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

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but his joy was brief, for he soon saw that the passage was
blocked up by a circle of mountains.

Nevertheless, he preferred to take his chances with pushing on,
to returning.

The dog followed the brig on the ice, but he kept at a respect-
ful distance. Only, if he lagged too far, there was to be heard a
singular whistle which at once brought him on.

The first time that this whistle was heard, the sailors looked
around ; they were alone on the deck, talking together ; there was
no unknown person there ; and yet this whistle was often repeated.

Clifton was the first to take alarm.

" Do you hear that 1 " he said ; " and do you see how the dog
starts as soon as he hears it % "



" It 's past belief," said Gripper.

" Very well ! " cried Pen ; " I 'm not going any farther."
" Pen is right," said Brunton ; " it 's tempting Providence."
"Tempting the Devil," answered CUfton. "I should rather
give up all my share of the pay than go on."
" We shall never get back," said Bolton, dejectedly.
The crew was exceedingly demoralized.

" Not a foot farther ! " cried Wolston ; " is that your opinion ] "
" Yes, yes ! " answered the sailors.

" Well," said Bolton, " let 's go find the commander ; I '11 un-
dertake to tell him."

The sailors in a dense group made their way to the quarter-

The Forward was then advancing into a large arena, which had
a diameter of about eight hundred feet ; it was completely closed,
with the exception of one place through which the ship entered.

Shandon saw that he was locking himself in. But what was
to be done % How could he retreat 1 He felt all the responsibility,
and his hand nervously grasped his glass.

The doctor looked on in silence, with folded arms ; he gazed at
the walls of ice, the average height of which was about three
hundred feet. A cloud of fog lay like a dome above the gulf.


Then it was that Bolton spoke to the commander.

" Commander," said he in a broken voice, " we can't go any

" What 's that you are saying ^ " said Shandon, who felt en-
raged at the slight given to his authority.

" We have come to say, Commander," resumed Bolton, " that
we have done enough for this invisible captain, and that we have
made up our minds not to go on any farther."

'' Made up your minds % " cried Shandon. " Is that the way
you talk to me, Bolton 1 Take care."

" You need not threaten," retorted Pen, brutally, " we are not
going any farther."

Shandon stepped towards the mutinous sailors, when the boat-
swain said to him in a low voice,

" Commander, if we want to get out of this place, we have not
a moment to lose. There 's an iceberg crowding towards the
entrance ; it may prevent our getting out and imprison us here."

Shandon returned to look at the state of affairs.

" You will account for this afterwards," he said to the mutineers.
" Now, go about ! "

The sailors hastened to their places. The Forward went about
rapidly ; coal was heaped on the fires ; it was necessary to beat
the iceberg. There was a race between them ; the brig stood
towards the south, the berg was drifting northward, threatening
to bar the way.

'' Put on all the steam, Brunton, do you hear 1 " said Shandon.

The Forward glided like a bird through the broken ice, which
her prow cut through easily ; the ship shook with the motion of
the screw, and the gauge indicated a full pressure of steam, the
deafening roar of which resounded above everything.

" Load the safety-valve ! " cried Shandon.

The engineer obeyed at the risk of bursting the boilers.

But these desperate efforts were vain ; the iceberg, driven by a
submarine current, moved rapidly towards the exit ; the brig was
still three cable-lengths distant, when the mountain, entering the
vacant space like a wedge, joined itself to its companions, and
closed the means of escape.



" We are lost ! " cried Shandon, who was unable to restrain
that unwise speech.

" Lost ! " repeated the crew.

" Lower the boats ! " cried many.

" To the steward's pantry ! " cried Pen and some of his set ;
" if we must drown, let us drown in gin ! "

The wildest confusion raged among these half-wild men. Shan-
don felt unable to assert his authority ; he wanted to give some
orders ; he hesitated, he stammered ; his thoughts could find no
words. The doctor walked up and down nervously. Johnson
folded his arms stoically, and said not a word.

Suddenly a strong, energetic, commanding voice was heard
above the din, uttering these words :

" Every man to his place ! Prepare to go about ! "

Johnson shuddered, and, without knowing what he did, turned
the wheel rapidly.

It was time ; the brig, going under full steam, was about crash-
ing against the walls of its prison.

But while Johnson instinctively obeyed, Shandon, Clawbonny,
the crew, all, even down to Warren the fireman, wbo had aban-
doned his fires, and Strong the cook, who had fled from his


galley, were collected on the deck, and all saw issuing from the
cabin, the key of which he alone possessed, a man.

