|"Marie Peary Stafford's Journal"||Marie Stafford was Admiral Peary's daughter. She brought along her two sons, Edward "Bud" and Peary "Junior" during a voyage to build a monument to her father, Admiral Robert E. Peary. The voyage was co-sponsored by her family and Arthur D. Norcross.|
|Voyage on the schooner "Morrissey" in June through September 1932 to Cape York on the West Coast of Greenland|
June 15th, 1932
Mother and I were thrilled when we woke up, to find it was a clear, sunny day and all our packing having been finished the night before, we were ready for an eight thirty breakfast. We were down in the lobby when Mary appeared on the run, and so excited that she could scarcely swallow a mouthful! While we were still at the table Uncle and the boys and Ted came. There was a lot of bustle and confusion in getting off, augmented by a persistent soul who had been in the Antarctic with Byrd and insisted that I autograph his ukulele! At last, with four suitcases, two coats, two cameras, and seventeen packages (according to the porter!) we left the Piccadilly for West Brighton. Because of the amount of baggage we decided to be extravagant and go all the way in taxis, Ted and the boys in one and Mother, Mary and I in the second, Uncle having already left to get some money changed into gold for me at his bank.
It was quite a jaunt by taxi and we were held up so long at the Staten Island ferry that I nearly jumped out of my skin until I remembered that it was like being late to your own wedding – they just couldn’t go without me! Mary convulsed Mother and me by saying in such a meek, widow-like tone: “Of course I have given Eric a lot of responsibility since his father died!” We had to remind her that after all, Broderick wasn’t dead, and Mother suggested that it would be more appropriate to say: “Since my loss!”
When we reached McWilliams’ shipyard there was quite a crowd there
already. The Germans, the Usinas, Christopher Morley
and Helen, Delia Akeley, Larry Gould and Peg, Stefansson and Miss Boyd, Hugh
Lea, Matt Henson, Ernst, Blair Niles and the women geographers, Ralph Wardlaw
and his wife, Doctor Fisher, Frances Cummings and her father, Mr. Enterman, Mr.
Kerr and Mr. Ewing, Southmayd Hatch and heaps of others whose names I don’t
remember. I took one look at my stateroom, which looked more like a
closet full of all shapes and sizes of bundles, and then I came out on deck
again. There was a great deal of
picture taking, both movies and stills, and there was hardly time to talk to
anyone. At twelve thirty, we cast
off, just as Professor Burton came running down the wharf and Otto leaped out of
the crowd to shake hands and present me with a huge box of nuts.
Professor Burton had come by boat and been held up for hours in the lower
harbor on account of fog. I would
rather have had anyone else late except him.
We waved and waved as long as we could distinguish anyone on the wharf and later a ferry boat passed us carrying some of our people evidently, for they did a lot of waving and flourishing or arms. It was terribly hot and calm. My chair which Mother had given me was set up and I stretched out in that but it was really too hot on deck for comfort and in my stateroom there wasn’t space enough to put your two feet beside each other. At about five, we reached City Island, where the pilot, the movie men and Mr. Norcross were put ashore. Mr. Norcross will join us later at Brigus. I sent a letter to Mother by Mr. Holman and also the flag which she is to fix and which was left on board by mistake.
Speaking of flags, I forgot to describe the flags with which the Morrissey was dressed. At the main mast flew the British flag, the Morrissey being listed from St. John’s, Newfoundland. At the fore flew a replica of Dad’s personal flag, copied from the guidon which Mother made him as a Christmas present in the North, utilizing a white silk handkerchief and a piece of her blue tea gown. Below it flew a replica of the Peary Arctic Club flag, an organization now extinct but as Dad’s ships always flew that flag, we felt, Mother and I, that the Morrissey should fly it also on this particular errand. These two flags, Mother gave to the expedition. In the halyards of the foremast there flew also the flag of Bowdoin and of the Women Geographers. This is the first time their flag has ever been carried by a member and the design and flag itself were hurried through by my good friend Harriet Chalmers Adams, in order that I might have the honor.
Right after supper (and I began well by finding a burnt match in by bread pudding!) Brute helped me clear out the cabin enough so that Bud and I could get in to our bunks. It looked pretty hopeless and I was sure I would never get settled.
The decks are in almost as great confusion as my stateroom, everything
having just been thrown on board at the last moment in order to enable us to
sail. The men were dashing about
madly lashing oil barrels into place, and making everything snug in case we
strike bad weather and she commences to roll.
Things are a bit complicated by the presence of a beautiful Guernsey cow,
a present to Captain Bob’s mother and two pigs belonging to Will, as well as
several dozen chickens. We look
more like a sea going barnyard than a serious minded Arctic expedition!
Before I had fallen asleep last night, we ran into thick fog and it was perfectly ridiculous to hear the cow “moo!” an answer every time she heard a fog horn blow! She kept this up, without missing a time, until the fog lifted! At four A.M., I was awakened by a great deal of running about on the deck over my head, and noticed that the engines were not going. We had run aground, fortunately on a soft mud bank for there was no jar or shock at all, and there was a great to do getting us off. The lead showed only seven feet of water under the bow, so the dory was launched with the idea of putting the anchor in it, dropping the anchor in deep water and hauling the Morrissey off by a chain from the anchor to the steam winch. But the dory, after it was in the water, proved to be too small to carry the anchor, so it had to be hauled on board again and then the whaleboat emptied of all the stuff that had been packed away in it, and launched in order to take the anchor and drop it in 18 fathoms. We were finally off and on our way again at seven thirty. From the first streak of dawn the roosters had been crowing lustily and it was a strange sound to hear at sea in the midst of a thick fog!
As the men all sleep in the mess room and their bunks are so small it is impossible to dress in them, I decided it would avoid embarrassment for them, and for me, if I did not appear at breakfast, so I told Billy, the steward, that I would take my breakfast in bed. It was well I did for breakfast on the Morrissey is served at seven thirty whether you like it or not. We had excellent grapefruit, very weak coffee, and toast made from bread without salt! I must find some way to improve matters without hurting Billy’s feelings.
Perhaps this is as good a place as any to name the ship’s personnel. Aft, is the Captain, his brother Will, the mate; Junius Bird, assistant engineer and archaeologist; Ed Weyer, movie man and looking so much like Robert Peary it is startling; Robert Dove, the Captain’s nephew, a medical student and the nearest to a doctor that we have on board; then in the mess room sleep Paul Oscanyan, radio operator who was in Greenland with Hobbs; Brute; Schmelling and Gardiner, two University of Michigan men whom we are transporting to Devils Thumb; Carswell, our boss mason; and Junior. Buddy shares the stateroom with me. In the galley is Billy Pritchett, who was mess boy on the Roosevelt with his son, Tommy as assistant; the bosun is Jim Dooling; and there are three sailors, old Joe who takes care of the animals; Harold somebody who was in the Viking disaster, and George Richards, who has taken a great shine to Bud. We will pick up more at Brigus.
I made a good start at fixing up my room and on opening the various packages. My friends certainly spread themselves. Mrs. Carman sent a great box of current magazines and a book a piece for the boys as well as giving them each a collar on the dock; Mrs. Usina sent me candy and nuts and Mr. Usina sent the boys an armful of books; Uncle sent us a box of things to eat; Mrs. Carman gave me an Italian leather jewel box with an enameled Hand of Fatima, for luck and a bracelet of gold filigree Hands of Fatima; Ralph Wardlaw gave me a Deke pin; Stefannson sent a whole brief case full of books on the Arctic; Miss Boyd sent me a gold and enamel St. Christopher and a plush polar bear; Mr. Waterman gave each boy a fountain pen and me a pen and pencil set while the president of the Hurd paper company sent me a marvelous box of stationery; Ernst sent an armful of pink roses; Ted two cans of maple syrup, one of which had been squashed so the syrup was running all over my other packages; Madge sent home made jams as well as birthday packages for all of us; Emily sent me a book and birthday packages for the boys; Robert Peary sent us each a package; and there were telegrams and radios galore. Mother of course had given us everything she could think of, food and clothing and my chair and guns for the boys – you never saw the like!
Having worked busily all morning, I spent nearly all afternoon, a sleep
in a chair on deck and then went to bed early for good measure!
Still foggy and in the morning the old boat rolled considerably but in the afternoon a breeze came up so the sails were hoisted and that steadied us wonderfully. I slept much better last night because there was no confusion on deck over my head, but when Billy starts his galley fire in the morning, the smoke backs right down our companionway and wakes us up, choking and coughing. My bed is comfortable and there are plenty of blankets and I am the only one on board to enjoy the luxury of sheets having brought them myself, but I forgot pillowslips, just as clean as a whistle, and wake up in the morning looking like an Indian chief with my hair so full of feathers! It was not very pleasant out on deck and I spent most of my time asleep in my berth.
Bud is getting the thrill of his life out of the trip so far and devotes every waking moment to learning to splice or to tie new knots. The bosun and George the sailor in particular have taken him under their wing and show him tricks to play on others and play practical jokes on him. He simply loves it. Junior is more sedated but gets a big kick out of sleeping in the long room with the men and being treated more or less as an equal by them. He has taken a great fancy to Carswell and Carswell is awfully nice to him.
Junius Bird has brought on board an assortment of toads, turtles and snakes the idea being to get a movie record of the reactions of the Eskimos who of course have never seen such creatures. But as the darn things are continually getting loose and roaming about the ship, there are plenty reactions right here and now! Last night we were all aroused by a shout from aft. The skipper had been awakened from a sound sleep by feeling something moving across him, and putting his had down to investigate found a toad – “Yes, by God! A Toad!” – Junius hadn’t confided to him the fact that such an animal was aboard and Captain Bob didn’t know if he was having a nightmare or not!
Another amusing thing occurred. We
are taking, as a passenger to Brigus; a chap named Jim Hearn.
He sent a wire to a girl friend of his announcing the approaching
marriage of a mutual friend named Bishop. His
wire read: - “Bish to be married in October” but the telegraph operator who
received the message didn’t think that made any sense and changed it to read:
- “Wish to be married in October.” So
now to his utter amazement, Jim Hearn is engaged, the lady having accepted with
Still foggy, still rough, and still rolling heavily.
I have managed to secrets a can of G. Washington coffee in the locker by
the head of my berth and by careful doctoring, can make Billy’s coffee almost
drinkable. There still seems no
remedy for the salt-less bread. Junior
feels the motion and lives in constant terror of being sick and so disgracing
himself. I don’t feel any too
good and while I am not actually sick, I could be with the slightest
encouragement. Only Buddy seems
impervious to it. Our meals are not
designed to tempt a squeamish appetite consisting as they do of stewed corn and
sausages, or spaghetti and baked beans, or pancakes and maple syrup.
The fog hangs on and the easterly wind continues so we are going very
slowly which is discouraging to say the least.
I unpacked a suitcase and found places to put the things and then sat out
on deck in the fresh air until I was thoroughly chilled.
I was talking with Will and said: - “Well, Will, and so I hear you are
married!” He answered: - “Yes,
and a funny thin, you know! It
happened so quick like, I really did not know it meself!”
I persuaded Mr. Oscanyan to fix a light over my writing table for me
which he did very nicely, even down to making a cubist shade for it from a tea
can, and now it is much easier to use my typewriter. When I remarked that having such a tiny room, it was just as
well that I had no desire to swing a cat, he called my attention to the fact
that after all, it was rather a tiny cat! Took
a nap and after supper, read in my bunk.
I finished unpacking everything today except one large telescope and am
feeling quite noble about it. There
is an amazing amount of storage space in my room and once I get the things
sorted out, it will be comparatively easy to live here.
It is the maddening digging into first one suitcase and then another
after the things you want, that is so trying to the disposition.
This is the fist day Junior has really felt like himself and he is so
relieved to think he did not succumb to seasickness. Mother Carey’s chickens have been about the ship all day.
On a becalmed sailing ship in the fog, they have been known to alight and
make themselves quite at home but the noise of our engine keeps them at a
respectful distance. The Captain convulsed us all at supper by telling how he had
been walking along by Times Square in sort of a day dream and had bumped plunk
into a man coming from the other direction.
The man had laughed good-naturedly and said: - “Look out, old timer,
better rig in your sprits’l boom!” I
had no idea Captain Bob was so obviously salty!
