THE TALK OF THE CREW.
Nevertheless, by taking advantages of such openings as there
were, the Forward succeeded in getting a few minutes farther
north ; but, instead of escaping the enemy, it would soon be
necessary to attack it ; ice-fields of many miles in extent were
drawing together, and as these moving masses often represent a
pressure of ten millions of tons, they were obliged to take every
precaution against being crushed by them. Ice-saws were placed
outside the vessel, where thev could be used without delav.
54 THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN UATTERAS.
Some of the crew endured their hard toil without a murmur,
but others complained or even refused to obey orders. While
they were putting the saws in place, Garry, Bolton, Pen, and Grip-
per exchanged their diverse opinions as follows.
" Deuce take it," said Bolton, cheerfully; "I don't know why
it just occurs to me that in Water Street there 's a comfort-
able tavern, where one might, be very well off between a glass
of gin and a bottle of porter. Can you see it from here, Grip-
per % "
. " To tell the truth," answered the sailor who had been ad-
dressed, and who generally pretended to be very sullen, "I must
say I can't see it from here."
" That 's merely your way of talking, Gripper ; it is evident
that, in those snow towns which Dr. Clawbonny is always admir-
ing, there 's no tavern where a poor sailor can moisten his throat
with a drink or two of brandy."
" You may be sure of that, Bolton ; and you might add that
on board of this ship there 's no way of getting properly refreshed.
A strange idea, sending people into the northern seas, and giving
them nothing to drink ! "
" Well," answered Garry, " have you forgotten, Gripper, what
the doctor said ^ One must go without spirits if he expects to
escape the scurvy, remain in good health, and sail far."
" I don't care to sail far, Garry ; and I think it 's enough to
have come as far as this, and to try to get through here where
the Devil does n't mean to let us through."
" Well, we sha' n't get through," retorted Pen. " 0, when I
think I have already forgotten how gin tastes ! "
" But," said Bolton, " remember what the doctor said."
" 0," answered Pen, with his rough voice, '' that 's all very well
to say ! I fancy that they are economizing it under the pretext
of saving our health."
" Perhaps, that devil Pen is right," said Gripper.
" Come, come ! " replied Bolton, " his nose is too red for that ;
and if a little abstinence should make it a trifle paler. Pen won't
need to be pitied."
" Don't trouble yourself about my nose," was the answer, for
THE ENGLISH AT THE NORTH POLE. 55
Pen was rather vexed. " My nose does n't need your advice ; it
does n't ask for it ; you 'd better mind your own business."
" Come, don't be angry, Pen ; I did n't think your nose was so
tender. I should be as ghid as any one else to have a glass of
whiskey, especially on such a cold day ; but if in the long run it
does more harm than good, why, I 'm very willing to get along
" You may get along without it," said Warren, the stoker, who
had joined them, " but it 's not everybody on board who gets
along without it."
" What do you mean, Warren 1 " asked Garry, looking at him
" I mean that for one purpose or another there is liquor aboard,
and I fancy that aft they don't get on without it."
" What do you know about it 1 " asked Garry.
Warren could not answer ; he spoke for the sake of speaking.
" You see, Garry," continued Bolton, " that Warren knows
nothing about it."
" Well," said Pen, " we '11 ask the commander for a ration of
gin ; we deserve it, and we '11 see what he '11 say."
"I advise you not to," said Garry.
" Why not I " cried Pen and Gripper.
" Because the commander will refuse it. You knew what the
conditions were when you shipped ; you ought to think of that
" Besides," said Bolton, who was not averse to taking Gany's
side, for he liked him, " Richard Shandon is not master ; he 's
under orders like the rest of us."
" Whose orders % " asked Pen.
" The captain's."
" Ah, that ridiculous captain's ! " cried Pen. 'â€¢ Don't you
know there 's no more captain than there is tavern on the ice %
That 's a mean way of refusing politely what we ask for."
" But there is a captain," persisted Bolton ; " and I 'II wager
two months' pay that we shall see him before long."
" All right ! " said Pen ; " I should like to give him a piece of
56 THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN HATTER AS.
" Who 's talking about the captahi 1 " said a new speaker.
It was Clifton, who was inclined to be superstitious and en-
vious at the same time.
" Is there anj news about the captain 1, " he asked.
" No," a single voice answered.
