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- The Voyages of Captain Scott - 20/60 -


journey; one felt he wouldn't give in till he dropped.' And this collapse when he got back to the ship was in itself a proof of the determination which must have upheld him during the last marches.

Scott, though the least affected of the three, was also by no means fit and well. Both his legs were swollen and his gums were very uncomfortable, but in addition to these troubles he was attacked by an overwhelming feeling of both physical and mental weariness. 'Many days passed,' he says, 'before I could rouse myself from this slothful humour, and it was many weeks before I had returned to a normally vigorous condition. It was probably this exceptionally relaxed state of health that made me so slow to realize that the ice conditions were very different from what they had been in the previous season.... The prospect of the ice about us remaining fast throughout the season never once entered my head.' His diary, however, for the month shows how he gradually awakened to the true state of affairs, and on February 13 he decided to begin the transport of stores from the Morning to the Discovery, so that the former ship 'should run no risk of being detained.' And on the 18th when he paid his first visit to the Morning and found the journey 'an awful grind,' he had begun to wonder whether the floe was ever going to break up.

A week later he was clearly alive to the situation. 'The Morning must go in less than a week, and it seems now impossible that we shall be free by that time, though I still hope the break-up may come after she has departed.' Some time previously he had decided that if they had to remain the ship's company should be reduced, and on the 24th he had a talk with the men and told them that he wished nobody to stop on board who was not willing. On the following day a list was sent round for the names of those who wanted to go, and the result was curiously satisfactory--for Scott had determined that eight men should go, and not only were there eight names on the list, but they were also precisely those which Scott would have put there had he made the selection. Shackleton also had to be told that he must go, as in his state of health Scott did not think that any further hardships ought to be risked; but in his place Scott requisitioned Mulock who by an extraordinary chance is just the very man we wanted. We have now an immense amount of details for charts... and Mulock is excellent at this work and as keen as possible. It is rather amusing, as he is the only person who is obviously longing for the ice to stop in, though of course he doesn't say so. The other sporting characters are still giving ten to one that it will go out, but I am bound to confess that I am not sanguine.'

The letter from which the last extract is taken was begun on February 16, and before the end of the month all hope of the Discovery being able to leave with the Morning had been abandoned. On March 2 nearly the whole of the Discovery's company were entertained on board the Morning, and on the following day the relief ship slowly backed away from the ice-edge, and in a few minutes she was turning to the north, with every rope and spar outlined against the black northern sky. Cheer after cheer was raised as she gathered way, and long after she had passed out of earshot the little band stood gazing at her receding hull, and wondering when they too would be able to take the northern track.

In the Morning went a letter from Scott which shows that although in a sense disappointed by the prospect of having to remain for another winter, both he and his companions were not by any means dismayed. 'It is poor luck,' he wrote, 'as I was dead keen on getting a look round C. North before making for home. However we all take it philosophically, and are perfectly happy and contented on board, and shall have lots to do in winter, spring and summer. We will have a jolly good try to free the ship next year, though I fear manual labor doesn't go far with such terribly heavy ice as we have here; but this year we were of course unprepared, and when we realized the situation it was too late to begin anything like extensive operations. I can rely on every single man that remains in the ship and I gave them all the option of leaving... the ship's company is now practically naval-officers and men--it is rather queer when one looks back to the original gift of two officers.'

Referring to the Southern journey he says, 'We cut our food and fuel too fine.... I never knew before what it was to be hungry; at times we were famished and had to tighten our belts nightly before going to sleep. The others dreamt of food snatched away at the last moment, but this didn't bother me so much.'

But characteristically the greater part of this long letter refers not to his own doings, but to the admirable qualities of those who were with him. Wilson, Royds, Skelton, Hodgson, Barne and Bernacchi are all referred to in terms of the warmest praise, and for the manner in which Colbeck managed the relief expedition the greatest admiration is expressed. But in some way or other Scott discovered good points in all the officers he mentioned, and if they were not satisfactory in every way his object seemed to be rather to excuse than to blame them. He was, however, unaffectedly glad to see the last of the cook, for the latter had shown himself far more capable at talking than at cooking, and had related so many of his wonderful adventures that one of the sailors reckoned that the sum total of these thrilling experiences must have extended over a period of five hundred and ninety years--which, as the sailor said, was a fair age even for a cook.