A lovely warm day with a following breeze, so that the Morrissey is just
stepping along. It is a real
pleasure to be out on deck again. I
spent a good bit of time in the morning, aft, talking to the skipper.
He is feeling easier in his mind about the cow whish did not like the
last few cold raw days. If anything
happened to the cow so he couldn’t get it home to his mother, his heart would
be broken. He told me that,
although Rudy Carpenter had given it to him, he had had to pay to have it
trucked up from Wilmington to Staten Island himself and when the truck arrived
at the dock, they had a miserable time getting the cow out, because, as Captain
Bob expressed it, “they couldn’t make her go astern!” It was to Rudy Carpenter that Captain Bob brought two young
musk ox calves several years ago and they are still alive and flourishing on his
estate with a special attendant to care for them. On the trip down with them, everyone had gone ashore but the
sailor on watch and Billy Pritchett, the cook, suddenly the sailor saw a black
nose above water and was about to fire at it, thinking it was a seal, when Billy
called: - “Shannon is overboard!” A
herd of musk ox had wandered down to the beach, the calf had seen them and in
his anxiety to reach them had fallen overboard.
He was swimming for shore with all his might.
Billy and the sailor launched the dory and started in pursuit and caught
him just before he waded ashore. Billy
jumped out of the boat onto his back and held him until the sailor arrived with
a rope. That would have been a
grand story for my book! Having
completed my unpacking and settling I have now tackled my task of letters to be
written and mailed in Brigus, and I had 18 done before the day was over. Up till all hours, getting a very uncertain and indistinct
description of the Sharkey Schmelling fight.
Another lovely day, though slightly cooler.
Schmelling and Carswell have undertaken to initiate Buddy into some
secret order, which they make up as they go on.
As far as I can see, the initiation consists of seeing how many buttons
they can bust off his clothes but Bud assures me that now he has passed the
first stage and is a half fledged duffledoffer!
As I find that I will have to write nearly one hundred letters to be
mailed before we leave civilization definitely behind us, I am devoting most of
my spare waking moments to the task. Brute
has rigged up a very convenient lap board arrangement by means of which I can
write letters either in my chair on deck or in my bunk. We sighted two whales today and a large school of fish.
Oscanyan told us that the first expedition to Greenland conducted by our
serious minded friend Professor Hobbs, had all its baggage and freight marked,
through some ludicrous error, “The Hobbs Dreamland Expedition”!
A beastly day, cold and raw and sloppy on deck with a high sea running.
It is miserably uncomfortable below decks also because there seems to be
an unwritten law that we are to have no heat until after we leave Brigus.
Everything is damp and there is no way to dry things out.
The fiddles are on the table and even then, the soup splashes in your
lap. I tried to do some typing but the castors on my chair are so
well oiled that each roll of the ship sends me sliding away from the table and
in grabbing to save myself, I invariably hit a handful of the wrong keys, so I
had to give up the idea. I finally
wedged myself into my bunk with pillows, put a Terridaire pad in my lap and a
blanket over me and continued my endless task of letter writing.
It is certainly Friday alright, Junior started the day by pulling down my
wall pocket in the bathroom and smashing my pet magnifying mirror.
Then before I had a chance to get up, a whole wave simply poured into my
porthole and cascaded down my stairs covering my floor with an inch of water.
It was a scramble to rescue my typewriter and other things, which were
setting about, and, though Billy came in with a mop, the place is damp and
smelly and horrid. The Captain says
we are due in Brigus tomorrow at noon, so I hustled along with my letters until
late at night.
of June 1932
At quarter of six, Billy knocked on my door and said: - “Are you gong to get up, ma'am?” “You know perfectly well I’m not going to get up at quarter to six, Billy” I answered. “Oh,” he said, “The Captain put the clock forward an hour in the night and it’s now quarter to seven!” “Even at that, I’m not going to get up,” I replied only to find that we were putting in to Brigus Harbor. It made me furious because I could have been ready just as easily as not, only I thought I had the whole forenoon in which to lay out the boy’s clothes, pack, dress et cetera. I just had the boys all dressed when we tied up at the wharf. As I was scrambling into my own clothes, I heard a woman say, “Is Mrs. Stafford up yet Billy?” Which made me hurry all the more.
When I came out into the dining room, Mrs. Dove, the doctor’s mother and the same “Triss” of whom I have heard Captain Bob speak so often, was waiting to welcome me. I told her that as long as I had to go to St. john’s to do some shopping any how it would be better for me to go today and let Captain Bob have his first few hours with his family without having me on his mind. She agreed that it would be a good idea but said I would have to hurry as there are only three trains a week and taxi service is the way to go and the taxi was due to leave any moment. I hastily threw some things into a bag (the wrong things, of course) gathered up the boys and left.
We drove first to Hawthorn Cottage where Captain Bob’s mother lives and I felt as if I were walking through the pages of my favorite story to be meeting in the flesh, all these people about whom I have heard for so long. Brigus is a charming place, quaint and picturesque with a marvelous harbor and scarcely any sign of the hustle and wealth that was once here. The lilacs are only in bud so we are having spring all over again. Hawthorn Cottage is a fascinating place, set back from the road in an old fashioned garden and Mrs. Bartlett is the tiniest, sweetest little old lady that you could wish to see. She took us right into her dining room where hot coffee and bread and butter sandwiches were waiting and we certainly did justice to them. While we were sitting around, talking of this and that there was a hullabulloo outside and the cow and arrived. It seems, that after she was landed, she walked along demurely enough until she got her first sight of tall, lush green grass and then she gave a leap and a gallop and was off, towing the two men who were supposed to be leading her, like the tail to a kite.
There was a pile of mail for me at Hawthorn but nothing from Mother, which I couldn’t understand and found very disappointing. After meeting Bess (Mrs. Angel) and Eleanor, (the nurse from New York) and Emma and Will’s wife, we decided to be on our way, first stopping down at the ship again for some things which I had forgotten. The taxi having long since departed, a family friend, and at the druggist of the town, volunteered to drive us to St. John’s, which was mighty nice of him as it is 70 miles off. At the ship, the work of unloading and re-stowing was already under way. I gathered my wash together for Billy, found a few more things I wanted and left. As I passed Captain Bob, I told him I was going to St. John’s and would be back tomorrow but he said better stay till Monday and gave me twenty dollars Newfoundland money to have until I got mine changed.
The drive was simply heavenly. It was a lovely day, warm and sunny and the country is perfectly amazing. I never thought of Newfoundland as a high, mountainous country but it certainly is. The numerous harbors and bays make the scenery perfect and I could have enjoyed every minute had it not been for the crazy way they drive to the left. It simply makes my hair stand on end to go tearing around a corner and see a car coming towards me on what looks like the wrong side of the road. I almost stood up tow or three times in my attempt to slam on imaginary brakes but of course nothing happened.
Mr. Cantwell and his son proved to be very amusing and extremely good guides and showed us all the points of interest as we passed. The caplin are in and every village through which we passed was a scene of wild activity. The men were down at the shore with nets and the women were driving queer two wheeled carts back and forth from the shore, carrying loads of fish for fertilizer. In a few days, there will be more than the fragrance of lilacs filling the air around here!
We had a flat tire on the way but it delayed us only long enough to enjoy the warmth and comfort of a mossy bank beside the road until the change was made. Once in St. John’s, the traffic became so confusing that I did not dare to watch it, in spite of the reassuring and sweeping gestures with which the “bobbies” beckon you on. We were driven right to the Newfoundland Hotel, which is built on the site of the old citadel and is really very comfortable and pleasant although it looks like a state reformatory from the outside. Mr. Dove was waiting outside and nearly laughed his head off when I introduced him to the boys as “the doctor’s father.” He does not take his son very seriously!
Inside, I found that Captain Bob had phoned ahead and so instead of being given rooms at once, I was escorted to the manager’s office and both he and I looked a little startled when Mr. Cantwell said: - “Mrs. Stafford, may I present Mr. Stafford?” He escorted us himself to a beautiful suite of rooms – private hallway, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a sitting room. Some of the windows looked out over the city with the Catholic Cathedral looming up against the sky, and others looked out over the famous harbor. Buddy remembered the picture of St. John’s harbor on the mantelpiece of Eagle Island and so did Junior when I spoke about it to him. I had no idea what the rooms were costing us or if we were the guests of the management but they were so obviously Mr. Stafford’s idea of what we should have and the tubs looked so inviting that I just let it go. Before leaving, he called up Lady Bowring for me and made an engagement for me to have tea with her tomorrow afternoon. She was the one person that mother was anxious to have me see in St. John’s.
The phone began to ring almost at once and I had a job keeping this afternoon free for shopping and a shampoo. A Mrs. Baird, a friend of the Bartlett’s called and wanted me to drive with her today or dine with her tomorrow and we finally compromised on her inviting Lady Bowring and me to tea with her tomorrow.
We were all simply starving, so before doing anything else, we went down to lunch. My, but it tasted good after almost two weeks of Morrissey food! I was quite comfortable however, and almost seasick on dry land, because everything seemed to move under me and sway before my eyes. I had a glass of port with lunch and that helped a lot. Later, the manager called up and offered to take the boys on a sight seeing ride and I accepted for them and off they went. Bess’s daughter, Mary Angel, phoned and said she would drop in for a minute with Mr. Norcross on their way to Brigus so I waited before going out to do errands. When they came, I thought she was one of the loveliest looking people I had ever seen. She was all in white and lovely red hair and sherry brown eyes and a clear skin. Norcross seemed just the same and I asked her, if she would mind, when she returned from Brigus to bring me two dresses out of my stateroom closet and she said she would.
When they left, I set out on some errands. I went first to the telegraph office to get my money order cashed and then looking in to store windows. Water Street is where most of the shops are but I thought the most attractive things were in the shops close to the hotel. I had been told that the best store in St. John’s was Ayre and Sons but because of the way it was pronounced, I wasted a lot of time looking for Aaronson’s. I returned to the hotel just in time for a shampoo and wave and I never had such a woolling in my life. After my hair was washed, the woman just stayed at the crown of my head and combed down regardless of tangles or anything. I was a wreck when she finished with me.
We had a fairly late dinner and took pictures of the harbor from our room
windows. I also wrote some letters and gave the boys each a piping hot
bath. They surely needed it.
After my own hot bath and change of clothes, I felt like a different
person and Brute and I had a champagne party and the boys had ginger ale to
celebrate. My how grand and soft
the beds felt when we crawled into them. I
am afraid this interlude will make life on the ship harder than before!
It was lovely to wake up in a warm soft bed, and a clean, well, lighted room. We slept till after nine and the boys and Brute hurried down ahead in order to save breakfast for me. The day does not look very promising, gray, overcast and cloudy but after the weather we have been having, it isn’t bad at all. Right after breakfast, I decided to walk up to Cabot’s Tower. Buddy and Brute said they would go with me, although they drove there yesterday, but Junior wanted to remain at home and write letters. It was quite a climb after we left the streets of St. John’s behind. One street was on the side of a hill, sloping abruptly down from us and was called “Temperance St.” Buddy said: - “I hope you notice how fast you go down hill if you take the Temperance!”
We climbed gradually higher and higher with splendid views of the city opening out behind us. We passed the remains of an old powder magazine and several old forts, relics of the time when the city was heavily protected against the French. The wind was blowing so hard we could scarcely stand against it and were glad to take shelter inside the tower, which crowns Signal Hill. It is here that the first wireless message was received across the Atlantic, and Mr. Cantwell, who drove us up from Brigus yesterday, was with Marconi when he received it. It was a complete surprise as the best they hoped for was to receive a message relayed to them from a ship at sea. Instead it came direct and Marconi was so excited that he jumped up and down and squealed with joy in typical Latin fashion.
Robert Gardner is now the custodian and among his duties is the signaling of ships entering or leaving the harbor reporting on them by telephone to their owners. His place is like the pilothouse on a ship, with signal flags all neatly folded away in labeled pigeonholes; a huge telescope; and little windows looking in every direction. He has a collection of curios also which he brings out to show to privileged visitors among them being a huge rifle which he said he got in the Glipli Peninsular. He had been talking about Labrador and Newfoundland and I racked my brains trying to locate the Glipli Peninsula until I heard him tell Bud that the inscription on it was in Turkish and I realized that he had gone half round the world and had been with the expeditionary force which Great Britain sent to Galipoli!
