. The distance covered
was twenty-one and three-quarter miles. The surface about here had
changed in our absence; great, high snow-waves were now to be seen
in all directions. On one of the cases in the depot Bjaaland had
written a short message, besides which we found the signal arranged
with Hassel -- a block of snow on the top of the depot to show
that they had gone by, and that all was well. The cold continued
persistently. The following day we had -41.8° F. Ola and Jens, the
two survivors of the "Three Musketeers," had to be put an end to that
day; it was a shame to keep them alive any longer. And with them the
"Three Musketeers" disappear from this history. They were inseparable
friends, these three; all of them almost entirely black. At Flekkerö,
near Christiansand, where we kept our dogs for several weeks before
taking them on board, Rasmus had got loose, and was impossible to
catch. He always came and slept with his two friends, unless he was
being hunted. We did not succeed in catching him until a few days
before we took them on board, and then he was practically wild. They
were all three tied up on the bridge on board, where I was to have
my team, and from that day my closer acquaintance with the trio is
dated. They were not very civilly disposed for the first month. I
had to make my advances with a long stick -- scratch them on the
back. In this way I insinuated myself into their confidence, and we
became very good friends. But they were a terrible power on board;
wherever these three villains showed themselves, there was always a
row. They loved fighting. They were our fastest dogs. In our races
with empty sledges, when we were driving around Framheim, none of the
others could beat these three. I was always sure of leaving the rest
behind when I had them in my team.

I had quite given up Lassesen, who had been left behind that morning,
and I was very sorry for it, as he was my strongest and most willing
beast. I was glad, therefore, when he suddenly appeared again,
apparently fit and well. We presumed that he had dug up Thor again,
and finished him. It must have been food that had revived him. From
80° S. home he did remarkably good work in Wisting's team.

That day we had a curious experience, which was useful for the
future. The compass on Hanssen's sledge, which had always been
reliability itself, suddenly began to go wrong; at any rate, it did
not agree with the observations of the sun, which we fortunately had
that day. We altered our course in accordance with our bearings. In
the evening, when we took our things into the tent, the housewife,
with scissors, pins, needles, etc., had lain close against the
compass. No wonder it turned rebellious.

On March 19 we had a breeze from the south-east and -45.4° F. "Rather
fresh," I find noted in my diary. Not long after we had started that
morning, Hanssen caught sight of our old tracks. He had splendid
eyesight -- saw everything long before anyone else. Bjaaland also had
good sight, but he did not come up to Hanssen. The way home was now
straightforward, and we could see the end of our journey. Meanwhile
a gale sprang up from the south-east, which stopped us for a day;
temperature, -29.2° F. Next day the temperature had risen, as usual,
with a south-east wind; we woke up to find it +15.8° F. on the
morning of the 21st. That was a difference that could be felt, and
not an unpleasant one; we had had more than enough of -40°. It was
curious weather that night: violent gusts of wind from the east and
south-east, with intervals of dead calm -- just as if they came off
high land. On our way northward that day we passed our flag No. 6,
and then knew that we were fifty-three miles from Framheim. Pitched
our camp that evening at thirty-seven miles from the station. We
had intended to take this stretch of the way in two days, seeing
how tired the dogs were; but it turned out otherwise, for we lost
our old tracks during the forenoon, and in going on we came too far
to the east, and high up on the ridge mentioned before. Suddenly
Hanssen sang out that he saw something funny in front -- what it
was he did not know. When that was the case, we had to apply to the
one who saw even better than Hanssen, and that was my glass. Up with
the glass, then -- the good old glass that has served me for so many
years. Yes, there was certainly something curious. It must be the
Bay of Whales that we were looking down into, but what were those
black things moving up and down? They are our fellows hunting seals,
someone suggested, and we all agreed. Yes, of course, it was so clear
that there was no mistaking it. "I can see a sledge -- and there's
another -- and there's a third." We nearly had tears in our eyes to
see how industrious they were. "Now they're gone. No; there they are
again. Strange how they bob up and down, those fellows!" It proved to
be a mirage; what we saw was Framheim with all its tents. Our lads,
we were sure, were just taking a comfortable midday nap, and the
tears we were nearly shedding were withdrawn. Now we could survey
the situation calmly. There lay Framheim, there was Cape Man's Head,
and there West Cape, so that we had come too far to the east. "Hurrah
for Framheim! half-past seven this evening," shouted one. "Yes, that's
all we can do," cried another; and away we went. We set our course
straight for the middle of the bay. We must have got pretty high up,
as we went down at a terrific pace. This was more than the forerunner
could manage; he flung himself on a sledge as it went by. I had a
glimpse of Hanssen, who was busy making a whip-handle, as I passed;
the soles of his feet were then very prominent. I myself was lying
on Hanssen's sledge, shaking with laughter; the situation was too
comical. Hanssen picked himself up again just as the last sledge was
passing and jumped on. We all collected in a mass below the ridge --
sledges and dogs mixed up together.

The last part of the way was rather hard work. We now found the
tracks that we had lost early in the day; one dried fish after
another stuck up out of the snow and led us straight on. We reached
Framheim at seven in the evening, half an hour earlier than we had
thought. It was a day's march of thirty-seven miles -- not so bad
for exhausted dogs. Lassesen was the only one I brought home out of
my team. Odin, whom I had sent home from 81° S., died after arriving
there. We lost altogether eight dogs on this trip; two of Stubberud's
died immediately after coming home from 81° S. Probably the cold was
chiefly responsible; I feel sure that with a reasonable temperature
they would have come through. The three men who came home from 81°
S. were safe and sound. It is true that they had run short of food
and matches the last day, but if the worst came to the worst, they
had the dogs. Since their return they had shot, brought in, cut up,
and stowed away, fifty seals -- a very good piece of work.

Lindström had been untiring during our absence; he had put everything
in splendid order. In the covered passage round the hut he had cut out
shelves in the snow and filled them with slices of seal meat. Here
alone there were steaks enough for the whole time we should spend
here. On the outer walls of the hut, which formed the other side of
the passage, he had put up shelves, and there all kinds of tinned
foods were stored. All was in such perfect order that one could put
one's hand on what one wanted in the dark. There stood salt meat
and bacon by themselves, and there were fish-cakes. There you read
the label on a tin of caramel pudding, and you could be sure that
the rest of the caramel puddings were in the vicinity. Quite right;
there they stood in a row, like a company of soldiers. Oh, Lindström,
how long will this order last?

Well, that was, of course, a question I put to myself in the strictest
secrecy. Let me turn over my diary. On Thursday, July 27, I find the
following entry: "The provision passage turns our days into chaotic
confusion. How my mind goes back to the time when one could find
what one wanted without a light of any kind! If you put out your hand
to get a plum-pudding and shut it again, you could be sure it was a
plum-pudding you had hold of. And so it was throughout Lindström's
department. But now -- good Heavens! I am ashamed to put down what
happened to me yesterday. I went out there in the most blissful
ignorance of the state of things now prevailing, and, of course,
I had no light with me, for everything had its place. I put out my
hand and grasped. According to my expectation I ought to have been in
possession of a packet of candles, but the experiment had failed. That
which I held in my hand could not possibly be a packet of candles. It
was evident from the feel that it was something of a woollen nature. I
laid the object down, and had recourse to the familiar expedient
of striking a match. Do you know what it was? A dirty old -- pair
of pants! and do you want to know where I found it? Well, it was
between the butter and the sweetmeats. That was mixing things up
with a vengeance." But Lindström must not have all the blame. In this
passage everyone was running backwards and forwards, early and late,
and as a rule in the dark. And if they knocked something down on the
way, I am not quite sure that they always stopped to pick it up again.

Then he had painted the ceiling of the room white. How cosy it
looked when we put our heads in that evening! He had seen us a long
way off on the Barrier, the rascal, and now the table was laid with
all manner of dainties. But seal-steaks and the smell of coffee were
what attracted us, and it was no small quantity that disappeared that
evening. Home! -- that word has a good sound, wherever it may be, at
sea, on land, or on -- the Barrier. How comfortable we made ourselves
that night! The first thing we did now was to dry all our reindeer-skin
clothes; they were wet through. This was not to be done in a hurry. We
had to stretch the garments that were to be dried on lines under the
ceiling of the room, so that we could not dry very much at a time.

We got everything ready, and made some improvements in our outfit
for a last depot journey before the winter set in. This time the
destination was 80° S., with about a ton and a quarter of fresh seal
meat. How immensely important it would be on the main journey if we
could give our dogs as much seal meat as they could eat at 80° S.;
we all saw the importance of this, and were eager to carry it out. We
set to work once more at the outfit; the last trip had taught us much
that was new. Thus Prestrud and Johansen had come to the conclusion
that a double sleeping-bag was preferable to two single ones. I will
not enter upon the discussion that naturally arose on this point. The
double bag has many advantages, and so has the single bag; let it
therefore remain a matter of taste. Those two were, however, the only
ones who made this alteration. Hanssen and Wisting were busy carrying
out the new idea for the tents, and it was not long before they had
finished. These tents are as much like a snow hut in form as they can
be; instead of being entirely round, they have a more oblong form,
but there is no flat side, and the wind has no point of attack. Our
personal outfit also underwent some improvements.

The Bay of Whales -- the inner part of it, from Man's Head to West
Cape -- was now entirely frozen over, but outside the sea lay immense
and dark. Our house was now completely covered with snow. Most of
this was Lindström's work; the blizzard had not helped him much. This
covering with snow has a great deal to do with keeping the hut snug
and warm. Our dogs -- 107 in number -- mostly look like pigs getting
ready for Christmas; even the famished ones that made the last trip
are beginning to recover. It is an extraordinary thing how quickly
such an animal can put on flesh.

