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The South Pole, Volume 1 by Roald Amundsen

Part 5 out of 5

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as if he had plenty to do, and was sawing away so that the sawdust
was flying. "'Morning." -- "'Morning." The sawdust flew faster and
faster. "You seem to be busy to-day." -- "Oh yes!" -- the saw was now
working with dangerous rapidity -- "if I'm to get finished for the
holiday, I must hurry up." -- How's the coal-supply getting on?" That
took effect. The saw stopped instantly, was raised, and put down by the
wall. I waited for the next step in suppressed excitement; something
hitherto undreamt of must be going to happen. Hassel looked round --
one can never be careful enough -- approached my host, and whispered,
with every sign of caution "I did him out of twenty-five kilos last
week." I breathed again; I had expected something much worse than
that. With a smile of satisfaction Hassel resumed his interrupted work,
and I believe nothing in the world would have stopped him again. The
last I saw as we returned through the doorway was Hassel surrounded
by a halo of sawdust.

We were back on the Barrier surface; a touch of the finger, and
the trap-door swung over and fell noiselessly into its place. I
could see that Hassel was capable of other things besides sawing
birchwood. Outside lay his team, guarding all his movements -- Mikkel,
Ræven, Masmas, and Else. They all looked well. Now we were going to
see the others.

We went over to the entrance of the hut and raised the trap-door;
a dazzling light met my eyes. In the wall of the steps leading down
from the surface a recess had been cut to hold a wooden case lined with
bright tin; this contained a little lamp which produced this powerful
light. But it was the surroundings that made it so bright -- ice and
snow everywhere. Now I could look about me for the first time; it had
been dark when I came in the morning. There was the snow-tunnel leading
to the pent-house; I could see that by the threshold that grinned
at me. But there, in the opposite direction, what was there? I could
see that the passage was continued, but where did it lead? Standing
in the bright light, it looked quite dark in the tunnel.

"Now we will go and see Bjaaland first." With these words my companion
bent down, and set off through the dark passage. "Look there, in the
snow-wall -- just under our feet -- can you see the light?" By degrees
my eyes had accustomed themselves to the darkness of the tunnel, and
I could see a greenish light shining through the snow-wall where he
pointed. And now another noise fell on my ears -- a monotonous sound --
coming from below.

"Look out for the steps!" Yes, he could be sure of that; I had come
one cropper that day, and it was enough. We once more descended into
the Barrier by broad, solid snow-steps covered with boards. Suddenly
a door was opened -- a sliding-door in the snow-wall -- and I stood
in Bjaaland's and Stubberud's premises. The place might be about 6
feet high, 15 feet long, and 7 feet wide. On the floor lay masses of
shavings, which made it warm and cosy. At one end stood a Primus lamp
with a large tin case over it, from which steam was issuing. "How
is it going?" -- "All right. We're just bending the runners. I've
made a rough estimate of the weight, and find I can bring it down
to 48 pounds." This seemed to me almost incredible. Amundsen had
told me on the way up this morning of the heavy sledges they had
-- 165 pounds each. And now Bjaaland was going to bring them down
to 48 pounds, less than a third of their original weight. In the
snow-walls of the room were fixed hooks and shelves, where the tools
were kept. Bjaaland's carpenter's bench was massive enough -- cut
out in the snow and covered with boards. Along the opposite wall was
another planing-bench, equally massive, but somewhat shorter than the
first. This was evidently Stubberud's place. He was not here to-day,
but I could see that he was engaged in planing down the sledge cases
and making them lighter. One of them was finished; I leaned forward
and looked at it. On the top, where a little round aluminium lid
was let in, was written: "Original weight, 9 kilos; reduced weight,
6 kilos." I could understand what this saving of weight meant to men
who were going on such a journey as these had before them. One lamp
provided all the illumination, but it gave an excellent light. We
left Bjaaland. I felt sure that the sledging outfit was in the best
of hands.

We then made our way into the pent-house, and here we met Stubberud. He
was engaged in cleaning up and putting things straight for the
holiday. All the steam that came out of the kitchen, when the door
was opened, had condensed on the roof and walls in the form of rime
several inches thick, and Stubberud was now clearing this off with a
long broom. Everything was going to be shipshape for Midwinter Eve;
I could see that. We went in. Dinner was on, humming and boiling. The
kitchen floor was scrubbed clean, and the linoleum with which it was
covered shone gaily. It was the same in the living-room; everything
was cleaned. The linoleum on the floor and the American cloth on the
table were equally bright. The air was pure -- absolutely pure. All
the bunks were made tidy, and the stools put in their places. There
was no one here.

"You have only seen a fraction of our underground palaces, but I
thought we would take a turn in the loft first and see what it is
like. Follow me." We went out into the kitchen, and then up some steps
fastened in the wall, and through the trap-door to the loft. With the
help of a little electric lamp, we were able to look about us. The
first thing that met my eyes was the library. There stood the Framheim
library, and it made the same good impression as everything else --
books numbered from 1 to 80 in three shelves. The catalogue lay by the
side of them, and I cast my eye over it. Here were books to suit all
tastes; "Librarian, Adolf Henrik Lindström," I read at the end. So
he was librarian, too-truly a many-sided man. Long rows of cases
stood here, full of whortleberry jam, cranberries, syrup, cream,
sugar, and pickles. In one corner I saw every sign of a dark-room;
a curtain was hung up to keep the light off, and there was an array
of developing-dishes, measuring-glasses, etc. This loft was made good
use of. We had now seen everything, and descended again to continue
our inspection.

Just as we reached the pent-house, Lindström came in with a big bucket
of ice; I understood that it was to be used in the manufacture of
water. My companion had armed himself with a large and powerful
lantern, and I saw that we were going to begin our underground
travels. In the north wall of the pent-house there was a door, and
through this we went, entering a passage built against the house, and
dark as the grave. The lantern had lost its power of illumination;
it burned with a dull, dead light, which did not seem to penetrate
beyond the glass. I stretched my hands in front of me. My host stopped
and gave me a lecture on the wonderful order and tidiness they had
succeeded in establishing among them. I was a willing listener, for
I had already seen enough to be able to certify the truth of what he
told me without hesitation. But in the place we were now in, I had
to take his word for it, for it was all as black as bilge-water. We
had just started to move on again, and I felt so secure, after
all he had told me about the orderly way things were kept, that I
let go my guide's anorak, which I had been holding. But that was
foolish of me. Smack! I went down at full length. I had trodden
on something round -- something that brought me down. As I fell,
I caught hold of something -- also round -- and I lay convulsively
clutching it. I wanted to convince myself of what it was that lay
about on the floor of such a tidy house. The glimmer of the lantern,
though not particularly strong, was enough to show me what I held
in my arms -- a Dutch cheese! I put it back in the same place --
for the sake of tidiness -- sat up, and looked down at my feet. What
was it I had stumbled over? A Dutch cheese -- if it wasn't another
of the same family! I began to form my own opinion of the tidiness
now, but said nothing. But I should like to know why he didn't fall
over the cheeses, as he was walking in front. Oh, I answered myself,
I guess he knew what sort of order the place was in.

At the eastern end of the house the passage was brilliantly lighted
up by the window that looked out on this side; I could now see
more clearly where I was. Opposite the window, in the part of the
Barrier that here formed the other wall of the passage, a great hole
had been dug; nothing was to be seen in it but black darkness. My
companion knew his way, so I could rely upon him, but I should have
hesitated to go in there alone. The hole extended into the Barrier,
and finally formed a fairly large room with a vaulted roof. A spade
and an axe on the floor were all I saw. What in the world was this
hall used for? "You see, all the ice and snow from here has gone to
our water-supply." So this was Lindström's quarry, from which he
had hewn out ice and snow all these months for cooking, drinking,
and washing. In one of the walls, close to the floor, there was a
little hole just big enough for a man to crawl through.

"Now you must make yourself small and follow me; we are going to visit
Hanssen and Wisting." And my companion disappeared like a snake into
the hole. I threw myself down, quick as lightning, and followed. I
would not have cared to be left alone there in pitch-darkness. I
managed to get hold of one of his calves, and did not let go until
I saw light on the other side. The passage we crept through was
equally narrow all the way, and forced one to crawl on hands and
knees; fortunately, it was not long. It ended in a fairly large,
square room. A low table stood in the middle of the floor, and on
it Helmer Hanssen was engaged in lashing sledges. The room gave
one the impression of being badly lighted, though it had a lamp and
candles. On a closer examination, I found that this was due to the
number of dark objects the place contained. Against one of the walls
there was clothing -- immense piles of skin -- clothing. Over this
were spread blankets to protect it from the rime that was formed on
the roof and fell down. Against the opposite wall was a stack of
sledges, and at the end, opposite the door, were piles of woollen
underclothing. Any outfitter in Christiania might have envied this
stock; here one saw Iceland jackets, sweaters, underclothes of immense
thickness and dimensions, stockings, mits, etc. In the corner formed
by this wall and the one where the sledges stood was the little hole
by which we had entered. Beyond the sledges, in the same wall, there
was a door with a curtain in front of it, and from within it came a
strange humming. I was much interested to know what this might be,
but had to hear first what these two had to say.

"What do you think of the lashings now, Hanssen?"

"Oh, they'll hold right enough; at any rate, they'll be better than
they were before. Look here, how they've pointed the ends!"

I leaned forward to see what was wrong with the sledge-lashings, and,
I must say, what I saw surprised me. Is such a thing possible? The
pointing of a lashing is a thing a sailor is very careful about. He
knows that if the end is badly pointed, it does not matter how well the
lashing is put on; therefore it is an invariable rule that lashings
must be pointed as carefully as possible. When I looked at this one,
what do you think I saw? Why, the end of the lashing was nailed down
with a little tack, such as one would use to fasten labels. "That
would be a nice thing to take to the Pole!" This final observation
of Hanssen's was doubtless the mildest expression of what he thought
of the work. I saw how the new lashings were being put on, and I was
quite ready to agree with Hanssen that they would do the work. It was,
by the way, no easy job, this lashing at -15°F., as the thermometer
showed, but Hanssen did not seem to mind it.

I had heard that Wisting also took part in this work, but he was
not to be seen. Where could he be? My eyes involuntarily sought the
curtain, behind which the humming sound was audible. I was now ready
to burst with curiosity. At last the lashing question appears to be
thrashed out, and my companion shows signs of moving on. He leaves
his lantern and goes up to the curtain. "Wisting!" -- "Yes!" The
answer seems to come from a far distance. The humming ceases, and the
curtain is thrust aside. Then I am confronted by the sight that has
impressed me most of all on this eventful day. There sits Wisting, in
the middle of the Barrier, working a sewing-machine. The temperature
outside is now -60°F. This seems to me to require some explanation;
I slink through the opening to get a closer view. Then -- ugh! I am
met by a regular tropical blast. I glance at the thermometer; it shows
+50° F. But how can this be? Here he is, sewing in an ice-cellar at
+50°. I was told in my school-days that ice melts at about +32°. If
the same law is still in operation, he ought to be sitting in a
shower-bath. I go right in; the sewing-room is not large, about 6 feet
each way. Besides the sewing-machine -- a modern treadle-machine --
the room contains a number of instruments, compasses, and so forth,
besides the large tent he is now working on. But what interests me
most is the way in which he circumvents the shower-bath. I see it now;
it is very cleverly contrived. He has covered the roof and walls with
tin and canvas, so arranged that all the melting ice goes the same
way, and runs into a wash-tub that stands below. In this manner he
collects washing water, which is such a precious commodity in these
regions -- wily man! I afterwards hear that nearly all the outfit
for the Polar journey is being made in this little ice-cabin. Well,
with men like these I don't think Amundsen will deserve any credit
for reaching the Pole. He ought to be thrashed if he doesn't.

