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open sea, which it was often impossible to do with a sailing vessel.

This fundamental point having been established, it was decided also to
cover the vessel with a lining of green oak, six inches thick, and to
divide it into compartments, so that it would be better able to resist a
blow from the ice. They were also desirous that she should not draw too
much water, and that all her arrangements should be so made as to enable
her to carry a full supply of coal. Among the offers which were made to
the committee, was a vessel of one hundred and forty tons, which had
been recently built at Bremen, and which had a crew of eighteen men, who
could easily maneuver her. She was a schooner, but while she carried her
masts, she also was furnished with an engine of eighty horse-power. One
of her boilers was so arranged that it could burn oil or fat, which was
easily procurable in the arctic regions, in case their coal should fail.
The schooner protected by its lining of oak, was further strengthened by
transverse beams, so as to offer the greatest possible resistance to the
pressure of the ice. Lastly, the front of it was armed with a spur of
steel, to enable it to break its way through a thick field of ice. The
vessel when placed on the stocks, was named the "Alaska," on account of
the direction which she was destined to take. It had been decided that
while the "Nordenskiold" should pursue the same route which the "Vega"
had followed, that the second vessel should take an opposite direction
around the world, and gain the Siberian Ocean, by the island of Alaska
and Behring's Straits. The chances of meeting the Swedish expedition, or
of discovering traces of her if she had perished would thus, they
thought, be double, for while one vessel followed on her track, the
other would, as it were, precede her.

Erik, who had been the originator of this plan, had often asked himself
which of the vessels he had better join, and he had finally concluded to
attach himself to the second.

The "Nordenskiold," he said to himself, would follow the same course as
the "Vega." It was therefore necessary that she should be equally
successful in making the first part of the voyage, and double Cape
Tchelynskin, but they might not be able to do this, since it had only
been accomplished once. Besides, the last news which they had received
from the "Vega," she was only two or three hundred leagues from
Behring's Straits; therefore they would have a better chance of meeting
her. The "Nordenskiold" might follow her for many months without
overtaking her. But the other vessel could hardly fail to meet her, if
she was still in existence.

The principal thing in Erik's eyes was to reach the "Vega" as quickly as
possible, in order to meet Patrick O'Donoghan without delay.

The doctor and Mr. Bredejord warmly approved of his motives when he
explained them to them.

The work of preparing the "Alaska" was pushed on as rapidly as possible.
Her provisions, equipments, and the clothing, were all carefully chosen,
for they profited by the experience of former Arctic explorers. Her crew
were all experienced seamen, who had been inured to cold by frequent
fishing voyages to Iceland and Greenland. Lastly, the captain chosen by
the committee, was an officer of the Swedish marines, then in the
employment of a maritime company, and well known on account of his
voyages to the Arctic Ocean; his name was Lieutenant Marsilas. He chose
for his first lieutenant Erik himself, who seemed designed for the
position by the energy he had displayed in the service of the
expedition, and who was also qualified by his diploma. The second and
third officers were tried seamen, Mr. Bosewitz and Mr. Kjellguist.

The "Alaska" carried some explosive material in order to break the ice,
if it should be necessary, and abundant provisions of an anti-scorbutic
character, in order to preserve the officers and crew from the common
Arctic maladies. The vessel was furnished with a heater, in order to
preserve an even temperature, and also with a portable observatory
called a "raven's nest," which they could hoist to the top of the
highest mast, in those regions where they meet with floating ice, to
signal the approach of icebergs.

By Erik's proposal this observatory contained a powerful electric light,
which at night could illuminate the route of the "Alaska." Seven small
boats, of which two were whale-boats, a steam-cutter, six sledges,
snow-shoes for each of the crew, four Gatling cannons and thirty guns,
with the necessary ammunition, were stored away on board. These
preparations were approaching an end, when Mr. Hersebom and his son Otto
arrived from Noroe with their large dog Kaas, and solicited the favor of
being employed as seamen on board of the "Alaska." They knew from a
letter of Erik's the strong personal interest which he had in this
voyage, and they wished to share its dangers with him.