It was interesting to watch the home-coming of the dogs from the
last trip. They showed no sign of surprise when we came into camp;
they might have been there all the time. It is true they were rather
more hungry than the rest. The meeting between Lassesen and Fix was
comic. These two were inseparable friends; the first-named was boss,
and the other obeyed him blindly. On this last trip I had left Fix at
home, as he did not give me the impression of being quite up to the
work; he had therefore put on a lot of flesh, big eater as he was. I
stood and watched their meeting with intense curiosity. Would not Fix
take advantage of the occasion to assume the position of boss? In such
a mass of dogs it took some little time before they came across each
other. Then it was quite touching. Fix ran straight up to the other,
began to lick him, and showed every sign of the greatest affection
and joy at seeing him again. Lassesen, on his part, took it all with
a very superior air, as befits a boss. Without further ceremony, he
rolled his fat friend in the snow and stood over him for a while --
no doubt to let him know that he was still absolute master, beyond
dispute. Poor Fix! -- he looked quite crestfallen. But this did not
last long; he soon avenged himself on the other, knowing that he
could tackle him with safety.

In order to give a picture of our life as it was at this time, I
will quote a day from my diary. March 25 -- Saturday: "Beautiful mild
weather, +6.8° F. all day. Very light breeze from the south-east. Our
seal-hunters -- the party that came home from 81° S. -- were out this
morning, and brought back three seals. This makes sixty-two seals
altogether since their return on March 11. We have now quite enough
fresh meat both for ourselves and for all our dogs. We get to like
seal-steak more and more every day. We should all be glad to eat it
at every meal, but we think it safer to make a little variety. For
breakfast -- eight o'clock -- we now have regularly hot cakes with
jam, and Lindström knows how to prepare them in a way that could not
be surpassed in the best American houses. In addition, we have bread,
butter, cheese, and coffee. For dinner we mostly have seal meat (we
introduced rather more tinned meat into the menu in the course of the
winter), and sweets in the form of tinned Californian fruit, tarts,
and tinned puddings. For supper, seal-steak, with whortleberry jam,
cheese, bread, butter, and coffee. Every Saturday evening a glass of
toddy and a cigar. I must frankly confess that I have never lived so
well. And the consequence is that we are all in the best of health, and
I feel certain that the whole enterprise will be crowned with success.

"It is strange indeed here to go outside in the evening and see the
cosy, warm lamp-light through the window of our little snow-covered
hut, and to feel that this is our snug, comfortable home on the
formidable and dreaded Barrier. All our little puppies -- as round
as Christmas pigs -- are wandering about outside, and at night they
lie in crowds about the door. They never take shelter under a roof
at night. They must be hardy beasts. Some of them are so fat that
they waddle just like geese."

The aurora australis was seen for the first time on the evening of
March 28. It was composed of shafts and bands, and extended from the
south-west to the north-east through the zenith. The light was pale
green and red. We see many fine sunsets here, unique in the splendour
of their colour. No doubt the surroundings in this fairyland of blue
and white do much to increase their beauty.

The departure of the last depot journey was fixed for Friday, March
31. A few days before, the seal-hunting party went out on the ice and
shot six seals for the depot. They were cleaned and all superfluous
parts removed, so that they should not be too heavy. The weight of
these six seals was then estimated at about 2,400 pounds.

On March 31, at 10 a.m., the last depot party started. It consisted
of seven men, six sledges, and thirty-six dogs. I did not go myself
this time. They had the most beautiful weather to begin their journey
-- dead calm and brilliantly clear. At seven o'clock that morning,
when I came out of the hut, I saw a sight so beautiful that I shall
never forget it. The whole surroundings of the station lay in deep,
dark shadow, in lee of the ridge to the east. But the sun's rays
reached over the Barrier farther to the north, and there the Barrier
lay golden red, bathed in the morning sun. It glittered and shone,
red and gold, against the jagged row of mighty masses of ice that
bounds our Barrier on the north. A spirit of peace breathed over
all. But from Framheim the smoke ascended quietly into the air,
and proclaimed that the spell of thousands of years was broken.

The sledges were heavily loaded when they went southward. I saw them
slowly disappear over the ridge by the starting-place. It was a quiet
time that followed after all the work and hurry of preparation. Not
that we two who stayed at home sat still doing nothing. We made
good use of the time. The first thing to be done was to put our
meteorological station in order. On April 1 all the instruments
were in use. In the kitchen were hung our two mercury barometers,
four aneroids, barograph, thermograph, and one thermometer. They were
placed in a well-protected corner, farthest from the stove. We had
no house as yet for our outside instruments, but the sub-director
went to work to prepare one as quickly as possible, and so nimble
were his hands that when the depot party returned there was the
finest instrument-screen standing ready on the hill, painted white
so that it shone a long way off: The wind-vane was a work of art,
constructed by our able engineer, Sundbeck. No factory could have
supplied a more handsome or tasteful one. In the instrument-screen we
had a thermograph, hygrometer, and thermometers. Observations were
made at 8 a.m., 2 p.m., and 8 p.m. When I was at home I took them,
and when I was away it was Lindström's work.

On the night before April 11 something or other fell down in the
kitchen -- according to Lindström, a sure sign that the travellers
might be expected home that day. And, sure enough, at noon we caught
sight of them up at the starting-place. They came across at such a
pace that the snow was scattered all round them, and in an hour's
time we had them back. They had much to tell us. In the first place,
that everything had been duly taken to the depot in 80°S. Then they
surprised me with an account of a fearfully crevassed piece of
surface that they had come upon, forty-six and a half miles from
the station, where they had lost two dogs. This was very strange;
we had now traversed this stretch of surface four times without being
particularly troubled with anything of this sort, and then, all of a
sudden, when they thought the whole surface was as solid as a rock,
they found themselves in danger of coming to grief altogether. In
thick weather they had gone too far to the west; then, instead of
arriving at the ridge, as we had done before, they came down into the
valley, and there found a surface so dangerous that they nearly had
a catastrophe. It was a precisely similar piece of surface to that
already mentioned to the south of 81° S., but full of small hummocks
everywhere. The ground was apparently solid enough, and this was just
the most dangerous thing about it; but, as they were crossing it,
large pieces of the surface fell away just in rear of them, disclosing
bottomless crevasses, big enough to swallow up everything -- men, dogs,
and sledges. With some difficulty they got out of this ugly place by
steering to the east. Now we knew of it, and we should certainly be
very careful not to come that way again. In spite of this, however,
we afterwards had an even more serious encounter with this nasty trap.

One dog had also been left behind on the way; it had a wound on one
of its feet, and could not be harnessed in the sledge. It had been
let loose a few miles to the north of the depot, doubtless with the
idea that it would follow the sledges. But the dog seemed to have
taken another view of the matter, and was never seen again. There
were some who thought that the dog had probably returned to the depot,
and was now passing its days in ease and luxury among the laboriously
transported seals' carcasses. I must confess that this idea was not
very attractive to me; there was, indeed, a possibility that such a
thing had happened, and that the greater part of our seal meat might
be missing when we wanted it. But our fears proved groundless; Cook --
that was the name of the dog; we had a Peary as well, of course --
was gone for ever.

The improved outfit was in every way successful. Praises of the new
tent were heard on every hand, and Prestrud and Johansen were in the
seventh heaven over their double sleeping-bag. I fancy the others
were very well satisfied with their single ones.

And with this the most important part of the autumn's work came to
an end. The foundation was solidly laid; now we had only to raise
the edifice. Let us briefly sum up the work accomplished between
January 14 and April 11: The complete erection of the station,
with accommodation for nine men for several years; provision of
fresh meat for nine men and a hundred and fifteen dogs for half a
year -- the weight of the seals killed amounted to about 60 tons;
and, finally, the distribution of 3 tons of supplies in the depots in
latitudes 80°, 81°, and 82°S. The depot in 80°S. contained seal meat,
dogs' pemmican, biscuits, butter, milk-powder, chocolate, matches,
and paraffin, besides a quantity of outfit. The total weight of this
depot was 4,200 pounds. In 81°S., 1/2 ton of dogs' pemmican. In 82°S.,
pemmican, both for men and dogs, biscuits, milk-powder, chocolate,
and paraffin, besides a quantity of outfit. The weight of this depot
amounted to 1,366 pounds.


Preparing for Winter

Winter! I believe most people look upon winter as a time of storms,
cold, and discomfort. They look forward to it with sadness, and bow
before the inevitable -- Providence ordains it so. The prospect of a
ball or two cheers them up a little, and makes the horizon somewhat
brighter; but, all the same -- darkness and cold -- ugh, no! let us
have summer, they say. What my comrades thought about the winter
that was approaching I cannot say; for my part, I looked forward
to it with pleasure. When I stood out there on the snow hill, and
saw the light shining out of the kitchen window, there came over me
an indescribable feeling of comfort and well-being. And the blacker
and more stormy the winter night might be, the greater would be this
feeling of well-being inside our snug little house. I see the reader's
questioning look, and know what he will say: "But weren't you awfully
afraid the Barrier would break off, and float you out to sea?" I will
answer this question as frankly as possible. With one exception, we
were all at this time of the opinion that the part of the Barrier on
which the hut stood rested on land, so that any fear of a sea voyage
was quite superfluous. As to the one who thought we were afloat, I
think I can say very definitely that he was not afraid. I believe,
as a matter of fact, that he gradually came round to the same view
as the rest of us.

