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At the north pole, or, The adventures of Captain Hatteras online

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' The brig was tossed about like a child's toy." Page 134.











1^7 H-


Chapter Page

I. The Forward 3

II. An Unexpected Letter. , 12

ill. Dr. Clawbonny 14

IV. The Dog-Captain 22

V. At Sea 29

VI. The Great Polar Current 38

VII. The Entrance of Davis Strait 45

VIII. The Talk of the Crew 53

IX. Another Letter 63

X. Dangerous Sailing . 69

XI. The Devil's Thumb .78

XII. Captain Hatteras 86

XIII. The Captain's Plans . . . " 95

XIV. The Expeditions in Search of Franklin ... 102
XV. The Forward driven Southward 109

XVI. The Magnetic Pole 116

XVII. The Fate of Sir John Franklin 124

XVIII. The "Way Northward 129

XIX. A Whale in Sight 134

XX. Beechey Island 139

XXL The Death of Bj:iair^r^.^*^^^. ' . . .147



XXII. The First Signs of Mutiny 155

XXIII. Attacked by the Ice . . . . . . .161

XXIV. Preparations for Wintering 169

XXV. One of James Ross's Foxes 176

XXVI. The Last Piece of Coal 185

XXVII. The Great Cold at Christmas 191

XXVIII. Preparations for Departure 198

XXIX. Across the Ice-Fields . 202

XXX. The Cairn 211

XXXI. The Death of Simpson 218

XXXII. The Return to the Forward 224



" Johnson knew all the sailors in Liverpool, and immediately
set about engaging a crew " 16

"Everything was enveloped in one of the ordinary fogs of

THAT region " 18

" This space of six feet square contained incalculable wealth " 23

**The news spread immediately throughout the city, and a

great concourse of spectators thronged the piers " . 27

*' Towards evening the brig doubled the Calf of Man " . .29

"Would one not say it was a foreign city, an Eastern city,

with minarets and mosques in the moonlight " . . .50

"Fortunately THE opening of these huts was too small, and

THE enthusiastic DOCTOR COULD NOT GET THROUGH " . . 71


from the ship " 85

" John Hatteras " 95

" He caught a large number of white foxes ; he had put on


"All THESE poor fellows had DIED of MISERY, SUFFERING, AND

STARVATION " . . . . . ' . . . . 128

" The brig was tossed about like a child's toy " {Frontispiece) 134

" The whale swam away from the brig and hastened towards

THE moving icebergs " . . 138

" The Forward IN Wellington Channel " 148

Hatteras made use of a device which whalers employ . 153

" A crash was heard, and as it came against the starboard

quarter, part of the rail had given way " . . . . 167


" The moon shone with incomparable purity, glistening on the

LEAST roughness IN THE ICE " 180

"Almost every night the doctor could observe the magnifi-
cent AURORAS " 187

** He was armed, and he kept constant guard, without MINDING

THE cold, the snow, OR THE ICE " 195

*' The little band made their way towards the southeast " . 202

"The doctor had energy enough to ascend an ice-mountain
while THE snow-hut WAS building" 206

" Tire ! ' shouted the captain, discharging his piece" . . 211

** They could only think of their perilous position " . . 218

" Suddenly, with a last effort, he half rose " . . . . 223

"Then a terrible explosion was heard" .... 230


" To-morrow, at the turn of the tide, the brig F(yrwardy K. Z.,
captain, Richard Shandon, mate, will clear from New Prince's
Docks ; destination unknown."

This announcement appeared in the Liverpool Herald of April
5, 1860.

The sailing of a brig is not a matter of great importance for
the chief commercial city of England. Who would take notice
of it in so great a throng of ships of all sizes and of every country,
that dry-docks covering two leagues scarcely contain them ?

Nevertheless, from early morning on the 6th of April, a large
crowd collected on the quays of the New Prince s Docks ; all the
sailors of the place seemed to have assembled there. The work-
ingmen of the neighboring wharves had abandoned their tasks,
tradesmen had left their gloomy shops, and the merchants their
empty warehouses. The many-colored omnibuses which pass out-
side of the docks were discharging, every minute, their load of


sight-seers; the whole city seemed to care for nothing except
watching the departure of the Forivard.