Now we have finished here, and must in all probability have seen
everything. My guide goes over to the wall where the clothing is lying
and begins to rummage in it. A clothing inspection, I say to myself;
there's no great fun in that. I sit down on the pile of sledges by
the opposite wall, and am going over in my mind all I have seen,
when suddenly he thrusts his head forward -- like a man who is going
to make a dive -- and disappears among the bundles of skins. I jump
up and make for the piles of clothing; I am beginning to feel quite
lost in this mysterious world. In my hurry I collide with Hanssen's
sledge, which falls off the table; he looks round furiously. It is a
good thing he could not see me; he looked like murder. I squeeze in
between the bundles of clothing, and what do I see? Another hole in
the wall; another low, dark passage. I pluck up courage and plunge
in. This tunnel is rather higher than the other, and I can walk,
bending double. Fortunately, the light at the other end shows up at
once, so that my journey in the dark is not a long one this time. I
come out into another large room of about the same size as the last,
and afterwards learn that it is known as the Crystal Palace. The name
is appropriate, as crystals sparkle on every side. Against one wall
a number of pairs of ski are resting; elsewhere there are cases,
some yellow and some black. I guess the meaning of this at once,
after my visit to Stubberud. The yellow cases are the original ones,
and the black the improved ones. They think of everything here. Of
course, in snow black is a far better colour than light yellow; the
cases will be pleasanter to look at, and very much easier to see at
a distance. And if they happen to run short of marks, all they need
do will be to break up a case and make as many black marks as they
want; they will be easily seen in the snow. The lids of these cases
surprise me. They are no bigger than ordinary large milk-can lids,
and of the same form; they are loose, as with a milk-can, and are
put on in the same way. Then it suddenly occurs to me. When I was
sitting on the sledges in Hanssen's workshop, I noticed little pieces
of wire rope fixed to both ribs of the sledge. There were eight of
them on each side -- just the right number. They are lashings for
four cases, and they will hardly take more than that on a sledge. On
one rib all the wire ropes ended in eyes; on the other they ended in
thin lashings. Obviously there were four of them to each case -- two
forward and two aft of the lid. If these were reeved and drawn taut,
the cases would be held as in a vice, and the lids could be taken
off freely at any time. It was an ingenious idea, which would save
a lot of work.

But there sits Johansen in the middle of the Palace, packing. He
seems to have a difficult problem to solve; he looks so profoundly
thoughtful. Before him is a case half packed, marked "Sledge No. V.,
Case No. 4." More singular contents I have never seen -- a mixture
of pemmican and sausage. I have never heard of sausages on a sledge
journey; it must be something quite new. The pieces of pemmican
are cylindrical in shape, about 2 inches high and 4 and 3/4 inches
in diameter; when they are packed, there will be large star-shaped
openings between every four of them. Each of these openings is filled
up with a sausage, which stands straight up and down, and is of
exactly the height of the case. But sausage -- let me see. Ah! there's
a sausage with a tear in its skin; I run across and look at it. Oh,
the cunning rascals! if it isn't milk-powder they are smuggling in
like this! So every bit of space is utilized. The gaps left by these
round pieces of pemmican at the sides of the cases are, of course,
only half as large as the rest, and so cannot take a milk-sausage; but
don't imagine that the space is wasted. No; chocolate is broken up into
small pieces and stowed in there. When all these cases are packed,
they will be as full as if they were of solid wood. There is one
ready packed; I must see what it contains. Biscuits -- 5,400 biscuits
is marked on the lid. They say that angels are specially gifted with
patience, but theirs must be a trifle compared with Johansen's. There
was absolutely not a fraction of an inch left in that case.

The Crystal Palace at present reminds one strongly of a grocer's and
chandler's store -- pemmican, biscuits, chocolate, and milk-sausage,
lie about everywhere. In the other wall, opposite the ski, there is
an opening. I see my companion making for it, but this time I intend
to keep an eye on him. He goes up two steps, pushes a trap-door,
and there he stands on the Barrier -- but I am there, too. The
trap-door is replaced, and I see that we are close to another door
in the Barrier, but this is a modern sliding-door. It leads into
the clothing store. I turn to my host and give him my best thanks
for the interesting circular trip through the Barrier, expressing
my admiration of all the fine engineering works I have seen, and
so on. He cuts me short with the remark that we are not nearly done
yet. He has only brought me up this way to save my having to crawl
back again. "We are going in now," he adds, "to continue our journey
under the surface." I see that there is no getting out of it, although
I am beginning to have enough of these underground passages. My host
seems to guess my thoughts, as he adds: "We must see them now when the
men are working. Afterwards they will not have the same interest." I
see that he is right, pull myself together, and follow him.

But Fate wills it otherwise. As we come out on the Barrier, Hanssen
is standing there with his sledge and six fresh dogs harnessed. My
companion has just time to whisper to me, " Jump on; I'll wait here,"
when the sledge starts off at a terrific pace with me as a passenger,
unsuspected by Hanssen.

We went along so that the snow dashed over us. He had his dogs well
in hand, this fellow, I could see that; but they were a wild lot of
rascals he had to deal with. I heard the names of Hok and Togo in
particular; they seemed inclined for mischief. All of a sudden they
darted back on their companions under the traces, and got the whole
team in a tangle; but they were not able to do very much, as the
whip, which was wielded with great dexterity, constantly sang about
their ears. The two sausages I had noticed on the slope -- Ring and
Mylius -- were leaders; they, too, were full of pranks, but kept their
places. Hai and Rap were also in the team. Rap, whose ear was split,
would have liked very much to get his friend Hai to join in a little
fight with Hok and Togo, but for the whip. It swished to and fro,
in and out, among them without mercy, and made them behave like good
boys. After us, some yards behind, came Zanko. He seemed to be put
out because he had not been harnessed. Meanwhile we went at a gallop
up the hill to the depot, and the last flag was passed. There was a
marked difference in the daylight here now. It was eleven o'clock, and
the flush of dawn had risen a good way in the sky and was approaching
the north. The numbers and marks on the cases were easily visible.

Hanssen drew up smartly by the rows of cases and halted. We stepped
off the sledge. He stood still for a moment and looked round, then
turned the sledge over, with the runners in the air. I supposed he
did this to prevent the dogs making off when his back was turned;
personally, I thought it was a poor safeguard. I jumped up on a case,
and sat there to await what developments might come. And they came in
the form of Zanko. Hanssen had moved off a little way with a piece
of paper in his hand, and seemed to be examining the cases as he
went along. Zanko had now reached his friends, Ring and Mylius,
and the meeting was a very cordial one on both sides. This was
too much for Hok; he was on to them like a rocket, followed by his
friend Togo. Hai and Rap never let such an opportunity escape them,
and they eagerly flung themselves into the thick of the fight. "Stop
that, you blackguards!" It was Hanssen who threw this admonition in
advance, as he came rushing back. Zanko, who was free, had kept his
head sufficiently to observe the approaching danger; without much
hesitation, he cut away and made for Framheim with all possible
speed. Whether the others missed their sixth combatant, or whether
they, too, became aware of Hanssen's threatening approach, I am unable
to determine; certain it is that they all got clear of each other,
as though at a given signal, and made off the same way. The capsized
sledge made no difference to them; they went like the wind over the
slope, and disappeared by the flagstaff. Hanssen did not take long to
make up his mind, but what was the use? He went as fast as he could,
no doubt, but had reached no farther than to the flagstaff, when the
dogs, with the capsized sledge behind them, ran into Framheim and
were stopped there.

I went quietly back, well pleased with the additional experience. Down
on the level I met Hanssen on his way to the depot a second time;
he looked extremely angry, and the way in which he used the whip
did not promise well for the dogs' backs. Zanko was now harnessed in
the team. On my return to Framheim I saw no one, so I slipped into
the pent-house, and waited for an opportunity of getting into the
kitchen. This was not long in coming. Puffing and gasping like a small
locomotive, Lindström swung in from the passage that led round the
house. In his arms he again carried the big bucket full of ice, and an
electric lamp hung from his mouth. In order to open the kitchen-door,
he had only to give it a push with his knee; I slipped in. The house
was empty. Now, I thought, I shall have a good chance of seeing what
Lindström does when he is left alone. He put down the bucket of ice,
and gradually filled up the water-pot which was on the fire. Then he
looked at the clock: a quarter-past eleven -- good; dinner will be
ready in time. He drew a long, deep sigh, then went into the room,
filled and lit his pipe. Thereupon he sat down and took up a doll
that was sitting on a letter-weight. His whole face lighted up; one
could see how pleased he was. He wound up the doll and put it on
the table; as soon as he let it go, it began to turn somersaults,
one after another, endlessly. And Lindström? Well, he laughed till
he must have been near convulsions, crying out all the while: "That's
right, Olava; go it again!" I then looked at the doll carefully, and
it was certainly something out of the common. The head was that of an
old woman -- evidently a disagreeable old maid -- with yellow hair,
a hanging under-jaw, and a love-sick expression. She wore a dress of
red-and-white check, and when she turned head over heels it caused,
as might be expected, some disturbance of her costume. The figure,
one could see, had originally been an acrobat, but these ingenious
Polar explorers had transformed it into this hideous shape. When the
experiment was repeated, and I understood the situation, I could not
help roaring, too, but Lindström was so deeply occupied that he did
not hear me. After amusing himself for about ten minutes with this,
he got tired of Olava, and put her up on the weight again. She sat
there nodding and bowing until she was forgotten.

Meanwhile Lindström had gone to his bunk, and was lying half in
it. Now, I thought to myself, he is going to take a little nap before
dinner. But no; he came out again at once, holding a tattered old
pack of cards in his hand. He went back to his place, and began a
quiet and serious game of patience. It did not take long, and was
probably not very complicated, but it served its purpose. One could
see what a pleasure it was to him whenever a card came in its right
place. Finally, all the cards were in order; he had finished the
game. He sat a little while longer, enjoying the sight of the finished
packs; then he picked them all up with a sigh, and rose, mumbling:
"Yes, he'll get to the Pole, that's sure; and, what's more, he'll
get there first." He put the cards back on the shelf in his bunk,
and looked well pleased with himself.

Then the process of laying the table began once more, but with far
less noise than in the morning; there was nobody to be annoyed by it
now. At five minutes to twelve a big ship's bell was rung, and not
long after the diners began to arrive. They did not make any elaborate
toilet, but sat down to table at once. The dishes were not many:
a thick, black seal soup, with all manner of curious things in it --
seal meat cut into " small dice" is no doubt the expression, but it
would be misleading here; "large dice" we had better call them --
with potatoes, carrots, cabbage, turnips, peas, celery, prunes, and
apples. I should like to know what our cooks at home would call that
dish. Two large jugs of syrup and water stood on the table. Now I had
another surprise; I was under the impression that a dinner like this
passed off in silence, but that was by no means the case here. They
talked the whole time, and the conversation chiefly turned on what
they had been doing during the forenoon. For dessert they had some
green plums. Pipes and books soon made their appearance.

By about two o'clock the boys gave fresh signs of life. I knew they
were not going to work that afternoon -- St. Hans' Eve -- but habit
is a strange thing. Bjaaland rose in a peremptory fashion, and asked
who was going to have the first turn. After a lot of questions and
answers, it was decided that Hassel should be the first. What it was
I could not make out. I heard them talk about one or two Primuses,
and say that half an hour was the most one could stand, but that did
not mean anything to me. I should have to stick to Hassel; he was
going first. If there should be no second man, I should, at any rate,
have seen what the first one did. Everything became quiet again; it was
only in the kitchen that one could tell that the Barrier was inhabited.