If a general is to win a battle, he must always be prepared. If
his opponent makes a move, he must see that he is able to make a
counter-move; everything must be planned in advance, and nothing
unforeseen. We were in the same position; we had to consider beforehand
what the future might bring, and make our arrangements accordingly
while there was time. When the sun had left us, and the dark period
had set in, it would be too late. What first of all claimed our
attention and set our collective brain-machinery to work was the female
sex. There was no peace for us even on the Barrier. What happened
was that the entire feminine population -- eleven in number -- had
thought fit to appear in a condition usually considered "interesting,"
but which, under the circumstances, we by no means regarded in that
light. Our hands were indeed full enough without this. What was to be
done? Great deliberation. Eleven maternity hospitals seemed rather a
large order, but we knew by experience that they all required first
aid. If we left several of them in the same place there would be a
terrible scene, and it would end in their eating up each other's
pups. For what had happened only a few days before? Kaisa, a big
black-and-white bitch, had taken a three-months-old pup when no one
was looking, and made a meal off it. When we arrived we saw the tip
of its tail disappearing, so there was not much to be done. Now,
it fortunately happened that one of the dog-tents became vacant, as
Prestrud's team was divided among the other tents; as "forerunner,"
he had no use for dogs. Here, with a little contrivance, we could
get two of them disposed of; a dividing wall could be put up. When
first laying out the station, we had taken this side of life into
consideration, and a "hospital" in the shape of a sixteen-man tent
had been erected; but this was not nearly enough. We then had recourse
to the material of which there is such superabundance in these parts
of the earth-snow. We erected a splendid big snow-hut. Besides this,
Lindström in his leisure hours had erected a little building, which was
ready when we returned from the second depot journey. We had none of
us asked what it was for, but now we knew Lindström's kind heart. With
these arrangements at our disposal we were able to face the winter.

Camilla, the sly old fox, had taken things in time; she knew what
it meant to bring up children in the dark, and, in truth, it was
no pleasure. She had therefore made haste, and was ready as soon as
the original "hospital" was prepared. She could now look forward to
the future with calmness in the last rays of the disappearing sun;
when darkness set in, her young ones would be able to look after
themselves. Camilla, by the way, had her own views of bringing up
her children. What there was about the hospital that she did not
like I do not know, but it is certain that she preferred any other
place. It was no rare thing to come across Camilla in a tearing gale
and a temperature twenty below zero with one of her offspring in her
mouth. She was going out to look for a new place. Meanwhile, the three
others, who had to wait, were shrieking and howling. The places she
chose were not, as a rule, such as we should connect with the idea of
comfort; a case, for instance, standing on its side, and fully exposed
to the wind, or behind a stack of planks, with a draught coming through
that would have done credit to a factory chimney. But if she liked it,
there was nothing to be said. If the family were left alone in such
a place, she would spend some days there before moving on again. She
never returned to the hospital voluntarily, but it was not a rare thing
to see Johansen, who was guardian to the family, hauling off the lady
and as many of her little ones as he could get hold of in a hurry. They
then disappeared into the hospital with words of encouragement.

At the same time we introduced a new order of things with our
dogs. Hitherto we had been obliged to keep them tied up on account of
seal-hunting; otherwise they went off by themselves and ravaged. There
were certain individuals who specially distinguished themselves in
this way, like Wisting's Major. He was a born hunter, afraid of
nothing. Then there was Hassel's Svarten; but a good point about
him was that he went off alone, while the Major always had a whole
staff with him. They usually came back with their faces all covered
with blood. To put a stop to this sport we had been obliged to keep
them fast; but now that the seals had left us, we could let them
loose. Naturally the first use to which they put their liberty was
fighting. In the course of time -- for reasons impossible to discover
-- bitter feelings and hatred had arisen between certain of the dogs,
and now they were offered an opportunity of deciding which was the
stronger, and they seized upon it with avidity. But after a time their
manners improved, and a regular fight became a rarity. There were,
of course, a few who could never see each other without flying at one
another's throats, like Lassesen and Hans, for instance; but we knew
their ways, and could keep an eye on them. The dogs soon knew their
respective tents, and their places in them. They were let loose as
soon as we came out in the morning, and were chained up again in the
evening when they were to be fed. They got so used to this that we
never had much trouble; they all reported themselves cheerfully when
we came in the evening to fasten them up, and every animal knew his
own master and tent, and knew at once what was expected of him. With
howls of delight the various dogs collected about their masters, and
made for the tents in great jubilation. We kept up this arrangement
the whole time. Their food consisted of seal's flesh and blubber one
day, and dried fish the next; as a rule, both disappeared without any
objection, though they certainly preferred the seal. Throughout the
greater part of the winter we had carcasses of seals lying on the
slope, and these were usually a centre of great interest. The spot
might be regarded as the market-place of Framheim, and it was not
always a peaceful one. The customers were many and the demand great,
so that sometimes lively scenes took place. Our own store of seal's
flesh was in the "meat-tent." About a hundred seals had been cut up and
stacked there. As already mentioned, we built a wall of snow, two yards
high, round this tent, as a protection against the dogs. Although they
had as much to eat as they wanted, and although they knew they were not
allowed to try to get in -- or possibly this prohibition was just the
incentive -- they were always casting longing eyes in that direction,
and the number of claw-marks in the wall spoke eloquently of what went
on when we were not looking. Snuppesen, in particular, could not keep
herself away from that wall, and she was extremely light and agile,
so that she had the best chance. She never engaged in this sport by
herself, but always enticed out her attendant cavaliers, Fix and Lasse;
these, however, were less active, and had to be content with looking
on. While she jumped inside the wall -- which she only succeeded in
doing once or twice -- they ran round yelling. As soon as we heard
their howls, we knew exactly what was happening, and one of us went
out, armed with a stick. It required some cunning to catch her in the
act, for as soon as one approached, her cavaliers stopped howling, and
she understood that something was wrong. Her red fox's head could then
be seen over the top, looking round. It need scarcely be said that she
did not jump into the arms of the man with the stick, but, as a rule,
he did not give up until he had caught and punished her. Fix and Lasse
also had their turns; it was true they had done nothing wrong, but
they might. They knew this, and watched Snuppesen's chastisement at
a distance. The tent where we kept the dried fish stood always open;
none of them attempted to take fish.

The sun continued its daily course, lower and lower. We did not see
much of it after the return from the last depot journey; on April
11 it came, and vanished again at once. Easter came round on the
Barrier, as in other parts of the globe, and had to be kept. Holidays
with us were marked by eating a little more than usual; there was no
other sign. We did not dress differently, nor did we introduce any
other change. In the evening of a holiday we generally had a little
gramophone, a glass of toddy, and a cigar; but we were careful with
the gramophone. We knew we should soon get tired of it if we used
it too often; therefore we only brought it out on rare occasions,
but we enjoyed its music all the more when we heard it. When Easter
was over, a sigh of relief escaped us all; these holidays are always
tiring. They are tedious enough in places which have more amusements
to offer than the Barrier, but here they were insufferably long.

Our manner of life was now completely in order, and everything worked
easily and well. The chief work of the winter would be the perfecting
of our outfit for the coming sledge journey to the South. Our
object was to reach the Pole -- everything else was secondary. The
meteorological observations were in full swing and arranged for
the winter. Observations were made at 8 a.m., 2 p.m., and 8 p.m. We
were so short-handed that I could not spare anyone for night duty,
besides which, living as we did in a small space, it would have a
disturbing effect if there were always someone moving about; there
would never be any peace. My special aim was that everyone should
be happy and comfortable, so that, when the spring came, we might
all be fresh and well and eager to take up the final task. It was
not my intention that we should spend the winter in idleness -- far
from it. To be contented and well, a man must always be occupied. I
therefore expected everyone to be busy during the hours that were set
apart for work. At the end of the day each man was free to do what
he pleased. We had also to keep some sort of order and tidiness, as
well as circumstances permitted. It was therefore decided that each
of us should take a week's duty as "orderly." This duty consisted
in sweeping the floor every morning, emptying ash-trays, etc. To
secure plenty of ventilation -- especially in our sleeping-places --
a rule was made that no one might have anything under his bunk except
the boots he had in wear. Each man had two pegs to hang his clothes
on, and this was sufficient for what he was wearing every day; all
superfluous clothing was stuffed into our kit-bags and put out. In
this way we succeeded in maintaining some sort of tidiness; in any
case, the worst of the dirt was got rid of. Whether a fastidious
housekeeper would have found everything in order is doubtful.

Everyone had his regular work. Prestrud, with the assistance
of Johansen, looked after the astronomical observations and the
pendulum observations. Hassel was set in authority over coal, wood,
and paraffin; he was responsible for the supply lasting out. As manager
of the Framheim coal and wood business, he, of course, received the
title of Director, and this dignity might possibly have gone to his
head if the occupation of errand-boy had not been combined with it. But
it was. Besides receiving the orders, he had to deliver the goods, and
he discharged his duties with distinction. He succeeded in hoodwinking
his largest customer -- Lindström -- to such an extent that, in the
course of the winter, he saved a good deal of coal. Hanssen had to
keep the depot in order and bring in everything we required. Wisting
had charge of the whole outfit, and was responsible that nothing was
touched without permission. Bjaaland and Stubberud were to look after
the pent-house and the passage round the hut. Lindström was occupied in
the kitchen -- the hardest and most thankless work on an expedition
like this. No one says anything so long as the food is good; but
let the cook be unlucky and burn the soup one day, and he will hear
something. Lindström had the excellent disposition of a man who is
never put out; whatever people might say, it was "all the same" to him.