After writing in the visitor’s book, we went out and took pictures from some of the old fort sites and gun emplacements. A hen with a brood of chicks under her wings was nestled up under the breech of one old cannon and I was about to take her picture when some children came along and frightened her away. We were almost blown down the hill and through the city, wrapped in its Sabbath calm. I tried to find out what it is about the place that makes you realize right away that you are no longer in the United States. Bud thinks it is because everything is so quiet but I am inclined to believe that it is the constant clip clopping of horses’ fee, a sound we seldom hear, and then too, the faint smell of coal gas in the air.
We found Junior with three long letters written and my bottle of “Johnny Walker” on the desk beside him because he had heard a funny noise in one of the rooms and had picked up this bottle to defend himself with if necessary! We washed up and had lunch and then I wrote letters until Mrs. Milling came for me to call on Lady Bowring and go to Mrs. Baird’s (Mrs. Milling’s mother’s) for tea. By this time it was pouring and the boys were glad enough to start off with me just for a change although they thought a tea party would be very dull. Junior comforted himself and Bud by betting they would have “swell eats!”
Mrs. Milling proved to be very pleasant and had her chubby rosy faced son with her. We soon reached lady Bowring’s, in a dull, unfashionable part of town but a lovely house inside. Sir Edgar Bowring is one of the largest ship owners and chandler’s anywhere and in the old days before Dad owned the “Roosevelt” his Arctic ships were almost always charted from Bowrings. They had both, Sir Edgar and Lady Bowring, been charming to Mother and Dad whenever they were in St. John’s and I was more than anxious to call. When mother knew Lady Bowring, she was having an unhappy time because Sir Edgar was so jealous of her son by a former marriage that she was not able to have the boy live in the same house with them or even go to see him except on the sly. She and Mother would go driving and have the coachman stop at one of the stores. Then they would go in the front door of the shop and out the rear door and so to the house where the child was boarded in order not to let the coachman know for fear he was a spy of Sir Edgar’s. Now I understand that when the boy grew up, he not only became the apple of his mother’s eye but of Sir Edgar as well. Life was once more pleasant. Then the boy and his small daughter were both drowned in the wreck of one of the Bowring steamers (The Florezel) just around the corner from St. John’s and as if that were not grief enough for the poor woman, Sir Edgar developed a perfect hatred for her, so that he never sees her any more and spends all his time with his stepson’s widow, whom he has legally adopted in order to make things seem a bit more regular. He and she travel through England and on the continent, returning to Newfoundland in the summers, which they spend on one of the big Bowring estates in the country. And Lady Bowring is left alone with her memories and griefs to smile and put up a bold front.
She seemed very frail and old to me and is quite hard of hearing. But she was gracious and told me how much I looked like Mother and that she had lost her heart to Dad while Sir Edgar had completely fallen in love with Mother and we chatted for half an hour. Her room was very warm and close and filled with framed photographs of her dead son. It was pitiful and depressing and I was almost glad to leave.
From here we
drove out through the country with its vivid green pointed fir trees to Mrs.
Baird’s shack. It was still
raining and we found quite a group gathered around the huge fireplace awaiting
us. The boys went off at once in
spite of the rain, to a small nearby pond where they had spied a boat.
When they finally came in to tea you never saw such sights.
The boat had only been put in the water that day so it leaked like a
sieve and finally sank slowly under them giving them just time to remove their
shoes and stockings and wade ashore. But
they were drenched! I hurried them
back to the hotel as quickly as politeness allowed, ordered hot milk for them to
drink, gave them hot baths and put them to bed.
I do hope they won’t get cold as a result of their foolishness. I bought them some movie magazines to keep them amused while
we were down at dinner and later in the evening, to my infinite satisfaction, I
did a large wash of my own silk things which I did not want to trust to
Billy’s washwoman and took another luxurious hot bath and went to bed.
It is still raining.
Was awakened by the phone ringing and Captain Bob saying he would be at the hotel with Mr. Angel at half past eight. When they came, I went down and they sat and talked with me while I ate my breakfast. The boys and Brute had breakfast in the suite. Captain Bob asked for a thousand dollars to cover the various additional expenses which will arise and that nearly cleans me out. He also said that he and Angel had talked it over and decided that it would be necessary to buy a gasoline engine after all in connection with the work on the monument. This makes me feel bad because we had a splendid one all arranged for in New York, cheap, portable but exactly right for the work and the Captain decided not to take it. It seems to me as if we spent money at every turn. Heaven knows how we will pay the bills when we return.
I sent the boys out on a long “exploring” walk while Brute and I did our last errands for we are to leave St. John’s for Brigus this evening. We went to the liquor commission where I bought four bottles of Barsac and one of Port wine; to a department store where I bought some linen pillowcases; to a cleaners to leave my new dark blue georgette on which I got white paint, and I think the girl must have thought I was crazy for I said that she must have it done by tomorrow evening as I was leaving for Greenland and had to have it! It is not exactly the kind of garment one would think of as appropriate to a trip to Greenland! We also bought some food and a pail in which to soak my clothes and various other odds and ends. I rather like the town although the people look half-nourished and prices for everything are very high. After lunch, although the boys were quite tired from their long walk in the morning, they wanted to go to the movies to see if they could see themselves in the Pathe news. So off they went while I packed and wrote letters. In the midst of it, a package was brought to me containing two letters from Mother, a five dollar gold piece for each of the boys, and a lovely blue flannel bath robe for me, as well as the replica flag to go in the cornerstone of the monument. I was delighted, especially with the letter for it had worried me not to hear from Mother and I was at a loss as to where to mail my letter to her, Nutley or Harpswell.
At four, Beth Bartlett called for me to take me to tea with her mother. She is the daughter of Captain Harry Barlett who was lost with all hands when the Falcon went down without leaving a trace, on her return from Philadelphia to St. John’s the year Mother and I came home. Mrs. Bartlett has remarried and Beth was born six months after her father’s death. It was so warm and spring like that we had tea in the garden, the only other guest being a Miss Ash, quite an old lady, whose father was ice pilot of the Bear in the successful search for Greely and it was Ash who first spied the skin ten into which he cut his way to give the men relief. Mrs. Bartlett (that is not her name (a.k.a. Mrs. Bell) but I never think of her any other way) told me with delight, that my birthday was the same as Captain Harry’s and she also said that Captain Harry was such an admirer of Mother’s. He wrote his wife that he had never seen such a woman as Mrs. Peary, she was just like a goat! Seeing my rather blank expression, Mrs. Bartlett went on to explain: - “Perfectly fearless, you know. That was what he meant. You will tell your mother, won’t you, that my husband always said she was just like a goat?”
On the way home, Beth Bartlett, who has been working at Elizabeth Arden’s in Washington, drove me through Bowring Park. It is a lovely natural park given to the children of St. John’s as a public playground by the Bowring family. In it is a copy of Frampton’s Peter Pan, the original of which stands in Kensington Gardens. The artist always said he would only allow two to be made before he destroyed the cast and when he saw Bowring Park he decided that that was the place for the second one. It is inscribed: - “Given to the children of St. John’s by Sir Edgar Bowring in memory of a little girl who once loved this park.” The little girl was the daughter of Lady Bowring’s son, lost with her father in the wreck of the Florezel. Further on there is a bronze replica of the Newfoundland stag, in a most natural setting. I was completely charmed with the whole place.
The Captain and Mr. Angel were already waiting for me when I returned to the hotel and gathering up my bags and paying the bill, we were off to the Angel house for supper. I never saw so many children and all of them quite homely, Mary being in Brigus with her mother, and right after supper we left. The drive down was not as pleasant as the one coming up because in spite of the rain yesterday, the roads were very dusty and the sun shone right into our eyes.
We got to Hawthorn about nine. Norcross
and Mr. Weyer and Mary and Hilda came in later after an all day photographing
expedition and there was much sitting around and talking and eating.
I was weary and sent the boys down to the ship with Brute while I went up
and went to bed.
A lovely day, as I could tell as soon as I opened my eyes. I followed instructions and stayed in bed until my tray was brought to me and it certainly was a grand and glorious feeling. Then I took my time about dressing and went down to the ship. The boys were anxious to go trout fishing in a nearby lake and Billy said he could arrange to have a boy take them so I let them go. While I was standing there talking, a man came up to me and told me he was the Old Man’s brother, Lorenzo, whom we had seen on the Labrador many years ago. During my talk with him, another man came up and said: - “I suppose you don’t remember me.” I didn’t and it turned out to be Harold Bartlett, I would never have recognized him, he has grown fat and sort of silly looking. I never liked him, back in the old days in Bucksport when the Roosevelt was being built and his father, Captain Sam, was superintending it. Whenever I went to see Ede, Harold took the chance to bury my sled in a snowdrift or pelt me with snowballs when I came out. He was unbearable and I can’t see that he has become any more prepossessing with the years. I am to have tea this afternoon with Ede and Harold and his wife so I will see him again.
After seeing the boys off on their fishing trip, I took my camera and accompanied by Brute, set off to explore the village. The capelin are still running (Junior informed me proudly that he had shot a lot this morning with his shot gun!) and the two wheeled carts with horses attached are driven right out in the sea to the nets, in order to be loaded more easily. In the main street, a woman driving some goats, stopped me and asked if I was Mrs. Stafford and then called to one of her children in a house near by to bring out the old school book and showed me my picture and the story of my being born in Greenland! She also wanted to know if Brute was one of my sons! We wandered off to the church up on the hill, thinking we might find the plot belonging to the Bartletts but were unsuccessful. From the church, however, we caught a glimpse of a tunnel carved right through solid rock to the sea and went down to investigate. It certainly was a picturesque place and we took a number of pictures. I found out later that this tunnel once connected the two huge stores belonging to the Bartletts, one by the water with a wharf in from of it and the other further inland. By the time we returned from here it was time for dinner and Brute joined the other men up at the tearoom while I returned to Hawthorn.
After dinner, I wrote a number of letters and received by pictures from St. John’s, all of, which are excellent. I also spent quite a while chatting with Triss and Bess both of whom I like very much, particularly Triss. At four, Will’s wife and Bess and I went to Ede Bartlett’s for tea. She met us on the porch and she really is very lovely looking, with wavy silver grey hair, fresh color and big brown eyes but she has become very vain and very domineering which makes her rather unpleasant. She lets Harold and his wife live with her and evidently leads them a merry dance. I feel sorry for the wife, although how any woman could bring herself to marry Harold is beyond me and yet they have three of the most beautiful children you ever laid your eyes on! Certainly, the ways of God are inscrutable!
The first things I saw as I stepped into the house were the pictures of Lord and Lady Harmsworth, which used to hang in our cabin in the Windward. Further on was a framed letter from Dad to Captain Sam, thanking him for the good care he had taken of Mother and me during the winter we were frozen in. We had tea and talked and then came home via the tearoom, which I had never seen. It is built on the site of the old Bartlett homestead “Benville” and the timbers were taken from the Bartlett store. The two unmarried sisters, Emma and Eleanor, run it and Captain Bob staked them to the capital with which to begin. It is quite a going thing now. They sell etchings of the town and half models of the Morrissey, carved out of wood and the place is most attractive.
Brute and Junior and Bud camp up to supper and I also had a caller in the
person of Alonso Percy’s daughter, the one I played with at Domino Run and who
gave me the “koomucks”. She
only staid a few moments. The boys
were disgusted because they hadn’t caught a thing all afternoon and Bud said
he never did think much of fresh water fishing.
After supper I walked down to the ship with the boys and there found a
great to do. The engine had arrived
from St. John’s by truck and weighs 600 pounds and Carswell says it will be
impossible to get it up the mountain and that it is not suitable for the work
anyhow. Also that the lumber is all
wrong, not conforming to the carefully worked out specifications which Burton
had sent on in advance and was bought from a man who owed Mr. Angel money and
the money given Angel instead of the lumberman in order to square the debt.
He also said the tools were unsatisfactory and not the required number or
quality and he could have bought everything in New York cheaper and better.
In other words, he implies that the extra 300 dollars which I gave
Captain Bob this morning of Mother’s was just so much money thrown away and
that Angel, relying on Captain Bob’s good nature and trustfulness, has rooked
us fore and aft. So add to my
pleasant feelings, Will came along and said the Morrissey already had all she
could possibly carry and it would be impossible to stow any of the things,
including the engine, which had just arrived by truck.