At half-past two Bjaaland, who had been out, came in and announced
that now it was all a mass of steam. I watched Hassel anxiously. Yes;
this announcement seemed to put life into him. He got up and began
to undress. Very strange, I thought; what can this be? I tried the
Sherlock Holmes method -- first Bjaaland goes out; that is fact number
one. Then he comes back; that I could also make sure of. So far the
method worked well. But then comes the third item "It is all a mass of
steam." What in the world does that mean? The man has gone out -- if
not out on to the Barrier, then certainly into it -- into snow-ice, and
then he comes back and says that it is all a mass of steam. It seems
ridiculous -- absurd. I send Sherlock Holmes to the deuce, and watch
Hassel with increasing excitement; if he takes any more off -- I felt
I was blushing, and half turned my head, but there he stopped. Then
he picked up a towel, and away we went: out through the pent-house
door -- it was all I could do to follow him -- along the snow tunnel
in nothing but -- Here steam really began to meet us, getting thicker
and thicker as we came into the Barrier. The tunnel became so full of
steam that I could see nothing. I thought with longing of the tail
of Amundsen's anorak that was so useful on such occasions, but here
there was nothing to take hold of. Far away in the fog I could see a
light, and made my way to it with caution. Before I knew where I was,
I stood at the other end of the passage, which led into a large room,
covered with rime, and closed overhead by a mighty dome of ice. The
steam was troublesome, and spoilt my view of the room. But what had
become of Hassel? I could only see Bjaaland. Then suddenly the fog
seemed to clear for an instant, and I caught sight of a bare leg
disappearing into a big black box, and a moment later I saw Hassel's
smiling face on the top of the box. A shudder passed through my frame
-- he looked as if he had been decapitated. On further consideration,
his features were too smiling; the head could not be severed from the
body yet. Now the steam began to clear away little by little, and at
last one could see clearly what was going on. I had to laugh; it was
all very easy to understand now. But I think Sherlock Holmes would
have found it a hard-nut to crack if he had been set down blindfold
on the Antarctic Barrier, as I was, so to speak, and asked to explain
the situation. It was one of those folding American vapour-baths that
Hassel sat in. The bathroom, which had looked so spacious and elegant
in the fog, reduced itself to a little snow-hut of insignificant
appearance. The steam was now collected in the bath, and one could
see by the face above that it was beginning to be warm there. The last
thing I saw Bjaaland do was to pump two Primus lamps that were placed
just under the bath up to high pressure, and then disappear. What
a lesson an actor might have had in watching the face before me! It
began with such a pleasant expression -- well-being was written upon
it in the brightest characters -- then by degrees the smile wore off,
and gave place to seriousness. But this did not last long; there was
a trembling of the nostrils, and very soon it could clearly be seen
that the bath was no longer of a pleasant nature. The complexion,
from being normal, had changed to an ultra-violet tint; the eyes
opened wider and wider, and I was anxiously awaiting a catastrophe.

It came, but in a very different form from that I had
expected. Suddenly and noiselessly the bath was raised, and the steam
poured out, laying a soft white curtain over what followed. I could
see nothing; only heard that the two Primuses were turned down. I
think it took about five minutes for the steam to disappear, and
what did I see then? -- Hassel, bright as a new shilling, dressed in
his best for St. Hans' Eve. I availed myself of the opportunity to
examine the first, and probably the only, vapour-bath on the Antarctic
Barrier. It was, like everything else I had seen, very ingeniously
contrived. The bath was a high box without bottom, and with a hole,
large enough for the head, in the top. Ail the walls were double and
were made of windproof material, with about an inch between for the
air to circulate. This box stood on a platform, which was raised a
couple of feet above the snow surface. The box fitted into a groove,
and was thus absolutely tight. In the platform immediately under the
bath a rectangular opening was cut, lined round with rubber packing,
and into this opening a tin box fitted accurately. Under the tin box
stood two Primus lamps, and now everyone will be able to understand why
Hassel felt warm. A block hung from the top of the hut, with a rope
reeved in it; one end was made fast to the upper edge of the bath,
and the other went down into the bath. In this way the bather himself
could raise the bath without assistance, and free himself when the
heat became too great. The temperature outside the snow-wall was -65°
F. Cunning lads! I afterwards heard that Bjaaland and Hassel had
constructed this ingenious bath.

I now went back to the house, and saw how they all -- almost -- made
use of the vapour-bath. By a quarter-past five all the bathing was
concluded, and everyone put on his furs; it was evident that they
were going out. I followed the first man who left the hut; he was
provided with a lantern, and indeed it was wanted. The weather had
changed: a south-west wind had sprung up suddenly, and now the air
was thick with snow. It was not a fall of snow, for one could see
the stars in the zenith, but snow caught up by the wind and whirled
along. A man had to know the surroundings well to find his way now;
one had to feel -- it was impossible to keep one's eyes open. I took
up a position in lee of a snow-drift, and waited to see what would
happen. The dogs did not seem to be inconvenienced by the change of
weather; some of them lay curled up in a ring, with their nose under
their tail, on the snow, while others were running about. One by one
the men came out; each had a lantern in his hand. As they arrived at
the place where the dogs were, each was surrounded by his team, who
followed him to the tents with joyous howls. But everything did not
pass off peacefully; I heard -- I think it was in Bjaaland's tent --
a deafening noise going on, and looked in at the door. Down there,
deep below the surface, they were having a warm time. All the dogs
were mixed up together in one mass: some were biting, some shrieking,
some howling. In the midst of this mass of raging dogs I saw a human
figure swinging round, with a bunch of dog-collars in one hand, while
he dealt blows right and left with the other, and blessed the dogs all
the time. I thought of my calves and withdrew. But the human figure
that I had seen evidently won the mastery, as the noise gradually
subsided and all became quiet. As each man got his dogs tied up, he
went over to the meat-tent and took a box of cut-up seal meat, which
stood on the wall out of the dogs' reach. This meat had been cut up
earlier in the day by two men. They took it in turns, I heard; two men
had this duty daily. The dogs were then fed, and half an hour after
this was done the camp again lay as I had found it in the morning,
quiet and peaceful. With a temperature of -65° F., and a velocity of
twenty-two miles an hour, the south-wester swept over the Barrier, and
whirled the snow high into the air above Framheim; but in their tents
the dogs lay, full-fed and contented, and felt nothing of the storm.

In the hut preparations for a feast were going on, and now one could
really appreciate a good house. The change from the howling wind,
the driving snow, the intense cold, and the absolute darkness,
was great indeed when one came in. Everything was newly washed,
and the table was gaily decorated. Small Norwegian flags were
everywhere, on the table and walls. The festival began at six, and
all the "vikings" came merrily in. Lindström had done his best, and
that is not saying a little. I specially admired his powers and his
liberality -- and I think, even in the short time I have observed him,
he has shown no sign of being stingy -- when he appeared with the
"Napoleon" cakes. Now I must tell you that these cakes were served
after every man had put away a quarter of a plum-pudding. The cakes
were delightful to look at -- the finest puff-pastry, with layers of
vanilla custard and cream. They made my mouth water. But the size of
them! -- there could not be one of those mountains of cake to every
man? One among them all, perhaps -- if they could be expected to eat
Napoleon cakes at all after plum-pudding. But why had he brought in
eight -- two enormous dishes with four on each? Good heavens! --
one of the vikings had just started, and was making short work of
his mountain. And one after another they all walked into them, until
the whole eight had disappeared. I should have nothing to say about
hunger, misery, and cold, when I came hone. My head was going round;
the temperature must have been as many degrees above zero in here
as it was below zero outside. I looked up at Wisting's bunk, where
a thermometer was hanging: +95° F. The vikings did not seem to take
the slightest notice of this trifle; their work with the "Napoleons"
continued undisturbed.

Soon the gorgeous cake was a thing of the past, and cigars came
out. Everyone, without exception, allowed himself this luxury. Up
to now they had not shown much sign of abstinence; I wanted to know
what was their attitude with regard to strong drinks. I had heard,
of course, that indulgence in alcohol on Polar expeditions was very
harmful, not to say dangerous. "Poor boys!" I thought to myself; "that
must be the reason of your fondness for cake. A man must have one vice,
at least. Deprived of the pleasure of drinking, they make up for it in
gluttony." Yes, now I could see it quite plainly, and I was heartily
sorry for them. I wondered how the "Napoleons" felt now; they looked
rather depressed. No doubt the cake took some time to settle down.

Lindström, who now seemed unquestionably the most wideawake of them
all, came in and began to clear the table. I expected to see every
man roll into his bunk to digest. But no; that side of the question
did not appear to trouble them much. They remained seated, as though
expecting more. Oh yes, of course; there was coffee to come. Lindström
was already in the doorway with cups and jugs. A cup of coffee would
be just the thing after such a meal.

"Stubberud!" -- this was Lindström's voice, calling from some
place in the far distance -- "hurry up, before they get warm!" I
rushed after Stubberud to see what the things were that were not
to get warm; I thought it might possibly be something that was to
be taken outside. Great Heaven! there was Lindström lying on his
stomach up in the loft, and handing down through the trap-door --
what do you think? -- a bottle of Benedictine and a bottle of punch,
both white with frost! Now I could see that the fish were to swim --
what's more, they were to be drowned. A happier smile than that with
which Stubberud received the bottles, or more careful and affectionate
handling than they received on their way through the kitchen, I have
never seen. I was touched. Ah, these boys knew how a liqueur should
be served! "Must be served cold," was on the label of the punch
bottle. I can assure P. A. Larsen that his prescription was followed
to the letter that evening. Then the gramophone made its appearance,
and it did me good to see the delight with which it was received. They
seemed to like this best, after all, and every man had music to suit
his taste. All agreed to honour the cook for all his pains, and the
concert therefore began with "Tarara-boom-de-ay," followed by the
"Apache" waltz. His part of the programme was concluded with a humorous
recitation. Meanwhile he stood in the doorway with a beatific smile;
this did him good. In this way the music went the round, and all
had their favourite tunes. Certain numbers were kept to the last; I
could see that they were to the taste of all. First came an air from
"The Huguenots," sung by Michalowa; this showed the vikings to be
musical. It was beautifully sung. "But look here," cried an impatient
voice: "aren't we going to have Borghild Bryhn to-night?" "Yes," was
the answer; "here she comes." And Solveig's Song followed. It was
a pity Borghild Bryhn was not there; I believe the most rapturous
applause would not have moved her so much as the way her song was
received here that evening. As the notes rang clear and pure through
the room, one could see the faces grow serious. No doubt the words of
the poem affected them all as they sat there in the dark winter night
on the vast wilderness of ice, thousands and thousands of miles from
all that was dear to them. I think that was so; but it was the lovely
melody, given with perfect finish and rich natural powers, that opened
their hearts. One could see how it did them good; it was as though
they were afraid of the sound of their own voices afterwards. At last
one of them could keep silence no longer. "My word, how beautifully
she sings!" he exclaimed; "especially the ending. I was a little bit
afraid that she would give the last note too sharp, in spite of the
masterly way in which she controls her voice. And it is outrageously
high, too. But instead of that, the note came so pure and soft and full
that it alone was enough to make a better man of one." And then this
enthusiastic listener tells them how he once heard the same song,
but with a very different result. "It went quite well," he says,
"until it came to the final note. Then you could see the singer fill
her mighty bosom for the effort, and out came a note so shrill that --
well, you remember the walls of Jericho." After this the gramophone
is put away. No one seems to want any more.

Now it is already half-past eight, it must be nearly bed-time. The
feast has lasted long enough, with food, drink, and music. Then they
all get on their feet, and there is a cry of "Bow and arrows." Now,
I say to myself, as I withdraw into the corner where the clothes
are hanging -- now the alcohol is beginning to take effect. It is
evident that something extraordinarily interesting is going to take
place, as they are all so active. One of them goes behind the door
and fetches out a little cork target, and another brings out of his
bunk a box of darts. So it is dart-throwing -- the children must be
amused. The target is hung up on the door of the kitchen leading
to the pent-house, and the man who is to throw first takes up his
position at the end of the table at a distance of three yards. And
now the shooting competition begins, amid laughter and noise. There
are marksmen of all kinds, good, bad, and indifferent. Here comes
the champion -- one can see that by the determined way in which he
raises the dart and sends it flying; his will, no doubt, be the top
score. That is Stubberud; of the five darts he throws, two are in the
bull's-eye and three close to it. The next is Johansen; he is not bad,
either, but does not equal the other's score. Then comes Bjaaland; I
wonder whether he is as smart at this game as he is on ski? He places
himself at the end of the table, like the others, but takes a giant's
stride forward. He is a leery one, this; now he is not more than a
yard and a half from the target. He throws well; the darts describe
a great round arch. This is what is known as throwing "with a high
trajectory," and it is received with great applause. The trajectory
turns out to be too high, and all his darts land in the wall above
the door. Hassel throws with "calculation." What he calculates it
is not easy to understand. Not on hitting the target, apparently;
but if his calculations have to do with the kitchen-door, then they
are more successful. Whether Amundsen "calculates" or not makes very
little difference; his are all misses in any case. Wisting's form is
the same. Prestrud is about half-way between the good shots and the
bad. Hanssen throws like a professional, slinging his dart with great
force. He evidently thinks he is hunting walrus. All the scores are
carefully entered in a book, and prizes will be given later on.