The Forward was a vessel of one hundred and seventy tons,
rigged as a brig, and carrying a screw and a steam-engine of one
hundred and twenty horse-power. One would have very easily
confounded it with the other brigs in the harbor. But if it pre-
sented no especial difference to the eye of the public, yet those
who w^ere familiar with ships noticed certain peculiarities which
could not escape a sailor's keen glance.

Thus, on the Nautilus, which was lying at anchor near her, a
group of sailors were trying to make out the probable destination
of the Forward.

"What do you say to her masts?" said one; "steamers don't
usually carry so much sail."

" It must be," answered a red-faced quartermaster, " that she
relies more on her sails than on her engine ; and if her topsails are
of that size, it 's probably because the lower sails are to be laid
back. So I 'm sure the Forward is going either to the Arctic or
Antarctic Ocean, where the icebergs stop the wind more than suits
a solid ship."

" You must be right, Mr. Comhill," said a third sailor. *' Do
you notice how straight her stem is "J "


" Besides," said Mr. Cornhill, " she carries a steel ram forward,
as sharp as a razor ; if the Forward, going at full speed, should
run into a three-decker, she would cut her in two."

"That's true," answered a Mersey pilot, "for that brig can
easily run fourteen knots under steam. She was a sight to see on
her trial trip. On my word, she 's a swift boat."

"And she goes well, too, under sail," continued the quarter-
master ; " close to the wind, and she 's easily steered. Now that
ship is going to the polar seas, or my name is not Cornhill. And
then, see there ! Do you notice that large helm-port over the
head of her rudder % "

"That's so," said some of the sailors j "but what does that
prove % "

"That proves, my men," replied the quartermaster with a
scornful smile, "that you can neither see nor think; it proves
that they wanted to leave the head of the rudder free, so that it
might be unshipped and shipped again easily. Don't you know
that 's what they have to do very often in the ice % "

" You are right," answered the sailors of the Nautilus.

" And besides," said one, " the lading of the brig goes to prove
what Mr. Cornhill has said. I heard it from Clifton, who has
shipped on her. The Forward carries provisions for five or six
years, and coal in proportion. Coal and provisions are all she
carries, and a quantity of woollen and sealskin clothing."

" Well," said Mr. Cornhill, " there 's no doubt about it. But,
my friend, since you know Clifton, has n't he told you where
she 's bound % "

" He could n't tell me, for he did n't know ; the whole crew
was shipped in that way. Where is he going 1 He won't know
till he gets there."

" Nor yet if they are going to Davy Jones's locker," said one
scofifer, " as it seems to me they are."

** But then, their pay," continued the friend of Clifton enthu-
siastically, " their pay ! it 's five times what a sailor usually
gets. If it had not been for that, Eichard Shandon would not
have got a man. A strangely shaped boat, going no one knows
where, and as if it never intended coming back ! As for me, I
should not have cared to ship in her."


"Whether you would or not," answered Mr. ComhiM, "you
could never have shipped in the Forward^
"Why not?"

" Because you would not have answered the conditions. I
heard that married men were not taken. Now you belong to
that class. So you need not say what you would or would not
do, since it 's all breath thrown away."

The sailor who was thus snubbed burst out laughing, as did
his companions, showing in this way that Mr. Cornhill's remarks
were true.

" There 's nothing but boldness
about the ship," continued Cornhill,
well pleased with himself. " The For-
ward, forward to what? Without
saying that nobody knows who her
captain is."

" 0, yes, they do ! " said a young
sailor, evidently a green-hand.
" What ! They do know ? "
" Of course."

" My young friend," said Cornhill,
" do you think Shandon is the captain of the Forward ? "
" Why " answered the boy.

" Shandon is only the mate, nothing else ; he *s a good and
brave sailor, an old whaler, a good fellow, able to take command,
but he 's not the captain ; he 's no more captain than you or I.
And who, under God, is going to have charge of the ship, he
does not know in the least. At the proper time the captain will
come aboard, I don't know how, and I don't know where ; for
Richard Shandon did n't tell me, nor has he leave to tell me in
what direction he was first to sail."

" Stiir, Mr. Cornhill," said the young sailor, " I can tell you
that there 's some one on board, some one who was spoken of in
the letter in which Mr. Shandon was oiFered the place of mate."

" What ! " answered Cornhill, " do you mean to tell me that
the Forward has a captain on board?"
"Yes, Mr. Cornhill."