This man was the sailor Garry.

" Sir ! " cried Shandon, turning pale, " Garry by what right
do you give orders here % "

" Duke ! " said Garry, repeating the whistle which had so sur-
prised the crew.

The dog, on hearing his real name, sprang on the quarter-deck,
and lay down quietly at his master's feet.

The crew did not utter a word. The key which the captain
alone should possess, the dog which he had sent and which had
identified him, so to speak, the tone of command which it was
impossible to mistake, all this had a strong influence on the
minds of the sailors, and was enough to establish firmly Garry's

Besides, Garry was hardly to be recognized ; he had removed
the thick whiskers which had surrounded his face, thereby giving
it a more impassible, energetic, and commanding expression ; he
stood before them clothed in a captain's uniform, which he had
had placed in his cabin.

So the crew of the Forward, animated in spite of themselves,

" Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah for the captain ! "

' Shandon," he said to his first officer, " have the crew put in
line ; I want to inspect them."

Shandon obeyed, and gave the requisite orders with an agitated

The captain walked in front of the officers and men, saying a
word to each, and treating him according to his past conduct.

When he had finished his inspection, he went back to the quar-
ter-deck, and calmly uttered these words :

** Officers and sailors, I am an Englishman like you all, and my
motto is that of Lord Nelson, ' England expects every man to
do his duty.'

" As Englishmen, I am unwilling, we are unwilling, that others
should go where we have not been. As Englishmen, I shall not
endure, we shall not endure, that others should have the glory of


going farther north than we. If human foot is ever to reach the
Pole, it must be the foot of an Englishman ! Here is the flag of
our country. I have equipped this ship, I have devoted my for-
tune to this undertaking, I shall devote to it my life and yours,
but this flag shall float over the North Pole. Fear not. You
shall receive a thousand pounds sterling for every degree that we
get farther north after this day. Now we are at the seventy-
second, and there are ninety in all. Figure it out. My name
will be proof enough. It means energy and patriotism. I am
Captain Hatteras."

" Captain Hatteras ! " cried Shandon. And this name, familiar
to them all, soon spread among all the crew.

"Now," resumed Hatteras, "let us anchor the brig to the ice;
let the fires be put out, and every one return to his usual occupa-
tion. Shandon, I want to speak with you about the ship. You
will join me in my cabin with the doctor. Wall, and the boat-
swain. Johnson, dismiss the men."

Hatteras, calm and cold, quietly left the poop-deck, while Shan-
don had the brig made fast to the ice.

Who was this Hatteras, and why did his name make so deep
an impression upon the crew 1

John Hatteras, the only son of a London brewer, who died in
1852, worth six million pounds, took to the sea at an early age,
unmindful of the large fortune which was to come to him. Not
that he had any commercial designs, but a longing for geographi-
cal discovery possessed him ; he was continually dreaming of set-
ting foot on some spot untrodden of man.

When twenty years old, he had the vigorous constitution of
thin, sanguine men ; an energetic face, with well-marked lines, a
high forehead, rising straight from the eyes, which were hand-
some but cold, thin lips, indicating a mouth chary of words, me-
dium height, well-knit muscular limbs, indicated a man ready for
any experience. Any one who saw him would have called him
bold, and any one who heard him would have called him coldly
passionate ; he was a man who would never retreat, and who
would risk the lives of others as coldly as his own. One would
hence think twice before following him in his expeditions.


John Hatteras had a great deal of Enghsh pride, and it was he
who once made this haughty reply to a Frenchman.

The Frenchman said with what he considered politeness, and
even kindness,

" If I were not a Frenchman, I should like to be an English-

" If I were not an Englishman, I should like to be an English-
man ! "

That retort points the nature of the man.