On April 19 we saw the sun for the last time, since it then went
below our horizon -- the ridge to the north. It was intensely red,
and surrounded by a sea of flame, which did not disappear altogether
until the 21st. Now everything was well. As far as the hut was
concerned, it could not be better; but the pent-house, which it was
originally intended to use as a workroom, soon proved too small,
dark, and cold, besides which all the traffic went through that room,
so that work would be constantly interrupted or stopped altogether
at times. Except this dark hole we had no workroom, and we had a lot
of work to do. Of course, we might use our living-room, but then we
should be in each other's way all day long; nor would it be a good
plan to give up the only room where we could sometimes find peace
and comfort to be a workshop. I know it is the usual custom to
do so, but I have always found it a bad arrangement. Now, indeed,
we were at our wits' end, but circumstances once more came to our
aid. For we may just as well confess it: we had forgotten to bring
out a tool which is a commonplace necessity on a Polar expedition --
namely, a snow-shovel. A well-equipped expedition, as ours was to
a certain extent, ought to have at least twelve strong, thick iron
spades. We had none. We had two remnants, but they did not help
us very far. Fortunately, however, we had a very good, solid iron
plate with us, and now Bjaaland stepped into the breach, and made a
whole dozen of the very best spades. Stubberud managed the handles,
and they might all have been turned out by a big factory. This
circumstance had very important results for our future well-being,
as will be seen. If we had had the shovels with us from the start,
we should have cleared the snow away from our door every morning,
like tidy people. But as we had none, the snow had increased daily
before our door, and, before Bjaaland was ready with the spades,
had formed a drift extending from the entrance along the western side
of the house. This snow-drift, which was as big as the house itself,
naturally caused some frowns, when one morning all hands turned out,
armed with the new shovels, to make a clearance. As we stood there,
afraid to begin, one of us -- it must have been Lindström, or Hanssen
perhaps, or was it myself? well, it doesn't matter -- one of us had
the bright idea of taking Nature in hand, and working with her instead
of against her. The proposal was that we should dig out a carpenter's
shop in the big snow-drift, and put it in direct communication with
the hut. This was no sooner suggested than adopted unanimously. And
now began a work of tunnelling which lasted a good while, for one
excavation led to another, and we did not stop until we had a whole
underground village -- probably one of the most interesting works
ever executed round a Polar station. Let us begin with the morning
when we thrust the first spade into the drift; it was Thursday,
April 20. While three men went to work to dig right into the drift
from the hut door westward, three more were busy connecting it with
the hut. This was done by stretching boards -- the same that we had
used on the Fram as a false deck for the dogs -- from the drift up
to the roof of the pent-house. The open part between the drift and
the pent-house on the northern side was filled up entirely into a
solid wall, which went up to join the roof that had just been put
on. The space between the pent-house and the drift on the south wall
was left open as an exit. But now we had the building fever on us,
and one ambitious project succeeded another. Thus we agreed to dig
a passage the whole length of the drift, and terminate it by a large
snow-hut, in which we were to have a vapour bath. That was something
like a plan -- a vapour bath in 79°S. Hanssen, snow-hut builder by
profession, went to work at it. He built it quite small and solid,
and extended it downward, so that, when at last it was finished, it
measured 12 feet from floor to roof. Here we should have plenty of
room to fit up a vapour bath. Meanwhile the tunnellers were advancing;
we could hear the sound of their pickaxes and spades coming nearer
and nearer. This was too much for Hanssen. As he had now finished
the hut, he set to work to dig his way to the others; and when he
begins a thing, it does not take him very long. We could hear the two
parties continually nearing each other. The excitement increases. Will
they meet? Or are they digging side by side on different lines? The
Simplon, Mont Cenis, and other engineering works, flashed through my
brain. If they were going to hit it off, we must be -- hullo! I was
interrupted in my studies by a glistening face, which was thrust
through the wall just as I was going to dig my spade into it. It
was Wisting, pioneer of the Framheim tunnel. He had good reason to
be glad he escaped with his nose safe and sound. In another instant
I should have had it on my spade. It was a fine sight, this long,
white passage, ending in the high, shining dome. As we dug forward,
we dug down at the same time so as not to weaken the roof. There was
plenty to take down below; the Barrier was deep enough.

When this was finished, we began to work on the carpenter's shop. This
had to be dug considerably deeper, as the drift was rounded off
a little to the side. We therefore dug first into the drift, and
then right down; as far as I remember, we went 6 feet down into the
Barrier here. The shop was made roomy, with space enough for both
carpenters and length enough for our sledges. The planing-bench was
cut out in the wall and covered with boards. The workshop terminated
at its western end in a little room, where the carpenters kept their
smaller tools. A broad stairway, cut in the snow and covered with
boards, led from the shop into the passage. As soon as the workshop
was finished, the workmen moved in, and established themselves under
the name of the Carpenters' Union. Here the whole sledging outfit for
the Polar journey was remodelled. Opposite the carpenters came the
smithy, dug to the same depth as the other; this was less used. On the
other side of the smithy, nearer to the hut, a deep hole was dug to
receive all the waste water from the kitchen. Between the Carpenters'
Union and the entrance to the pent-house, opposite the ascent to the
Barrier, we built a little room, which, properly speaking, deserves
a very detailed explanation; but, for want of space, this must be
deferred till later. The ascent to the Barrier, which had been left
open while all these works were in progress, was now closed by a
contrivance which is also worth mentioning. There are a great many
people who apparently have never learnt to shut a door after them;
where two or three are gathered together, you generally find at least
one who suffers from this defect. How many would there be among us,
who numbered nine? It is no use asking a victim of this complaint
to shut the door after him; he is simply incapable of doing it. I
was not yet well enough acquainted with my companions as regards the
door-shutting question, and in order to be on the safe side we might
just as well put up a self-closing door. This was done by Stubberud,
by fixing the door-frame into the wall in an oblique position just
like a cellar-door at home. Now the door could not stay open; it had
to fall to. I was glad when I saw it finished; we were secured against
an invasion of dogs. Four snow steps covered with boards led from
the door down into the passage. In addition to all these new rooms,
we had thus gained an extra protection for our house.

While this work was in progress, our instrument-maker had his hands
full; the clockwork mechanism of the thermograph had gone wrong: the
spindle was broken, I believe. This was particularly annoying, because
this thermograph had been working so well in low temperatures. The
other thermograph had evidently been constructed with a view to the
tropics; at any rate, it would not go in the cold. Our instrument-maker
has one method of dealing with all instruments -- almost without
exception. He puts them in the oven, and stokes up the fire. This time
it worked remarkably well, since it enabled him to ascertain beyond a
doubt that the thing was useless. The thermograph would not work in
the cold. Meanwhile he got it cleared of all the old oil that stuck
to it everywhere, on wheels and pins, like fish-glue; then it was
hung up to the kitchen ceiling. The temperature there may possibly
revive it, and make it think it is in the tropics. In this way we
shall have the temperature of the "galley" registered, and later on
we shall probably be able to reckon up what we have had for dinner
in the course of the week. Whether Professor Mohn will be overjoyed
with this result is another question, which the instrument-maker and
director did not care to go into. Besides these instruments we have
a hygrograph -- we are well supplied; but this takes one of us out
of doors once in the twenty-four hours. Lindström has cleaned it and
oiled it and set it going. In spite of this, at three in the morning
it comes to a stop. But I have never seen Lindström beaten yet. After
many consultations he was given the task of trying to construct
a thermograph out of the hygrograph and the disabled thermograph;
this was just the job for him. The production he showed me a few
hours later made my hair stand on end. What would Steen say? Do you
know what it was? Well, it was an old meat-tin circulating inside
the thermograph case. Heavens! what an insult to the self-registering
meteorological instruments! I was thunderstruck, thinking, of course,
that the man was making a fool of me. I had carefully studied his face
all the time to find the key to this riddle, and did not know whether
to laugh or weep. Lindström's face was certainly serious enough; if
it afforded a measure of the situation, I believe tears would have
been appropriate. But when my eye fell upon the thermograph and read,
"Stavanger Preserving Co.'s finest rissoles," I could contain myself
no longer. The comical side of it was too much for me, and I burst
into a fit of laughter. When my laughter was subdued, I heard the
explanation. The cylinder did not fit, so he had tried the tin, and
it went splendidly. The rissole-thermograph worked very well as far
as -40° C., but then it gave up.

Our forces were now divided into two working parties. One of them
was to dig out some forty seals we had lying about 3 feet under the
snow; this took two days. The heavy seals' carcasses, hard as flint,
were difficult to deal with. The dogs were greatly interested in
these proceedings. Each carcass, on being raised to the surface,
was carefully inspected; they were piled up in two heaps, and would
provide food enough for the dogs for the whole winter. Meanwhile the
other party were at work under Hassel's direction on a petroleum
cellar. The barrels which had been laid up at the beginning of
February were now deep below the snow. They now dug down at both ends
of the store, and made a passage below the surface along the barrels;
at the same time they dug far enough into the Barrier to give the
requisite height for the barrels. When the snow had been thrown out,
one hole was walled up again, while a large entrance was constructed
over the other. Stubberud's knowledge of vaulting came in useful here,
and he has the credit of having built the splendid arched entrance
to the oil-store. It was a pleasure to go down into it; probably no
one has had so fine a storehouse for petroleum before. But Hassel did
not stop here; he had the building fever on him in earnest. His great
project of connecting the coal and wood store with the house below
the surface nearly took my breath away; it seemed to me an almost
superhuman labour, but they did it. The distance from the coal-tent
to the house was about ten yards. Here Hassel and Stubberud laid out
their line so that it would strike the passage round the house at
the south-east angle. When they had done this, they dug a gigantic
hole down into the Barrier half-way between the tent and the house,
and then dug in both directions from here and soon finished the
work. But now Prestrud had an idea. While the hole remained open he
wished to avail himself of the opportunity of arranging an observatory
for his pendulum apparatus, and he made a very good one. He did it by
digging at right angles to the passage, and had his little observatory
between the coal-tent and the house. When all the snow was cleared
out, the big hole was covered over again, and now we could go from
the kitchen direct to the coal-store without going out. First we
followed the passage round the house -- you remember where all the
tinned provisions stood in such perfect order -- then, on reaching
the south-east angle of the house, this new passage opened out and
led across to the coal-tent. In the middle of the passage, on the
right-hand side, a door led into the pendulum observatory. Continuing
along the passage, one came first to some steps leading down, and then
the passage ended in a steep flight of steps which led up through a
hole in the snow surface. On going up this one suddenly found oneself
in the middle of the coal-tent. It was a fine piece of work, and did
all honour to its designers. It paid, too -- Hassel could now fetch
coal at any time under cover, and escaped having to go out of doors.

