At this unexpected command, the surprise on board of the Forward
was very great.
“Light the fires!” said some.
“With what?” said others.
“When we have only two months' supply in the hold!” cried
“And how are we to keep warm in the winter?” asked Clifton.
“We shall have to burn the ship down to the water-line, I suppose,”
“And cram all the masts into the stove,” answered Warren,
“from the foretopmast to the jib-boom.”
Shandon gazed intently at Wall. The surprised engineers hesitated
to go down into the engine-room.
“Did you hear what I said?” shouted the captain, angrily.
Brunton walked toward the hatchway; but he stopped before
“Don't go, Brunton,” some one said.
“Who spoke then?” shouted Hatteras.
“I did,” said Pen, approaching the captain.
“And what is it you're saying?” asked the captain.
“I say—I say,” answered Pen with many oaths,—“I say that
we have had enough of this, that we are not going any farther,
that we don't want to wear ourselves out with fatigue and cold
during the winter, and that the fires shall not be lighted.”
“Mr. Shandon,” answered Hatteras, coldly, “have this man put
“But, Captain,” said Shandon, “what this man said—”
“If you repeat what this man said,” retorted Hatteras, “I
shall order you to your cabin and confine you there. Seize that
man! Do you hear?”
Johnson, Bell, and Simpson stepped towards the sailor, who
was beside himself with wrath.
“The first man who lays a finger on me—” he cried, seizing
a handspike, which he flourished about his head.
Hatteras walked towards him.
“Pen,” he said very quietly, “if you move hand or foot, I shall
blow your brains out!”
With these words he drew a revolver and aimed it at the
A murmur arose from the crew.
“Not a word from any of you,” said Hatteras, “or he's a dead
At that moment Johnson and Bell disarmed Pen, who no
longer resisted, and suffered himself to be led to the bottom of
“Now go below, Brunton,” said Hatteras.
The engineer, followed by Plover and Warren, went below.
Hatteras returned to the quarter-deck.
“That Pen is a worthless fellow,” the doctor said to him.
“No man was ever nearer death,” answered the captain, simply.
Soon there was enough steam on; the anchors of the Forward
were raised; and the brig started eastward, heading for Point
Beecher, and cutting through the newly formed ice.
A great number of islands lie between Baring Island and Point
Beecher, scattered in the midst of the ice-fields; the ice-streams
crowd in great numbers in the little straits into which they divide
the sea; when the weather is cold they have a tendency to accumulate;
here and there hummocks were forming, and it was easy
to see that the floes, already harder and more crowded, would,
under the influence of the first frosts, soon form an impenetrable
It was with great difficulty that the Forward made her way
through the whirling snow. Still, with the variability which is a
peculiarity of these regions, the sun would appear from time to
time; the air grew much milder; the ice melted as if by enchantment,
and a clear expanse of water, a most welcome sight to
the eyes of the crew, spread out before them where a few moments
before the ice had blocked their progress. All over the
horizon there spread magnificent orange tints, which rested their
eyes, weary with gazing at the eternal snow.
Thursday, July 26th, the Forward coasted along Dundas Island,
and then stood
but there she found
herself face to face
with a thick mass
of ice, eight or nine
feet high, consisting
of little icebergs
washed away from
the shore; they had
to prolong the curve they were making to the west. The continual
cracking of the ice, joining with the creaking of the rolling
ship, sounded like a gloomy lamentation. At last the brig found
a passage and advanced through it slowly; often a huge floe
delayed her for hours; the fog embarrassed the steersman; at
one moment he could see a mile ahead, and it was easy to avoid all
obstacles; but again the snow-squalls would hide everything from
their sight at the distance of a cable's length. The sea ran very
Sometimes the smooth clouds assumed a strange appearance,
as if they were reflecting the ice-banks; there were days when
the sun could not pierce the dense mist.
The birds were still very numerous, and their cries were deafening;
the seals, lying lazily on the drifting ice, raised their heads
without being frightened, and turned their long necks to watch
the ship go by. Often, too, the brig would leave bits of sheathing
on the ice against which she grazed.