" You tell me that 1 "

" Certainly, for 1 heard it from Johnson, the boatswain."

" Boatswain Johnson 1 "

" Yes, he told me himself."

" Johnson told you 1 "

" Not only did he tell me, but he showed him to me."

" He showed him to you ! " answered Cornhill in amazement.

*' He showed him to me."

" And 3^ou saw him 1 "

" I saw him with my own eyes."

"And who is it r'

" It 's a dog."

" A dog 1 "


"A four-footed dog?"


The surprise of the sailors of the Nautilus was great. Under
any other circumstances they would have burst out laughing.
A dog captain of a one hundred and seventy ton brig ! It was
certainly amusing enough. But the Forward was such an extraor-
dinary ship, that one thought twice before laughing, and before
contradicting it. Besides, Quartermaster Cornhill showed no signs
of laughing.

" And Johnson showed you that new sort of captain, a dog ] "
he said to the young sailor. " And you saw him ?"

" As plainly as I see you, with all respect."

*' Well, what do you think of that 1 " asked the sailors, turning
to Cornhill.

" I don't think anything," he answered curtly, " except that
the Forward is a ship of the Devil, or of fools fit for Bedlam."

Without saying more, the sailors continued to gaze at the For-
tvard, which was now almost ready to depart ; and there was no
one of them who presumed to say that Johnson, the boatswain,
had been making fun of the young sailor.

This story of the dog had already spread through the city, and
in the crowd of sight-seers there were many looking for the ''^ap-
tain-dog, who were inclined to believe that he was some super-
natural animal.

Besides, for many months the Forward had been attract mg
the public attention ; the singularity of its build, the myst ,rj
which enshrouded it, the incognito maintained by the captpin,
the manner in which Richard Shandon received the proposition
of superintending its outfit, the careful selection of the crew, 'ts
unknown destination, scarcely conjectured by any, all com-
bined to give this brig a reputation of something more than

For a thoughtful, dreamy mind, for a philosopher, ther
hardly anything more touching than the departure of a ship ;
imagination is ready to follow her in her struggles with
waves, her contests with the winds, in her perilous course, wl
does not always end in port ; and if only there is something .


usual about her, the ship appears like something fantastic, even
to the least imaginative minds.

So it was with the Forward. And if most of the spectators
were unable to make the ingenious remarks of Quartermaster
Cornhill, the rumors which had been prevailing for three months
were enough to keep all the tongues of Liverpool busy.

The brig had been built at Birkenhead, a suburb of the city on
the left bank of the Mersey, and connected with it by numerous

The builders, Scott & Co., as skilful as any in England, had
received from Richard 6handon careful plans and drawings, in
which the tonnage, dimensions, and model of the brig were given
with the utnaost exactness. They bore proof of the work of an
experienced sailor. Since Shandon had ample means at his com-
mand, the work began, and, in accordance with the orders of the
unknown owner, proceeded rapidly.

Every care was taken to have the brig made exceedingly
strong ; it was evidently intended to withstand enormous press-
ure, for its ribs of teak, an East Indian wood remarkable for its
solidity, were further strengthened by thick iron braces. The
sailors used to ask why the hull of a ship, which was intended to
be so strong, was not made of iron like other steamers. But
tb 3y were told that the mysterious designer had his own reasons
for having it built in that way.

.Gradually the shape of the brig on the stocks could be clearly
n.ade out, and the strength and beauty of her model were clear
t;> the eye of all competent judges. As the sailors of the Nauti-
l iS had said, her stem formed a right angle with the keel, and
she carried, not a ram, but a steel cutter from the foundry of
t . Hawthorn, of Newcastle. This metallic prow, glistening in the
sun, gave a singular appearance to the brig, although there was
"^othing warlike about it. However, a sixteen-pound gun was
' ',ced on her forecastle ; its carriage was so arranged that it

dd be pointed in any direction. The same thing can be said
X the cannon as of her bows, neither were positively warlike.

On the 5th of February, 1860, this strange vessel was success-

Uy launched in the sight of an immense number of spectators,



But if the brig was not a mau-of-vvar, nor a merchant-vessel,
nor a pleasure-yacht, for no one takes a pleasure trip with pro-
visions for six years in the hold, what could she be %

A ship intended for the search of the Erebus and the Terror^
and of Sir John Frankhn 1 No; for in 1859, the previous year,
Captain MacClintock had returned from the Arctic Ocean, wdth
convincing proof of the loss of that ill-fated expedition.

