The next day the weather changed; there was a return of
cold; the snow and rain gust raged for many days.
Bell had finished the launch; it was perfectly satisfactory
for the purpose it was intended for; partly decked, and partly
open, it could sail in heavy weather under mainsail and jib,
while it was so light as not to be too heavy a load on the
sledge for the dogs.
Then, too, a change of great importance was taking place in
the state of the polar basin. The ice in the middle of the bay
was beginning to give way; the tallest pieces, forever weakened
by the collision of the rest, only needed a sufficiently heavy
tempest to be torn away and to become icebergs. Still, Hatteras
was unwilling to wait so long before starting. Since it was to
be a land journey, he cared very little whether the sea was open
or not. He determined to start June 25th; meanwhile all the
preparations could be completed. Johnson and Bell put the
sledge into perfect repair; the frame was strengthened and the
runners renewed. The travellers intended to devote to their
journey the few weeks of good weather which nature allows to
these northern regions. Their sufferings would be less severe,
the obstacles easier to overcome.
A few days before their departure, June 20th, the ice had so
many free passages, that they were able to make a trial trip on
board of the new launch as far as Cape Washington. The sea
was not perfectly free, far from it; but its surface was not solid,
and it would have been impossible to make a trip on foot over
the ice-fields.
This half-day's sail showed the good sailing qualities
of the launch.
During the return they beheld a curious
incident. It was a monstrous bear chasing a seal. Fortunately
the former was so busily occupied, that he did not see the launch,
otherwise he would certainly have pursued it; he kept on watch
near a crevasse in the ice-field, into which the seal had evidently
plunged. He was awaiting his reappearance with all the patience
of a hunter, or rather of a fisherman, for he was really fishing.
He was silent, motionless, without any sign of life.
the surface of the water was agitated; the seal had come up to
breathe. The bear crouched low upon the ice, and rounded his
two paws about the crevasse.
The next moment the seal appeared,
with his head above water; but he had not time to
withdraw it. The bear's paws, as if driven by a spring, were
clashed together, strangling the animal with irresistible force
and dragging it out of the water.
It was but a brief struggle; the seal struggled for a few seconds,
and was then suffocated on the breast of his adversary, who,
dragging him away easily, in spite of his size, and springing
lightly from one piece of ice to another, reached bind and disappeared
with his prey.
“A pleasant journey!” shouted Johnson; “that bear has got
rather too many paws!”
The launch soon reached the little anchorage Bell had made
for her in the ice.
Only four days were there before the time fixed for their departure.
Hatteras hurried on the last preparations; he was in a
hurry to leave New America, a land which was not his, and which
be had not named; he did not feel at home.
June 22d they began to carry to the sledge their camp-material,
tent, and food. They carried only two hundred pounds of
salt meat, three chests of preserved meat and vegetables, fifty
pounds of pickles and lime-juice, five quarters of flour, packets of
cresses and cochlearia from the doctor's garden; with the addition
of two hundred pounds of powder, the instruments, arms, and
personal baggage, the launch, Halkett-boat, and the weight of the
sledge itself, the whole weighed fifteen hundred pounds,—a heavy
load for four dogs, especially since, unlike the Esquimaux, who
never travel more than four days in succession, they had none to
replace them, and would have to work them every day. But the
travellers determined to aid them when it was necessary, and they
intended to proceed by easy stages; the distance from Victoria
Bay to the Pole was three hundred and fifty-five miles at the outside,
and going twelve miles a day they could make the journey in a
month. Besides, when the land came to an end, the launch
would enable them to finish the journey without fatigue for dogs
or men.
The latter were well, and in excellent condition. The winter,
although severe, ended favorably enough. Each one had followed
the doctor's advice, and escaped from the diseases common in
these severe climates. In fact, they had grown a trifle thinner,
which gave a great deal of pleasure to Clawbonny; but their
bodies were inured to the rigors of that life, and these men were
able to face the severest attacks of cold and hunger without
And then, too, they were going to the end of
their journey, to the inaccessible Pole, after which their
only thought would be of returning. The sympathy which
bound together the five members of the expedition would aid
their success in this bold trip, and no one doubted of their
As a precaution, the doctor had urged his companions to prepare
themselves for some time beforehand, and to ``train with
much care.
“My friends,” he used to say, “I don't ask you to imitate the
English racers, who lose eighteen pounds after two days' training,
and twenty-five after five days, but we ought to do something to
get into the best possible condition for a long journey. Now the
first principle of training is to get rid of the fat on both horse and
jockey, and this is done by means of purging, sweating, and violent
exercise. These gentlemen know they will lose so much by
medicine, and they arrive at their results with incredible accuracy;
such a one who before training could not run a mile without
being winded, can run twenty-five easily after it. There was
a certain Townsend who ran a hundred miles in twelve hours
without stopping.”
“A good result,” answered Johnson; “and although we are not
very fat, if we must get thinner yet—”
“There is no need of it, Johnson; but without exaggerating, it
can't be denied that training produces good effects; it strengthens
the bones, makes the muscles more elastic, improves the
hearing and the sight; so let us not forget it.”
In short, whether in training or not, the travellers were ready
June 23d; it was Sunday, and the day was devoted to absolute
The time for departure drew near, and the inhabitants of Fort
Providence could not see it approach without a certain emotion.
It grieved them to leave this snow-hut which had served so well
to protect them; Victoria Bay, this hospitable shore where they
had spent the last days of the winter. Would they find these
buildings standing when they returned? Would not the rays of
the sun melt away its fragile walls?
In a word, they had passed pleasant hours there. The doctor,
at the evening meal, called up to his companions' memory touching
reminiscences, and he did not forget to thank Heaven for its
evident protection.
At last the hour of sleeping came. Each one went to bed
early, so as to be up betimes. Thus passed their last night at
Fort Providence.




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भूते पकडणारा  तात्या नाव्ही
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पुन्हा नव्याने सुरुवात
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Understanding Itihasa
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