I went back to the cottage in a perfectly forlorn state of mind and when
I spoke to Captain Bob, he answered as usual that I was not to worry that
everything would be alright and then put on his hat and slammed down to the
wharf to give them hell for talking too much.
That is his reaction always, don’t tell me anything because what I
don’t know won’t worry me. I
did not feel at all like joining the usual group who talk and laugh and eat till
all hours every evening and I went up to bed and wrote letters till midnight.
Another lovely day but I woke up anything but cheerful in spite of late breakfast brought to me on a tray. I found we were not due to sail until eleven so I took my time dressing and packing and then wrote a last letter to Mother. It makes me feel even more forlorn to realize that I am snapping the last link between us when I leave Brigus and I just don’t know how it is all going to end. Whatever I do I know Mother will know that I did my best but I feel as if I were working in the dark and that the situation had now slipped out of my hands. It doesn’t help any to know that another letter from Mother is on its way to me and I will have to leave before it comes as the mail only arrives three times a week here, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. None of the farewell and birthday packages which Ted speaks of sending have arrived yet except a package of books which he picked up on the dock in New York and sent after us at the expense of between 60 and 70 cents for postage and which I have discovered are books which the Captain no longer wanted and had ordered thrown out on the pier! At eleven we went down to the dock but as they were still loading water we hung around and did not sail until twelve thirty. Everyone in Brigus was down to see us off, and one person I was mighty glad to see, was old Tom Cushue, the father of the present engineer. Tom was mate on the Roosevelt on her last trip. I took a picture of him with my boys. We finally got away with much taking of movies and “Three cheers for Brigus!” and went below for dinner.
I spent most of the afternoon getting my cabin into livable shape. While in dock, the deck was caulked and as this necessitated a great deal of pounding, my whole room including the bed is full of small particles of dirt. I managed to re-stow things so the trunk slides under Bud’s berth and have also found a place for my deck chair. This done and my new pillowcases on the bed, I felt as if it would not be too great a contrast to the way I have been living for the past few days.
The afternoon was delightfully warm and sunny and I spent a good deal of
it aft, talking with Schmelling. We
passed our first iceberg, aground in Conception Bay but so far off it was
impossible to photograph it. I had
my first glimpse of the five master stone masons whom I had been promised, men
who had been used to building lighthouses and breakwaters.
I almost died of discouragement. Two
of them are so old that they walk bent over and NONE of them are stone masons!
The boss, Wells, is a bricklayer, the two Hiscocks are stone cutters,
Paddy James is a painter and George Bartlett is a carpenter.
Carswell is the only stone mason on board and I am scared to death for my
beautiful monument. Already there
are murmurs that the men think they are getting too little pay and that they
never have worked on Sunday and don’t intend to begin now, etc., etc.
I could just die!
It started out to be foggy today but changed its mind and turned out warm
and sunny. I remained in bed all morning, although not asleep as I did a
lot of mending. After dinner, sat
out on deck in my chair and had a long talk with Doctor Belknap who is to be in
charge of the building of the monument. He
is quiet and soft-spoken but seems to know what he is about and I like him very
much. He is more encouraging than
Carswell and says that sometimes old men stand the gaff better than young ones.
When I went below to take a nap, I found Buddy rooting around in the
trunk and looking very disconsolate. He
couldn’t find a dyed Easter egg, which he had particularly asked Mr. Kerr to
pack for him. He explained that he had had two and had broken one on Prize
Day and it had made a “swell stink” and now he had looked forward to
throwing the other one at Schmelling! Fortunately
for me, Mr. Kerr had apparently forgotten to put it in!!!
This evening Bud underwent another initiation and is now a full-fledged
duffledoffer! In unpacking one of the boxes which I left on the ship while
I was in St. John’s, I find that my bottle of dressing for my black suede
shoes has leaked and gone all over everything – silk stockings, underwear,
white silk blouse, all kinds of things. It
Friday, 1st July
Evidently the good weather was too fine to last, for today has been cold
and damp and raw with occasional spells of thick fog.
I am still busy overhauling things and stowing them away and also having
conferences with Belknap and Carswell. The
latter seems very pessimistic always and has begun a set of drawings reducing
the size of the monument one third in case there are not enough rocks available
or that the men prove unequal to the task.
I hate the idea of starting with plans for a compromise in the back of
your mind but he says it is best to have the plans ready and not use them than
to want them and not have the. Mr.
Norcross sent me a bottle of port (not Newman’s A) and three pints of
Newfoundland champagne! I never
heard of such a thing but I said thanks very politely.
We passed three or four icebergs in the distance today but that was our
Cold, raw and misting rain; quite a beastly day and considerable roll on. As it was impossible to stay out on deck with any degree of comfort, I have been busying myself with a lot of mending and have also started work on one of Madge’s doilies. I should be writing up my diary but somehow, do not feel at all in the mood for it. The uncertainty of affairs as far as the monument is concerned keeps me in such a mental turmoil that it is impossible for me to do anything requiring concentration of my mind. I had a talk with Mr. Norcross about my difficulties but all he says is that he wouldn’t worry, the skipper hasn’t the reputation of failing at anything he tackles and to leave it all to him. But Captain Bob knows less than nothing about building a stone monument and can only do, as I do, believe what he is told.
After supper, we ran through two separate stretches of drift ice and it was very exciting, with the Bosun in the crow’s nest and the skipper aft, shouting directions which were repeated by the man at the wheel.
In spite of the commotion, I was able to persuade Billy to let me make a double size icebox pudding as a surprise for Buddy tomorrow instead of a cake. It seemed very devilish to be beating up twelve eggs for one dessert and it looked enormous when it was done!
Buddy’s birthday and a miserable day, rough and raining hard.
I gave him his presents in my room after breakfast and as he is easily
pleased, he had a thrilling time. He
received a game from Madge, a book from Emily, some balloons from Marden (with
instructions to tell the Eskimos that those were the kind of bladders OUR seals
had!) a jigger and line from me, and a microscope from Mother.
This latter was easily the gem of the collection and he was busy with it
all day, comparing his hair with one from the cat and one from his sealskin
slippers, and he was nearly thrown overboard by Billy, because he walked out
into the galley and calmly demanded a cock roach! It grew steadily stormier and rougher all day so that it is
impossible to remain on deck on account of the waves that are sweeping over her
every few minutes. We had a fine
dinner, it being Sunday and at suppertime, I surprised Bud with the huge icebox
pudding decorated with thirteen candles! Of
course there was no whipped cream to be eaten with it but no none seemed to mind
and it was voted a great success by everyone except the Captain who had to cut
it into 28 pieces! By nighttime,
the ship was rolling and pitching so we had to brace ourselves to remain in bed.
A perfectly terrible day and all my plans for celebrating the Glorious 4th
with gun salutes and the display of the Stars and Stripes had to be cancelled. The wind is blowing sixty miles an hour and the seas simply
pound on board. We nearly lost our
entire deck load during the night and the Bosun who is by no means a small man
was washed from his lookout in the bow, clear aft to the wheel.
The decks leak everywhere and the long room is continually flooded
through the leaky skylight. Even my room has been deluged three or four times by water
sweeping down the companionway and the deck over my berth leaks so that even a
rubber blanket is no protection as the water drips down and hits me in the eye!
I felt too sore and bruised from the continual pounding to leave my room
all day, even for meals which were very sketchy consisting chiefly of lukewarm
canned soup as Billy’s galley is awash all the time and in spite of all kind
of arrangements with strings and wires it is next to impossible to keep anything
on his stove. Twice he had dinner for the crew on the galley table when the
ship struck a cross-sea and everything was knocked to the floor by the sudden
jar. The only cheering thought is
that in spite of the discomfort, the wind is a favoring one and we are making
good time towards Greenland!
A terrible night. The ship
rolled so that every once in a while it seemed to me as if it would be
impossible for her to right herself again.
I had my few jewels, my money, some warm socks and mittens and several
packages of Horlick’s malted milk tablets in Stefansson’s brief case, all
ready to hand in case of emergency and I let the boys sleep in their underwear
with their boots and oils laid out ready, for fear we might have to take to the
boats. Because of the terrific downpour through the long room
skylight and my companionway, orders were given to batten them down and with
mixed sensations, I listened to them as with hammer and nails and strips of wood
and pieces of canvas, they sealed us in below.
This morning, I had a headache as a result of the lack of ventilation.
I can’t remember when I have been so intensely uncomfortable and
miserable for so long a time.
The storm moderated during the night, and when we awoke this morning, the
sea was almost calm, and the sun was shining although it was bitter cold.
I went up on deck as soon as I could dress to get some fresh air in my
lungs. The Greenland coast is in
sight and I understand we are off Godhaab although there is as much secrecy
about our position as if it were wartime or we were pirates. No one dares ask the Captain where we are but they sneak
around behind his back and read the log and note our position on the chart.
I never heard such nonsense and it never occurs to him to volunteer the
information. All those aft are lost
in admiration of the sagacity of the kitten who had a tough time of it during
the rough weather, being battered from pillar to post until it discovered the
half open drawer of the Captain’s desk and there it curled itself up and there
it remained until the ship stopped bounding like a rubber ball!
In the afternoon, the wind came up again, this time from the north, dead
ahead, so strong that it was out of the question for us to buck it with our
heavy deck load, so we are off our course and tacking till the wind dies.
Still the same dreary weather and I who have always flattered myself that I can amuse myself anywhere, am bored to the point of suicide. Perhaps it is my physical condition because it is a long time since I have felt so thoroughly miserable. First one side of my headaches, then the other, then the back of my neck, then my tummy, then my back until I am just ready to jump out of my skin. I don’t get enough to drink, I know, because since the storm, when waves swept over the water cask, the drinking water is so brackish that the taste of it nauseates me. Anyhow I am a shaddow of myself and my children don’t know what to make of me, lying flat in my bunk all day not even reading or writing or sewing except at rare intervals. This evening I really frightened Buddy, because I was so hungry and forlorn and when I found out we were to have curried rice for supper, my pet abomination, I turned my head into my pillow and wept.
It is very rough and bumpy and the only pleasant feature of the storm is a fascinating gurgling sound the water makes as it rushes past the side of the ship right by my head. Sometimes it gives me a queer feeling to open the tiny closet near the head of my bed and look at the planks and realize that they are all that is between me and the Arctic Ocean! We are still running at our lowest speed and tacking back and forth, thirty five miles out to sea and thirty five miles diagonally back until we are almost upon the Greenland cliffs and then out again, losing time and not gaining any distance and made uncomfortable by the violent motion, the cold and the fog.
After supper, I decided to try drastic remedies for severe cases and
heard that champagne was excellent for seasickness, I got out my last pint and
drank it just before retiring for the night.
It worked like a charm but it certainly wasn’t just in my imagination
that the wind flatted down to such an extent that the sails came down and we set
off on our straight course at full speed.
Last night I had the first real rest I have had in a week and consequently awoke this morning refreshed and more cheerful. Best of all the sun is shining and the sea is calm. There was great commotion because the Captain ordered all blankets and mattresses on desk to be aired. The long room was completely turned out, rugs shaken and boxes re-stowed and as a final touch a liberal sprinkling of Lysol was spread around so that the place smells like the animal cages at the circus or the toilet rooms in a railroad station.
I started a long letter to Mother to be mailed when the Danish ship visits the Michigan men at Devil’s Thumb and also wrote my diary before I got up. After dinner, I went aft on deck and had a long talk with Doctor Belknap about the plans for the monument. It is the first time I have discussed them with him in detail and he is a great comfort to me. I also asked Captain Bob for the plan of positions for the workmen, which Mr. Angell made out in Brigus and told him I wanted to make several changes in it. Angell’s schedule reads: “Wells, boss mason and responsible for the completion of the work according to specifications.” This is manifestly absurd. Wells I find, is not only not a stone mason, although he is a bricklayer, but he has not worked steadily at his trade for years and left his farm to come on this trip. He has no idea what the specifications for the monument are, and thought until yesterday that it was to be laid up dry. I am, of course, going to put Belknap in charge as he is a graduate civil engineer and has had a great deal of practical experience besides being a most intelligent man while Wells can barely read and write. Angell had Carswell down as assistant mason and stone dresser, responsible for templates, details, preparation of materials and timetable. Also Angell (his son) as engineer responsible for plans, layout, transport, equipment, supplies, blacksmith work and repairs. Now all that is out of the question. Carswell is the only stone mason on the job and I do not intend to have his efficiency impaired by putting him as a subordinate under a man so obviously his inferior in knowledge and experience as Wells. So I will put Wells and Carswell together as boss masons and the work assigned to Carswell in the plan, Brute can easily, with suggestions and help from Carswell and Belknap, take care of. At any rate, I will then have the three men whose loyalty to me is unquestioned, in the three most important positions. Brute has no technical knowledge but he has talked the matter over time and time again with Burton, has been with me thru each succeeding stage of its development, and best of all will take suggestions and assistance from the others which is more than Angell will do. For that reason I am, at the request of Carswell and Belknap, transferring the responsibility for the plans and layout from Angel to Brute. It is intensely important, and really our only hope for success now that we have been so disappointed in our masons, that we follow as closely as possible the time and labor schedule worked out for us so carefully by Morton Tuttle of Boston. It has been impossible for me to impress the value of this schedule on any of the Newfoundlanders, not even Captain Bob.