By March 14 even the most optimistic of the company were compelled to admit the certainty of a second winter, and orders were given to prepare the ship for it. Compared with the previous year the weather had been a great deal worse, for there had been more wind and much lower temperatures, and under such conditions it was hopeless to go on expecting the ice to break up. But it was not to be wondered at that they found themselves wondering what their imprisonment meant. Was it the present summer or the last that was the exception? For them this was the gravest question, since on the answer to it their chance of getting away next year, or at all, depended.

While, however, the situation as regards the future was not altogether without anxiety, they sturdily determined to make the best of the present. To ward off any chance of scurvy, it was determined to keep rigidly to a fresh-meat routine throughout the winter, and consequently a great number of seals and skuas had to be killed. At first the skua had been regarded as unfit for human food, but Skelton on a sledding trip had caught one in a noose and promptly put it into the pot. And the result was so satisfactory that the skua at once began to figure prominently on the menu. They had, however, to deplore the absence of penguins from their winter diet, because none had been seen near the ship for a long time.

On Wednesday, April 24, the sun departed, but Scott remarks upon this rather dismal fact with the greatest cheerfulness: 'It would be agreeable to know what is going to happen next year, but otherwise we have no wants. Our routine goes like clock-work; we eat, sleep, work and play at regular hours, and are never in lack of employment. Hockey, I fear, must soon cease for lack of light, but it has been a great diversion, although not unattended with risks, for yesterday I captured a black eye from a ball furiously driven by Royds.'

Of the months that followed little need be said, except that Scott's anticipations were fully realized. In fact the winter passed by without a hitch, and their second mid-winter day found them even more cheerful than their first. Hodgson continued to work away with his fish-traps, tow-nets and dredging; Mulock, who had been trained as a surveyor and had great natural abilities for the work, was most useful, first in collecting and re-marking all the observations, and later on in constructing temporary charts; while Barne generally vanished after breakfast and spent many a day at his distant sounding holes.

Throughout the season the routine of scientific observations was carried out in the same manner as in the previous year, while many new details were added; and so engaged was everyone in serviceable work that when the second long Polar night ended, Scott was able to write: 'I do not think there is a soul on board the Discovery who would say that it has been a hardship.... All thoughts are turned towards the work that lies before us, and it would be difficult to be blind to the possible extent of its usefulness. Each day has brought it more home to us how little we know and how much there is to be learned, and we realize fully that this second year's work may more than double the value of our observations. Life in these regions has lost any terror it ever possessed for us, for we know that, come what may, we can live, and live well, for any reasonable number of years to come.'

CHAPTER VIII

THE WESTERN JOURNEY

Path of advance! but it leads A long steep journey through sunk Gorges, o'er mountains in snow. --M. ARNOLD.

During the second winter much time and attention had to be given to the sledge equipment, for there was scarcely an article in it that did not need to be thoroughly overhauled and refitted. But in spite of all their efforts, the outfit for the coming season was bound to be a tattered and makeshift affair. Skins of an inferior quality had to be used for sleeping-bags; the tents were blackened with use, threadbare in texture, and patched in many places; the cooking apparatus was considerably the worse for wear; the wind clothes were almost worn out, while for all the small bags, which were required for provisions, they were obliged to fall back on any sheets and tablecloths that could be found. This state of things, however, was very far from daunting their spirits, and long before the winter was over the plan of campaign for the next season had been drawn up.

In making the program Scott knew that extended journeys could only be made by properly supported parties, and it was easy to see that his small company would not be able to make more than two supported journeys, though it might be just possible to make a third more or less lengthy journey without support. The next thing to decide was in what direction these parties should go, and in this connection the greatest interest undoubtedly lay in the west. To explore the Ferrar Glacier from a geological point of view and find out the nature of the interior ice-cap must, Scott determined, be attempted at all costs, and this journey to the west he decided to lead himself.

In the south it was evident that without dogs no party could hope


The Voyages of Captain Scott - 20/60

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