But this was not the end of our great underground works. We wanted a
room where Wisting could store all the things in his charge; he was
specially anxious about the reindeer-skin clothing, and wished to
have it under a roof. We therefore decided upon a room sufficiently
large to house all these articles, and at the same time to provide
working-space for Wisting and Hanssen, who would have to lash all
the sledges as fast as they came from Bjaaland. Wisting elected to
build this room in a big snow-drift that had formed around the tent
in which he had kept all his stuff; the spot lay to the north-east
of the house. The Clothing Store, as this building was called, was
fairly large, and provided space not only for all our equipment, but
also for a workshop. From it a door led into a very small room, where
Wisting set up his sewing-machine and worked on it all through the
winter. Continuing in a north-easterly direction, we came to another
big room, called the Crystal Palace, in which all the ski and sledging
cases were stored. Here all the provisions for the sledge journey were
packed. For the time being this room remained separate from the others,
and we had to go out of doors to reach it. Later, when Lindström had
dug out an enormous hole in the Barrier at the spot where he took all
the snow and ice for cooking, we connected this with the two rooms last
mentioned, and were thus finally able to go everywhere under the snow.

The astronomical observatory had also arisen; it lay right
alongside the Crystal Palace. But it had an air of suffering from
debility, and before very long it passed peacefully away. Prestrud
afterwards invented many patents; he used an empty barrel for a
time as a pedestal, then an old block of wood. His experience of
instrument-stands is manifold.

All these undertakings were finished at the beginning of May. One last
piece of work remained, and then at last we should be ready. This was
the rebuilding of the depot. The small heaps in which the cases were
piled proved unsatisfactory, as the passages between the different
piles offered a fine site for snow-drifts. All the cases were now taken
out and laid in two long rows, with sufficient intervals between them
to prevent their offering resistance to the drifting snow. This work
was carried out in two days.

The days were now fairly short, and we were ready to take up our indoor
work. The winter duties were assigned as follows: Prestrud, scientific
observations; Johansen, packing of sledging provisions; Hassel had
to keep Lindström supplied with coal, wood, and paraffin, and to make
whip-lashes -- an occupation he was very familiar with from the Fram's
second expedition; Stubberud was to reduce the weight of the sledge
cases to a minimum, besides doing a lot of other things. There was
nothing he could not turn his hand to, so the programme of his winter
work was left rather vague. I knew he would manage a great deal more
than the sledge cases, though it must be said that it was a tiresome
job he had. Bjaaland was allotted the task which we all regarded
with intense interest -- the alteration of the sledges. We knew that
an enormous amount of weight could be saved, but how much? Hanssen
and Wisting had to lash together the different parts as they were
finished; this was to be done in the Clothing Store. These two had
also a number of other things on their programme for the winter.

There are many who think that a Polar expedition is synonymous with
idleness. I wish I had had a few adherents of this belief at Framheim
that winter; they would have gone away with a different opinion. Not
that the hours of work were excessively long, the circumstances
forbade that. But during those hours the work was brisk.

On several previous sledge journeys I had made the experience that
thermometers are very fragile things. It often happens that at the
beginning of a journey one breaks all one's thermometers, and is
left without any means of determining the temperature. If in such
circumstances one had accustomed oneself to guess the temperature,
it would have given the mean temperature for the month with a fair
degree of accuracy. The guesses for single days might vary somewhat
from reality on one side or the other, but, as I say, one would arrive
at a fair estimate of the mean temperature. With this in my mind I
started a guessing competition. As each man came in in the morning he
gave his opinion of the temperature of the day, and this was entered
in a book. At the end of the month the figures were gone through,
and the one who had guessed correctly the greatest number of times
won the prize -- a few cigars. Besides giving practice in guessing the
temperature, it was a very good diversion to begin the day with. When
one day is almost exactly like another, as it was with us, the first
hour of the morning is often apt to be a little sour, especially before
one has had one's cup of coffee. I may say at once that this morning
grumpiness very seldom showed itself with us. But one never knows --
one cannot always be sure. The most amiable man may often give one a
surprise before the coffee has had its effect. In this respect the
guessing was an excellent thing; it took up everyone's attention,
and diverted the critical moments. Each man's entrance was awaited
with excitement, and one man was not allowed to make his guess in
the hearing of the next -- that would undoubtedly have exercised an
influence. Therefore they had to speak as they came in, one by one.

"Now, Stubberud, what's the temperature to-day ?" Stubberud had his
own way of calculating, which I never succeeded in getting at. One day,
for instance, he looked about him and studied the various faces.

"It isn't warm to-day," he said at last, with a great deal of
conviction. I could immediately console him with the assurance that
he had guessed right. It was -69°F. The monthly results were very
interesting. So far as I remember, the best performance the competition
could show in any month was eight approximately correct guesses. A man
might keep remarkably close to the actual temperature for a long time,
and then suddenly one day make an error of 25°. It proved that the
winner's mean temperature agreed within a few tenths of a degree with
the actual mean temperature of the month, and if one took the mean
of all the competitors' mean temperatures, it gave a result which,
practically speaking, agreed with the reality. It was especially
with this object in view that this guessing was instituted. If
later on we should be so unlucky as to lose all our thermometers,
we should not be entirely at a loss. It may be convenient to mention
here that on the southern sledge journey we had four thermometers
with us. Observations were taken three times daily, and all four
were brought home in undamaged condition. Wisting had charge of this
scientific branch, and I think the feat he achieved in not breaking
any thermometers is unparalleled.


A Day at Framheim

In order to understand our daily life better, we will now make a tour
of Framheim. It is June 23, early in the morning. Perfect stillness
lies over the Barrier -- such stillness as no one who has not been
in these regions has any idea of. We come up the old sledge road from
the place where the Fram used to lie. You will stop several times on
the way and ask whether this can be real; anything so inconceivably
beautiful has never yet been seen. There lies the northern edge of the
Fram Barrier, with Mounts Nelson and Rönniken nearest; behind them,
ridge after ridge, peak after peak, the venerable pressure masses rise,
one higher than another. The light is so wonderful; what causes this
strange glow? It is clear as daylight, and yet the shortest day of the
year is at hand. There are no shadows, so it cannot be the moon. No;
it is one of the few really intense appearances of the aurora australis
that receives us now. It looks as though Nature wished to honour our
guests, and to show herself in her best attire. And it is a gorgeous
dress she has chosen. Perfectly calm, clear with a starry sparkle,
and not a sound in any direction. But wait: what is that? Like a
stream of fire the light shoots across the sky, and a whistling sound
follows the movement. Hush! can't you hear? It shoots forward again,
takes the form of a band, and glows in rays of red and green. It
stands still for a moment, thinking of what direction it shall take,
and then away again, followed by an intermittent whistling sound. So
Nature has offered us on this wonderful morning one of her most
mysterious, most incomprehensible, phenomena -- the audible southern
light. "Now you will be able to go home and tell your friends that you
have personally seen and heard the southern lights, for I suppose you
have no doubt that you have really done so?" "Doubt? How can one be in
doubt about what one has heard with one's own ears and seen with one's
own eyes? "And yet you have been deceived, like so many others! The
whistling northern and southern lights have never existed. They are
only a creation of your own yearning for the mystical, accompanied
by your own breath, which freezes in the cold air. Goodbye, beautiful
dream! It vanishes from the glorious landscape." Perhaps it was stupid
of me to call attention to that; my guests have now lost much of the
beautiful mystery, and the landscape no longer has the same attraction.

Meanwhile we have come up past Nelson and Rönniken, and are just
climbing the first ridge. Not far away a big tent rises before us,
and in front of it we see two long, dark lines. It is our main depot
that we are coming to, and you can see that we keep our things in good
order, case upon case, as if they had been placed in position by an
expert builder. And they all point the same way; all the numbers face
the north. "What made you choose that particular direction?" is the
natural question. "Had you any special object?" "Oh yes, we had. If
you will look towards the east, you will notice that on the horizon
the sky has a rather lighter, brighter colour there than in any other
part. That is the day as we see it now. At present we cannot see to
do anything by its light. It would have been impossible to see that
these cases were lying with their numbers to the north if it had not
been for the brilliant aurora australis. But that light colour will
rise and grow stronger. At nine o'clock it will be in the north-east,
and we shall be able to trace it ten degrees above the horizon. You
would not then think it gave so much light as it really does, but you
would be able without an effort to read the numbers. What is more, you
would be able to read the makers' names which are marked on several
of the cases, and when the flush of daylight has moved to the north,
you will be able to see them even more clearly. No doubt these figures
and letters are big -- about 2 inches high and 14 inches broad --
but it shows, nevertheless, that we have daylight here at the darkest
time of the year, so there is not the absolute darkness that people
think. The tent that stands behind there contains dried fish; we have a
great deal of that commodity, and our dogs can never suffer hunger. But
now we must hurry on, if we are to see how the day begins at Framheim.

"What we are passing now is the mark-flag. We have five of them
standing between the camp and the depot; they are useful on dark days,
when the east wind is blowing and the snow falling. And there on the
slope of the hill you see Framheim. At present it looks like a dark
shadow on the snow, although it is not far away. The sharp peaks you
see pointing to the sky are all our dog tents. The but itself you
cannot see; it is completely snowed under and hidden in the Barrier.