Finally, after six days of this slow sailing, August 1st, Point
Beecher was made, sighted in the north; Hatteras passed the last
hours in the lookout; the open sea, which Stewart had seen
May 30, 1851, towards latitude 76°20' could not be far off,
and yet, as far as Hatteras could see, he could make out no sign
of an open polar sea. He came down without saying a word.
“Do you believe in an open sea?” asked Shandon of the second
“I'm beginning to have my doubts,” answered James Wall.
“Was n't I right in considering this pretended discovery as a
mere hypothesis'? No one agreed with me, and you too, Wall,—you
sided against me.”
“They'll believe you next time, Shandon.”
“Yes,” he answered, “when it's too late.”
And he returned to his cabin, where he had kept himself almost
exclusively since his discussion with the captain.
Towards evening the wind shifted to the south. Hatteras then
set his sails and had the fires put out; for many days the crew
were kept hard at work; every few minutes they had to tack or
bear away, or to shorten sail quickly to stop the course of the
brig; the braces could not run easily through the choked-up
pulleys, and added to the fatigue of the crew; more than a week
was required for them to reach Point Barrow. The Forward had
not made thirty miles in ten days.
Then the wind flew around to the north, and the engine was
started once more. Hatteras still hoped to find an open sea beyond
latitude 77°, such as Edward Belcher had seen.
And yet, if he believed in Penny's account, the part of the sea
which he was now crossing ought to have been open; for Penny,
having reached the limit of the ice, saw in a canoe the shores of
Queen's Channel at latitude 77°.
Must he regard their reports as apochryphal, or had an unusually
early winter fallen upon these regions?
August 15th, Mount Percy reared into the mist its peaks covered
with eternal snow; a violent wind was hurling in their teeth
a fierce shower of hail. The next day the sun set for the first
time, terminating at last the long series of days twenty-four hours
long. The men had finally accustomed themselves to this perpetual
daylight; but the animals minded it very little; the Greenland
dogs used to go to sleep at the usual hour, and even Duke lay
down at the same hour every evening, as if the night were dark.
Still, during the nights following August 16th the darkness
was never very marked; the sun, although it had set, still gave
light enough by refraction.
August 19th, after taking a satisfactory observation, Cape
Franklin was seen on the eastern side, and opposite it Cape Lady
Franklin; at what was probably the farthest point reached by
this bold explorer, his fellow-countrymen wanted the name of his
devoted wife should be remembered along with his own, as an
emblem of the sympathy which always united them. The doctor
was much moved by this sight in this distant country.
In accordance with Johnson's advice, he began to accustom
himself to enduring low temperature; he kept almost all the
time on deck, braving the cold, wind, and snow. Although he
had grown a little thinner, he did not suffer from the severity of
the climate. Besides, he expected other dangers, and he rejoiced,
almost, as he saw the winter approaching.
“See,” said he one day to Johnson,—“see those flocks of
birds flying south! How they fly and cry adieu!”
“Yes, Dr. Clawbonny,” answered Johnson, “something has
told them it was time to go, and they are off.”
“More than one of
our men, Johnson,
would be glad to imitate
them, I fancy.”
“They are timid fellows,
Doctor; what a
bird can't do, a man
ought to try! Those
birds have no supply
of food, as we have,
and they must support
But sailors, with a good
deck under the feet, ought to go to the end of the world.”
“You hope, then, that Hatteras will succeed in his projects?”
“He will succeed. Doctor.”
“I agree with you, Johnson, even if only one faithful man
“There will be two of us!”
“Yes, Johnson,” the doctor answered, pressing the brave sailor's
Prince Albert's Land, along which the Forward was now coasting,
is also called Grinnell's Land; and although Hatteras, from
his dislike to Americans, never was willing to give it this name,
nevertheless, it is the one by which it is generally known. This
is the reason of this double title: at the same time that the
Englishman Penny gave it the name of Prince Albert, the captain
of the Rescue, Lieutenant DeHaven, named it Grinnell's Land, in
honor of the American merchant who had fitted out the expedition
in New York.
As the brig followed the coast it met with serious difficulties,
going sometimes under sail, sometimes under steam. August
18th, Mount Britannia was sighted through the mist, and the
next day the Forward cast anchor in Northumberland Bay. The
ship was completely protected.