Angel is no more an engineer than I am, he is a cocky boy just out of high school and ready to enter college in the fall, and his designation as engineer of an undertaking like the building of this monument, is laughable. He can run the hoisting engine and attend to blacksmith work, with assistance from Len Gusgue, and such things but for work of importance he is useless. He is also antagonistic towards me and the project as a whole. He said last night in the long room that Newfoundland methods were good enough for him (he having had no chance whatever to see any others) and all this fuss was unnecessary, that building the monument would be a cinch, (and he had never even seen a blueprint of it!) and when Carswell said: - “Well, its Mrs. Stafford’s money that’s paying for it and it must be the way she wants it” he said: - “Oh, she’s just a woman, she doesn’t know what she wants!” and idea that seemed to go over big with the other Newfoundlanders.
I had a talk with Carswell after dinner too, and he is fine; very loyal and enthusiastic and willing to fight to the last ditch. I doubt if we could pull this thing off without him.
It was lovely and warm out on deck and I stayed until almost four. Meanwhile Billy cleaned my cabin thoroughly, even washing up the bathroom floor and the sides of the bunk and I feel like a different person. After supper, I did more writing and marked one of the linen pillowcases which I bought in St. John’s, “1932 Schooner Morrissey.” Some of the boys were having a bridge game in the long room and I sent in a box of nuts as a prize which made a tremendous hit and was acknowledged by a special note delivered in person by the doctor who looked more Jewish than Shylock himself, with a huge derby hat pulled down until his ears stuck forward and his shell glasses down on this nose!
Sample menus for
the same: grapefruit or oranges, cold and really delicious, cereal, eggs, bacon,
bread and coffee. Mine is brought to me on a tray and when I got so I couldn’t
eat the salt-less smoky toast, not even spread with Madge’s good strawberry
jam, I switched to cereal and it tastes a little better.
Dinner: - Pea
soup, bread, cottage pudding, tea.
Supper: - Canned stewed corn and sausages, bread, tea, canned applesauce.
Dinner: - Lamp
and mashed potatoes, pickles, duff.
Supper: - Curried rice, canned peaches.
Dinner: - Fish
chowder, pilot biscuits, cottage pudding, tea.
Supper: - Canned veal loaf, mashed potatoes, bread and jam, tea.
Dinner: - Pea
soup, pilot biscuits, tea, apple pie.
Supper: - Pancakes, maple syrup, tea.
Saturday, 9th July 1932
Another lovely day like yesterday, with the sun shining brightly and at last, towards evening, burning away the mist so that we could see land. I remained in bed until eleven as usual, and wrote up my diary, made lists of people to be remembered and read. It is a grand feeling to be so lazy and to be well enough to enjoy it. At lunchtime everyone seemed to be more or less hilarious, and afterwards, I took my sewing and went back with the Captain. I tried to have a talk with him about the things, which are worrying me, but it is simply impossible. Either he considers me too weak minded to deal with the various problems or else he has a mistaken idea of saving me worry and anxiety but whatever the reasons, the result is that I am nearly wild. I suggested that we have the whaleboat with either Frizzell or Carswell in it, leave as soon as we arrived at Cape York, and make a preliminary scout around to find sand, so as to save the time of having the Morrissey do it, but he just says “Now, you leave things like that to me, I’ll take care of all those things and you are not to worry!” But I do worry! And so do Belknap and Carswell, the two men who know most about the actual difficulties of the construction of the monument. I told the Captain that I thought it was all wrong for Mr. Norcross to take the doctor off with him and keep him during the period of building operations which is just the time when we will need him most. If a man drops a stone on his foot or falls from the scaffolding or gets accidentally shot, the immediate attention of the doctor may mean the difference between life and death, or at best, amputation. He said yes, that he had been thinking about that but that he had practically promised the world to Norcross if only he would go on the expedition and put money into it. Then he brightened up and said: - “Oh, well, nothing will happen and anyhow, leave it to me and don’t worry! I’ll fix things up!” But I can’t help fretting. If anything happens to an Eskimo, we are responsible to the Danish government. If an accident occurred and the doctor’s presence was needed and he was not there, I would never forgive myself. The Captain thinks that Norcross will not go far and that as we have another whaleboat, it will be a simple matter to go and look for him and bring the doctor back if he is needed. But if a man has cut his arm half off with a double headed axe, you can’t put a tourniquet around it and leave him to bleed to death or not, while you go on a wild goose chase in and out of the Greenland fjords. I feel so helpless; I have all the responsibility and none of the authority.
The men have spent the greater part of the day making mortar tubs and hand barrows and tomorrow if it is still calm enough, they will start work on the sledges we are off Disko Island and the number of icebergs we pass is increasing. None of them are very large but they are a beautiful deep turquoise blue around the edges. The boys have been busy shining up shining up saw knives for truckying and Bud has braided a lanyard for the Doctor’s knife. Brute, Carswell, and Belknap have been going over the plans and blueprints together and have even begun work on a forty-seven foot monument plan in case there are not enough available rocks to build the sixty foot one. This will only be resorted to as a desperate expedient but they have the time to work the thing out now, and won’t have later.
Spent a lot of time just yarning with the different men and in the
evening, wrote on my typewriter.
A lovely day but everyone more or less grouchy from lack of sleep. Mr. Norcross had the brilliant idea last night about ten thirty of taking movies of the activities in the long room and so they had several rehearsals of singing, playing the guitar and accordion, et cetera before the actual picture was taken. From that, it was a logical step to the photographing of the men going to bed and showing that with two cots set up, eleven men slept in the long room. I was dying to call in and make the suggestion that it would be very effective to show that insufferable mason Wells, sneaking up on deck when he thought everyone was asleep and shutting the skylight, the only means of ventilation! Anyhow, it was after one o’clock before they had exhausted their ideas, although we who were forced to listen and particularly poor Billy in the galley who has to get up at four, had been exhausted long ago.
The day was lovely, calm as could be, and the coast in plain sight. There were plenty of bergs, all shapes and sizes, and they seem to go to my head for I take picture after picture of them. Had a long talk with the skipper before dinner and obtained answers to the questions on sealing which Thames Williamson had sent me. Afterwards, I sat out on deck and sewed on Junior’s corduroy pants until my hands were too cold to hold the needle. The boys got out their new guns to try them; Junior his carbine and shotgun and Bud his little .22 repeater. Mr. Norcross and the doctor supervised the shooting and everything went satisfactorily until it came Bud’s turn. Then his beloved gun, which has been the apple of his eye ever since Mother gave it to him in New York, jammed and refused to fire. Both men pronounced it unsafe to use with anything but short cartridges and we have nothing but longs on board. My heart simply bled for Bud. He stood there with his fists clenched, fighting to keep back the tears and not even Junior’s promise to let him have exclusive use of Junior’s .22, could console him. I felt terribly.
Just before supper, while I was taking a nap and the boys were reading, Dick Bird called down the companionway, that an old man had been picked up adrift and wanted particularly to see Junior and Buddy! We had already noticed that the engines had been stopped and the boys were all agog! As soon as they showed their heads above the scuttle, they were seized and blindfolded and led aft, struggling and kicking. Here stood a strange looking old man, clad in a long black rubber coat and high boots. Long hemp hair and whiskers floated about his head and face and he wore a pointed tin crown. In one had he held a trident and in the other an enormous razor. The boys were seated before him, still blindfolded and then he spoke in a deep gruff voice. “I am Father Neptune! Forty-six years ago a young man crossed the Arctic Circle in the good ship Eagle! I shaved him! Today I am going to shave his grandsons!” As he said this he produced a huge pail of suds, and using a dish mop as a shaving brush, he lathered the boys’ heads thoroughly. As the hot suds hit Junior so unexpectedly, he exclaimed at the top of his voice: - “Oh, Jesus!” the result of his staying in the long room! This almost broke up the party! When Neptune had finished shaving the boys’ heads, their blindfolds were removed and the ceremonies were over. At supper, Captain Bob explained that although we had crossed the Arctic circle early the morning of the 8th, there were so many landlubbers coming north this summer, that Father Neptune had had a busy time of it and only just got around to us! The boys were a little scared at first, though they denied it stoutly but the whole performance tickled them immensely.
After supper, Dr. Belknap came to me and said that he had just had a conference with the Captain and it had been decided that as we were just off Upernavik the motor boat would be sent ashore with Belknap, and Oscanyan to act as interpreter, and Belknap could deliver his official papers to the governor without losing a lot of time by letting the whole crowd go ashore. This amused me as it was the very suggestion which I had made several days ago when Belknap first said he wanted to go to Upernavik but the Captain had pooh poohed it as not being feasible. Now he advances it as his own and it is alright.
I got busy at once, finishing the letter to Mother which I have been writing on for days, and then when it was done, it was so bulky, I decided to type it. The boys each wrote here a little note; I wrote several notes to others and did up a package of American magazines for the wife of the assistant inspector at Proven, as she is an American. This will probably be our last chance to send mail home and as the letters will go to the States by way of Denmark, it is just possible that we may get there before they do but nevertheless, I thought it was a chance worth taking.
This done, I went up on deck to watch our entrance. We were very, very close to the land and it was certainly imposing. Great sheer cliffs towered above us and in the grey light there seemed no color anywhere except the brilliant turquoise blue of a couple of stranded bergs. The scenery changed with the shifting angle of the ship’s course and I certainly admired Captain Bob for steering in among the shoals and reefs of what is known to be a tricky and uncharted harbor. He left his usual post aft and stationed himself on the bowsprit where he remained like a figurehead except for an occasional wave of the had to direct the helmsman. Brute, Belknap, Carswell, Oscanyan and I stood and watched until I thought we would grow to the spot. Finally, I was so chilled I went below and later called Oscayan and Belknap and gave them each a glass of Port to warm them before their trip ashore in the motor boat.
At last, we stopped, the boat was lowered and ashore they went, Norcross, Wyer and the doctor horning in on the party at the last moment, although it had been given out strictly that no none but Belknap and Oscanyan and a man to run the boat were to land. Had it not been after midnight, I would have gone myself, just to be represented and not have it look entirely like Norcross’s expedition. As it was, I gave Brute a shove and told him to go, and it was well for me that I did, as I found out later.
After the boat had left, I gave the Captain a piece of my mind about the way Norcross butts in on everything and tries to run the whole show and I discovered that the skipper feels very much as I do about it. Be he is so good-natured he would rather let people walk all over him than to make a row. I was ashamed to have lost my temper but it did some good as I think the Captain had no idea how I felt and really wants to please me and have things go as I wish them. He promised me solemnly that he would not let the doctor go with Norcross and I now feel greatly relieved. When he and I finished our talk, there was still no sigh of the return of the whaleboat and so I decided to go below as it was nearly two a.m. I had hardly arrived, however, when Carswell knocked on the door and said: - “Don’t go to bed yet, Mrs. Stafford, the whaleboat is coming now and there are only three men in it!” So of course, I waited and found that the Danish authorities would not let our men land without medical papers and the doctor had come off to get them. So then I turned in in earnest and was sound asleep when there was a pounding on my door. My clock said half past three and Brute was saying that the Governor and his wife and daughter, learning that I was on board, were coming out to call on me!
I simply scrambled into my clothes and went aft to the Captain’s
quarters just in time to greet Kolonienbyster Otto and his family.