"But I see you are getting warm with walking. We will go a little more
slowly, so that you won't perspire too much. It is not more than -51°,
so you have every reason to be warm walking. With that temperature
and calm weather like to-day one soon feels warm if one moves about
a little .... The flat place we have now come down into is a sort
of basin; if you bend down and look round the horizon, you will
be able with an effort to follow the ridges and hummocks the whole
way round. Our house lies on the slope we are now approaching. We
chose that particular spot, as we thought it would offer the best
protection, and it turned out that we were right. The wind we have had
has nearly always come from the east, when there was any strength in
it, and against such winds the slope provides an excellent shelter. If
we had placed our house over there where the depot stands, we should
have felt the weather much more severely. But now you must be careful
when we come near to the house, so that the dogs don't hear us. We
have now about a hundred and twenty of them, and if they once start
making a noise, then good-bye to the peaceful Polar morning. Now we
are there, and in such daylight as there is, you can see the immediate
surroundings. You can't see the house, you say. No; I can quite believe
it. That chimney sticking out of the snow is all there is left above
the Barrier. This trap-door we are coming to you might take for a loose
piece of boarding thrown out on the snow, but that is not the case:
it is the way down into our home. You must stoop a bit when you go
down into the Barrier. Everything is on a reduced scale here in the
Polar regions; we can't afford to be extravagant. Now you have four
steps down; take care, they are rather high. Luckily we have come
in time to see the day started. I see the passage-lamp is not yet
lighted, so Lindström has not turned out. Take hold of the tail of
my anorak and follow me. This is a passage in the snow that we are
in, leading to the pent-house. Oh! I'm so sorry; you must forgive
me! Did you hurt yourself? I quite forgot to tell you to look out
for the threshold of the pent-house door. It is not the first time
someone has fallen over it. That's a trap we have all fallen into;
but now we know it, and it doesn't catch us any more.

"If you will wait a second I'll strike a match, and then we shall
see our way. Here we are in the kitchen. Now make yourself invisible
and follow me all day, and you will see what our life is like. As you
know, it is St. John's Eve, so we shall only work during the forenoon;
but you will be able to see how we spend a holiday evening. When you
send your account home, you must promise me not to paint it in too
strong colours. Good-bye for the present."

Br-r-r-r-r-r! There's the alarm-clock. I wait and wait and wait. At
home I am always accustomed to hear that noise followed by the passage
of a pair of bare feet across the floor, and a yawn or so. Here --
not a sound. When Amundsen left me he forgot to say where I could best
put myself. I tried to follow him into the room, but the atmosphere
there -- no thanks! I could easily guess that nine men were sleeping
in a room 19 feet by 13 feet; it did not require anyone to tell me
that. Still not a sound. I suppose they only keep that alarm-clock
to make themselves imagine they are turning out. Wait a minute,
though. "Lindtrom! Lindtrom!" He went by the name of Lindtrom, not
Lindström. "Now, by Jove! you've got to get up! The clock's made row
enough." That's Wisting; I know his voice -- I know him at home. He
was always an early bird. A frightful crash! That's Lindström slipping
out of his bunk. But if he was late in turning out, it did not take
him long to get into his clothes. One! two! three! and there he
stood in the doorway, with a little lamp in his hand. It was now six
o'clock. He looked well; round and fat, as when I saw him last. He is
in dark blue clothes, with a knitted helmet over his head. I should
like to know why; it is certainly not cold in here. For that matter,
I have often felt it colder in kitchens at home in the winter, so that
cannot be the reason. Oh, I have it! He is bald, and doesn't like to
show it. That is often the way with bald men; they hate anyone seeing
it. The first thing he does is to lay the fire. The range is under the
window, and takes up half the 6 feet by 13 feet kitchen. His method of
laying a fire is the first thing that attracts my attention. At home
we generally begin by splitting sticks and laying the wood in very
carefully. But Lindström just shoves the wood in anyhow, all over
the place. Well, if he can make that barn, he's clever. I am still
wondering how he will manage it, when he suddenly stoops down and picks
up a can. Without the slightest hesitation, as though it were the most
natural thing in the world, he pours paraffin over the wood. Not one
or two drops -- oh no; he throws on enough to make sure. A match --
and then I understood how Lindström got it to light. It was smartly
done, I must say -- but Hassel ought to have seen it! Amundsen had
told me something of their arrangements on the way up, and I knew
Hassel was responsible for coal, wood, and oil.

The water-pot had been filled the evening before, and he had only to
push it to one side to make room for the kettle, and this did not take
long to boil with the heat he had set going. The fire burned up so that
it roared in the chimney -- this fellow is not short of fuel. Strange,
what a hurry he is in to get that coffee ready! I thought breakfast was
at eight, and it is now not more than a quarter past six. He grinds the
coffee till his cheeks shake to and fro -- incessantly. If the quality
is in proportion to the quantity, it must be good enough. "Devil take
it" -- Lindström's morning greeting -- "this coffee-mill is not worth
throwing to the pigs! Might just as well chew the beans. It wouldn't
take so long." And he is right; after a quarter of an hour's hard
work he has only ground just enough. Now it is half-past six. On with
the coffee! Ah, what a perfume! I would give something to know where
Amundsen got it from. Meanwhile the cook has taken out his pipe,
and is smoking away gaily on an empty stomach; it does not seem to
do him any harm. Hullo! There's the coffee boiling over.

While the coffee was boiling and Lindström smoked, I was still
wondering why he was in such a hurry to get the coffee ready. You
ass! I thought; can't you see? Of course, he is going to give himself
a drink of fresh, hot coffee before the others are up; that's clear
enough. When the coffee was ready, I sat down on a camp-stool that
stood in a corner, and watched him. But I must say he surprised me
again. He pushed the coffee-kettle away from the fire and took down
a cup from the wall; then went to a jug that stood on the bench and
poured out -- would you believe it? -- a cup of cold tea! If he goes on
in this way, we shall have surprises enough before evening, I thought
to myself. Then he began to be deeply interested in an enamelled iron
bowl, which stood on a shelf above the range. The heat, which was
now intense (I looked at the thermograph which hung from the ceiling;
it registered 84°F.), did not seem to be sufficient for its mysterious
contents. It was also wrapped up in towels and cloths, and gave me the
impression of having caught a severe cold. The glances he threw into it
from time to time were anxious; he looked at the clock, and seemed to
have something on his mind. Then suddenly I saw his face brighten; he
gave a long, not very melodious whistle, bent down, seized a dust-pan,
and hurried out into the pent-house. Now I was really excited. What was
coming next? He came back at once with a happy smile all over his face,
and the dust-pan full of -- coal! If I had been curious before, I was
now anxious. I withdrew as far as possible from the range, sat down on
the floor itself, and fixed my eyes on the thermograph. As I thought,
the pen began to move upward with rapid steps. This was too bad. I made
up my mind to pay a visit to the Meteorological Institute as soon as
I got home, and tell them what I had seen with my own eyes. But now
the heat seemed intolerable down on the floor, where I was sitting;
what must it be like -- heavens above, the man was sitting on the
stove! He must have gone out of his mind. I was just going to give
a cry of terror, when the door opened, and in came Amundsen from
the room. I gave a deep sigh. Now it would be all right the time
was ten minutes past seven. "'Morning, Fatty!" -- "'Morning." --
"What's it like outside?" -- "Easterly breeze and thick when I was
out; but that's a good while ago." This fairly took my breath away He
stood there with the coolest air in the world and talked about the
weather, and I could take my oath he had not been outside the door
that morning. "How's it getting on to-day -- is it coming?" Amundsen
looks with interest at the mysterious bowl. Lindström takes another
peep under the cloth. "Yes, it's coming at last; but I've had to give
it a lot to-day." -- " Yes, it feels like it," answers the other,
and goes out. My interest is now divided between "it " in the bowl
and Amundsen's return, with the meteorological discussion that will
ensue. It is not long before he reappears; evidently the temperature
outside is not inviting. "Let's hear again, my friend " -- he seats
himself on the camp-stool beside which I am sitting on the floor --
"what kind of weather did you say it was?" I prick up my ears;
there is going to be fun. "It was an easterly breeze and thick as
a wall, when I was out at six o'clock." -- "Hm! then it has cleared
remarkably quickly. It's a dead calm now, and quite clear." -- "Ah,
that's just what I should have thought! I could see it was falling
light, and it was getting brighter in the east." He got out of that
well. Meanwhile it was again the turn of the bowl. It was taken down
from the shelf over the range and put on the bench; the various cloths
were removed one by one until it was left perfectly bare. I could
not resist any longer; I had to get up and look. And indeed it was
worth looking at. The bowl was filled to the brim with golden-yellow
dough, full of air-bubbles, and showing every sign that he had got
it to rise. Now I began to respect Lindström; he was a devil of a
fellow. No confectioner in our native latitudes could have shown a
finer dough. It was now 7.25; everything seems to go by the clock here.