Did the Forward want to try again the famous Northwest
Passage *? What for? Captain MacCiure had discovered it in
1853, and his lieutenant, Cresswell, had the honor of first skirt-
ing the American continent from Behring Strait to Davis Strait.

It was nevertheless absolutely certain to all competent observ-
ers that the Forward was preparing for a voyage to icy regions.
Was it going to push towards the South Pole, farther than the
whaler Wedell, farther than Captain James Ross % But what was
the use, and with what intention %

It is easy to see that, although the field for conjecture was
very limited, the imagination could easily lose itself

The day after the launching of the brig her machinery arrived
from the foundry of R. Hawthorn at Newcastle.

The engine, of one hundred and twenty horse-power, with
oscillating cylinders, took up but little space ; its force was large


for a vessel of one hundred and seventy tons, which carried a
great deal of sail, and was, besides, remarkably swift. Of her
speed the trial trips left no doubt, and even the boatswain, John-
son, had seen fit to express his opinion to the friend of Clifton in
these terms,

"When the Forward is under both steam and sail, she gets
the most speed from her sails."

Clifton's friend had not understood this proposition, but he con-
sidered anything possible in a ship commanded by a dog.

After the engines had been placed on board, the stowage of
provisions began ; and that was no light task, for she carried
enough for six. years. They consisted of salted and dried meats,
smoked fish, biscuit, and flour ; mountains of coffee and tea were
deposited in the store-room. Richard Shandon superintended
the arrangement of this precious cargo with the air of a man
who perfectly understood his business ; everything was put in its
place, labelled, and numbered with perfect precision ; at the same
time there was stowed away a large quantity of pemmican, an
Indian preparation, which contains a great deal of nutriment in a
small compass.

This sort of suppl}^ left no doubt as to the length of the cruise ;
but ah experienced observer would have known at once that the
Forward was to sail in polar waters, from the barrels of lime-
juice, of lime lozenges, of bundles of mustard, sorrel, and of coch-
learia, in a word, from the abundance of powerful antiscorbutics,
which are so necessary in journeys in the regions of the far north
and south. Shandon had doubtless received word to take partic-
ular care about this part of the cargo, for he gave to it especial
attention, as well as to the ship's

If the armament of the ves-
sel was small enough to calm
the timid souls, on the other
hand, the magazine was filled
with enough powder to inspire
some uneasiness. The single
gun on the forecastle could not pretend to require so large a


supply. This excited curiosity. There were, besides, enormous
saws and strong machinery, such as levers, masses of lead, hand-
saws, huge axes, etc., without counting a respectable number
of blasting-cylinders, which might have blown up the Liverpool
custom-house. All this was strange, if not alarming, not to men-
tion the rockets, signals, lights, and lanterns of every sort.

Then, too, the numerous spectators on the- quays of the New
Prince's Docks gazed with admiration at a long mahogany whale-
boat, a tin canoe covered with gutta-percha, and a number of hal-
kett-boats, which are a sort of india-rubber cloaks, which can be
inflated and thereby turned into canoes. Every one felt more
and more puzzled, and even excited, for with the turn of the tide
the Forward was to set sail for its unknown destination.



This is a copy of the letter received by Richard Shandon eight
months previously :

Aberdeen, August 2, 1859.
Mr. Richard Shandon, Liverpool.

Sir, This letter is to advise you of a remittance of 16,000, de-
posited with Messrs. Marcuart &
Co., bankers, at Liverpool. En-
closed you will find a series of
drafts, signed by me, which will
enable you to draw upon Messrs.
Marcuart & Co. to the amount
mentioned above.

You do not know me. No mat-
ter ; I know you, and that is enough.
I offer you the position of mate on board of the brig Forward, for a
voyage which may be long and perilous.

If you decline, well and good. If you accept, five hundred pounds
will be assigned you as salary, and at the end of each year of the voyage
your pay will be increased one tenth.


The brig Forward dcjes not exist. You will be obliged to have it
built so that it will be possible to set to sea in the beginning of April,
1860, at the latest. Enclosed is a drawing with estimates. You will
follow them exactly. The ship will be built in the stocks of Scott &
Co., who will arrange everything with you.