Mr. Hersebom spoke of the value of his experience as a fisherman on the
coast of Greenland, and of the usefulness of his dog Kaas, who could be
used as a leader of the dogs which would be necessary to draw the
sledges. Otto had only his good health, his herculean strength, and his
devotion to the cause to recommend him. Thanks to the influence of the
doctor and Mr. Bredejord, they were all three engaged by the committee.

By the beginning of February, 1879, all was ready. The "Alaska" had
therefore five months before the first of June to reach Behring's
Straits, which was accounted the most favorable season for the
exploration. They intended also to take the most direct route, that is
to say, through the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, the Indian Ocean, and
the China Seas, stopping successively to take in coal at Gibraltar,
Aden, Colombo in Ceylon, Singapore, Hong Kong, Yokohama, and

From all these stations the "Alaska" was to telegraph to Stockholm, and
it was also agreed that, if in the meantime any news was received of the
"Vega," they should not fail to send information.

The voyage of the "Alaska," although intended primarily for an arctic
exploration, would begin by a voyage through tropical seas, and along
the continents most favored by the sun. The programme had not, however,
been arranged to give them pleasure; it was the result of an imperative
necessity, since they must reach Behring's Straits by the shortest route
and remain in telegraphic communication with Stockholm up to the last
moment. But a serious difficulty threatened to retard the expedition.
They had spent so much in equipping the vessel that the funds which were
indispensable for the success of the enterprise, began to run short.
They would require considerable to purchase coal, and for other
incidental expenses.

A new appeal for money became necessary. As soon as it was issued the
committee received two letters simultaneously.

One was from Mr. Malarius, the public teacher of Noroe, and laureate of
the Botanical Society. It contained a check for one hundred kroners, and
begged that he might be attached to the expedition as the assistant
naturalist of the "Alaska."

The other contained a check for twenty-five thousand kroners, with this
laconic note:

"For the voyage of the 'Alaska,' from Mr. Tudor Brown, on condition
that he is received as a passenger."



The request of Mr. Malarius could only be received with gratitude by the
committee. It was therefore passed enthusiastically, and the worthy
teacher, whose reputation as a botanist was greater than he himself
suspected, was appointed assistant naturalist of the expedition.

As for the condition upon which Tudor Brown bestowed his donation of
twenty-five thousand kroners, both Dr. Schwaryencrona and Mr. Bredejord
were strongly inclined to refuse to grant it. But if called upon to give
some motive for their repugnance, they had to confess that they would
not know what to say. What sufficient reason could they give the
committee if they asked them to refuse such a large subscription? They
really had no valid one. Tudor Brown had called upon Dr. Schwaryencrona,
and brought him a certified account of the death of Patrick O'Donoghan;
and now Patrick O'Donoghan appeared to be living. But they could not
prove that Tudor Brown had willfully deceived them in this matter, and
the committee would require some sufficient cause before rejecting so
large a sum. Tudor Brown could easily declare that he had been truthful.
His present attitude seemed to prove it. Perhaps he intended to go
himself, only to find out how Patrick O'Donoghan, whom he believed to
have been drowned in the Straits of Madeira, could now be living on the
shores of Siberia. But even supposing that Tudor Brown had other
projects, it would be to their interest to find them out, and keep him
in their hands. For, one of two facts was certain: either Tudor Brown
had no interest in the search which had occupied Erik's friends for so
long a time, and in that case it would be useless to treat him as an
enemy; or he had some slight personal interest in the matter, and then
it would be better to watch his plans, and overthrow them.

The doctor and Mr. Bredejord therefore concluded that they would not
oppose his becoming a passenger. Then they gradually were filled with a
desire to study this singular man, and find out why he wished to take
passage on the "Alaska." But how could they do this without sailing with
him. It would not be such an absurd thing to do after all. The course
which the "Alaska" was to take was a very attractive one, at least the
first part of it. To be brief, Dr. Schwaryencrona, who was a great
traveler, asked to be taken as a passenger, to accompany the expedition
as far as the China seas, by paying such a price as the committee might
judge proper.

This example immediately acted with irresistible force upon Mr.
Bredejord, who had dreamed for a long time about an excursion to the
land of the Sun. He also solicited a cabin under the same conditions.