" Well, I expect to find him settled in his cabin some fine
morning, and without any one's knowing how or whence he came
" Nonsense ! " answered Bolton ; " you imagine, Clifton, that
he 's an imp, a hobgoblin such as are seen in the Scotch High-
" Laugh if you want to, Bolton ; that won't alter my opinion.
Every day as I pass the cabin I peep in through the keyhole,
and one of these days I '11 tell you what he looks like, and how
he 's made."
" 0, the devil ! " said Pen ; " he '11 look like everj^body else.
And if he wants to lead us where we don't want to go, we '11 let
him know what we think about it."
" All right," said Bolton ; " Pen does n't know him, and wants
to quarrel with him already."
" Who does n't know all about him ? " asked Clifton, with the air
of a man who has the whole story at his tongue's end ; " I should
like to know who does n't."
" What do you mean ] " asked Gripper.
" I know very well what I mean."
" But we don't."
" Well, Pen has already had trouble with him."
" With the captain % "
" Yes, the dog-captain ; for it 's the same thing jDrecisely."
The sailors gazed at one another, incapable of replying.
"Dog or man," muttered Pen, between his teeth, "I'll bet
he '11 get his account settled one of these days."
" Why, Clifton," asked Bolton, seriously, " do you imagine, as
Johnson said in joke, that that dog is the real captain 1 "
" Certainly, I do," answered Clifton, with some warmth ; " and
if you had watched him as carefidly as I have, you 'd have noticed
his strange ways."
THE ENGLISH AT THE NORTH POLE. 57
" What ways ] Tell us."
" Have n't you noticed the way he walks up and down the
poop-deck as if he commanded the ship, keeping his eye on the
sails as if he were on watch % "
" That 's so," said Gripper ; " and one evening I found him with
his paws on the wheel."
" Impossible ! " said Bolton.
" And then," continued Clifton, " does n't he run out at night
on the ice-fields without caring for the bears or the cold 1 "
" That 's true," said Bolton.
" Did you ever see him making up to the men like an honest
dog, or hanging arormd the kitchen, and followino: the cook when
he 's carrying a savory dish to the officers ? Have n't you all
heard him at night, when he 's run two or three miles away from
58 THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN HATTERAS.
the vessel, howling so that he makes your blood ran cold, and
that 's not easy in weather like this V Did you ever seen him eat
anything] He never takes a morsel from any one; he never
touches the food that 's given him, and, unless some one on board
feeds him secretly, I can say he lives without eating. Now, if
that 's not strange, I 'm no better than a beast myself."
" Upon my word," answered Bell, the carpenter, who had heard
all of Clifton's speech, " it may be so."
But all the other sailors were silent.
" Well, as for me," continued Clifton, " I can say that if you
don't believe, there are wiser people on board who don't seem so
*' Do you mean the mate 1 " asked Bolton.
" Yes, the mate and the doctor."
" Do you think they fancy the same thing 1 "
" I have heard them talking about it, and they could make no
more out of it than we can ; they imagined a thousand things
which did not satisfy them in the least."
" Did they say the same things about the dog that you did,
Clifton ? " asked the carpenter.
" If they were not talking about the dog," answered Clifton,
who was fairly cornered, " they were talking about the captain ;
it 's exactly the same thing, and they confessed it w^as all very
" Well, my friends," said Bell, '' do you want to hear my
opinion *? "
" What is it ! " they all cried.
" It is that there is not, and there will not be, any other cap-
tain than Richard Shandon."
" And the letter 1 " said Clifton.
" The letter was genuine," answered Bell ; " it is perfectly true
that some unknown person has equipped the Forward for an
' expedition in the ice ; but the ship once off, no one will come on
" Well," asked Bolton, " where is the ship going to % "
" I don't know ; at the right time, Richard Shandon will get
the rest of the instructions."
THE ENGLISH AT THE NORTH POLE. 59
" But from whom 1 "
'Â« Fi-om whom 1 "
" Yes, in what way % " asked Bolton, who was becoming per-
" Come, Bell, an answer," said the other sailors.
" From whom ? in what way 1 0, I 'm sure I don't know ! "
'' Well, from the dog ! " cried Clifton. '' He has already written
once, and he can again. 0, if I only knew half as much as he
does, I might be First Lord of the Admiralty ! "
*' So," added Bolton, in conclusion, " you persist in saying that
dog is the captain 1 "
" Yes, I do."
" Well," said Pen, gruffly, " if that beast doesn't want to die in
a dog's skin, he 'd better hurry and turn into a man ; for, on my
woi'd, I '11 finish him."