He would have liked to reserve for his fellow-countrymen the
monopoly of geographical discovery ; but much to his chagrin,
during previous centuries, they had done but little in the way of

America was discovered by the Genoese, Christopher Columbus ;
the East Indies by the Portuguese, Vasco de Gama ; China by the
Portuguese, Fernao d'Andrada ; Terra del Fuego by the Portu-
guese, Magellan ; Canada by the Frenchman, Jacques Cartier ; the
islands of Sumatra, Java, etc., Labrador, Brazil, the Cape of Good
Hope, the Azores, Madeira, Newfoundland, Guinea, Congo, Mexico,
White Cape, Greenland, Iceland, the South Pacific Ocean, Cali-
fornia, Japan, Cambodia, Peru, Kamschatka, the Philippine
Islands, Spitzbergen, Cape Horn, Behring Strait, New Zealand,
Van Diemen's Land, New Britain, New Holland, the Louisiana,
Island of Jan-Mayen, by Icelanders, Scandinavians, Frenchmen,
Russians, Portuguese, Danes, Spaniards, Genoese, and Dutch-
men ; but no Englishmen figured among them, and it was a con-
stant source of grief to Hatteras to see his fellow-countrymen
excluded from the glorious band of sailors who made the great
discoveries of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Hatteras consoled himself somewhat when he considered mod-
ern times : the English took their revenge with Stuart, McDougall
Stuart, Burke, Wells, King, Gray, in Australia ; with Palliser in
America ; with Havnoan in Syria ; with Cyril Graham, Wadding-
ton, Cunningham, in India ; and with Barth, Burton, Speke,
Grant, and Livingstone in Africa.

But this was not enough ; for Hatteras these men were rather
finishers than discoverers ; something better was to be done, so



he invented a country in order to have the honor of discover-
ing it.

Now he had noticed that if the EngUsh were in a minority with
regard to the early discoveries, that if it was necessary to go back
to Cook to make sure of New Caledonia in 1774, and of the Sand-
wich Islands where he was killed in 1778, there was nevertheless
one corner of the globe on which they had centred all their efforts.

This was the northern seas and lands of North America.

In fact, the list of polar discoveries runs as follows :

Nova Zambia, discovered by Willougbby in 1553.
Island of Wiegehts, discovered by Barrow in 1556.
West Coast of Greenland, discovered by Davis in 1585.
Davis Strait, discovered by Davis in 1587.
Spitzbergen, discovered by Willougbby in 1596.
Hudson's Bay, discovered by Hudson in 1610.
Baffin's Bay, discovered by Baffin in 1616.

During recent years Hearne, Mackenzie, John Ross, Parry,
Franklin, Richardson, Beechey, James Ross, Back, Dease, Simpson,
Rae, Inglefield, Belcher, Austin, Kellet, Moore, MacClure, Kennedy,
MacClintock, were incessantly exploring these unknown regions.

The northern coast of America had been accurately made out,
the Northwest Passage nearly discovered, but that was not
enough ; there was something greater to be done, and this John
Hatteras had twice tried, fitting out ships at his own expense ;
he wanted to reach the Pole itself, and thus to crown the list of
English discoveries by a glorious success.

To reach the Pole itself was the aim of his life.

After many successful A^oyages in the southern seas, Hatteras
tried for the first time in 1846 to reach the North through Baf-
fin's Bay, but he could get no farther than latitude 74 ; he
sailed in the sloop Halifax ; his crew suffered terribly, and John
Hatteras carried his temerity so far that henceforth sailors were
averse to undertaking a similar expedition under such a leader.

Notwithstanding, in 1850, Hatteras succeeded in obtaining for
the schooner Farewell about twenty determined men, but who
were persuaded especially by the high pay offered their boldness.
It was then that Dr. Clawbonny began to correspond with John


Hatteras, whom he did not know, about accompanying him ; but
the post of surgeon was filled, fortunately for the doctor.

The Farewell, following the route taken by the Neptune of
Aberdeen in 1817, went to the north of Spitzbergen, as far as
latitude 76. There they were obliged to winter ; but tlieir suf-
ferings were such, and the cold so intense, that of all on board,
Hatteras alone returned to England. He was picked up by a
Danish whaler after he had walked more than two hundred miles
across the ice.

The excitement produced by the return of this man alone was
intense ; who, after this, would accompany Hatteras in his bold
attempts'? Still he did not abandon the hope of trying again.
His father, the brewer, died, and he came into possession of an
enormous fortune.

Meanwhile something had happened which cut John Hatteras
to the heart.

A brig, the Advance, carrying seventeen men, equipped by Mr.
Grinnell, a merchant, commanded b}^ Dr. Kane, and sent out in
search of Franklin, went as far north, through Baffin's Bay and
Smith's Sound, as latitude 82, nearer to the Pole than any of his
predecessors had gone.

Now this was an American ship. Grinnell was an American,
Kane was an American !

It is easy to understand how the customarj' disdain of the Eng-
lishman for the Yankee turned to hatred in the heart of Hat-
teras ; he made up his mind, at any price, to beat his bold rival,
and to reach the Pole itself.