I could not possible have been ready had not Brute over ruled the
objections of Norcross and Angel and made them speed our boat up to out distance
the Governor’s boat and give me a little notice.
It was rather difficult conversing with them, as their English was
extremely meager and my Danish non-existent, but we managed a little.
Otto had seen and known Mother and Dad and Robert and said my mother was
a very beautiful woman. I brought the ladies down to see my cabin and they were
impressed at the comfort and conveniences on so small a boat. They also aroused Bud’s enmity by awaking him and then
saying over and over again that he was “sweet”.
They had a young chap with them named Hanssen, who spoke English quite
well, and was a perfect picture, lacking only a long clay pipe and dachshund!
When they finally decided to leave, it was after four and I could only
stay awake long enough to take a picture of their craft with its crew of Eskimos
in their bright colored cloth jerseys. Then
I toppled over asleep.
It was imply impossible to rouse Buddy when Billy brought my breakfast in to me at seven thirty and so we decided to let him sleep. Billy was pretty indignant and said it was his second night without sleep in succession. He said: - “I have that big German (meaning Schmelling) out of me galley at one o’clock this morning and him making coffee and toast for himself!”
I went back to sleep as soon as breakfast was done and never woke up again until ten thirty. Then I had hard work to get Bud up and we both appeared a little late for dinner. Afterwards I sat aft and enjoyed the really stunning outlook. On one side of us stretched the mountainous Greenland coast, with its fiords and glaciers and stranded bergs, while on the other side a solemn and dignified procession of enormous icebergs filed slowly past. The water was like glass and the sky full of fluffy little clouds. Even the skipper felt the beauty and gave me a discourse on Shelley’s poem “West Wind.”
The doctor has managed to fix Bud’s gun and he had a happy time firing at a lot of murres that are constantly swimming about the ship.
Two Eskimos taken on board from Upernavik to act as hunters and dog drivers for the Michigan boys have proved a great source of interest and Junior got out the vocabulary which Robert worked out so carefully for him, and with Brute’s help has been going over it with the Eskimos who can speak a little English and can write too. As they are anxious to increase their knowledge of English, the combination is working splendidly.
There is quite a bit of hustle and bustle going on as the Michiganders prepare their stuff to be landed tomorrow. We will probably arrive at Devil’s Thumb in the early morning and it is there that we are to leave Schmelling and Gardiner and the Eskimos. Belknap is continuing to Cape York with the sole purpose of helping me out by superintending the building of the monument. We will drop him on our way south.
In the evening, about eight o’clock, I invited Belknap, Gardiner, Schmelling, Oscanyan, Carswell and Brute in to my room for a farewell spread in honor of the two departing men. I was careful to explain that the party was a consolation and not a celebration! We had caviar canapés, sandwiches made from the delicious nut bread that Beth Bartlett made for me, Huntley and Palmer fancy crackers, Nuts and Barsac. It was quite a squeeze getting them all seated in my tiny room but we managed somehow and had an awfully good time, at least we seemed to for at eleven they were still there and might yet be had we not heard the Captain’s voice on deck calling directions to the man at the wheel so we knew we were in the ice.
We went up on deck to see the most eerie sight I have seen for a long
time. The fog was quite thick all
around us and we were passing along through a regular maze of small bergs and
growlers. These latter are so
called from a fancied sound of growling, which they make as the water sucks up
under them and then falls away. It
sounded more like boiling to me, and they fairly sizzled past our side.
The dead calm of the water added to the spectral effect as the strangely
shaped pieces of ice drifted silently past us.
The final weird touch were masses of black ice, relics of a grounded
berg. It was piercingly cold and
damp, and I soon went below and to bed.
I know that we were due at Kraulhaven? Early this morning, so before going to bed last night I asked Brute to pound on my door when the Michigan men were roused so as to give me time to get dressed. I should hate to be taken by surprise again the way I was in Brigus. But Billy brought my breakfast at the usual time and I was able to dress in leisure and get on deck in plenty of time to see us enter the harbor. It seems that Captain Bob was “thinking about something else, hon” and had gone on to Devil’s Thumb, which had been indicated originally as the destination of the party. So we had been three hours retracing our steps.
The village, consisting of about four frame houses and as many sod huts, was tucked away up a fiord, the entrance to which was on either side of an island. The Upernavik Eskimos were able to pilot us in and it was really a lovely sight. The mountains slope down gently to the water and are of that warm rich brown which seems to be characteristic of Greenland. The water was extremely clear and there were several small-grounded bergs of a heavenly turquoise blue, which gave just the proper accent.
Oscayan showed me the “ice blink” of which I have heard so much but never remember seeing before and it looked all the world as if the sun as behind the cloud and would burst forth at any moment. As a matter of fact, the sun was not in that direction at all.
We came to anchor before there were any signs of activity in the town and then dogs and people began to gather at the landing. Our boat was made ready and the dory also, as we are to take on fresh water here. Norcross of course directed the taking of the movies of the disembarking and when the boat was ready to leave told Dick Bird that he and Wyer were going ashore in the first lead. I am beginning to learn my lesson. At first, having always been looked out for with courtesy and consideration wherever I have been, I did not urge myself but waited to be told that now I was to come, et cetera, and invariably I got left for no one pays any attention to me and if I don’t push forward and say I am coming too, I am left behind and no on either knows or cares. It is a novel situation and one, which it has taken me some time to grow, accustomed to. But I was anxious to go ashore and could see no reason why Norcross should get the cream of it, and so when Belknap and Oscayan and the others were in the boat, I simply said: - “The boys and I are coming too,” and got in also before anything could be said.
The natives were dressed in their best on the docks and Nielsen, the inspector was there to great us. Unfortunately he is almost all Eskimo and while he understands a little Danish, he does not speak it at all. Belknap presented his letter and then Oscayan, the boys, Belknap and I were escorted into the house. It was very neat and clean and Nielsen’s Eskimo wife came forward to greet us. She too was neat and clean but grotesque looking because of being in an advanced stage of pregnancy which the native costume of short sealskin trousers and tight fitting anorak does nothing to conceal. We were seated around the table in the living room and Nielsen offered cigars to us all, the boys and myself included. Then his wife appeared with glasses of excellent Madeira and we sat around and drank that in a very awkward silence. When coffee appeared, in dainty china cups decorated with pink roses, it was the third thing the boys were forced to refuse and so I let them go over to where the sailors were taking on water from the overflow of a little lake.
We sat on, Oscayan trying to make conversation and succeeding spasmodically and then the three little girls of the family were brought in all dressed in their special costumes of tiny red kamiks, embroidered sealskin trousers and wide, elaborate bead collars over their bright anoraks. They made such a demure trio that I took them outside and photographed them, to the obvious gratification of the parents. Leaving Oscayan to arrange if possible that a costume should be made for me and be ready on my return, I went outside to scout around. Brute was there with the movie camera and so he and I started off towards the dory where the men were loading the water casks. We passed high racks from which hung great strips of yellow blubber, drying in the sunshine, and wound our way among snarling, half, savage dogs. The ground all about was covered with filth and the refuse from the houses and the unforgettable, pungent “husky” smell filled the air.
Scrambling over the loose rocks, we came to several sod houses, each of which however, boasted a real glass window, and by judicious presents of chocolate and chewing gum, I was able to take all the pictures that I wanted. I also took a number of pictures of the Morrissey lying at anchor in the little harbor. It was a lovely sight for the surroundings were beautiful and the ship herself has the lines of a yacht. We had just reached the lake, whence we could see another sod village further along and a tiny cemetery with straggling crosses, when Oscayan called us to go back to the ship for lunch. I had invited the Inspector and his wife so I had to hurry.
When I got to the dock, Dick informed me that Billy was wild at having unexpected company and when I said: - “Oh, that’s alright, Billy and I are friends” he said: - “Not any more!” But on board, I found Billy as cheerful as ever and only a little disturbed for fear there would not be enough to go around. It was rather awkward at table, not being able to talk with our guests but they were so absorbed in looking about them that I doubt if they even noticed it. They ate very nicely, managing knife and form with comparative ease, and the little boy was nearly overcome at the sight of the kitten. Later when we went into the skipper’s cabin and showed them the turtle, they became almost hysterical and Oscanyan advised us not to try anything more, as he says the only time these south Greenlanders become homicidal, is when they are frightened.
When they left for shore, I went also as the boys had gone climbing on a nearby hill and had disappeared and not been seen for hours and I was worried. But when we were nearly ashore, I spied their red coats coming down the slope. While awaiting their arrival, I climbed the hill back of the settlement and read the inscription on the marker there commemorating the visit of the King and Queen of Denmark in July, 1930. Schmelling and Gardiner had their stuff all ashore and had been on board for their last meal. I stopped in at the Inspector’s house to be measured for kamiks, knowing perfectly well that it would be impossible for an Eskimo mind to grasp the fact that a woman could have a foot the size of mine, and in endeavoring to see how high she should make the boots, the woman, despite the presence of Oscayan and the Inspectors, simply lifted my skirt up and laid it over my shoulder while she measured! The Captain says: - “Honi soit qui mal y pense” which may be quite true, but I was grateful for my black woolen bloomers just the same.
We said Goodbye to the two Michigan men and went out aboard, after presenting the Inspector with a carton of cigarettes and his son with a jack knife. I will make a present to the “lady” when we return. We steamed slowly out of the little harbor and were soon on our way once more. So much strenuous exercise after days of inaction, has tired us all out and we all flopped down on our beds and slept till suppertime. In the evening, I cleared out my cubbyholes and pressed the five varieties of flowers, which the boys brought back to me from their tramp.
George the sailor is a great pal of Buddy’s and is always telling him stories. Here are two of them which Bud repeated to me, adding with his eyes like saucers, “I don’t know if he was kidding me or not!” There is an Arctic bird (according to George) that has legs about ten inches long and always stands when he is not flying because his legs do not bend. A man out hunting saw a group of these birds standing in a clump of high grass and fired his double barreled shot gun at them. They all flew away but in the hope that one, perhaps might have been killed, the man went over to the grass and found no birds at all but was able to pick up a burlap bag full of legs! Another time when George was out seal hunting, he fired at a seal and killed it but when he went over to it, no matter how carefully he looked, he was unable to find the hole where the fatal bullet had entered. Then he realized that what had happened was that the bullet had passed right in front of the seal’s nose, so close that it had cut off his breath!
It does me a world of good to have the boys around with this old
fashioned kind of sailor. They are
picking up all kinds of yarns and superstitions, which will be amusing and
interesting to them in the future. For
instance, the other day Bud was whistling in the cabin, when suddenly he stopped
and jumping up, started t leave the room. “Where
are you going?” I asked. “Oh,”
he said, “I was whistling and that will bring a gale of wind unless I run
quick and scratch on the mainmast!” They
have also discovered from Billy why we have plum duff on Tuesdays, Thursdays and
Sundays. There was once an old
Newfoundlander named Solomon Goss and he had three birthdays a week, on which
days duff is served in his honor because he was so fond of it.
But we have yet to find out why the galley smokestack is called
“Charlie Noble.” Captain Bob
says the expression originated in the United States Navy but when or why is more
than he can say.
All night, I was more or less kept awake by the noise of the ice scraping past the side. We were evidently passing through a great deal of old rotten floe ice and it sounded so close to my head that I almost expected to see a long blue green tongue of it push across the covers of the bed. When Junior came in to wash before breakfast, he said it was very misty and the water full of ice. I warned him that this was exactly the kind of weather and the place to see a bear, and advised him to take his bun and ammunition and put them in some handy place where he could get them quickly. Fortunately for my prestige with my children, a bear was sighted shortly afterwards but it proved to be a wary old soul and disappeared so quickly that although the Morrissey cruised about for some time in that vicinity we were unable to catch another glimpse of it. I accused them of shouting “Bear!” just to get me out of bed ahead of my usual time but they all declare the bear was actually there!
This excited Junior so that he has spent the remainder of the day, with a few minutes grudgingly devoted to dinner, out in the extreme bow of the ship, with his carbine, his shotgun and his .22 spread out in front of him and his pockets full of ammunition, ready for anything. Poor little devil, Norcross will have first shot at anything that comes along and even if Junior killed it, no one would believe it if Norcross had fired also. I try to save him from disappointment by telling him that he can do a lot of shooting at Cape York, after Norcross leaves in the whaleboat, but he still has hopes.