Lindström threw a last tender glance at his bowl, picked up a little
bottle of spirit, and went into the next room. I saw my chance of
following him in. There was not going to be any fun out there with
Amundsen, who was sitting on the camp-stool half asleep. In the other
room it was pitch-dark, and an atmosphere -- no, ten atmospheres at
least! I stood still in the doorway and breathed heavily. Lindström
stumbled forward in the darkness, felt for and found the matches. He
struck one, and lighted a spirit-holder that hung beneath a hanging
lamp. There was not much to be seen by the light of the spirit flame;
one could still only guess. Hear too, perhaps. They were sound
sleepers, those boys. One grunted here and another there; they were
snoring in every corner. The spirit might have been burning for a
couple of minutes, when Lindström had to set to work in a hurry. He was
off just as the flame went out, leaving the room in black darkness. I
heard the spirit bottle and the nearest stool upset, and what followed
I don't know, as I was unfamiliar with the surroundings -- but there
was a good deal of it. I heard a click -- had no idea what it was
-- and then the same movement back again to the lamp. Of course,
he now fell over the stool he had upset before. Meanwhile there was
a hissing sound, and a stifling smell of paraffin. I was thinking of
making my escape through the door, when suddenly, just as I suppose
it happened on the first day of Creation, in an instant there was
light. But it was a light that defies description; it dazzled and
hurt the eyes, it was so bright. It was perfectly white and extremely
agreeable -- when one was not looking at it. Evidently it was one of
the 200-candle Lux lamps. My admiration for Lindström had now risen
to enthusiasm. What would I not have given to be able to make myself
visible, embrace him, and tell him what I thought of him! But that
could not be; I should not then be able to see life at Framheim as it
really was. So I stood still. Lindström first tried to put straight
what he had upset in his struggle with the lamp. The spirit had, of
course, run out of the bottle when it fell, and was now flowing all
over the table. This did not seem to make the slightest impression
on him; a little scoop with his hand, and it all landed on Johansen's
clothes, which were lying close by. This fellow seemed to be as well
off for spirit as for paraffin. Then he vanished into the kitchen, but
reappeared immediately with plates, cups, knives and forks. Lindström's
laying of the breakfast-table was the finest clattering performance
I have ever heard. If he wanted to put a spoon into a cup, he did not
do it in the ordinary way; no, he put down the cup, lifted the spoon
high in the air, and then dropped it into the cup. The noise he made
in this way was infernal. Now I began to see why Amundsen had got
up so early; he wanted to escape this process of laying the table,
I expect. But this gave me at once an insight into the good-humour of
the gentlemen in bed: if this had happened anywhere else, Lindström
would have had a boot at his head. But here -- they must have been
the most peaceable men in the world.

Meanwhile I had had time to look around me. Close to the door where I
was standing a pipe came down to the floor. It struck me at once that
this was a ventilating-pipe. I bent down and put my hand over the
opening; there was not so much as a hint of air to be felt. So this
was the cause of the bad atmosphere. The next things that caught my
eye were the bunks -- nine of them: three on the right hand and six
on the left. Most of the sleepers -- if they could be regarded as such
while the table was being laid -- slept in bags -- sleeping-bags. They
must have been warm enough. The rest of the space was taken up by
a long table, with small stools on two sides of it. Order appeared
to reign; most of the clothes were hung up. Of course, a few lay on
the floor, but then Lindström had been running about in the dark,
and perhaps he had pulled them down. On the table, by the window,
stood a gramophone and some tobacco-boxes and ash-trays. The furniture
was not plentiful, nor was it in the style of Louis Quinze or Louis
Seize, but it was sufficient. On the wall with the window hung a few
paintings, and on the other portraits of the King, Queen, and Crown
Prince Olav, apparently cut out of an illustrated paper, and pasted
on blue cardboard. In the corner nearest the door on the right,
where there was no bunk, the space seem to be occupied by clothes,
some hanging on the wall, some on lines stretched across. So that was
the drying-place, modest in its simplicity. Under the table were some
varnished boxes -- Heaven knows what they were for!

Now there seemed to be life in one of the bunks. It was Wisting,
who was getting tired of the noise that still continued. Lindström
took his time, rattling the spoons, smiling maliciously to himself,
and looking up at the bunks. He did not make all this racket for
nothing. Wisting, then, was the first to respond, and apparently the
only one; at any rate, there was not a sign of movement in any of the
others. "Good-morning, Fatty!" "Thought you were going to stop there
till dinner." This is Lindström's greeting. "Look after yourself, old
'un. If I hadn't got you out, you'd have been asleep still." That was
paying him in his own coin: Wisting was evidently not to be trifled
with. However, they smiled and nodded to each other in a way that
showed that there was no harm meant. At last Lindström had got rid
of the last cup, and brought down the curtain on that act with the
dropping of the final spoon. I thought now that he would go back to his
work in the kitchen; but it looked as if he had something else to do
first. He straightened himself, thrust his chin in the air and put his
head back -- reminding me very forcibly of a young cockerel preparing
to crow -- and roared with the full force of his lungs: "Turn out,
boys, and look sharp!" Now he had finished his morning duty there. The
sleeping-bags seemed suddenly to awake to life, and such remarks as,
"That's a devil of a fellow!" or "Shut up, you old chatterbox!" showed
that the inhabitants of Framheim were now awake. Beaming with joy,
the cause of the trouble disappeared into the kitchen.

And now, one after the other they stick their heads out, followed by
the rest of them. That must be Helmer Hanssen, who was on the Gjöa;
he looks as if he could handle a rope. Ah, and there we have Olav
Olavson Bjaaland! I could have cried aloud for joy -- my old friend
from Holmenkollen. The great long-distance runner, you remember. And
he managed the jump, too -- 50 metres, I think -- standing. If Amundsen
has a few like him, he will get to the Pole all right. And there comes
Stubberud, the man the Aftenpost said was so clever at double-entry
book-keeping. As I see him now, he does not give me the impression
of being a book-keeper -- but one can't tell. And here come Hassel,
Johansen, and Prestrud; now they are all up, and will soon begin the
day's work.

"Stubberud!" It is Lindström putting his head in at the door. "If
you want any hot cakes, you must get some air down." Stubberud merely
smiles; he looks as if he felt sure of getting them, all the same. What
was it he talked about? Hot cakes? They must be connected with the
beautiful dough and the delicate, seductive smell of cooking that is
now penetrating through the crack of the door. Stubberud is going,
and I must go with him. Yes, as I thought -- there stands Lindström
in all his glory before the range, brandishing the weapon with which
he turns the cakes; and in a pan lie three brownish-yellow buckwheat
cakes quivering with the heat of the fire. Heavens, how hungry it
made me! I take up my old position, so as not to be in anyone's
way, and watch Lindström. He's the man -- he produces hot cakes with
astonishing dexterity; it almost reminds one of a juggler throwing up
balls, so rapid and regular is the process. The way he manipulates
the cake-slice shows a fabulous proficiency. With the skimmer in
one hand he dumps fresh dough into the pan, and with the cake-slice
in the other he removes those that are done, all at the same time;
it seems almost more than human!

There comes Wisting, salutes, and holds out a little tin mug. Flattered
by the honour, the cook fills his mug with boiling water, and he
disappears into the pent-house. But this interruption puts Lindström
off his jugglery with the hot cakes-one of them rolls down on to the
floor. This fellow is extraordinarily phlegmatic; I can't make out
whether he missed that cake or not. I believe the sigh that escaped
him at the same instant meant something like: "Well, we must leave
some for the dogs."

And now they all come in single file with their little mugs, and get
each a drop of boiling water. I get up, interested in this proceeding,
and slip out with one of them into the pent-house and so on to the
Barrier. You will hardly believe me, when I tell you what I saw -- all
the Polar explorers standing in a row, brushing their teeth! What do
you say to that? So they are not such absolute pigs, after all. There
was a scent of Stomatol everywhere.

Here comes Amundsen. He has evidently been out taking the
meteorological observations, as he holds the anemometer in one hand. I
follow him through the passage, and, when no one is looking, take the
opportunity of slapping him on the shoulder and saying "A grand lot
of boys." He only smiled; but a smile may often say more than many
words. I understood what it meant; he had known that a long while
and a good deal more.

It was now eight o'clock. The door from the kitchen to the room was
left wide open, and the warmth streamed in and mixed with the fresh
air that Stubberud had now forced to come down the right way. Now
it was pleasanter inside -- fresh, warm air everywhere. Then came
a very interesting scene. As the tooth-brushing gentlemen returned,
they had to guess the temperature, one by one. This gave occasion for
much joking and fun, and, amid laughter and chat, the first meal of the
day was taken. In after-dinner speeches, amid toasts and enthusiasm,
our Polar explorers are often compared with our forefathers, the bold
vikings. This comparison never occurred to me for a moment when I saw
this assemblage of ordinary, everyday men-brushing their teeth. But
now that they were busy with the dishes, I was bound to acknowledge
its aptitude; for our forefathers the vikings could not possibly have
attacked their food with greater energy than these nine men did.

One pile of "hot-chek" after another disappeared as if they had been
made of air -- and I, in my simplicity, had imagined that one of them
was a man's ration! Spread with butter and surmounted with jam, these
cakes slipped down with fabulous rapidity. With a smile I thought
of the conjurer, holding an egg in his hand one minute and making
it disappear the next. If it is a cook's best reward to see his food
appreciated, then, indeed, Lindström had good wages. The cakes were
washed down with big bowls of strong, aromatic coffee. One could
soon trace the effect, and conversation became general. The first
great subject was a novel, which was obviously very popular, and was
called "The Rome Express." It appeared to me, from what was said --
I have unfortunately never read this celebrated work -- that a murder
had been committed in this train, and a lively discussion arose as
to who had committed it. I believe the general verdict was one of
suicide. I have always supposed that subjects of conversation must
be very difficult to find on expeditions like these, where the same
people mix day after day for years; but there was certainly no sign
of any such difficulty here. No sooner had the express vanished in
the distance than in steamed -- the language question. And it came
at full steam, too. It was clear that there were adherents of both
camps present. For fear of hurting the feelings of either party, I
shall abstain from setting down what I heard: but I may say as much
as this -- that the party of reform ended by declaring the maal[6] to
be the only proper speech of Norway, while their opponents maintained
the same of their language.