For two years he lived at Liverpool incognito. He was taken
for a sailor. He saw in Richard Shandon the man he wanted ;
he presented his plans by an anonymous letter to him and to Dr.
Claw bonny. The Forward was built and equipped. Hatteras
kept his name a secret ; otherwise no one would have gone with
him. He resolved only to take command of the brig at some
critical juncture, and when his crew had gone too far to be able to
retreat ; he kept in reserve, as we have seen, the power of making
generous offers to the men, so that they would follow him to the
end of the world.

" John Hatteras." Page 95.


In feet, it was to the end of the world that he wanted to go.

Now matters looked very serious, and John Hatteras made
himself known.

His dog, the faithful Duke, the companion of his expeditions,
was the first to recognize him, and fortunately for the bold, and
unfortimately for the timid, it was firmly established that the
captain of the Forward was John Hatteras.


THE captain's PLANS.

The appearance of this famous person was variously received
by the different members of the crew : some allied themselves
strongly with him, moved both by boldness and by avarice ; oth-
ers took renewed interest in the expedition, but they reserved to
themselves the right of protesting later ; besides, at that time, it
was hard to make any resistance to such a man. Hence every
man went back to his place. The 20th of May was Sunday, and
consequently a day of rest for the crew.

The officers took counsel together in the doctor's cabin ; there
were present Hatteras, Shandon, Wall, Johnson, and the doctor.

" Gentlemen," said the captain, with his peculiarly gentle but
impressive voice, " you know my project of going to the Pole ;
I want to get your opinion of the undertaking. What do you
think about it, Shandon % "

" I have not to think. Captain," answered Shandon, coldly j "I
have only to obey."

Hatteras was not surprised at this answer.

"Richard Shandon," he resumed with equal coldness, "I ask
your opinion about our probable chance of success."

"Well, Captain," answered Shandon, "facts must answer for
me ; all attempts hitherto have failed ; I hope we may be more

" We shall be. And, gentlemen, what do you think ] "



'As for me," replied the doctor, ''I consider your design prac-
ticable, Captain ; and since there is no doubt but that at some
time or other explorers will reach the Pole, I don't see why we
should not do it."

" There are very good reasons why we should," answered Hat-
teras, "for we have taken measures to make it possible, and we
shall profit by the experience of others. And, Shandon, you
must accept my thanks for the care you have given to the equip-
ment of the brig ; there are some ill-disposed men in the crew,
whom I shall soon bring to reason ; but on the whole, I can give
nothing but praise."

Shandon bowed coldly. His position on the Forward, of which
he had thought himself commander, was a false one. Hatteras
understood this, and said nothing more about it.

" As for you, gentlemen," he resumed, addressing Wall and
Johnson, " I could not myself have chosen officers more skilled
and intrepid."

" On my word. Captain, I am your man," answered Johnson ;
" and although I think your plan a very bold one, you can count
on me to the end."

** And on me too," said Wall.


" As for you, Doctor, I know your worth "

*' Well, you know then a great deal more than I do," answered
the doctor, quickly.

" Now, gentlemen," said Hatteras, "it is well that you should
know on what good grounds I have made up my mind about the
accessibility of the Pole. In 1817 the Neptune, of Aberdeen,
went to the north of Spitzbergen, as far as latitude 82. In 1826
the celebrated Parry, after his third voyage in polar seas, started
also from the extremity of Spitzbergen, and on sledges went one
hundred and fifty miles farther north. In 1852, Captain Ingle-
field reached, through Smith's Sound, latitude 78 35'. All these
were English ships, and were commanded by Englishmen, our

Here Hatteras paused.

" I ought to add," he resumed with some formality, and as if he
could hardly bring himself to utter the words, "I ought to add
that in 1854 the American, Captain Kane, in the brig Advance,
went still farther north, and that his lieutenant, Morton, journey-
ing over the ice, hoisted the United States flag beyond the eighty-
second degree. Having once said this, I shall not return to it.
Now the main point is that the captains of the Neptune, the
Enterprise, the Isabella, and the Advance agree in the statement
that beyond these high latitudes there is an open polar sea, en-
tirely free from ice."