I beg of you to be specially cautious in selecting the crew of the
Forward ; it will consist of a captain (myself), a mate (you), a second
mate, a boatswain, two engineeis, an ice-master, eight sailors, two
stokers, in all eighteen men, including Dr. Clawbonny of this city, who
will join you at the proper time.

Those who are shipped on board of the Forward must be English-
men, independent, with no family ties, single and temperate ; for the use
of spirits, and even of beer, will be strictly forbidden on shipboard :
the men must be ready to undertake and endure everything.

In your selection you will prefer those of a sanguine temperament,
and 80 inclined to maintain a higher degree of animal heat.

You will offer the crew five times their usual pay, to be increased
one tenth at the end of each year. At the end of the voyage each one
shall receive five hundred pounds, and you yourself two thousand.
The requisite sum shall be deposited with the above-named Messrs.
Marcuart & Co.

The voyage will be long and difficult, but one sure to bring renown.
You need not hesitate, then, Mr. Shandon.

Send your answer to the initials K. Z., at Gottenburg, Sweden,
'poste restante.


P. S. On the 15 th of February next you will receive a large Dan-
ish dog, with hanging lips, of a dark tawny color, with black stripes
running crosswise. You will find place for him on board, and you will
feed him on barley bread mixed with a broth of lard. You will ac-
knowledge the receipt of this dog by a letter to the same initials at
Leghorn, Italy.

The captain of the Forward will appear and make himself known
at the proper time. As you are about setting sail you will receive new
instructions. xr- ^

Captain of the Forward.



Richard Shandon was a good sailor ; for a long time he had
commanded whalers in the Arctic seas, with a well-deserved repu-
tation throughout all Lancaster. Such a letter was well calcu-
lated to astonish him ; he was astonished, it is true, but with the
calmness of a man who is accustomed to surprises.

He suited all the required conditions ; no wife, child, nor rela-
tives. He was*as independent as man could be. There being no
one whose opinion he needed to consult, he betook himself to
Messrs. Marcuart & Co.

" If the money is there," he said to himself, " the rest is all

At the banking-house he was received with the respect due to
a man who has sixteen thousand pounds deposited to his credit ;
having made that point sure, Shandon asked for a sheet of white
paper, and in his large sailor's handwriting he sent his accept-
ance of the plan to the address given above.

That very day he made the necessary arrangements with the
builders at Birkenhead, and within twenty-four hours the keel of
the Forward was laid on the stocks.

Richard Shandon was a man about forty years old, strong, en-
ergetic, and fearless, three qualities most necessary for a sailor, for
they give him confidence, vigor, and coolness. He was known to

" Johnson knew all the sailors in Liverpool, and immediately set about engaging
/ a crew." Page 1 6.


be severe and very hard to please ; hence he was more feared
than loved by his men. But this reputation was not calculated to
interfere with his selection of a crew, for he was known to be skil-
ful in avoiding trouble.

Shandon feared that the mysterious nature of the expedition
might stand in his way.

" In that case," he said, " it 's best not to say anything about
it ; there will always be plenty of men who will want to know the
why and the wherefore of the whole matter, and, since I don't
know anything about it myself, 1 should find it hard to answer
them. This K. Z. is certainly an odd stick ; but, after all, he
knows me, he depends on me, and that is enough. As for his
ship, it will be a good one, and if it 's not going to the Arctic
Ocean, my name is not Richard Shandon. But I shall keep that
fact for myself and my officers."

Thereupon Shandon began to choose his crew, bearing in mind
the captain's wishes about the independence and health of the

He knew a very capital fellow, and a good sailor, James Wall
by name. Wall might have been about thirty years old, and
had already made some voyages in the north-
ern seas. Shandon offered him the place of
second mate, and Wall accepted it at once ;
all he cared for was to be at sea. Shandon
confided all the details of the affair to him
and to a certain Johnson, whom he took as

"All right," answered James Wall, "that 's
as good as anything. Even if it 's to seek the
Northwest Passage, some have come back
from that."

" Not all," said Johnson, "but that 's no reason that we should
not try it."

" Besides, if our guesses are right," said Shandon, " it must be

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Online LibraryJules VerneAt the north pole, or, The adventures of Captain Hatteras → online text (page 1 of 17)