After a while pipes came out, and the scent of "plug" soon struggled
with the fresh air for supremacy. Over the tobacco the work for
the day was discussed. "Well, I'll have enough to do supplying that
woodswallower over the holiday," said Hassel. I gave a chuckle. If
Hassel had known of the way the paraffin was used that morning,
he would have added something about the "oil-drinker," I expect. It
was now half-past eight, and Stubberud and Bjaaland got up. From the
number of different garments they took out and put on, I guessed they
were going out. Without saying anything, they trudged out. Meanwhile
the others continued their morning smoke, and some even began to
read, but by about nine they were all on the move. They put on their
skin clothing and made ready to go out. By this time Bjaaland and
Stubberud had returned from a walk, as I understood from such remarks
as "Beastly cold," "Sharp snow by the depot," and the like. Prestrud
was the only one who did not get ready to go out; he went to an open
space underneath the farthest bunk, where there was a box. He raised
the lid of this, and three chronometers appeared; at the same moment
three of the men produced their watches, and a comparison was made
and entered in a book. After each watch had been compared, its owner
went outside, taking his watch with him. I took the opportunity of
slipping out with the last man -- Prestrud and his chronometers were
too serious for me; I wanted to see what the others were about.

There was plenty of life outside; dogs' howls in every key came
from the tents. Some of those who had left the house before us were
out of sight, so they had probably gone to their respective tents,
and presently one could see by the lights that they were in the act
of letting their dogs loose. How well the lighted-up tents looked
against the dark, star-strewn sky! Though it could no longer be
called dark: the little flush of dawn had spread and overpowered
the glow of the aurora australis, which had greatly decreased since
I last saw it; evidently it was near its end. Now the four-footed
band began to swarm out, darting like rockets from the tents. Here
were all colours-grey, black, red, brown, white, and a mixture of
all of them. What surprised me was that they were all so small; but
otherwise they looked splendid. Plump and round, well kept and groomed,
bursting with life. They instantly collected into little groups of
from two to five, and it was easy to see that these groups consisted
of intimate friends -- they absolutely petted each other. In each
of these clusters there was one in particular who was made much of;
all the others came round him, licked him, fawned upon him, and gave
him every sign of deference.

They all run about without a sign of unfriendliness. Their chief
interest seems to be centred in two large black mounds that are visible
in the foreground of the camp; what they are I am unable to make out --
there is not light enough for that -- but I am probably not far wrong
in guessing that they are seals. They are rather hard eating, anyhow,
for I can hear them crunching under the dogs' teeth. Here there is an
occasional disturbance of the peace; they do not seem to agree so well
over their food, but there is never a regular battle. A watchman is
present, armed with a stick, and when he shows himself and makes his
voice heard, they soon separate. They appear to be well disciplined.

What appealed to me most was the youngsters and the youngest of
all. The young ones, to judge from their appearance, were about ten
months old. They were perfect in every way; one could see they had been
well cared for from their birth. Their coats were surprisingly thick --
much more so than those of the older dogs. They were remarkably plucky,
and would not give in to anyone.

And there are the smallest of all -- like little balls of wool; they
roll themselves in the snow and have great fun. I am astonished that
they can stand the cold as they do; I should never have thought that
such young animals could live through the winter. Afterwards I was
told that they not only bore the cold well, but were far more hardy
than the older ones. While the grown-up dogs were glad to go into their
tents in the evening, the little ones refused to do so; they preferred
to sleep outside. And they did so for a great part of the winter.

Now all the men have finished unchaining their dogs, and, with
their lanterns in their hands, they move in various directions and
disappear -- apparently into the Barrier surface. There will be many
interesting things to see here in the course of the day -- I can
understand that. What on earth became of all these people? There we
have Amundsen; he is left alone, and appears to be in charge of the
dogs. I go up to him and make myself known.

"Ah, I'm glad you came," he says; "now I can introduce you to some
of our celebrities. To begin with, here is the trio -- Fix, Lasse,
and Snuppesen. They always behave like this when I am out -- could
not think of leaving me in peace for an instant. Fix, that big grey
one that looks like a wolf, has many a snap on his conscience. His
first exploit was on Flekkerö, near Christiansand, where all the
dogs were kept for a month after they arrived from Greenland; there
he gave Lindström a nasty bite when his back was turned. What do you
think of a bite of a mouth like that?"

Fix is now tame, and without a growl allows his master to take hold of
his upper and under jaws and open his mouth -- ye gods, what teeth! I
inwardly rejoice that I was not in Lindström's trousers that day.

"If you notice," he continues, with a smile, "you will see that
Lindström still sits down cautiously. I myself have a mark on my left
calf, and a good many more of us have the same. There are several of
us who still treat him with respect. And here we have Lassesen --
that's his pet name; he was christened Lasse -- almost pure black,
as you see. I believe he was the wildest of the lot when they came
on board. I had him fastened up on the bridge with my other dogs,
beside Fix -- those two were friends from their Greenland days. But
I can tell you that when I had to pass Lasse, I always judged the
distance first. As a rule, he just stood looking down at the deck
-- exactly like a mad bull. If I tried to make overtures, he didn't
move -- stood quite still; but I could see how he drew back his upper
lip and showed a row of teeth, with which I had no desire to become
acquainted. A fortnight passed in this way. Then at last the upper
lip sank and the head was raised a little, as though he wanted to see
who it was that brought him food and water every day. But the way from
that to friendship was long and tortuous. In the time that followed,
I used to scratch him on the back with a stick; at first he jumped
round, seized the stick, and crushed it between his teeth. I thought
myself lucky that it was not my hand. I came a little nearer to him
every day, until one day I risked my hand. He gave me an ugly look,
but did nothing; and then came the beginning of our friendship. Day
by day we became better friends, and now you can see what footing we
are on. The third is Snuppesen, a dark red lady; she is their sworn
friend, and never leaves them. She is the quickest and most active
of our dogs. You can see that she is fond of me; she is generally on
her hind legs, and makes every effort to get at my face. I have tried
to get her out of the way of that, but in vain; she will have her own
way. I have no other animals for the moment that are worth showing --
unless you would care to hear a song. If so, there is Uranus, who is a
professional singer. We'll take the trio with us, and you shall hear."

We made for two black-and-white dogs that were lying by themselves
on the snow a little way off, while the three jumped and danced about
us. As we approached the other two, and they caught sight of the trio,
they both jumped up as though at a word of command, and I guessed that
we had found the singer. Lord save us, what an awful voice! I could
see that the concert was for Lasse's benefit, and Uranus kept it up as
long as we stood in his vicinity. But then my attention was suddenly
aroused by the appearance of another trio, which made an extraordinary
favourable impression. I turned to my companion for information.

"Yes," he continued, "those are three of Hanssen's team; probably some
of our best animals. The big black-and-white one is called Zanko -- he
appears to be rather old; the two others, which look like sausages with
matches underneath, are Ring and Mylius. As you see, they are not very
big, rather on the small side, but they are undoubtedly among our best
workers. From their looks we have concluded that they are brothers --
they are as like as two drops of water. Now we will go straight through
the mass and see whether we come across any more celebrities. There we
have Karenius, Sauen, Schwartz, and Lucy; they belong to Stubberud, and
are a power in the camp. Bjaaland's tent is close by; his favourites
are lying there -- Kvaen, Lap, Pan, Gorki, and Jaala. They are small,
all of them, but fine dogs. There, in the south-east corner, stands
Hassel's tent, but we shall not see any of his dogs here now. They
are all lying outside the entrance to the oil-store, where he is
generally to be found. The next tent is Wisting's. We must take a
turn round there and see if we can find his lot. There they are --
those four playing there. The big, reddish-brown one on the right is
the Colonel, our handsomest animal. His three companions are Suggen,
Arne, and Brun. I must tell you a little story about the Colonel when
he was on Flekkerö. He was perfectly wild then, and he broke loose
and jumped into the sea. He wasn't discovered till he was half-way
between Flekkerö and the mainland, where he was probably going in
search of a joint of mutton. Wisting and Lindström, who were then
in charge of the dogs, put off in a boat, and finally succeeded in
overtaking him, but they had a hard tussle before they managed to get
him on board. Afterwards Wisting had a swimming-race with the Colonel,
but I don't remember what was the result. We can expect a great deal
of these dogs. There's Johansen's tent over in the corner; there is
not much to be said about his dogs. The most remarkable of them is
Camilla. She is an excellent mother, and brings up her children very
well; she usually has a whole army of them, too.

"Now I expect you have seen dogs enough, so, if you have no objection,
I will show you underground Framheim and what goes on there. I
may just as well add that we are proud of this work, and you will
probably find that we have a right to be. We'll begin with Hassel,
as his department is nearest."

We now went in the direction of the house, passed its western end,
and soon arrived at an erection that looked like a derrick. Underneath
it was a large trap-door. Where the three legs of the derrick met,
there was made fast a small block, and through the block ran a rope,
made fast at one end to the trap-door. A weight hung at the other end,
some feet above the surface of the snow.

"Now we are at Hassel's," said my companion. It was a good thing he
could not see me, for I must have looked rather foolish. At Hassel's? I
said to myself. What in the world does the man mean? We were standing
on the bare Barrier.

"Do you hear that noise? That's Hassel sawing wood."

Now he bent down and raised the heavy trap-door easily with the help
of the weight. Broad steps of snow led down, deep down, into the
Barrier. We left the trap-door open, so as to have the benefit of
the little daylight there was. My host went first; I followed. After
descending four or five steps, we came to a doorway which was covered
with a woollen curtain. We pushed this aside. The sound that had
first reached me as a low rumbling now became sharper, and I could
plainly hear that it was caused by sawing. We went in. The room we
entered was long and narrow, cut out of the Barrier. On a solid shelf
of snow there lay barrel after barrel arranged in exemplary order;
if they were all full of paraffin, I began to understand Lindström's
extravagance in lighting his fire in the morning: here was paraffin
enough for several years. In the middle of the room a lantern was
hanging, an ordinary one with wire netting round the glass. In a
dark room it certainly would not have given much light, but in these
white surroundings it shone like the sun. A Primus lamp was burning on
the floor. The thermometer, which hung a little way from the Primus,
showed -5° F., so Hassel could hardly complain of the heat, but he
had to saw, so it did not matter. We approached Hassel. He looked

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