" Free from ice ! " cried Shandon, interrupting the captain,
" it 's impossible ! "

*f You will notice, Shandon," observed Hatteras, quietly, while
his eye lighted up for an instant, "that I quote both facts and
authorities. I must add that in 1851, when Penny was stationed
by the side of Wellington Channel, his lieutenant, Stewart, found
himself in the presence of an open sea, and that his report was
confirmed when, in 1853, Sir Edward Belcher wintered in North-
umberland Bay, in latitude 76 52', and longitude 99 20'; these
reports are indisputable, and one must be very incredulous not to
admit them."

"Still, Captain," persisted Shandon, "facts are as contra-
dictory "


" You 're wrong, Shandon, you 're wrong ! " cried Dr. Claw-
bonny ; '* fkcts never contradict a scientific statement ; the captain
will, I trust, excuse me."

" Go on, Doctor ! " said Hatteras.

" Well, listen to this, Shandon ; it results very clearly from
geographical facts, and from the study of isothermal lines, that
the coldest spot on the globe is not on the Pole itself; like the
magnetic pole, it lies a few degrees distant. So the calculations of
Brewster, Berghaus, and other physicists prove that in our hemi-
sphere there are two poles of extreme cold : one in Asia in lati-
tude 79 30' N., and longitude 120 E. ; the other is in America,
in latitude 78 N., and longitude 97 W. This last alone con-
cerns us, and you see, Shandon, that it is more than twelve de-
grees below the Pole. Well, I ask you why, then, the sea should
not be as free from ice as it often is in summer in latitude QQj
that is to say, at the southern end of Baffin's Bay ? "

" Well put," answered Johnson ; " Dr. Clawbonny talks of those
things like a man who understands them."

" It seems possible," said James Wall.

" Mere conjectures ! nothing but hypotheses ! " answered Shan-
don, obstinately.

"Well, Shandon," said Hatteras, "let us consider the two cases;
either the sea is free from ice, or it is not, and in neither case will
it be impossible to reach the Pole. If it is free, the Forward
will take us there without difficulty ; if it is frozen, we must try
to reach it over the ice by our sledges. You will confess that it
is not impracticable ; having once come with our brig to latitude
83, we shall have only about six hundred miles between us and
the Pole."

" And what are six hundred miles," said the doctor, briskly,
" when it is proved that a Cossack, Alexis Markoff, went along
the frozen sea, north of Russia, on sledges drawn by dogs, for a
distance of eight hundred miles, in twenty -four days ] "

" You hear him, Shandon," answered Hatteras, " and will you
say that an Englishman cannot do as much as a Cossack ? "

" Never ! " cried the enthusiastic doctor.

" Never ! " repeated the boatswain.


" Well, Shandon ^ " asked the captain.

" Captain," answered Shandon, coldly, " I can only repeat what
I have said, I shall obey you."

"Well. Now," continued Hatteras, "let us consider our pres-
ent situation ; we are caught in the ice, and it seems to me im-
possible for us to reach Smith's Sound this year. This is what
we must do."

Hatteras unfolded on the table one of the excellent charts pub-
lished in 1859 by the order of the Admiralty.

" Be good enough to loiok here. If Smith's Sound is closed,
Lancaster Sound is not, to the west of Baffin's Bay ; in my
opinion, we ought to go up this sound as far as Barrow Strait, and
thence to Beechey Island. This has been done a hundred times
by sailing-vessels ; we shall have no difficulty, going under steam.
Once at Beechey Island, we shall follow Wellington Sound as far
northward as possible, to where it meets the channel, connecting
it with Queen's Sound, at the place where the open sea was seen.
It is now only the "20th of May; if nothing happens, we shall be
there in a month, and from there we shall start for the Pole.
What do you say to that, gentlemen 1"

" Evidently," said Johnson, " it 's the only way open to us."

" Well, we shall take it, and to-morrow. Let Sunday be a day
of rest ; you will see, Shandon, that the Bible is read as usual ;
the religious exercises do the men good, and a sailor more than
any one ought to put his trust in God."

" Very well, Captain," answered Shandon, who went away with
the second officer and the boatswain.

" Doctor," said Hatteras, pointing at Shandon, " there 's an
offended man, whose pride has ruined him ; I can no longer
depend upon him."

Early the next day the captain had the launch lowered ; he
went to reconnoitre the icebergs about the basin, of which the
diameter was hardly more than two hundred yards. He noticed
that by the gradual pressure of the ice, this space threatened to
grow smaller ; hence it became necessary to make a breach some-
where, to save the ship from being crushed ; by the means he

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Online LibraryJules VerneAt the north pole, or, The adventures of Captain Hatteras → online text (page 7 of 17)