Every one in Stockholm now believed that Mr. Hochstedt would do the
same, partly out of scientific curiosity, and partly from terror at the
thought of passing so many months without the society of his friends.
But all Stockholm was deceived. The professor was strongly tempted to
go, and he reviewed all the arguments for and against it, and found it
almost impossible to arrive at any decision, but fate ordained that he
should stay at home.

The time of their departure was irrevocably fixed for the 10th of
February. On the 9th Erik went to meet Mr. Malarius, and was agreeably
surprised to see Dame Hersebom, and Vanda, who had come to bid him
farewell. They were modestly intending to go to a hotel in the town, but
the doctor insisted that they should come and stay with him, to the
great displeasure of Kajsa, who did not think that they were
sufficiently distinguished.

Vanda was now a tall girl, whose beauty fulfilled its early promise. She
had passed successfully a very difficult examination at Bergen which
entitled her to take a professor's chair, in a superior school. But she
preferred to remain at Noroe with her mother, and she was going to fill
Mr. Malarius' place during his absence: always serious and gentle, she
found in teaching a strange and inexplicable charm, but it had not
changed the simplicity of her home life. This beautiful girl, in her
quaint Norwegian costume, was able to give tranquilly her opinion on the
deepest scientific subjects, or seat herself at the piano, and play with
consummate skill a sonata of Beethoven. But her greatest charm was the
absence of all pretension, and her perfectly natural manners. She no
more thought of being vain of her talents, or of making any display of
them, than she did of blushing on account of her rural costume. She
bloomed like some wild flower, that, growing beside the fiord, had been
transplanted by her old master, and cultivated and cherished in his
little garden behind the school.

In the evening all Erik's adopted family were assembled in the parlor of
Dr. Schwaryencrona; Mr. Bredejord and the doctor were about to play a
last game of whist with Mr. Hochstedt. They discovered that Mr. Malarius
was also an authority in this noble game, which would enable them to
while away many leisure hours on board the "Alaska." Unfortunately the
worthy instructor also told them, at the same time, that he was always a
victim of sea-sickness, and nearly always confined to his bed as soon as
he set foot upon a vessel. Only his affection for Erik had induced him
to join the expedition, added to the ambition, long fondly cherished, of
being able to add some more varieties to his catalogue of botanical

After which they had a little music: Kajsa, with a disdainful air,
played a fashionable waltz; Vanda sung an old Scandinavian melody with a
sweetness that surprised them all. The tea was served, and a large bowl
of punch, which they drunk to the success of the expedition, followed.
Erik noticed that Kajsa avoided touching his glass.

"Will you not wish me a happy voyage?" he said to her, in a low tone.

"What is the use of wishing for what we do not expect to see granted?"
she answered.

The next morning, at day-break, every one went on board, except Tudor

Since the receipt of his letter containing the check they had not heard
a word from him.

The time of departure had been fixed for ten o'clock. At the first
stroke, the commander, Mr. Marsilas, had the anchor hoisted, and rang
the bell to warn all visitors to leave the ship.

"Adieu, Erik!" cried Vanda, throwing her arms around his neck.

"Adieu, my son!" said Katrina, pressing the young lieutenant to her

"And you, Kajsa, have you nothing to say to me?" he asked, as he walked
toward her as if to embrace her also.

"I hope that you will not get your nose frozen, and that you will
discover that you are a prince in disguise!" said she, laughing

"If that should happen, then at least I might hope to win a little of
your affection?" he said, trying to smile, to hide his feelings, for her
sarcasm had cut him to the heart.

"Do you doubt it?" answered Kajsa, as she turned toward her uncle, to
show that her adieu to him was finished.

The time of departure had indeed come. The warning bell rang

The crowd of visitors descended the stairs to the boats which were
waiting for them.

In the midst of this confusion every one noticed the arrival of a tardy
passenger, who mounted to the deck with his valise in his hand.

The tardy one was Tudor Brown. He presented himself to the captain, and
claimed his cabin, to which he was immediately shown.

A moment later, after two or three prolonged whistles, the engine began
to work, and a sea of foam whitening the waters behind her, the "Alaska"
glided majestically over the green waters of the Baltic, and soon left
Stockholm behind her, followed by the acclamations of the crowd who were
waving their hats and handkerchiefs.

