Soon more numerous flocks of birds, petrels, puffins, and others
which inhabit those barren shores, gave token of their approach
to Greenland. The Forward was moving rapidly northward, leaving
behind her a long line of dark smoke.
Tuesday, the 17th of April, the ice-master caught the first
sight of the blink[1]
of the ice. It was visible at least twenty
miles off to the north-northwest. In spite of some tolerably thick
clouds it lighted up brilliantly all the air near the horizon. No
one of those on board who had ever seen this phenomenon before
could fail to recognize it, and they felt assured from its
whiteness that this blink was due to a vast field of ice lying
about thirty miles farther than they could see, and that it came
from the reflection of its luminous rays.
Towards evening the wind shifted to the south, and became
favorable; Shandon was able to carry sail, and as a measure
of economy they extinguished the furnace fires. The Forward
under her topsails, jib, and foresail, sailed on towards Cape
At three o'clock on the 18th they made out an ice-stream,
which, like a narrow but brilliant band, divided the lines of the
water and sky. It was evidently descending rather from the
coast of Greenland than from Davis Strait, for the ice tended
to keep on the western side of Baffin's Bay. An hour later,
and the Forward was passing through the detached fragments
of the ice-stream, and in the thickest part the pieces of ice,
although closely welded together, were rising and falling with
the waves.
At daybreak the next morning the watch saw a sail; it was
the Valkyria, a Danish corvette, sailing towards the Forward,
bound to Newfoundland. The current from the strait became
perceptible, and Shandon had to set more sail to overcome it.
At that moment the commander, the doctor, James Wall, and
Johnson were all together on the poop-deck, observing the force
and direction of the current. The doctor asked if it were proved
that this current was felt throughout Baffin's Bay.
“There's no doubt of it,” answered Shandon; “and sailing-vessels
have hard work in making headway against it.”
“And it's so much the harder,” added James Wall, “because
it's met on the eastern coast of America, as well as on the western
coast of Greenland.”
“Well,” said the doctor, “that serves to confirm those who
seek a Northwest Passage. The current moves at the rate of
about five miles an hour, and it is hard to imagine that it rises at
the bottom of a gulf.”
“That is very likely. Doctor,” answered Shandon, “because,
while this current flows from north to south, there is a contrary
current in Behring Strait, which flows from south to north, and
which must be the cause of this one.”
“Hence,” said the doctor, “you must admit that America is
completely separated from the polar regions, and that the water
from the Pacific skirts its whole northern coast, until it reaches
the Atlantic. Besides, the greater elevation of the water of the
Pacific is another reason for its flowing towards the European
“But,” said Shandon, “there must be some facts which support
this theory; and if there are,” he added with gentle irony,
“our learned friend must be familiar with them.”
“Well,” answered the latter, complacently, “if it interests you
at all I can tell you that whales, wounded in Davis Strait, have
been found afterwards on the coast of Tartary, still carrying a
European harpoon in their side.”
“And unless they doubled Cape Horn, or the Cape of Good
Hope,” answered Shandon, “they must have gone around the
northern coast of America. There can be no doubt of that,
“And if you were not convinced, my dear Shandon,” said the
doctor, smiling, “I could produce still other evidence, such
as the floating wood with which Davis Strait is filled, larch,
aspen, and other southern kinds. Now we know that the Gulf
Stream could not carry them into the strait; and if they come
out from it they must have got in through Behring Strait.”
“I am perfectly convinced, Doctor, and I must say it would be
hard to maintain the other side against you.”
“See there,” said Johnson, “there's something that will throw
light on this discussion. It's a large piece of wood floating on
the water; if the commander will give us leave, we can put a rope
about it, hoist it on board, and ask it the name of its country.”
“That's the way!” said the doctor; “after the rule we have
the example.”
Shandon gave the necessary orders; the brig was turned towards
the piece of wood, and soon the crew were hoisting it
aboard, although not without considerable trouble.
It was the trunk of a mahogany-tree, eaten to its centre by
worms, which fact alone made it light enough to float.
“This is a real triumph,” exclaimed the doctor, enthusiastically,
“for, since the Atlantic currents could not have brought it
into Davis Strait, since it could not have reached the polar waters
from the rivers of North America, as the tree grows under
the equator, it is evident that it must have come direct from
Behring Strait. And besides, see those sea-worms which have
eaten it; they belong to warm latitudes.”
“It certainly gives the lie to those who deny the existence of a
Northwest Passage.”
“It fairly kills them,” answered the doctor. “See here, I'll
give you the route of this mahogany-tree: it was carried to the
Pacific Ocean by some river of the Isthmus of Panama or of
Guatemala; thence the current carried it along the coast of
America as far as Behring Strait, and so it was forced into the
polar waters; it is neither so old nor so completely water-logged
that we cannot set its departure at some recent date; it escaped
all the obstacles of the many straits coming into Baffin's Bay,
and being quickly seized by the arctic current it came through
Davis Strait to be hoisted on board the Forward for the great joy
of Dr. Clawbonny, who asks the commander's permission to keep
a piece as a memorial.”
“Of course,” answered Shandon; “but let me tell you in my
turn that you will not be the only possessor of such a waif. The
Danish governor of the island of Disco—”
“On the coast of Greenland,” continued the doctor, “has a
mahogany table, made from a tree found in the same way; I
know it, my dear Shandon. Very well; I don't grudge him his
table, for if there were room enough on board, I could easily
make a sleeping-room out of this.”