There is the strangest light on the water. The sky reflects and the surface of the sea is just like glass, so that it is almost is almost impossible to tell where one begins and the other stops. And in coloring it is just as you would imagine the inside of an opal to be.
I have done a lot of typewriting and taken some pictures and overhauled
my closet and sorted the wash so I feel more than usually virtuous!
Junior was up all night, stationed in the bow, gun in had, hoping to get a chance at a bear or even a seal but nothing came his way. I thought he seemed sort of pathetic in his eagerness to land something worth wile and I did wish I could bring it about. What with having him on my mind and Junius Bird deciding at quarter past three a.m. that he would finish the sled on the deck over my berth, my night was very wakeful.
We reached Cape York a little before nine in the morning of a beautiful day and to our surprise and delight we were able to make our way, under Will’s skillful guidance from the crown’s nest, right up to the edge of the glacier where the ship was moored, exactly as if she were at a wharf. The boys wanted to take their guns and go over to the bird cliffs so I left them with orders to obey Will and do exactly as he said and then the rest of us started up the glacier to reconnoiter the site for the monument.
I have never gotten so tired in my whole life before I think. In the first place, we had been sitting around on board ship, unable even to walk the routine “miles” around the ship’s deck, for almost a month and we were all pretty soft. Even if we had been in shape it was a tough climb. The glacier was covered with snow that was just beginning to soften and melt, so that at every step you sank in up to your knees and had to much drag your foot out in order to start again. It was uphill of course and the slopes didn’t seem to stay climbed. As fast as you reached what you had fondly imagined was the top, another slope rose in front of you. The only thing that saved me was the fact that Captain Bob is sort of heavy and not so good a walker and I kept close behind him. We walked single file and by sticking to the end of the procession the trail was pretty well beaten down for me.
We were on the constant lookout for crevasses and even then we almost had a tragedy. Carswell slipped into a deep crack and sank to his armpits and would have gone all the way, had not Mr. Norcross grabbed him. As it was he lost his coat, which he was carrying over his arm, and even by lying on the edge and peering down into the blue depths, we were unable to see the least sign of it.
After climbing for over an hour, we reached the saddle and could see the sea to the north. Up a rough stony slope we climbed and then zigzagged back and forth across a steep snow slope. Then more climbing. I was so tired I could have screamed and the only way I could keep going was to watch the footsteps of the man in front of me and not try to look ahead and see how much further we had to go. I kept thinking of Kipling’s poem: -“Boots! Boots! Boots!”
At last we were on the top, 1400 feet above sea, and I was thrilled to think how Dad would have loved the place. No matter where he was, the first thing he did when he arrived at a strange place was to climb the highest point and take a look around him. This point where we stood was easily the highest point in the whole peninsula. The top is covered with loose rocks of all sizes and kinds, ideal for building purposes, so both Belknap and Carswell assure me. How we are to get out 15 tons of cement and other impedimenta up is another question, although the fact that the glacier reaches so near to the top is greatly in our favor.
I wanted to circle the point in the whaleboat before deciding definitely on this particular spot, because it will depend greatly on how it looks from the water. In order to identify it, the men built a rough stone cairn six feet high and then we started back to the ship. The Captain and some of the others decided to return as we had come but the thought of all that snow and slush was too much for me. Belknap, Carswell, Angel, Brute and Norcross were for going back around the Cape and so I accompanied them. I had a lot of trouble at first because of my shoes. This morning I purposely put on a pair of soft soled oiltan boots, thinking them the most suitable footgear as they were so much like the Eskimo kamiks. But the walk through the snow had softened them so that they were no protection to my feet at all.
Instead of being able to stride comfortably down hill across the snow free rocks, I had to hobble along choosing my way with the greatest care and stepping only on flat stones. Pointed or sharp rocks nearly killed me and small stones all seemed to land under my instep. At last I could stand it no longer so Brute offered to change footgear with me, as he had on a pair of rubber boots with heels. It seemed extremely unlikely that his boots would fit me but he insisted and as anything was better than suffering as I was, I did try and they fit me and the change was just like heaven. I was able to go on with new courage although I was weary enough to drop in my tracks and simply famished, as it was after one and breakfast and been at 7.
We walked and walked. Our plan of getting down to sea level and skirting the shore was impossible because of the steepness of the cliffs; we just couldn’t get down. We continued walking until it seemed to me that I could not will myself to take another stop and still we did not see the ship. Finally all of us but Jack Angel sat down to rest and he scouted on ahead. He went down a sloping gully and finally motioned to us to come along. I served notice then and there that if we got way down and then found the cliffs were impassable I simply would not climb back up again because the hinges in my legs that made them work up hill were completely worn out. I think Mr. Norcross took me literally because he made everyone string out single file about 100 fee apart with me bringing up the rear so that the word could be passed back like a bucket brigade to keep me from coming any further than necessary. But fortunately the cliffs though steep and quite tricky because of the thick, treacherous moss were possible and by swinging ourselves around corners and making sure of each hand and foothold before we trusted our weight to it, we managed to make a slow descent down the bed of a cataract that plunged and bubbled and gurgled beside us all the way. When we finally reached the bottom, it was three o’clock and we were famished.
We had come down right by some empty winter igloos, built mostly of sod with occasional rocks to stiffen them. Apparently the owners had only left them temporarily because huge piles of meat were strewn all about and inside the houses were racks of little auk, hung from the roof and the bed platforms piled with furs, guns, and clothing. One igloo contained a real stove and china dishes while another boasted the remnants of a graphaphone. But the smell and stench and filth in and around the houses was simply indescribable and we did not linger long.
Just as we were realizing with sinking hearts what a long tramp it still was to the ship, we spied the whaleboat put out and head in our general direction. We acted like shipwrecked mariners on a desert island. We jumped up and down and waved and yelled until finally we attracted their attention and they swung in after us. What a relief! It was bliss to sit quietly in the boat and find yourself actually going somewhere without having made any effort yourself. We were terrified for fear Billy would say it was so late that we would have to have dinner and supper in one, but he met us all smiles and ready with a dinner of roast beef and mashed potatoes! It was the best meal I have had for some time!
Junior was radiant because he had managed to shoot a little auk and after dinner, the doctor was kind enough to skin it for him scientifically so that he can have it mounted when he gets home if he wishes.
As soon as I finished eating, I went aft to talk with the Captain. He and I agree that it is impossible to get the things to the summit of the Cape without the help of the Eskimos and their dogs and sledges and the Eskimos that we had counted on finding here have all gone off somewhere. Junius Bird went over to the tent village and found there only three woman and several children. They made motions and let him understand the general direction, which the men had taken and also said that a Danish comiacsoah had been there only a few days before. Putting two and two together, we think they have gone to Thule but we can’t understand it because Rasmussen wrote me that we might use the Eskimos of the Cape York district in our work and he thought they would be sufficient. It seems almost like double crossing us, to come a few days ahead of us and carry off the able-bodied men. So in order to find out where we stand, Captain Bob and I decided to up anchor and go to Thule and talk with the inspector there. We hate to lose the time, when we were so proud of being two days ahead of our schedule but we must find out if we are to be allowed to have the Eskimos or not, and if so where they are. I had a fine chance to watch the skyline of the Cape as we passed along in the Morrissey to the North, and the place where we climbed is undoubtedly the place which Dad would have selected and that is what Mother and I want.
Wells, the highly (?) intelligent mason whom we shipped at Brigus said that he thought the ting to do was to build a snow monument up on top. It would save hauling sand and cement and tools and it was so cold here it would never melt! He was one of those who returned over the glacier with Captain Bob and from all I hear, coming down through the slush was almost worse than going up. There were places where Captain Bob lay down and rolled! Junior told me that he heard Wells say it was lucky I did not come with them because “that woman would never have made it in the world!” And Junior spoke right up and said: -“I bet my mother can go anywhere you can!”
We had hardly left Cape York, before a thick fog settled down.
The engine was going on one lung, two of the cylinders having given out
and the engineers having counted on having plenty of time to fix them at Cape
York because we all thought when we arrived that we were there to stay.
As if this wasn’t trouble enough, the Captain had the devil’s own
time with the compass. This is an intensely magnetic region. The magnetic axis is supposed to be just north of Thule and
besides that, in these regions, magnetic storms occur frequently.
Anyhow, the compass began to swing back and forth at an alarming rate,
and once when the Captain thought he was well on his way to Thule, he sighted
conical rock off Cape York, which he had already passed once on his way North.
He had made a complete turn and was headed south again. From that time on he paid no attention to the compass and
steered by what he calls “the barking dog method”, i.e. shouting and waiting
for the echo to tell him how close he is to land.
In spite of the combination of circumstances against him, the Captain got us in to Thule harbor around nine o’clock our time which was just seven their time. I have been nearly breaking my head all the way up, to think why in the world we should be on daylight time here in the Arctic when the sun shines constantly throughout the twenty four hours but it was explained to me today that it was to prevent a change in the men going on watches. It was better to keep them as they were and not have our time different. I had also been trying to place “Thule”. The trading station was of course, non-existent in my day, but the place must have been there and as soon as I stepped on deck this morning and saw the towering peculiarly shaped cliff which guards the harbor entrance, I knew it was the place which Dad always spoke of as “Oo-man-oo-ie” meaning heart shaped. This seems to be my day for having mysteries explained for when I said to the doctor, that the mountain certainly did not look heart shaped to me, he explained that of course the Eskimos knew nothing of a conventionalized heart such as appears on playing cards or valentines but only recognized a think as being heart shaped when it resembled an animal heart, and the mountain does look roughly like that.
I went ashore in the first boat, with the Captain, Norcross, Wyer, my boys, and a heap of others and of course, Oscanyan to act as interpreter. Half way in to the beach, a little motor boat came out to greet us, flying the Danish flag. In it were two natives and a white man. He climbed on board and introduced himself as Doctor Hulm and said that Inspector Nielsen (not the same one that was at Traulshalve) was away on the Danish ship “Stauning” (the same one that had gathered up the Cape York Eskimos) but was expected back that day or the next. The doctor was wearing the most magnificent pair of bearskin trousers I almost ever saw, dazzlingly white, and my boys were simply goggle eyed at the sight of them.
When we landed, a very pretty woman in European dress, came down to meet us and she and the Captain greeted each other like long lost friends although she spoke no English and he spoke no Danish. It was Netta, who had come down on the Morrissey from Thule to Godhaab several years ago and she and her fiancé and Rasmussen had all slept in one bunk in the Captain’s cabin. It was apropos of her that David Putnam made his famous remark: -“Sure, they have all the luxuries aft---a stove and women and everything!” She is part Eskimo but was educated in Denmark and is really very lovely looking.
She and the Doctor Hulm escorted us to the house and we entered through the most immaculate kitchen I have ever seen. She is now the wife of Nielsen, the inspector and as such is very much the leading lady of the place! As she motioned us through each door, and later to chairs in her “parlor” she accompanied the gesture each time with a remark which sounded astonishingly like “Let’s go!” It was not until I was able to take Oscanyan aside and question him that I was able to get the correct pronunciation and meaning of what she said. He is asleep now so I can’t check up on it, but I will put it in correctly later ("baer saa god”). It sounds as if it were spelled “Vesco” and means “Kindly please yourself”. Her house was lovely. A stunning picture of the mountain hung on the wall of the dining room, with an inscription on it to Hans and Netta Nielsen from the painter himself. There was also a cunning painting of her little girl, some statuettes of Eskimos, and a marvelous old Waterford glass decanter.
In a few moments we were ushered in to the dining room. The table was covered with a white cloth, and set with dainty china; a silver holder, fan shaped, was in the center and held flowered paper napkins. Plates piled high with crackers and cakes were everywhere and we were everywhere and we were treated to the most delicious coffee I have had for sometime! I was amused to notice that the steel bladed knives had a funny be-whiskered seal stamped on them as a trademark and the word “Rustfri” which I suppose is Danish for stainless. We sat around and did our best to appear at ease, which is not simple when there is no common language. But after a while Doctor Hulm came in and he speaks English quite well. Then a very attractive man came in, a Hans Brun whom Captain Bob knew well, as they were together in the Viking on the first Varrick Frizzell expedition, and he could speak English like a streak although he is a Dane. They were laughing and kidding him about the time he got tight in the Newfoundland Hotel in St. John’s and turned a fire extinguisher up side down and then couldn’t stop it. I liked him very much. Captain Bob says there are all sorts of mysteries about him. Some say he is the son of very poor parents and that’s why no one knows anything about him. Others say his is of splendid family but is a black sheep. He has two lovely children, according to their photograph and some say that he is married to a Russian or Romanian princess. He certainly acts and talks like a man of the world. He is at Thule for the summer engaged in scientific studies connected with the Polar Year.