" Why so % " asked Garry.
" Because I want to," answered Pen, brutally ; " and I don't
care what any one says."
" You have been talking long enough, men," shouted the boat-
swain, advancing at the moment when the conversation threat-
ened to become dangerous ; " to work, and have the saws put in
quicker ! We must get through the ice."
" Good ! on Friday too," answered Clifton, shrugging his
shoulders. " You won't find it so easy to cross the Polar Circle."
Whatever the reason may have been, the exertions of the
crew on that day were nearly fruitless. The Forward, plunging,
under a full head of steam, against the floes, could not separate
them ; they were obliged to lie at anchor that nigiit.
On Saturday, the temperature fell still lower under tlie influ-
ence of an east-wind ; the sky cleared up, and they all had a
wide view over the white expense, which shone brilliantly beneath
the bright rays of the sun. At seven o'clock in the morning, the
thermometer stood at 8Â° above zero.
The doctor was tempted to remain quietly in his cabin, or
read over the accounts of arctic journeys ; but he asked himself,
following his usual habit, what w^ould be the most disagreeable
thing he could do at that moment. He thought that to go on
THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN HAT T ERAS.
deck on such a cold day and help the men would not be attrac-
tive. So, faithful to his line of conduct, he left his well-warmed
cabin, and went out to help tow the ship. He looked strange
with his green glasses, which he wore to protect his eyes against
the brilliancy of the sun, and after that he
always took good care to wear snow-spectacles
as a security against the inflammation of the
eyes, which is so common in these latitudes.
By evening the Forivard had got several
miles farther north, thanks to the energy of
the men and the intelligence of Shandon,
who was quick at ntilizing every favorable
circumstance ; at midnight they crossed the sixty-sixth parallel,
and the lead announcing a depth of twenty-three fathoms, Shan-
don knew that he was in the neighborhood of the shoal on
which her Majesty's ship Victory grounded. Land lay thiity
miles to the east.
But then the mass of ice, which had hitherto been stationary,
separated, and began to move ; icebergs seemed to rise in all
points of the horizon ; the brig was caught in a number of whirl-
pools of irresistible force ; controlling her became so hard, that
THE ENGLISH AT THE NORTH POLE. CI
Garry, the best steersman, took the helm ; the masses began to
close behind the brig, hence it was necessary to cut through the
ice ; both prudence and duty commanded them to go forward.
The difficulties were enhanced by the impossibility of Shandon's
fixing the direction of the brig among all the changing points,
which were continually shifting and presenting no definite point
to be aimed at.
The crew were divided into two forces, and one stationed on
the starboard, the other on the larboard side; every man w^as
given a long iron-headed pole, with which to ward off threatening
pieces of ice. S(.)on the Forward entered such a narrow passage
between two lofty pieces, that the ends of the yards touched its
solid walls ; gradually it penetrated farther into a winding valley
filled with a whirlwind of snow, while the floating ice was crash-
ing ominously all Jibout.
But soon it was evident that there was no outlet to this
gorge ; a huge block, caught in the channel, was floating swiftly
down to the Forward; it seemed impossible to escape it, and
equally impossible to return through an already closed path.
Shandon and Johnson, standing on the forward deck, were
viewing their position. Shandon with his right hand signalled to
the man at the wheel what direction he was to take, and with
his left hand he indicated to James Wall the orders for the
"What will be the end of thisl" asked the doctor of Johnson.
" What pleases God," answered the boatswain.
The block of ice, eight hundred feet high, was hardly more
than a cable's length from the Forward, and threatened to crush
Pen broke out with a fearful oath.
" Silence ! " cried a voice which it was impossible to recognize
in the roar of the hurricane.
The mass appeared to be fixlling upon the brig, and there was
an indefinable moment of tcn*or ; the men, dropping their poles,
ran aft in spite of Shandon's orders.
Suddenly, a terrible noise was heard ; a real water-spout fell
on the deck of the brig, which was lifted in the air by a huge
THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN H ATT ERAS.
wave. The crew uttered a cry of terror, while Garry, still firm at
the wheel, kept the course of the Forward steady, in spite of the
And when they looked for the mountain of ice, it had disap-
peared ; the passage was free, and beyond, a long channel, lit up
by the sun, allowed the brig to continue her advance.