Meanwhile Lindström is playing patience; his day's work is now
done. But, besides his cards, he is much interested in what is going
on round the target, and puts in a good word here and there. Then he
gets up with a determined look; he has one more duty to perform. This
consists of changing the light from the big lamp under the ceiling
to two small lamps, and the reason for the change is that the heat
of the big lamp would be too strongly felt in the upper bunks. This
operation is a gentle hint that the time has come for certain people to
turn in. The room looks dark now that the great sun under the ceiling
is extinguished; the two lamps that are now alight are good enough,
but one seems, nevertheless, to have made a retrograde step towards
the days of pine-wood torches.

By degrees, then, the vikings began to retire to rest. My description
of the day's life at Framheim would be incomplete if I did not include
this scene in it. Lindström's chief pride, I had been told, was that
he was always the first man in bed; he would willingly sacrifice
a great deal to hold this record. As a rule, he had no difficulty
in fulfilling his desire, as nobody tried to be before him; but
this evening it was otherwise. Stubberud was far advanced with his
undressing when Lindström came in, and, seeing a chance at last of
being "first in bed," at once challenged the cook. Lindström, who did
not quite grasp the situation, accepted the challenge, and then the
race began, and was followed by the others with great excitement. Now
Stubberud is ready, and is just going to jump into his bunk, which
is over Lindström's, when he suddenly feels himself clutched by the
leg and held back. Lindström hangs on to the leg with all his force,
crying out, in the most pitiable voice: "Wait a bit, old man, till
I'm undressed too!" It reminded me rather of the man who was going to
fight, and called out: "Wait till I get a hold of you!" But the other
was not to be persuaded; he was determined to win. Then Lindström let
go, tore off his braces -- he had no time for more -- and dived head
first into his bunk. Stubberud tried to protest; this was not fair,
he was not undressed, and so on.

"That doesn't matter," replied the fat man; "I was first, all the

The scene was followed with great amusement and shouts of
encouragement, and ended in a storm of applause when Lindström
disappeared into his bunk with his clothes on. But that was not the
end of the business, for his leap into the bunk was followed by a
fearful crash, to which no one paid any attention in the excitement
of the moment, himself least of all. But now the consequences
appeared. The shelf along the side of his bunk, on which he kept a
large assortment of things, had fallen down, and filled the bunk with
rifles, ammunition, gramophone-discs, tool-boxes, sweetmeat-boxes,
pipes, tins of tobacco, ash-trays, boxes of matches, etc., and there
was no room left for the man himself. He had to get out again, and
his defeat was doubly hard. With shame he acknowledged Stubberud as
the victor; "but," he added, "you shan't be first another time." One
by one the others turned in; books were produced -- here and there a
pipe as well -- and in this way the last hour was passed. At eleven
o'clock precisely the lamps were put out, and the day was at an end.

Soon after, my host goes to the door, and I follow him out. I had
told him I had to leave again this evening, and he is going to see me
off. "I'll take you as far as the depot," he says; "the rest of the way
you can manage by yourself." The weather has improved considerably,
but it is dark -- horribly dark. "So that we may find the way more
easily," he says, "I'll take my trio. If they don't see the way,
they'll smell it out." Having let loose the three dogs, who evidently
wonder what the meaning of it may be, he puts a lantern on a stack of
timber -- to show him the way back, I suppose -- and we go off. The
dogs are evidently accustomed to go this way, for they set off at
once in the direction of the depot.

"Yes," says my companion, "it's not to be wondered at that they know
the way. They have gone it every day -- once at least, often two or
three times -- since we came here. There are three of us who always
take our daily walk in this direction -- Bjaaland, Stubberud, and I. As
you saw this morning, those two went out at half-past eight. They did
that so as to be back to work at nine. We have so much to do that we
can't afford to lose any time. So they take their walk to the depot
and back; at nine I generally do the same. The others began the winter
with the same good resolution; they were all so enthusiastic for a
morning walk. But the enthusiasm didn't last long, and now we three
are the only enthusiasts left. But, short as the way is -- about
650 yards -- we should not venture to go without those marks that
you saw, and without our dogs. I have often hung out a lantern, too;
but when it is as cold as this evening, the paraffin freezes and the
light goes out. Losing one's way here might be a very serious matter,
and I don't want to run the risk of it.

" Here we have the first mark-post; we were lucky to come straight upon
it. The dogs are on ahead, making for the depot. Another reason for
being very careful on the way to the depot is that there is a big hole,
20 feet deep, just by a hummock on that slope where, you remember, the
last flag stands. If one missed one's way and fell into it, one might
get hurt." We passed close to the second mark. "The next two marks are
more difficult to hit off -- they are so low; and I often wait and
call the dogs to me to find the way -- as I am going to do now, for
instance. It is impossible to see anything unless you come right on it,
so we must wait and let the dogs help us. I know exactly the number
of paces between each mark, and when I have gone that number, I stop
and first examine the ground close by. If that is no good, I whistle
for the dogs, who come at once. Now you'll see" -- a long whistle --
"it won't be long before they are here. I can hear them already." He
was right; the dogs came running out of the darkness straight towards
us. "To let them see that we want to find the way to the depot,
we must begin to walk on." We did so. As soon as the dogs saw this,
they went forward again, but this time at a pace that allowed us to
keep up with them at a trot, and soon after we were at the last mark.

"As you see, my lantern over at the camp is just going out, so I
hope you will excuse my accompanying you farther. You know your way,

With these words we parted, and my host went back, followed by the
faithful trio, whilst I ...


The End of the Winter

After Midwinter Day the time began to pass even more quickly than
before. The darkest period was over, and the sun was daily drawing
nearer. In the middle of the darkest time, Hassel came in one morning
and announced that Else had eight puppies. Six of these were ladies,
so their fate was sealed at once; they were killed and given to their
elder relations, who appreciated them highly. It could hardly be seen
that they chewed them at all; they went down practically whole. There
could be no doubt of their approval, as the next day the other two
had also disappeared.

The weather conditions we encountered down here surprised us
greatly. In every quarter of the Antarctic regions of which we had
any information, the conditions had always proved very unsettled. On
the Belgica, in the drift-ice to the west of Graham Land, we always
had rough, unpleasant weather. Nordenskjöld's stay in the regions to
the east of the same land gave the same report -- storm after storm
the whole time. And from the various English expeditions that have
visited McMurdo Sound we hear of continual violent winds. Indeed,
we know now that while we were living on the Barrier in the most
splendid weather -- calms or light breezes -- Scott at his station
some four hundred miles to the west of us was troubled by frequent
storms, which greatly hindered his work.

I had expected the temperature to remain high, as throughout the winter
we could very clearly see the dark sky over the sea. Whenever the state
of the air was favourable, the dark, heavy water-sky was visible in a
marked degree, leaving no doubt that a large extent of Ross Sea was
open the whole year round. Nevertheless, the temperature went very
low, and without doubt the mean temperature shown by our observations
for the year is the lowest that has ever been recorded. Our lowest
temperature, on August 13, 1911, was -74.2°F. For five months of the
year we were able to record temperatures below -58°F. The temperature
rose with every wind, except the south-west; with that it more usually
went down.

We observed the aurora australis many times, but only a few of its
appearances were specially powerful. They were of all possible forms,
though the form of ribbon-like bands seemed to be commonest. Most of
the auroræ were multicoloured -- red and green.

My hypothesis of the solidity of the Barrier -- that is, of its resting
upon underlying land -- seems to be confirmed at all points by our
observations during our twelve months' stay on it. In the course of
the winter and spring the pack-ice is forced up against the Barrier
into pressure-ridges of as much as 40 feet in height. This took place
only about a mile and a quarter from our hut, without our noticing
its effect in the slightest degree. In my opinion, if this Barrier had
been afloat, the effect of the violent shock which took place at its
edge would not merely have been noticeable, but would have shaken our
house. While building the house, Stubberud and Bjaaland heard a loud
noise a long way off, but could feel nothing. During our whole stay
we never heard a sound or felt a movement on this spot. Another very
good proof seems to be afforded by the large theodolite that Prestrud
used. It would take next to nothing to disturb its level -- a slight
change of temperature might be enough. So delicate an instrument
would have soon shown an inclination if the Barrier had been afloat.

The day we entered the bay for the first time, a small piece of its
western cape broke away. During the spring the drift-ice pressed in
an insignificant part of one of the many points on the outer edge of
the Barrier. With these exceptions, we left the Barrier as we found
it, entirely unaltered. The soundings, which showed a rapid rise
in the bottom as the Fram changed her position southward along the
Barrier, are also a clear sign that land is close at hand. Finally,
the formations of the Barrier appear to be the best proof. It could not
rise to 1,100 feet -- which we measured as the rise from Framheim to
a point about thirty-one miles to the south -- without subjacent land.

Work now proceeded on the sledging outfit with feverish haste. We had
for a long time been aware that we should have to do our utmost and
make the best use of our time if we were to have the general outfit
for our common use ready by the middle of August. For preparing our
personal outfit we had to use our leisure time. By the first half
of August we could begin to see the end of our labour. Bjaaland had
now finished the four sledges. It was a masterly piece of work that
he had carried out in the course of the winter; they were extremely
lightly constructed, but very strong. They were of the same length as
the original sledges -- about 12 feet -- and were not shod. We should
have a couple of the old Fram sledges with us, and these were shod
with strong steel plates, so that they could be used if the surface
and going rendered it necessary. The average weight of the new sledges
was 53 pounds. We had thus saved as much as 110 pounds per sledge.

When Bjaaland had finished them, they were taken into the "Clothing
Store." The way in which Hanssen and Wisting lashed the various parts
together was a guarantee of their soundness; in fact, the only way in
which one can expect work to be properly and carefully carried out is
to have it done by the very men who are to use the things. They know
what is at stake. They do it so that they may reach their destination;
more than that, they do it so that they may come back again. Every
piece of binding is first carefully examined and tested; then it
is put on, cautiously and accurately. Every turn is hauled taut,
taking care that it is in its right place. And, finally, the lashing
is pointed in such a way that one would do best to use a knife or an
axe if it has to be undone again; there is no danger of jerking it
out with the fingers. A sledge journey of the kind we had before us
is a serious undertaking, and the work has to be done seriously.

It was no warm and comfortable workshop that they had for doing
this. The Clothing Store was always the coldest place, probably because
there was always a draught through it. There was a door out on to
the Barrier, and an open passage leading to the house. Fresh air was
constantly passing through, though not in any very great quantity;
but it does not take much to make itself felt when the air is at
a temperature of about -75°F., and when one is working with bare
fingers. There were always some degrees of frost here. In order to
keep the lashings pliable while they were being put on, they used
a Primus lamp on a stone close to where they were working. I often
admired their patience when I stood watching them; I have seen them
more than once working barehanded by the hour together in a temperature
of about -22°F. This may pass for a short time; but through the coldest
and darkest part of the winter, working day after day, as they did,
it is pretty severe, and a great trial of patience. Nor were their
feet very well off either; it makes hardly any difference what one
puts on them if one has to stay still. Here, as elsewhere in the cold,
it was found that boots with wooden soles were the best for sedentary
work; but for some reason or other the occupants of the Clothing
Store would not give their adherence to the wooden-sole principle,
and continued to work all through the winter in their reindeer-skin
and sealskin boots. They preferred stamping their feet to acknowledging
the incontestable superiority of wooden soles in such conditions.

As the sledges were finished, they were numbered from one to seven,
and stored in the clothing department. The three old sledges we should
have to use were made for the Fram's second expedition. They were
extremely strong, and, of course, heavier than the new ones. They were
all carefully overhauled; all the bindings and lashings were examined,
and replaced wherever necessary. The steel shoes were taken off one,
but retained on the other two, in case we should meet with conditions
where they would be required.