On the night of Wednesday the wind blew with extreme violence;
drift-wood was frequently seen; the approach to the coast
became more dangerous at a time when icebergs are numerous;
hence the commander ordered sail to be shortened, and the Forward
went on under merely her foresail and forestay-sail.
The thermometer fell below the freezing-point. Shandon distributed
among the crew suitable clothing, woollen trousers and
jackets, flannel shirts, and thick woollen stockings, such as are
worn by Norwegian peasants. Every man received in addition a
pair of water-proof boots.
As for Captain, he seemed contented with his fur; he appeared
indifferent to the changes of temperature, as if he were thoroughly
accustomed to such a life; and besides, a Danish dog was
unlikely to be very tender. The men seldom laid eyes on him,
for he generally kept himself concealed in the darkest parts of the
Towards evening, through a rift in the fog, the coast of Greenland
longitude 37°2'7".
Through his glass the
doctor was able to
distinguish mountains
separated by huge glaciers;
but the fog soon
cut out this view, like
the curtain of a theatre
falling at the most
interesting part of a
On the morning of the 20th of April, the Forward found itself
in sight of an iceberg one hundred and fifty feet high, aground in
this place from time immemorial; the thaws have had no effect
upon it, and leave its strange shape unaltered. Snow saw it; in
1829 James Ross took an exact drawing of it; and in 1851 the
French lieutenant, Bellot, on board of the Prince Albert, observed
it. Naturally the doctor wanted to preserve a memorial
of the famous mountain, and he made a very successful sketch
of it.
It is not strange that such masses should run aground, and in
consequence become immovably fixed to the spot; as for every
foot above the surface of the water they have nearly two beneath,
which would give to this one a total height of about four
hundred feet.
At last with a temperature at noon as low as 12°, under a
snowy, misty sky, they sighted Cape Farewell. The Forward
arrived at the appointed day; the unknown captain, if he cared
to assume his place in such gloomy weather, would have no need
to complain.
“Then,” said the doctor to himself, “there is this famous cape,
with its appropriate name! Many have passed it, as we do, who
were destined never to see it again! Is it an eternal farewell
to one's friends in Europe You have all passed it, Frobisher,
Knight, Barlow, Vaughan, Scroggs, Barentz, Hudson, Blosseville,
Franklin, Crozier, Bellot, destined never to return home; and for
you this cape was well named Cape Farewell!”
It was towards the year 970 that voyagers, setting out from
Iceland, discovered Greenland. Sebastian Cabot, in 1498, went
as high as latitude 56°; Gaspard and Michel Cotréal, from 1500
to 1502, reached latitude 60°; and in 1576 Martin Frobisher
reached the inlet which bears his name.
To John Davis belongs the honor of having discovered the
strait, in 1585; and two years later in a third voyage this hardy
sailor, this great whaler, reached the sixty-third parallel, twenty-seven
degrees from the Pole.
Barentz in 1596, Weymouth in 1602, James Hall in, 1605 and
1607, Hudson, whose name was given to the large bay which
runs so far back into the continent of America, James Poole in
1611, went more or less far into the straits, seeking the North-west
Passage, the discovery of which would have greatly shortened
the route between the two worlds.
Baffin, in 1616, found in the bay of that name Lancaster
Sound; he was followed in 1619 by James Monk, and in 1719
by Knight, Barlow, Vaughan, and Scroggs, who were never heard
of again.
In 1776, Lieutenant Pickersgill, sent to meet Captain Cook,
who tried to make his way through Behring Strait, reached
latitude 68°; the next year. Young, on the same errand, went as
far as Woman's Island.
Then came James Boss, who in 1818 sailed all around the
shores of Baffin's Bay, and corrected the errors on the charts of
his predecessors.
Finally, in 1819 and 1820, the famous Parry made his way
into Lancaster Sound. In spite of numberless difficulties he
reached Melville Island, and won the prize of five thousand
pounds offered by act of Parliament to the English sailors who
should cross the meridian at a latitude higher than the seventy-seventh
In 1826, Beechey touched at Chamisso Island; James Ross
wintered, from 1829 to 1833, in Prince Regent's Inlet, and, among
other important services, discovered the magnetic pole.
During this time Franklin, by a land-journey, defined the
northern coast of America, from Mackenzie River to Turnagain
Point; Captain Back followed the same route from 1823 to 1835;
and these explorations were completed in 1839 by Dease, Simpson,
and Dr. Rae.
At last, Sir John Franklin, anxious to discover the Northwest
Passage, left England in 1845, with the Erebus and the Terror;
he entered Baffin's Bay, and since his leaving Disco Island there
has been no news of his expedition.
His disappearance started numerous search-expeditions, which
have effected the discovery of the passage, and given the world
definite information about the rugged coasts of the polar lands.
The boldest sailors of England, France, and the United States
hastened to these terrible latitudes; and, thanks to their exertions,
the tortuous, complicated map of these regions has at
last been placed in the archives of the Royal Geographical Society
of London.
The strange history of these lands crowded on the imagination
of the doctor, as he stood leaning on the rail, and gazing on the
long track of the brig. The names of those bold sailors thronged
into his memory, and it seemed to him that beneath the frozen
arches of the ice he could see the pale ghosts of those who never
1^  A peculiar and brilliant color of the air above a large expanse of ice.




Please join our telegram group for more such stories and updates.telegram channel

Books related to The Voyages and Adventures of Captain Hatteras

कल्पनारम्य कथा भाग २
भूते पकडणारा  तात्या नाव्ही
छोटे बच्चों  के लिए -अस्सी घाट की कविताएँ
सुभाषित माला
महाभारत सत्य की मिथ्य?
इच्छापूर्ती शाबरी मंत्र
तुम्हाला तुमची स्वतःची ओळख करुन घ्यायचीय का?
पुन्हा नव्याने सुरुवात
अदभूत  सत्ये -  भाग १
कविता संग्रह
Understanding Itihasa
आरतियाँ Arati in Hindi
 पांच सौ वर्ष का अघोरी