Erik, on the bridge, directed the maneuvers of the vessel, while Mr.
Bredejord and the doctor waved a last farewell to Vanda from the deck.

Mr. Malarius, already frightfully seasick, had retired to his bed. They
were all so occupied with saying farewell that not one of them had
noticed the arrival of Tudor Brown.

Therefore the doctor could not repress a start of surprise when as he
turned around, he saw him ascending from the depths of the vessel, and
marching straight toward him, with his hands in his pockets, clothed as
he had been at their first interview, and with his hat always seemingly
glued to his head.

"Fine weather!" said Tudor Brown, by way of salutation and introduction.

The doctor was stupefied by his effrontery. He waited for some moments
to see if this strange man would make any excuse, or give any
explanation of his conduct.

Seeing that he did not intend to say anything, he opened the subject

"Well, sir, it appears that Patrick O'Donoghan is not dead, as we
supposed!" he said, with his customary vivacity.

"That is precisely what I want to find out, and it is on that account I
have undertaken this voyage."

After saying this, Tudor Brown turned away, and began to walk up and
down the deck, whistling his favorite air, appearing to think that his
explanation was perfectly satisfactory.

Erik and Mr. Bredejord listened to this conversation with a natural
curiosity. They had never seen Tudor Brown before, and they studied him
attentively, even more so than Dr. Schwaryencrona. It seemed to them
that the man, although he affected indifference, cast a furtive glance
at them from time to time, to see what impression he made upon them.
Perceiving this, they also immediately feigned to take no notice of him,
and did not address a word to him. But as soon as they descended to the
saloon, upon which their cabins opened, they took counsel together.

"What could have been Tudor Brown's motive in trying to make them
believe that Patrick O'Donoghan was dead? And what was his purpose in
taking this voyage upon the 'Alaska'? It was impossible for them to say.
But it was difficult not to believe that it had some connection with the
shipwreck of the 'Cynthia,' and the infant tied to the buoy. The only
interest which Patrick O'Donoghan had for Erik and his friends, was the
fact of his supposed knowledge of the affair, and this was their only
reason for seeking for him. Now they had before them a man who was
uninvited, and who had come to them, and declared that Patrick
O'Donoghan was dead. And this man had forced his society upon the
members of the expedition, as soon as his assertion in the most
unexpected manner had been proved to be false. They were therefore
obliged to conclude that he had some personal interest in the matter,
and the fact of his seeking out Doctor Schwaryencrona indicated the
connection between his interests, and the inquiries instituted by the

All these facts therefore seemed to indicate that Tudor Brown was in
this problem a factor quite as important as Patrick O'Donoghan himself.
Who could tell whether he was not already in possession of the secret
which they were trying to elucidate? If this was the case, was it a
happy thing for them that they had him on board, or should they rather
be disturbed by his presence?

Mr. Bredejord inclined to the latter opinion, and did not consider his
appearance among them as at all reassuring. The doctor, on the other
side, argued that Tudor Brown might have acted in good faith, and also
that he might be honest at heart, notwithstanding his unattractive

"If he knows anything," said he, "we can hope that the familiarity which
a long voyage necessarily produces may induce him to speak out; in that
case it would be a stroke of good luck to have had him with us. At least
we shall see what he can have to do with O'Donoghan, if we ever find the

As for Erik, he did not even dare to express the sentiments which the
sight of this man awakened in him. It was more than repulsion, it was
positive hatred, and an instinctive desire to rush upon him and throw
him into the sea. He was convinced that this man had had some share in
the misfortune of his life, but he would have blushed to abandon himself
to such a conviction, or even to speak of it. He contented himself with
saying that he would never have allowed Tudor Brown to come on board if
he had had any voice in the matter.

How should they treat him?

On this point also they were divided. The doctor declared that it would
be politic to treat Tudor Brown with at least outward courtesy, in the
hope of inducing him to speak out. Mr. Bredejord, as well as Erik, felt
a great repugnance to act out such a comedy, and it was by no means
certain that Dr. Schwaryencrona himself would be able to conform to his
own programme. They determined to leave the matter to be decided by
circumstances, and the behavior of Tudor Brown himself.