In addition to this work of lashing, these two had plenty of other
occupation. Whenever Wisting was not taken up by the work on the
sledges, one could hear the hum of his sewing-machine. He had
a thousand different things to do in his sewing-room, and was in
there nearly every day till late in the evening. It was only when the
target and darts came out at half-past eight that he showed himself,
and if it had not been that he had undertaken the position of marker
at these competitions, we should hardly have seen him even then. His
first important piece of work was making four three-man tents into
two. It was not easy to manage these rather large tents in the little
hole that went by the name of the sewing-room; of course, he used
the table in the Clothing Store for cutting out, but, all the same,
it is a mystery how he contrived to get hold of the right seams when
he sat in his hole. I was prepared to see the most curious-looking
tents when once they were brought out and set up in daylight; one
might imagine that the floor of one would be sewed on to the side of
another. But nothing of the sort happened. When the tents were brought
out for the first time and set up, they proved to be perfect. One
would have thought they had been made in a big sail-loft instead of
in a snow-drift. Neat-fingered fellows like this are priceless on
such an expedition as ours.

On the second Fram expedition they used double tents, and as, of
course, nothing is so good and serviceable as the thing one has not
got, the praises of double tents were now sung in every key. Well,
I naturally had to admit that a house with double walls is warmer
than one with single walls, but, at the same time, one must not lose
sight of the fact that the double-walled house is also twice as heavy;
and when one has to consider the weight of a pocket-handkerchief,
it will be understood that the question of the real advantages of
the double-walled house had to be thoroughly considered before taking
the step of committing oneself to it. I had thought that with double
walls one would possibly avoid some of the rime that is generally so
troublesome in the tents, and often becomes a serious matter. If,
then, the double walls would in any way prevent or improve this
condition of things, I could see the advantage of having them; for
the increased weight caused by the daily deposit of rime would in a
short time be equal to, if not greater than, the additional weight
of the double tent. These double tents are made so that the outer
tent is fast and the inner loose. In the course of our discussion,
it appeared that the deposit of rime occurred just as quickly on a
double tent as on a single one, and thus the utility of the double
tent appeared to me to be rather doubtful. If the object was merely
to have it a few degrees warmer in the tent, I thought it best to
sacrifice this comfort to the weight we should thereby save. Moreover,
we were so plentifully supplied with warm sleeping things that we
should not have to suffer any hardship.

But another question cropped up as a result of this discussion --
the question of what was the most useful colour for a tent. We were
soon agreed that a dark-coloured tent was best, for several reasons:
In the first place, as a relief to the eyes. We knew well enough what a
comfort it would be to come into a dark tent after travelling all day
on the glistening Barrier surface. In the next place, the dark colour
would make the tent a good deal warmer when the sun was up -- another
important consideration. One may easily prove this by walking in dark
clothes in a hot sun, and afterwards changing to white ones. And,
finally, a dark tent would be far easier to see on the white surface
than a light one. When all these questions had been discussed, and
the superiority of a dark tent admitted, we were doubly keen on it,
since all our tents happened to be light, not to say white, and the
possibility of getting dark ones was not very apparent. It is true
that we had a few yards of darkish " gabardine," or light windproof
material, which would have been extremely suitable for this purpose,
but every yard of it had long ago been destined for some other use,
so that did not get us out of the difficulty. "But," said somebody --
and he had a very cunning air as he uttered that "but" -- "but haven't
we got ink and ink-powder that we can dye our tents dark with?" Yes,
of course! We all smiled indulgently; the thing was so plain that
it was almost silly to mention it, but all the same -- the man was
forgiven his silliness, and dye-works were established. Wisting
accepted the position of dyer, in addition to his other duties, and
succeeded so well that before very long we had two dark blue tents
instead of the white ones.

These looked very well, no doubt, freshly dyed as they were,
but the question was, What would they look like after a couple of
months' use? The general opinion was that they would probably, to a
great extent, have reverted to their original colour -- or lack of
colour. Some better patent had to be invented. As we were sitting
over our coffee after dinner one day, someone suddenly suggested:
"But look here -- suppose we took our bunk -- curtains and made an
outer tent of them?" This time the smile that passed over the company,
as they put down their cups, was almost compassionate. Nothing was
said, but the silence meant something like: "Poor chap! -- as if we
hadn't all thought of that long ago!" The proposal was adopted without
discussion, and Wisting had another long job, in addition to all the
rest. Our bunk-curtains were dark red, and made of very light material;
they were sewed together, curtain to curtain, and finally the whole
was made into an outer tent. The curtains only sufficed for one tent,
but, remembering that half a loaf is better than no bread, we had to be
satisfied with this. The red tent, which was set up a few days after,
met with unqualified approval; it would be visible some miles away
in the snow. Another important advantage was that it would protect
and preserve the main tent. Inside, the effect of the combination of
red and blue was to give an agreeably dark shade. Another question
was how to protect the tent from a hundred loose dogs, who were no
better behaved than others of their kind. If the tent became stiff
and brittle, it might be spoilt in a very short time. And the demands
we made on our tents were considerable; we expected them to last at
least 120 days. I therefore got Wisting to make two tent-protectors,
or guards. These guards consisted simply of a piece of gabardine
long enough to stretch all round the tent, and to act as a fence in
preventing the dogs from coming in direct contact with the tents. The
guards were made with loops, so that they could be stretched upon
ski-poles. They looked very fine when they were finished, but they
never came to be used; for, as soon as we began the journey, we
found a material that was even more suitable and always to be had --
snow. Idiots! -- of course, we all knew that, only we wouldn't say
so. Well, that was one against us. However, the guards came in well as
reserve material on the trip, and many were the uses they were put to.

In the next place, Wisting had to make wind-clothing for every
man. That we had brought out proved to be too small, but the things
he made were big enough. There was easily room for two more in
my trousers; but they have to be so. In these regions one soon
finds out that everything that is roomy is warm and comfortable,
while everything that is tight -- foot-gear, of course, excepted --
is warm and uncomfortable. One quickly gets into a perspiration,
and spoils the clothes. Besides the breeches and anorak of light
wind-cloth, he made stockings of the same material. I assumed that
these stockings -- worn among the other stockings we had on -- would
have an insulating effect. Opinions were greatly divided on this point;
but I must confess -- in common with my four companions on the Polar
journey -- that I would never make a serious trip without them. They
fulfilled all our expectations. The rime was deposited on them freely,
and was easily brushed off. If they got wet, it was easy to dry them
in almost all weathers; I know of no material that dries so quickly
as this windproof stuff. Another thing was that they protected the
other stockings against tears, and made them last much longer than
would otherwise have been the case.

As evidence of how pleased we who took part in the long sledge journey
were with these stockings, I may mention that when we reached the depot
in 80°S. -- on the homeward trip, be it noted; that is, when we looked
upon the journey as over -- we found there some bags with various
articles of clothing. In one of these were two pairs of windproof
stockings -- the bag presumably belonged to an opponent of the idea --
and it may be imagined that there was some fun. We all wanted them --
all, without exception. The two lucky ones each seized his pair and
hid it, as if it was the most costly treasure. What they wanted with
them I cannot guess, as we were at home; but this example shows how
we had learnt to appreciate them.

I recommend them most warmly to men who are undertaking similar
expeditions. But -- I must add -- they must give themselves the trouble
of taking off their foot-gear every evening, and brushing the rime off
their stockings; if one does not do this, of course, the rime will thaw
in the course of the night, and everything will be soaking wet in the
morning. In that case you must not blame the stockings, but yourself.

After this it was the turn of the underclothing; there was nothing
in the tailoring and outfitting department that Wisting could not
manage. Among our medical stores we had two large rolls of the most
beautiful fine light flannel, and of this he made underclothing for
all of us. What we had brought out from home was made of extremely
thick woollen material, and we were afraid this would be too
warm. Personally, I wore Wisting's make the whole trip, and have never
known anything so perfect. Then he had covers for the sleeping-bags
to sew and patch, and one thing and another. Some people give one the
impression of being able to make anything, and to get it done in no
time -- others not.

Hanssen had his days well occupied, industrious and handy as he
was. He was an expert at anything relating to sledges, and knew
exactly what had to be done. Whatever he had a hand in, I could
feel sure of; he never left anything to chance. Besides lashing
the sledges, he had a number of other things to do. Amongst them,
he was to prepare all the whips we required -- two for each driver,
or fourteen altogether. Stubberud was to supply the handles. In
consultation with the "Carpenters' Union," I had chosen a handle
made of three narrow strips of hickory. I assumed that if these were
securely lashed together, and the lashings covered with leather,
they would make as strong a handle as one could expect to get. The
idea of the composite handle of three pieces of wood was that it would
give and bend instead of breaking. We knew by experience that a solid
whip-handle did not last very long. It was arranged, then, that the
handles were to be made by Stubberud, and passed on to Hanssen.

The whip-lashes were made by Hassel, in the course of the winter, on
the Eskimo model. They were round and heavy -- as they should be --
and dangerous to come near, when they were wielded by an experienced
hand. Hanssen received these different parts to join them together and
make the whip. As usual, this was done with all possible care. Three
strong lashings were put on each handle, and these again were covered
with leather. Personally, Hanssen was not in favour of the triple
hickory handle, but he did the work without raising any objection. We
all remarked, it is true, that at this time, contrary to his habit,
he spent the hours after supper with Wisting. I wondered a little at
this, as I knew Hanssen was very fond of a game of whist after supper,
and never missed it unless he had work to do. I happened one evening
to express my surprise at this, and Stubberud answered at once:
"He's making handles." -- "What sort of handles?" -- "Whip-handles;
but," Stubberud added, "I'll guarantee those hickory handles I'm
making. You can't have anything tougher and stronger than those." He
was rather sore about it, that was easy to see; the idea was his own,
too. Then -- talk of the devil -- in walked Hanssen, with a fine big
whip in his hand. I, of course, appeared extremely surprised. "What,"
I said, "more whips?" -- "Yes," said he; "I don't believe in those
I'm making in the daytime. But here's a whip that I can trust." I
must admit that it looked well. The whole handle was covered, so that
one could not see what it was made of. "But," I ventured to object,
"are you sure it is as strong as the others?" -- "Oh, as to that,"
he answered, "I'm quite ready to back it against any of those --
" He did not say the word, nor was there any need. His meaning was
unmistakable, and "rotten whips" sounded in our ears as plainly as
if he had shouted it. I had no time to observe the effect of this
terrible utterance, for a determined voice called out: "We'll see
about that!" I turned round, and there was Stubberud leaning against
the end of the table, evidently hurt by Hanssen's words, which he took
as a personal affront. "If you dare risk your whip, come on." He had
taken down one of the insulted triple-handled whips from the shelf in
his bunk, and stood in a fighting attitude. This promised well. We
all looked at Hanssen. He had gone too far to be able to draw back;
he had to fight. He took his weapon in his hand, and entered the
"ring." The conditions were arranged and accepted by both parties;
they were to fight until one of the handles was broken. And then the
whip duel began. The opponents were very serious over it. One, two,
three -- the first blow fell, handle against handle. The combatants
had shut their eyes and awaited the result; when they opened them
again, they shone with happy surprise -- both handles were as whole as
before. Now each of them was really delighted with his own handle,
and the blows fell faster. Stubberud, who was standing with his
back to the table, got so excited over the unexpected result that,
every time he raised his weapon, he gave the edge of the table a
resounding smack without knowing it. How many rounds had been fought
I do not know, when I heard a crack, followed by the words: "There
you can see, old man!" As Stubberud left the ring, I was able to see
Hanssen. He stood on the battle-field, eyeing his whip; it looked like
a broken lily. The spectators had not been silent; they had followed
the fight with excitement, amid laughter and shouts. "That's right,
Stubberud. Don't give in!" "Bravo, Hanssen! that's a good one!"