"Well, Dr. Clawbonny," said Johnson, "can you explain
" It 's very simple, m}^ friend," answered the doctor. " It hap-
pens very often ; when these floating masses get detached in a
thaw, they float away in perfect equilibrium; but as they get
towards the south, where the water is relatively warmer, their
base, eaten away by running into other pieces, begins to melt,
and be undermined ; then comes a moment when the centre of
gravity is displaced, and they turn upside down. Only, if this
had happened two minutes later, it would have fallen on the brig
and crushed us beneath it."
THE ENGLISH AT THE NORTH POLE.
The Polar Circle was crossed at last ; on the 30th of April, at
midday, the Forward passed by Holsteinborg ; picturesque moun-
tains arose in the east. The sea appeared almost free of ice, or,
more exactly, the ice could be avoided. The wind was from the
southeast, and the brig, under foresail, staysail, and topsails,
sailed up Baffin's Bay.
That day was exceptionally calm and the crew was able to get
some rest ; numerous birds were swimming and flying about the
-ship ; among others, the doctor noticed some wild birds which
were very like teal, with black neck, wings, and back, and a white
breast; they were continually diving, and often remained more
than forty seconds under water.
This day would not
have been marked by
any new incident, if the
fact had not taken place.
At six o'clock in the
morning, on returning to
his cabin after his watch
was over, Richard Shandon found on his table a letter, addressed
as follows : â€”
To Commander Richard Shandon,
On board the Forvmrd,
Shandon could not believe his eyes ; but before reading it, he
summoned the doctor, James Wall, and the boatswain, and showed
them the letter.
"It's getting interesting," said Johnson.
" It 's delightful," thought the doctor.
64 THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN HATTERAS.
" Well," cried Shandon, " at last we shall know his secret."
He tore open the envelope rapidly, and read the follow-
ing : â€”
Commander : The captain of the Forward is satisfied Mdth the
coolness, skill, and courage which the crew, officers, and you, yourself,
have shown of late ; he begs of you to express his thanks to the crew.
Be good enough to sail due Aorth towards Melville Bay, and thence
try to penetrate into Smith's Sound.
Captain of the Fonvard.
Monday, April 30, Off Cape Walsingham.
" And is that all 'I " cried the doctor.
" That 's all," answered Shandon.
The letter fell from his hands.
" Well," said W^all, " this imaginary captain says nothing about
coming on board, I don't believe he ever will."
" Bat how did this letter get here 1 " asked Johnson.
Shandon was silent.
" Mr. Wall is right," answered the doctor, who had picked up
the letter, and who was turning it over with hands as well as in
his mind. "The captain won't come on board, and for an excel-
" What is it "i " asked Shandon, quickly.
" Because he 's on board now," answered the doctor, simply.
" Now ! " exclaimed Shandon, " what do you mean 1 "
" How else can you explain the arrival of this letter 1 "
Johnson nodded approvingly.
" Impossible ! " said Shandon, warmly. " I know all the men
in the crew ; can he have smuggled himself into their number
since we left 1 It 's impossible, I tell you. For more than two
years I 've seen every one of them more than a hundred times in
Liverpool ; so your conjecture, Doctor, is untenable."
" Well, what do you admit, Shandon ? "
" Everything, except that. I admit that the captain or some
tool of his, for all I know, may have taken advantage of the dark-
ness, the mist, or whatever you please, to slip on board ; we arc
not far from shore ; there are the kayaks of the Esquimaux which
THE ENGLISH AT THE NORTH POLE. (35
could get through the ice without our seeing them ; so some one
may have come on board the ship, left the letter, â€” the fog was
thick enough to make this possible."
" And to prevent them from seeing the brig," answered the
doctor ; " if we did n't see the intruder slip aboard the Forward,
how could he see the Forward in the fog 1 "
" That 's true," said Johnson.
" So I return to my explanation," said the doctor ; " what do
3'ou think of it, Shandon ] "
" Whatever you please," answered Shandon, hotly, " except that
the man is on board."
" Perhaps," added Wall, ''there is some man in the crew who
is acting under his instructions."
" Perhaps," said the doctor.
" But who can it be 1 " asked Shandon. " I 've known all my
men for a long time."
" At any rate," resumed Johnson, " if this captain presents
himself, whether as man or devil, we shall receive him ; but
there 's something else to be drawn from this letter."
" What is that % " asked Shandon.
" It is that we must go not only into Melville Bay, but also
into Smith's Sound."
"You are right," said the doctor.
" Smith's Sound," repeated Shandon, mechanically.