They did not have to wait long. Precisely at midday the bell rang for
dinner. Mr. Bredejord and the doctor, went to the table of the
commander. There they found Tudor Brown already seated, with his hat on
his head, and he did not manifest the least inclination to enter into
any relations with his neighbors. The man proved to be so rude and
coarse that he disarmed indignation. He seemed to be ignorant of the
simplest rules of politeness. He helped himself first, chose the best
portions, and ate and drank like an ogre. Two or three times the
commander, and Dr. Schwaryencrona addressed a few words to him. He did
not even deign to speak, but answered them by gestures.

That did not prevent him however, when he had finished his repast, and
armed himself with an enormous tooth-pick, from throwing himself back in
his seat, and saying to Mr. Marsilas:

"What day shall we reach Gibraltar?"

"About the nineteenth or twentieth I think," answered the captain.

Tudor Brown drew a book from his pocket, and examined his calendar.

"That will bring us to Malta on the twenty-second, to Alexandria on the
twenty-fifth, and to Aden at the end of the month," said he, as if
speaking to himself.

Then he got up, and going on deck again, began to pace up and down.

"A pleasant traveling companion truly," Mr. Marsilas could not help

Mr. Bredejord was about to answer, when a frightful noise at the head of
the staircase prevented him. They heard cries, and barking, and a
confusion of voices. Everybody arose and ran on deck.

The tumult had been caused by Kaas, Mr. Hersebom's Greenland dog. It
seemed that he did not approve of Mr. Tudor Brown, for after evincing
his displeasure by low growls every time he passed and repassed him, he
finished by seizing him by the legs. Tudor Brown had drawn his revolver
from his pocket, and was about to use it when Otto appeared on the scene
and prevented him from doing so, and then sent Kaas away to his kennel.
A stormy discussion then took place. Tudor Brown, white with rage and
terror, insisted that the dog's brains should be blown out. Mr.
Hersebom, who had come to the rescue, protested warmly against such a

The commander arriving at this moment, settled the matter by desiring
Tudor Brown to put away his revolver, and decreeing that henceforth Kaas
must be kept chained.

This ridiculous incident was the only one that varied the monotony of
their first days of voyaging. Every one became accustomed to the silence
and strange manners of Tudor Brown. At the captain's table they at
length took no more notice of him than if he had not been in existence.
Everybody pursued their own avocations.

Mr. Malarius, after passing two days in bed, was able to crawl upon
deck, he commenced to eat, and was soon able to take his place at the
innumerable whist parties of the doctor and Mr. Bredejord.

Erik, very much occupied with his business as lieutenant, spent every
spare moment in reading.

On the eleventh they passed the island of Oland, on the thirteenth they
reached Shayer Rock, passed through the sound, signaled Heligoland on
the fourteenth, and on the sixteenth they doubled Cape Hogue.

On the following night Erik was sleeping in his cabin when he was
awakened by a sudden silence, and perceived that he no longer felt the
vibrations of the engine. He was not however alarmed, for he knew that
Mr. Kjellguist was in charge of the vessel; but out of curiosity he
arose and went on deck to see what had happened.

He was told by the chief engineer that the engine had broken down, and
that they would be compelled to extinguish the fires. They could
proceed, however, under sail, with alight breeze from the south-west.

A careful inspection threw no light on the cause of the damage, and the
engineer asked permission to repair to the nearest port to repair the

Commander Marsilas, after a personal examination, was of the same
opinion. They found that they were thirty miles from Brest, and the
order was given to steer for the great French port.



The next day the "Alaska" entered the harbor of Brest. The damage which
she had sustained was fortunately not important. An engineer who was
applied to immediately promised that her injuries should be repaired in
three days. It was therefore not a very serious delay, and they could
make up for it in a measure by taking in coal. They would therefore not
be obliged to stop at Gibraltar for this purpose, as they had at first
intended. Their next stopping-place was to be at Malta, which they hoped
to reach twenty-four hours earlier than they had at first expected, and

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Online LibraryAndré LaurieThe Waif of the Cynthia → online text (page 9 of 17)