The whips afterwards turned out remarkably well -- not that they lasted
out the trip, but they held together for a long while. Whip-handles
are a very perishable commodity; if one used nothing but the lash,
they would be everlasting, but, as a rule, one is not long satisfied
with that. It is when one gives a "confirmation," as we call it, that
the handle breaks. A confirmation is generally held when some sinner
or other has gone wrong and refuses to obey. It consists in taking the
first opportunity, when the sledge stops, of going in among the dogs,
taking out the defiant one, and laying into him with the handle. These
confirmations, if they occur frequently, may use up a lot of handles.

It was also arranged that Hanssen should prepare goggles in the Eskimo
fashion, and he began this work; but it soon appeared that everyone
had some patent of his own which was much better. Therefore it was
given up, and every man made his own goggles.

Stubberud's chief work was making the sledge cases lighter, and
he succeeded in doing this, but not without hard work. It took far
longer than one would have thought. The wood had a good many knots,
and he often had to work against the grain; the planing was therefore
rather difficult and slow. He planed a good deal off them, but could
"guarantee them," as he said. Their sides were not many millimetres
thick; to strengthen them in the joints, corners of aluminium were
put on.

In addition to remaking the sledges, Bjaaland had to get the ski
ready. To fit the big, broad boots we should wear, the Huitfeldt
fittings had to be much broader than usual, and we had such with us,
so that Bjaaland had only to change them. The ski-bindings were like
the snow-goggles; everyone had his own patent. I found the bindings
that Bjaaland had put on for himself so efficient that I had no
hesitation in ordering similar ones for myself; and it may be said
to their honour, and to the honour of him who made them, that they
were first-rate, and served me well during the whole trip. They were,
after all, only a retention of the old system, but, with the help of
hooks and eyes, they could be put on and taken off in an instant. And
those were the conditions we demanded of our bindings -- that they
should hold the foot as firmly as a vice, and should be easy to hook
on and take off. For we always had to take them off on the journey;
if one left one's bindings out for a night, they were gone in the
morning. The dogs looked upon them as a delicacy. The toe-strap also
had to be removed in the evening; in other words, the ski had to be
left absolutely bare.

Johansen, besides his packing, was occupied in making weights and
tent-pegs. The weights were very ingeniously made; the steelyard
system was adopted. If they were never used, it was not the fault of
the weights -- they were good enough. But the reason was that we had
all our provisions so arranged that they could be taken without being
weighed. We were all weighed on August 6, and it then appeared that
Lindström was the heaviest, with 13 st. 8 lbs. On that occasion he was
officially christened "Fatty." The tent-pegs Johansen made were the
opposite of what such pegs usually are; in other words, they were flat
instead of being high. We saw the advantage at once. Besides being
so much lighter, they were many times stronger. I do not know that
we ever broke a peg on the trip; possibly we lost one or two. Most
of them were brought home undamaged.

Hassel worked at his whip-lashes down in the petroleum store. It was
an uncomfortable place for him -- always cold; but he had the lashes
ready by the time he had promised them.

Prestrud made charts and copied out tables. Six of us were to have
these copies. In each sledge there was a combined provision and
observation book, bearing the same number as the sledge. It contained,
first, an exact list of the provisions contained in each case on that
sledge, and, in addition, the necessary tables for our astronomical
observations. In these books each man kept a daily account of every
scrap of provisions he took out; in this way we could always check
the contents of the cases, and know what quantity of provisions we
had. Farther on in the book the observations were entered, and the
distance covered for the day, course, and so on.

That is a rough outline of what we were doing in the course of the
winter in "working hours." Besides this there were, of course,
a hundred things that every man had to do for his personal
equipment. During the winter each man had his outfit served out
to him, so that he might have time to make whatever alterations he
found necessary. Every man received a heavy and a lighter suit of
reindeer-skin, as well as reindeer-skin mits and stockings. He also
had dogskin stockings and sealskin kamiks. In addition, there was a
complete outfit of underclothing and wind-clothes. All were served
alike; there was no priority at all. The skin clothing was the first
to be tackled, and here there was a good deal to be done, as nothing
had been made to measure. One man found that the hood of his anorak
came too far down over his eyes, another that it did not come down far
enough; so both had to set to work at alterations, one cutting off,
the other adding a piece. One found his trousers too long, another
too short, and they had to alter those. However, they managed it;
the needle was always at work, either for sewing a piece on, or for
hemming the shortened piece. Although we began this work in good time,
it looked as if we should never have finished. The room orderly had
to sweep out huge piles of strips and reindeer-hair every morning,
but the next morning there were just as many. If we had stayed there,
I am sure we should still be sitting and sewing away at our outfit.

A number of patents were invented. Of course, the everlasting mask for
the face was to the fore, and took the form of nose-protectors. I,
too, allowed myself to be beguiled into experimenting, with good
reason, as I thought, but with extremely poor results. I had hit upon
something which, of course, I thought much better than anything that
had been previously tried. The day I put on my invention, I not only
got my nose frozen, but my forehead and cheek as well. I never tried
it again. Hassel was great at new inventions; he wore nose-protectors
all over him. These patents are very good things for passing the time;
when one actually takes the field, they all vanish. They are useless
for serious work.

The sleeping-bags were also a great source of interest. Johansen
was at work on the double one he was so keen on. Heaven knows how
many skins he put into it! I don't, nor did I ever try to find
out. Bjaaland was also in full swing with alterations to his. He
found the opening at the top inconvenient, and preferred to have it
in the middle; his arrangement of a flap, with buttons and loops,
made it easy to mistake him for a colonel of dragoons when he was
in bed. He was tremendously pleased with it; but so he was with his
snow-goggles, in spite of the fact that he could not see with them,
and that they allowed him to become snow-blind. The rest of us kept
our sleeping-bags as they were, only lengthening or shortening them
as required. We were all greatly pleased with the device for closing
them -- on the plan of a sack. Outside our bags we had a cover of
very thin canvas; this was extremely useful, and I would not be
without it for anything. In the daytime the sleeping-bag was always
well protected by this cover; no snow could get in. At night it was
perhaps even more useful, as it protected the bag from the moisture
of the breath. Instead of condensing on the skin and making it wet,
this settled on the cover, forming in the course of the night a film
of ice, which disappeared again during the day, breaking off while the
bag ay stretched on the sledge. This cover ought to be of ample size;
it is important that it should be rather longer than the sleeping-bag,
so that one may have plenty of it round the neck, and thus prevent
the breath from penetrating into the bag. We all had double bags --
an inner and an outer one. The inner one was of calf-skin or thin
female reindeer-skin, and quite light; the outer one was of heavy
buck reindeer-skin, and weighed about 13 pounds. Both were open at
the end, like a sack, and were laced together round the neck. I have
always found this pattern the easiest, simplest, most comfortable,
and best. We recommend it to all.

Novelties in the way of snow-goggles were many. This was, of course, a
matter of the greatest importance and required study -- it was studied,
too! The particular problem was to find good goggles without glass. It
is true that I had worn nothing but a pair of ordinary spectacles,
with light yellow glasses, all the autumn, and that they had proved
excellent; but for the long journey I was afraid these would give
insufficient protection. I therefore threw myself into the competition
for the best patent. The end of it was that we all went in for leather
goggles, with a little slit for the eyes. The Bjaaland patent won the
prize, and was most adopted. Hassel had his own invention, combined
with a nose-protector; when spread out it reminded me of the American
eagle. I never saw him use it. Nor did any of us use these new goggles,
except Bjaaland. He used his own goggles the whole way, but then,
he was the only one who became snow-blind. The spectacles I wore --
Hanssen had the same; they were the only two pairs we had -- gave
perfect protection; not once did I have a sign of snow-blindness. They
were exactly like other spectacles, without any gauze at all round the
glasses; the light could penetrate everywhere. Dr. Schanz, of Dresden,
who sent me these glasses, has every right to be satisfied with his
invention; its beats anything I have ever tried or seen.

The next great question was our boots. I had expressly pointed out
that boots must be taken, whether the person concerned intended to
wear them or not; for boots were indispensable, in case of having
to cross any glacier, which was a contingency we had to reckon with,
from the descriptions we had read of the country. With this proviso
everyone might do as he pleased, and all began by improving their
boots in accordance with our previous experience. The improvement
consisted in making them larger. Wisting took mine in hand again,
and began once more to pull them to pieces. It is only by tearing a
thing to pieces that one can see what the work is like. We gained a
good insight into the way our boots had been made; stronger or more
conscientious work it would be impossible to find. It was hard work
pulling them to pieces. This time mine lost a couple more soles. How
many that made altogether I do not remember, but now I got what I had
always called for -- room enough. Besides being able to wear all the
foot-coverings I had, I could also find room for a wooden sole. That
made me happy; my great object was achieved. Now the temperature could
be as low as it liked; it would not get through the wooden soles and
my various stockings -- seven pairs, I think, in all. I was pleased
that evening, as the struggle had been a long one; it had taken me
nearly two years to arrive at this result.

And then there was the dog-harness, which we must all have in
order. The experience of the last depot journey, when two dogs fell
into a crevasse through faulty harness, must not be allowed to repeat
itself, We therefore devoted great care and attention to this gear,
and used all the best materials we had. The result rewarded our pains;
we had good, strong harness for every team.

This description will, perhaps, open the eyes of some people, and show
them that the equipment of an expedition such as we were about to enter
upon is not the affair of a day. It is not money alone that makes for
the success of such an expedition -- though, Heaven knows, it is a good
thing to have -- but it is in a great measure -- indeed, I may say
that this is the greatest factor -- the way in which the expedition
is equipped -- the way in which every difficulty is foreseen, and
precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it. Victory awaits him who
has everything in order -- luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for
him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this
is called bad luck. But pray do not think this is an epitaph I wish
to have inscribed on my own tomb. No; honour where honour is due --
honour to my faithful comrades, who, by their patience, perseverance
and experience, brought our equipment to the limit of perfection,
and thereby rendered our victory possible.

On August 16 we began to pack our sledges; two were placed in the
Crystal Palace and two in the Clothing Store. It was a great advantage
to be able to do this work under cover; at this time the temperature
was dancing a cancan between -58° and -75°F., with an occasional
refreshing breeze of thirteen or fourteen miles an hour. It would have
been almost an impossibility to pack the sledges out of doors under
these conditions if it was to be done carefully and firmly; and,
of course, it had to be so done. Our fixed wire-rope lashings had
to be laced together with lengths of thin rope, and this took time;
but when properly done, as it was now, the cases were held as though
in a vice, and could not move. The zinc plates we had had under the
sledges to keep them up in loose snow had been taken off; we could not
see that we should have any use for them. In their place we had lashed
a spare ski under each sledge, and these were very useful later. By
August 22 all the sledges were ready, waiting to be driven away.

The dogs did not like the cold weather we had now had for so long;
when the temperature went down between -58° and -75° F., one could
see by their movements that they felt it. They stood still and raised
their feet from the ground in turn, holding each foot up for a while
before putting it down again on the cold surface. They were cunning and
resourceful in the extreme. They did not care very much for fish, and
some of them were difficult to get into the tents on the evenings when
they knew there was fish. Stubberud, especially, had a great deal of
trouble with one of the young dogs -- Funcho was his name. He was born
at Madeira during our stay there in September, 1910. On meat evenings
each man, after fastening up his dogs, went, as has been described,
up to the wall of the meat-tent and took his box of chopped-up meat,
which was put out there. Funcho used to watch for this moment. When he
saw Stubberud take the box, he knew there was meat, and then he came
quietly into the tent, as though there was nothing the matter. If, on
the other hand, Stubberud showed no sign of fetching the box, the dog
would not come, nor was it possible to get hold of him. This happened
a few times, but then Stubberud hit upon a stratagem. When Funcho,
as usual -- even on a fish evening -- watched the scene of chaining up
the other dogs from a distance, Stubberud went calmly up to the wall,
took the empty box that lay there, put it on his shoulder, and returned
to the tent. Funcho was taken in. He hurried joyfully into the tent,
delighted, no doubt, with Stubberud's generosity in providing meat two
evenings running. But there, to his great surprise, a very different
reception awaited him from that he expected. He was seized by the neck
and made fast for the night. After an ugly scowl at the empty box,
he looked at Stubberud; what he thought, I am not sure. Certain it
is that the ruse was not often successful after that. Funcho got a
dried fish for supper, and had to be content with it.