"So it 's very plain," continued Johnson, "that the Forward is
not intended to seek the Northwest Passage, since we leave to the
left, the only way towards it, that is to say, Lancaster Sound.
This would seem to promise a difficult journey in unknown seas."
" Yes, Smith's Sound," replied Shandon ; " that 's the route
Kane, the American, took in 1853, and it was full of dangers.
For a long time he was given up for lost. Well, if we must go,
we '11 go. But how far ] To the Pole % "
" And why not % " cried the doctor.
The mention of such a foolhardy attempt made the boatswain
shrug his shoulders.
" Well," said James Wall, " to come back to the captain, if he
exists. I don't see that there are any places on the coast of
G() THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN HATTERAS.
Greenland except Di^co and Upernavik, where he can be waiting
for us ; in a few days that question will be settled."
"But," asked the doctor of Shandon, "are you not going to
tell the crew about this letter 1 "
" With the commander's permission," answered Johnson, " I
should not do so."
" And why not 1 " asked Shandon.
" Because everything mysterious and extraordinary tends to
discourage the men ; they are already very much troubled, as it
is, about the nature of the journey. Now, if any supernatural
circumstances should become known, it might be harmful, and
perhaps at a critical moment we should not be able to count on
them. What do you think, Commander 1 "
"And what do you think. Doctor T' asked Shandon.
" Boatswain Johnson seems to me to reason well," answered
" And you, James 1 "
" Having no better opinion, I agree with these gentlemen."
Shandon reflected for a few minutes ; he reread the letter
" Gentlemen," said he, ''your opinion is certainly worthy of
respect, but I cannot adopt it."
" Why not, Shandon 1 " asked the doctor.
'' Because the instructions in this letter are formal ; it tells me
to give the captain's thanks to the crew ; now, hitherto I have
strictly obeyed his orders, in whatever w^ay they have been given
to me, and I cannot â€” "
" Still â€” " interposed Johnson, who had a warrantable dread
of the effect of such communications on the men's spirits.
" My dear Johnson," said Shandon, " I understand your objec-
tion ; your reasons are very good, but read that : â€”
" He begs of you to express his thanks to the crew."
"Do as he bids," replied Johnson, who was always a strict dis-
ciplinarian. " Shall I assemble the crew on deck 1 "
" Yes," answered Shandon.
The news of a message from the captain was immediately
whispered throughout the ship. The sailors took their station
THE ENGLISH AT THE NORTH POLE.
without delay, and the commander read aloud the mysterious
It was received with dead silence ; the crew separated under
the influence of a thousand suppositions ; Clifton had plenty of
material for any superstitious vagaries ; a great deal was ascribed
by him to the dog-captain, and he never failed to salute him
every time he met him.
"Did n't I tell you," he used to say to the sailors, "that he
knew how to write ? "
No one made any answer, and even Bell, the carpenter, would
have found it hard to reply.
Nevertheless, it was plain to every one, that if the captain was
not on board, his shade or spirit was watching them ; henceforth,
the wisest kept their opinions to themselves.
At midday of May 1st, their observation showed them that they
were in latitude 68Â° and longitude 56Â° 32'. The temperature
had risen, the thermometer standino^ at 25Â° above zero.
The doctor amused himself with watching the gambols of a
she-bear and two cubs on some pack-ice near the shore. Ac-
companied by Wall and Simpson, he tried to chase them in a
canoe ; but she was in a very peaceful mood, and ran away with
her young, so that the doctor had to give up his attempt.
68 THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN HATTERAS.
During the night a favorable breeze carried them well to the
north, and soon the lofty mountains of Disco were peering
above the horizon ; Godharn Bay, wliere the governor of the Da-
nish settlements lived, was left on the right. Shandon did not
consider it necessary to land, and he soon passed by the canoes of
tlie Esquimaux, who had put out to meet him.
The island of Disco is also called Whale Island ; it is from here
that, on the 12th of July, 1845, Sir John Franklin wrote to the
Admiralty for the last time, and it was also here that Captain
on his way back, bring-
ing too sure proofs of
the loss of that expe-
This coincidence was
not unknown to the
doctor ; the place was
one of sad memories,
but soon the heights
of Disco were lost to
There were many
icebergs on its shores,
which no thaws ever melt away; this gives the island a singular
appearance from the sea.
The next day, at about three o'clock, Sanderson's Hope appeared
in the northeast ; land lay about fifteen miles to starboard ; the
mountains appeared of a dusky red hue. During the evening