We did not lose many dogs in the course of the winter. Two -- Jeppe
and Jakob -- died of some disease or other. Knægten was shot, as he
lost almost all his hair over half his body. Madeiro, born at Madeira,
disappeared early in the autumn; Tom disappeared later -- both these
undoubtedly fell into crevasses. We had a very good opportunity --
twice -- of seeing how this might happen; both times we saw the dog
disappear into the crevasse, and could watch him from the surface. He
went quite quietly backwards and forwards down below without uttering
a sound. These crevasses were not deep, but they were steep-sided,
so that the dog could not get out without help. The two dogs I have
mentioned undoubtedly met their death in this way: a slow death
it must be, when one remembers how tenacious of life a dog is. It
happened several times that dogs disappeared, were absent for some
days, and then came back; possibly they had been down a crevasse, and
had finally succeeded in getting out of it again. Curiously enough,
they did not pay much attention to the weather when they went on trips
of this kind. When the humour took them, they would disappear, even
if the temperature was down in the fifties below zero, with wind and
driving snow. Thus Jaala, a lady belonging to Bjaaland, took it into
her head to go off with three attendant cavaliers. We came upon them
later; they were then lying quietly behind a hummock down on the ice,
and seemed to be quite happy. They had been away for about eight days
without food, and during that time the temperature had seldom been
above -58° F.

August 23 arrived: calm, partly overcast, and -43.6°F. Finer weather
for taking out our sledges and driving them over to the starting-point
could not be imagined. They had to be brought up through the door
of the Clothing Store; it was the largest and the easiest to get
through. We had first to dig away the snow, which latterly had been
allowed to collect there, as the inmates of this department had
for some time past used the inner passage. The snow had blotted out
everything, so that no sign of the entrance could be seen; but with
a couple of strong shovels, and a couple of strong men to use them,
the opening was soon laid bare. To get the sledges up was a longer
business; they weighed 880 pounds apiece, and the way up to the surface
was steep. A tackle was rigged, and by hauling and shoving they slowly,
one by one, came up into daylight. We dragged them away to a place
near the instrument-screen, so as to get a clear start away from the
house. The dogs were fresh and wild, and wanted plenty of room; a case,
not to mention a post, still less the instrument-screen, would all
have been objects of extreme interest, to which, if there had been
the slightest opportunity, their course would infallibly have been
directed. The protests of their drivers would have been of little
avail. The dogs had not been let loose that morning, and every man
was now in his tent harnessing them. Meanwhile I stood contemplating
the packed sledges that stood there ready to begin the long journey.

I tried to work up a little poetry -- "the ever-restless spirit of
man " -- "the mysterious, awe-inspiring wilderness of ice" -- but it
was no good; I suppose it was too early in the morning. I abandoned
my efforts, after coming to the conclusion that each sledge gave one
more the idea of a coffin than of anything else, all the cases being
painted black.

It was as we had expected: the dogs were on the verge of
exploding. What a time we had getting them all into the traces! They
could not stand still an instant; either it was a friend they wanted
to wish good-morning, or it was an enemy they were longing to fly
at. There was always something going on; when they kicked out with
their hind-legs, raising a cloud of snow, or glared defiantly at each
other, it often caused their driver an anxious moment. If he had his
eye on them at this stage, he might, by intervening quickly and firmly,
prevent the impending battle; but one cannot be everywhere at once,
and the result was a series of the wildest fights. Strange beasts! They
had been going about the place comparatively peacefully the whole
winter, and now, as soon as they were in harness, they must needs
fight as if their lives depended on it. At last we were all ready
and away. It was the first time we had driven with teams of twelve,
so that we were anxious to see the result.

It went better than we had expected; of course, not like an express
train, but we could not expect that the first time. Some of the dogs
had grown too fat in the course of the winter, and had difficulty in
keeping up; for them this first trip was a stiff pull. But most of them
were in excellent condition -- fine, rounded bodies, not lumpish. It
did not take long to get up the hill this time; most of them had to
stop and get their wind on the slope, but there were some that did
it without a halt. Up at the top everything looked just as we had
left it in April. The flag was still standing where we had planted
it, and did not look much the worse for wear. And, what was still
stranger, we could see our old tracks southward. We drove all our
sledges well up, unharnessed the dogs, and let them go. We took it
for granted that they would all rush joyfully home to the flesh-pots,
nor did the greater number disappoint us. They set off gaily homewards,
and soon the ice was strewn with dogs. They did not behave altogether
like good children. In some places there was a sort of mist over the
ice; this was the cloud of snow thrown up by the combatants. But on
their return they were irreproachable; one could not take any notice
of a halt here and there. At the inspection that evening, it appeared
that ten of them were missing. That was strange -- could all ten have
gone down crevasses? It seemed unlikely.

Next morning two men went over to the starting-point to look for
the missing dogs. On the way they crossed a couple of crevasses, but
there was no dog to be seen. When they arrived at the place where the
sledges stood, there lay all ten curled up asleep. They were lying
by their own sledges, and did not seem to take the slightest notice
of the men's arrival. One or two of them may have opened an eye,
but that was all. When they were roused and given to understand by
unmistakable signs that their presence was desired at home, they seemed
astonished beyond all bounds. Some of them simply declined to believe
it; they merely turned round a few times and lay down again on the
same spot. They had to be flogged home. Can anything more inexplicable
be imagined? There they lay, three miles from their comfortable home,
where they knew that abundance of food awaited them -- in a temperature
of -40°F. Although they had now been out for twenty-four hours, none of
them gave a sign of wanting to leave the spot. If it had been summer,
with warm sunshine, one might have understood it; but as it was -- no!

That day -- August 24 -- the sun appeared above the Barrier again for
the first time in four months. He looked very smiling, with a friendly
nod for the old pressure-ridges he had seen for so many years; but
when his first beams reached the starting-point, his face might well
show surprise. "Well, if they're not first, after all! And I've been
doing all I could to get here!" It could not be denied; we had won
the race, and reached the Barrier a day before him.

The day for our actual start could not be fixed; we should have to
wait until the temperature moderated somewhat. So long as it continued
to grovel in the depths, we could not think of setting out. All our
things were now ready up on the Barrier, and nothing remained but
to harness the dogs and start. When I say all our things were ready,
this is not the impression anyone would have gained who looked in on
us; the cutting out and sewing were going on worse than ever. What
had previously occurred to one as a thing of secondary importance,
which might be done if there was time, but might otherwise quite well
be dropped, now suddenly appeared as the most important part of the
whole outfit; and then out came the knife and cut away, until great
heaps of offcuts and hair lay about the floor; then the needle was
produced, and seam after seam added to those there were already.

The days went by, and the temperature would give no sign of spring;
now and then it would make a jump of about thirty degrees, but only
to sink just as rapidly back to -58° F. It is not at all pleasant to
hang about waiting like this; I always have the idea that I am the only
one who is left behind, while all the others are out on the road. And
I could guess that I was not the only one of us who felt this.

"I'd give something to know how far Scott is to-day."

"Oh, he's not out yet, bless you! It's much too cold for his ponies."

"Ah, but how do you know they have it as cold as this? I expect it's
far warmer where they are, among the mountains; and you can take your
oath they're not lying idle. Those boys have shown what they can do."

This was the sort of conversation one could hear daily. The uncertainty
was worrying many of us -- not all -- and, personally, I felt it a
great deal. I was determined to get away as soon as it was at all
possible, and the objection that much might be lost by starting too
early did not seem to me to have much force. If we saw that it was
too cold, all we had to do was to turn back; so that I could not see
there was any risk.

September came, with -43.6° F. That is a temperature that one can
always stand, but we had better wait and see what it is going to do;
perhaps it will only play its old tricks again. Next day, -63.4°
F.; calm and clear. September 6, -20.2° F. At last the change had
come, and we thought it was high time. Next day, -7.6° F. The little
slant of wind that came from the east felt quite like a mild spring
breeze. Well, at any rate, we now had a good temperature to start
in. Every man ready; to-morrow we are off.

September 8 arrived. We turned out as usual, had breakfast, and were
then on the move. We had not much to do. The empty sledges we were to
use for driving up to the starting-point were ready; we only had to
throw a few things on to them. But it turned out that the mere fact
of having so few things was the cause of its taking a long time. We
were to harness twelve dogs to the empty sledges, and we had an idea
that it would cost us a struggle to get away. We helped each other,
two and two, to bring the dogs to the sledges and harness them. Those
who were really careful had anchored their sledges to a peg firmly
fixed in the snow; others had contented themselves with capsizing
their sledges; and others, again, were even more reckless. We all
had to be ready before the first man could start; otherwise, it would
have been impossible for those who were behind to hold in their dogs,
and the result would have been a false start.

Our dogs were in a fearful state of excitement and confusion that
morning, but at last everything was ready, barring one or two
trifles. Then I suddenly heard a wild yell, and, spinning round,
I saw a team tearing off without a driver. The next driver rushed
forward to help, with the result that his dogs made off after the
others. The two sledges were on ahead, and the two drivers after them
in full gallop; but the odds were too unequal -- in a few moments
the drivers were beaten. The two runaway teams had made off in a
south-westerly direction, and were going like the wind. The men had
hard work; they had long ago stopped running, and were now following
in the tracks of the sledges. The dogs had disappeared behind the
ridges, which the men did not reach till much later.

Meanwhile the rest of us waited. The question was, what would those
two do when at last they had come up with their sledges? Would they
turn and go home, or would they drive up to the starting-point? Waiting
was no fun under any circumstances, and so we decided to go on to the
starting-point, and, if necessary, wait there. No sooner said than
done, and away we went. Now we should see what command the fellows had
over their dogs, for, in all canine probability, these teams would now
try to follow the same course that the runaways had taken. This fear
turned out not to be groundless; three managed to turn their dogs and
put them in the right direction, but the other two were off on the
new course. Afterwards, of course, they tried to make out that they
thought we were all going that way. I smiled, but said nothing. It
had happened more than once that my own dogs had taken charge; no
doubt I had felt rather foolish at the time, but after all ....

It was not till noon that we all assembled with our sledges. The
drivers of the runaways had had stiff work to catch them, and were
wet through with their exertions. I had some thoughts of turning
back, as three young puppies had followed us; if we went on, we
should have to shoot them. But to turn back after all this work,
and then probably have the same thing over again next morning, was
not a pleasant prospect. And, above all, to see Lindström standing
at the door, shaking with laughter -- no, we had better go on. I
think we were all agreed in this. The dogs were now harnessed to the
loaded sledges, and the empty ones were stacked one above another. At
1.30 p.m. we were off. The old tracks were soon lost sight of, but we
immediately picked up the line of flags that had been set up at every
second kilometre on the last depot journey. The going was splendid,
and we went at a rattling pace to the south. We did not go very far
the first day -- eleven and three-quarter miles -- and pitched our
camp at 3.30 p.m. The first night out is never very pleasant, but this
time it was awful. There was such a row going on among our ninety dogs
that we could not close our eyes. It was a blessed relief when four in
the morning came round, and we could begin to get up. We had to shoot
the three puppies when we stopped for lunch that day. The going was
the same; nothing could be better. The flags we were following stood
just as we had left them; they showed no trace of there having been any
snowfall in the interval. That day we did fifteen and a half miles. The
dogs were not yet in training, but were picking up every hour.

By the 10th they seemed to have reached their full vigour; that day
none of us could hold in his team. They all wanted to get forward, with
the result that one team ran into another, and confusion followed. This
was a tiresome business; the dogs wore themselves out to no purpose,
and, of course, the time spent in extricating them from one another
was lost. They were perfectly wild that day. When Lassesen, for
instance, caught sight of his enemy Hans, who was in another team,
he immediately encouraged his friend Fix to help him. These two then
put on all the speed they could, with the result that the others in
the same team were excited by the sudden acceleration, and joined
in the spurt. It made no difference how the driver tried to stop
them; they went on just as furiously, until they reached the team
that included the object of Lassesen's and Fix's endeavours. Then
the two teams dashed into each other, and we had ninety-six dogs'
legs to sort out. The only thing that could be done was to let those
who could not hold in their teams unharness some of the dogs and tie
them on the sledge. In this way we got things to work satisfactorily
at last. We covered eighteen and a half miles that day.

On Monday, the 11th, we woke up to a temperature of -67.9° F. The
weather was splendid, calm, and clear. We could see by the dogs
that they were not feeling happy, as they had kept comparatively
quiet that night. The cold affected the going at once; it was slow
and unyielding. We came across some crevasses, and Hanssen's sledge
was nearly in one; but it was held up, and he came out of it without
serious consequences. The cold caused no discomfort on the march;
on the contrary, at times it was too warm. One's breath was like a
cloud, and so thick was the vapour over the dogs that one could not
see one team from the next, though the sledges were being driven
close to one another.

On the 12th it was -61.6° F., with a breeze dead against us. This
was undeniably bitter. It was easy to see that the temperature
was too much for the dogs; in the morning, especially, they were
a pitiful sight. They lay rolled up as tightly as possible, with
their noses under their tails, and from time to time one could see a
shiver run through their bodies; indeed, some of them were constantly
shivering. We had to lift them up and put them into their harness. I
had to admit that with this temperature it would not pay to go on;
the risk was too great. We therefore decided to drive on to the
depot in 80° S., and unload our sledges there. On that day, too,
we made the awkward discovery that the fluid in our compasses had
frozen, rendering them useless. The weather had become very thick,
and we could only guess vaguely the position of the sun. Our progress
under these circumstances was very doubtful; possibly we were on
the right course, but it was just as probable -- nay, more so --
that we were off it. The best thing we could do, therefore, was to
pitch our camp, and wait for a better state of things. We did not
bless the instrument-maker who had supplied those compasses.

It was 10 a.m. when we stopped. In order to have a good shelter for the
long day before us, we decided to build two snow-huts. The snow was
not good for this purpose, but, by fetching blocks from all sides,
we managed to put up the huts. Hanssen built one and Wisting the
other. In a temperature such as we now had, a snow-hut is greatly
preferable to a tent, and we felt quite comfortable when we came in
and got the Primus going. That night we heard a strange noise round
us. I looked under my bag to see whether we had far to drop, but
there was no sign of a disturbance anywhere. In the other but they
had heard nothing. We afterwards discovered that the sound was only
due to snow "settling." By this expression I mean the movement that
takes place when a large extent of the snow surface breaks and sinks
(settles down). This movement gives one the idea that the ground is
sinking under one, and it is not a pleasant feeling. It is followed
by a dull roar, which often makes the dogs jump into the air -- and
their drivers, too, for that matter. Once we heard this booming on
the plateau so loud that it seemed like the thunder of cannon. We
soon grew accustomed to it.

Next day the temperature was -62.5° F., calm, and perfectly clear. We
did eighteen and a half miles, and kept our course as well as we could
with the help of the sun. It was -69.3° F. when we camped. This time
I had done a thing that I have always been opposed to: I had brought
spirits with me in the form of a bottle of Norwegian aquavit and a
bottle of gin. I thought this a suitable occasion to bring in the
gin. It was as hard as flint right through. While we were thawing it
the bottle burst, and we threw it out into the snow, with the result
that all the dogs started to sneeze. The next bottle -- "Aquavit,
No. 1" -- was like a bone, but we had learnt wisdom by experience,
and we succeeded with care in thawing it out. We waited till we were
all in our bags, and then we had one. I was greatly disappointed;
it was not half so good as I had thought. But I am glad I tried it,
as I shall never do so again. The effect was nil; I felt nothing,
either in my head or my feet.

The 14th was cool -- the temperature remained at -68.8° F. Fortunately
it was clear, so that we could see where we were going. We had not gone
far before a bright projection appeared on the level surface. Out with
the glasses -- the depot! There it lay, right in our course. Hanssen,
who had driven first the whole way, without a forerunner, and for
the most part without a compass, had no need to be ashamed of his
performance. We agreed that it was well done, and that, no doubt,
was all the thanks he got. We reached it at 10.15 a.m., and unloaded
our sledges at once. Wisting undertook the far from pleasant task of
getting us a cup of warm milk at -68.8° F. He put the Primus behind
one of the cases of provisions, and set it going; strangely enough,
the paraffin was still liquid in the vessel, but this was no doubt
because it had been well protected in the case. A cup of Horlick's
Malted Milk tasted better that day than the last time I had tried it --
in a restaurant in Chicago.

Having enjoyed that, we threw ourselves on the almost empty sledges,
and set our course for home. The going was difficult, but, with the
light weight they now had to pull, the dogs went along well. I sat
with Wisting, as I considered his team the strongest. The cold held
on unchanged, and I was often surprised that it was possible to sit
still on the sledges, as we did, without freezing; but we got on quite
well. One or two I saw off their sledges all day, and most of us jumped
off from time to time and ran by the side to get warm. I myself took to
my ski and let myself be pulled along. This so-called sport has never
appealed to me, but under the circumstances it was permissible; it
warmed my feet, and that was the object of it. I again had recourse to
this "sport" of ski-driving later on, but that was for another reason.

On the 15th, as we sat in the tent cooking and chatting, Hanssen
suddenly said: "Why, I believe my heel's gone!" Off came his stockings,
and there was a big, dead heel, like a lump of tallow. It did not look
well. He rubbed it until he thought he "could feel something again,"
and then put his feet back in his stockings and got into his bag. Now
it was Stubberud's turn. "Blest if I don't think there's something
wrong with mine, too." Same proceeding -- same result. This was
pleasant -- two doubtful heels, and forty-six miles from Framheim! When
we started next morning it was fortunately milder -- "almost summer":
-40° F. It felt quite pleasant. The difference between -40° and -60°
is, in my opinion, very perceptible. It may perhaps be thought that
when one gets so far down, a few degrees one way or the other do not
make any difference, but they do.

While driving that day we were obliged to let loose several of the
dogs, who could not keep up; we supposed that they would follow our
tracks. Adam and Lazarus were never seen again. Sara fell dead on
the way without any previous symptom. Camilla was also among those
let loose.

On the way home we kept the same order as on the previous days. Hanssen
and Wisting, as a rule, were a long way ahead, unless they stopped and
waited. We went at a tearing pace. We had thought of halting at the
sixteen-mile flag, as we called it -- the mark at thirty kilometres
from Framheim -- and waiting for the others to come up, but as the
weather was of the best, calm and clear, and with our tracks on the
way south perfectly plain, I decided to go on. The sooner we got the
bad heels into the house, the better. The two first sledges arrived
at 4 p.m.; the next at 6, and the two following ones at 6.30. The
last did not come in till 12.30 a.m. Heaven knows what they had been
doing on the way!

With the low temperatures we experienced on this trip, we noticed a
curious snow-formation that I had never seen before. Fine -- extremely
fine -- drift-snow collected, and formed small cylindrical bodies
of an average diameter of 1 1/4 inches, and about the same height;
they were, however, of various sizes. They generally rolled over the
surface like a wheel, and now and then collected into large heaps,
from which again, one by one, or several together, they continued
their rolling. If you took one of these bodies in the hand, there
was no increase of weight to be felt -- not the very slightest. If
you took one of the largest and crushed it, there was, so to speak,
nothing left. With the temperature in the -40's, we did not see them.

As soon as we came home, we attended to the heels. Prestrud had both
his heels frozen, one slightly, the other more severely, though, so
far as I could determine, not so badly as the other two. The first
thing we did was to lance the big blisters that had formed and let out
the fluid they contained; afterwards we put on boracic compresses,
night and morning. We kept up this treatment for a long time; at
last the old skin could be removed, and the new lay there fresh and
healthy. The heel was cured.

Circumstances had arisen which made me consider it necessary to
divide the party into two. One party was to carry out the march to
the south; the other was to try to reach King Edward VII. Land, and
see what was to be done there, besides exploring the region around
the Bay of Whales. This party was composed of Prestrud, Stubberud,
and Johansen, under the leadership of the first-named.

The advantages of this new arrangement were many. In the first place,
a smaller party could advance more rapidly than a larger one. Our
numbers, both of men and dogs, on several of the previous trips had
clearly shown the arrangement to be unfortunate. The time we took to
get ready in the morning -- four hours -- was one of the consequences
of being a large party. With half the number, or only one tent full,
I hoped to be able to reduce this time by half. The importance of the
depots we had laid down was, of course, greatly increased, since they
would now only have to support five members of the party originally
contemplated, and would thus be able to furnish them with supplies
for so much more time. From a purely scientific point of view, the
change offered such obvious advantages that it is unnecessary to
insist upon them. Henceforward, therefore, we worked, so to speak,
in two parties. The Polar party was to leave as soon as spring came
in earnest. I left it to Prestrud himself to fix the departure of
the party he was to lead; there was no such hurry for them -- they
could take things more easily.

Then the same old fuss about the outfit began all over again, and the
needles were busy the whole time. Two days after our return, Wisting
and Bjaaland went out to the thirty-kilometre mark with the object
of bringing in the dogs that had been let loose on that part of the
route and had not yet returned. They made the trip of sixty kilometres
(thirty-seven and a half miles) in six hours, and brought all the
stragglers -- ten of them -- back with them. The farthest of them
were found lying by the flag; none of them showed a sign of getting
up when the sledges came. They had to be picked up and harnessed,
and one or two that had sore feet were driven on the sledges. In all
probability most of them would have returned in a few days. But it
is incomprehensible that healthy, plucky dogs, as many of them were,
should take it into their heads to stay behind like that.

On September 24 we had the first tidings of spring, when Bjaaland
came back from the ice and told us he had shot a seal. So the seals
had begun to come up on to the ice; this was a good sign. The next day
we went out to bring it in, and we got another at the same time. There
was excitement among the dogs when they got fresh meat, to say nothing
of fresh blubber. Nor were we men inclined to say no to a fresh steak.

On September 27 we removed the roof that had covered over the window
of our room. We had to carry the light down through a long wooden
channel, so that it was considerably reduced by the time it came in;
but it was light -- genuine daylight -- and it was much appreciated.

On the 26th Camilla came back, after an absence of ten days. She had
been let loose sixty-eight miles from Framheim on the last trip. When
she came in, she was as fat as ever; probably she had been feasting
in her solitude on one of her comrades. She was received with great
ovations by her many admirers.

On September 29 a still more certain sign of spring appeared --
a flight of Antarctic petrels. They came flying up to us to bring
the news that now spring had come -- this time in earnest. We were
delighted to see these fine, swift birds again. They flew round
the house several times to see whether we were all there still;
and we were not long in going out to receive them. It was amusing
to watch the dogs: at first the birds flew pretty near the ground;
when the dogs caught sight of them, they rushed out -- the whole
lot of them -- to catch them. They tore along, scouring the ground,
and, of course, all wanted to be first. Then the birds suddenly rose
into the air, and presently the dogs lost sight of them. They stood
still for a moment, glaring at each other, evidently uncertain of
what was the best thing to do. Such uncertainty does not, as a rule,
last long. They made up their minds with all desirable promptitude
and flew at each other's throats.

So now spring had really arrived; we had only to cure the frost-bitten
heels and then away.

End of Vol. I.


[1] -- Fram means "forward," "out of," "through." -- Tr.

[2] -- This retrospective chapter has here been greatly condensed, as
the ground is already covered, for English readers, by Dr. H. R. Mill's
"The Siege of the South Pole," Sir Ernest Shackleton's "The Heart of
the Antarctic," and other works. -- Tr.

[3] -- Anniversary of the dissolution of the Union with Sweden. -- Tr.

[4] -- Dængealso means "thrash." -- Tr.

[5] -- Unless otherwise stated, "miles" means English statute
miles. -- Tr.

[6] -- A language based on that of the country districts, as opposed
to the literary language, which is practically the same as Danish. The
maal is more closely related to Old Norse. -- Tr.

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