Our “spread” would up with Benedictine and then we were free t leave and wander about. The Captain left to talk business with Brun and the Doctor volunteered to accompany Belknap and me in our walk over to the Eskimo village where the boys and Brute had preceded us. Doctor Hulm has been in Thule for four years and is excitedly looking forward to his return to Denmark on the “Stauning” within the next few days. He was very pleasant and entertaining and when we reached the church and I expressed a desire to see the painting inside he led me right in.
This painting is one of the most astonishing experiences I have had in the entire trip. Oscayan told me about it vaguely. Said it was of an Eskimo Christ and was so well done that a copy of it had been used as the cover for the Scandinavian Review etc. but even that did not prepare me. The church itself is beautiful in its simplicity. The rafters of the pointed roof are left exposed but the ends are hand-carved and the entire interior is stained a warm brown set off with cream colored trimmings. Candles are in sconces at the sides and in two lovely brass chandeliers and over the altar hangs the picture. The sky is a vivid, clear yellow. Silhouetted against it is the red robed figure of Christ, seated on the top of Oominak Mountain where it stands guard over Thule. Clasped in his left arm and cuddled confideingly against him is a little Eskimo girl, in characteristic Eskimo costume. Christ’s right arm is stretched out to help a little Eskimo boy, who with arms over his head, as a child does when it is just learning to walk, is toddling towards him. It is so simple and yet so exactly right. With the Doctor’s permission, I took a time exposure of it and can only hope and pray that it will come out. The light was rather difficult. The doctor himself ways he has taken a colored picture of it.
From the church we went on to the village. The ground is covered with loose rocks between which grow all kinds of flowers, mostly poppies and the various varieties of saxifrage but although I am stiff and sore from yesterday, walking on the level does not bother me but really makes me feel better. We passed some rude graves, relics of the influenza epidemic of 1918 and then were at the village where the boys were awaiting us. The people here looked more like the old fashioned north Greenland Eskimos that I remember but I cannot get used to their cloth kapetahs or “anoraks” as they call them. One old woman said she remembered me and was simply thrilled when I trotted out my few little Eskimo words and endeavored to talk with her. She was pleased also to see the boys and when I suddenly remembered the old husky trick of calling the puppies with a clicking sound hard to imitate, and the little dogs all around came clustering about me, the women were delighted beyond measure! I distributed chocolate all around and took a number of pictures, movies and stills and when I left, the old woman said “Goodbye!” and one of the younger ones called: -“Happy New Year!”
We returned to the ship for dinner and afterwards I had a long talk with the Captain. Hans Brun told him that he was sure we could get the Eskimos to help us but we would have to pay them forty cent a day apiece. This is out of the question of course as the money Mother could have used to pay the Eskimos has been put into guns and ammunition and clothing and things which we thought they would be glad to have. The thought of an Eskimo caring for money is a new one. But Brun explained that it was such a nuisance to have the Eskimos pay in furs and so hard to fix a hard and a fast standard, that they pay the Eskimos for the furs with money and let them buy as they like from the store. The Captain and I have half a mind to go further north and see if we can’t find some of Dad’s old huskies who remember him and will want to work for us because of him and independent of the Danes. The only thin is the amount of time it will take when we should be getting on with the work. A Dane on shore told one of our men that we would build no monument this year, so we really don’t know what to think. We will wait for the Stauning and see what Nielsen has to say for he is the only man here who has any authority.
The minister came out to call on us and proved to be the Eskimo who had taken the trip up Inglefield Gulf after narwhal with Robert and Rassmussen. It is a revelation to me that these North Greenland Eskimos can read and write for when he could not make us understand his figures he would take a pencil and write them down for us. Be means of the vocabulary which Robert and worked out for Junior and my recollection, faint though it was, of Eskimo, and the minister’s scanty knowledge of English, we managed to converse and get quite a bit of information. He took the chart and showed us the various Eskimo settlements with the number of natives at each; he told me Koddlooktoo was alive and living at Karnah and had three children; Ootah is at Meteorite Island; Sammy is dead. We showed him the New York Times article with the story of the Memorial in it and he was able to understand a lot. He could not believe that I had been to the top of Cape York yesterday and kept shaking his head and saying: -“Now I Oh!” While he was still on board, the Stauning was sighted and he went ashore.
I had planned to go ashore again myself as the engines were not yet fixed but decided to wait until the excitement over the arrival of the Stauning had had time to calm down a little. So I dissipated by putting clean sheets on my bed and writing a letter to Mother for the Stauning to carry and by that time the Captain was ready to go ashore and wanted me to go with him. We took Junior because he had shot a sea pigeon from the ship and it had drifted ashore and he wanted to walk over and get it. When we landed, we went right up to the Nielsen house and found all the shore party gathered in the small room, consuming more coffee and Benedictine. Hans Brun introduced Inspector Nielsen, who unfortunately speaks no English and those two and Captain Bob and I went out and up to Brun’s little shack where we could talk in privacy. The place was very cozy and one wall was lined with books in Danish and English. Among them I noticed Aldous Huxley’s “This Brave New World” and it gave me a clue to Brun’s tastes.
Through Brun, we had quite a talk with Nielsen who showed himself to be everything that was courteous and obliging. He waived the forty cents a day part, saying we could arrange all that with the Eskimos. He told us where to find the natives, most of them close to Cape York, and also assured us that we would have at least 7 dog teams and perhaps more. He said there was a cache of narwhal meat on Salve Island, which could be used for dog meat now, but we would have to replace it with other meat before we left. The Captain asked him if we might take some natives and go walrus hunting in order to supply the meat and he was quite willing that we should do this. He listened with interest and pleasure when I explained to him, through Brun, that of all the places where a monument to Dad would be appropriate, we had selected this because it was not so much a memorial to Dad as it was a grateful recognition of the devoted services of the Eskimo people. This seemed to strike a responsive chord. He also said that any Eskimo that had ever worked for Dad, still remembered him and would be glad to work for us.
To fill the Captain’s cup to overflowing, Nielsen said that Inughito was in Thule and we might take him with us to act as interpreter. The Captain nearly jumped out of his skin and said: -“Inughito here? Why my God! He’s one of our own!” He had been galley boy with Koodlooktoo on the Roosevelt in 1909. So Inughito was sent for and when he arrived, I have hardly ever seen anything as touching as the meeting between him and the Captain. They put their arms around each other and the Captain’s eyes were full of tears and Inughito kept saying over and over again: “Shooda shooda, goddamit Captain!” Afterwards when I asked the Captain what the husky had meant, he said Rasmussen had told him that “Shooda shooda goddamit Captain” was the name the Eskimos had for him, shooda shooda meaning “all the time”. While the greetings were being exchanged, the two Danes looked on with the tolerant, indulgent smile one usually reserves for a well-loved and rather spoiled child. And I think that is just the way they feel about the Captain. He can get away with murder among them because of his loveable nature.
In a few minutes of rapid and complicated conversation during which Nielsen spoke in Eskimo to Inughito, translated into Danish to Brun who in turn translated into English for the Captain and me, everything was arranged. Inughito would come with us gladly if we would send the motor boat around to get his kayak and leave some sugar, coffee, crackers etc with his wife. In the midst of this, another Husky with the roundest, fattest face I ever saw, burst into the room and fell into the Captain’s arms. This was Harrigan, who had been on the Roosevelt also.
We all walked down to the beach together and the boat took the Captain
and me out to the ship and then with Brun and Inughito and, of course, Norcross
on board went after Inughito’s things. With
the Captain’s permission, Junior and Bud and Brute launched the dory and
picking up two small, incredibly dirty Eskimo boys for crew, had a grand time,
shooting sea pigeons. I discovered
to my horror that the Captain had given orders for a cot to be set up in the
dining room for Inughito to sleep on and I nearly had a fit for although
Inughito may have a heart of gold, nevertheless he is dirty and has a number of
Knmucks strolling about on him. I
did not want to complain to the Captain and so I went to my old standby Billy
and sobbed on his shoulder. He
said: -“Wait, mum, till I have a look around” and finally stowed Inughito
away in the engine room on a pile of cement bags as cozy as you please and
everyone was happy. That five-dollar gold piece I gave Billy on his birthday was
the best investment I ever made!
Junior’s birthday. Last evening, Nielsen came out to pay his return call in all formality on the Captain and while he and Brun and the Captain and I were sitting in the Captain’s cabin, the Captain suddenly jumped up in the midst of something Nielsen was saying and said: -“Well, I suppose you are going ashore now and you must excuse me, because the wind is right for us and I am anxious to get away!” I was horror stricken, because the Danes are such sticklers for form and politeness and then to dismiss a man who had been so wonderfully kind and helpful as Nielsen! But he apparently took it in good part and left, beaming and smiling and waving his cap. And then the Captain found that the engine was not yet repaired and there was still two or three hour’s work to be done on her! I was mortified to death and went below for fear I would say something.
Right after breakfast, Junior received his presents in my room and seemed pleased although there was nothing particularly thrilling among them. When I finally got up and went out on deck it was a perfect day and we were passing close under the coastline. The water is a real Mediterranean blue, enhanced by the occasional ice cakes and the cliffs rise straight up from it. With their snow-covered peaks and shining glaciers, you might think yourself in the heart of the Alps or the Rockies and yet there is the ocean at their feet. I took heaps of pictures, as each vista seemed lovelier than the last.
Billy thrilled Junior by presenting him with a pair of hand knit trigger finger mittens, the wool for which had been carded and spun by Billy’s wife. It made me think of Pape. Right after dinner we picked up the tiny village for which we were looking and we would never in this world have found it if Inughito had not piloted us in. no wonder we passed it day before yesterday in the fog. Only the Captain and Inughito went ashore, with Carswell along to have a look at the quality of the sand. We heard a great to do among the dogs which signaled the arrival of the party for the village was out of sight behind a tiny island and then in scarcely any time around the point came four kayakers, towing a fifth and empty kayak. It is a pretty sight, these frail little crafts with their flashing, double ended paddles and we took pictures of them as they approached. When they came alongside, each man in turn wriggled himself loose from the tight fitting mouth of his kayak, scrambled on board up a dangling rope, and watched as his kayak was hauled up after him. Among the men was Nipsingwah whom I knew as a little girl. They all seem more astonished at the sight of me than of any of the other surprising things on the ship, not even excluding the cat. They have that sort of “I knew her when” expression coupled with “And now look at the damn lamb!” It is awfully funny! They are immensely diverted to see my boys and when I told one of them that these were all the children I had, “Withchuamarai atudoo!” he said comfortingly. (“Perhaps there will be more by and by!)
We had orders to proceed to Cape York where the whaleboat would join us, so off we started. In order to keep the men amused and pleased, I got Billy to give them hot tea and biscuits and boy! how they lapped it up! At Cape York village, their kayaks were slid over the side and they paddled for shore with instructions to break camp and carry their belongings across to the other side of the glacier and await us there. The Captain has evidently decided from his reconnaissance and talking with the natives that that side will be better for our purpose than the side where we were moored before.
The whaleboat on board once more, we steamed for Salve Island. Carswell was delighted with the quality of the sand and says it is better than he had dared hope and so close to the scene of operations that it can be brought in the motor whaleboats and do away with a trip with the Morrissey. During supper, we heard a low, persistent whistling*, followed by a shot and when we came on deck, found that George had shot a seal. (*The whistling was done by George. Seals are very curious and will keep their heads out of water to listen.) We were in the ice, with only a small lead ahead of us toward Salve Island and the water calm as a millpond. Seals were popping their heads up all around us and as we could go no further for the time being and the Captain was anxious for fresh meat, he ordered the hunters out. The doctor, Carswell and Bud went out to walk along the lead with their guns and Junior and Norcross with George to row them went out in the dory. But no one had any luck, although Norcross fired twice. When they finally came in, Junior was indignant at the way Norcross had treated him. Each time a seal appeared, Junior had said politely: -“May I shoot at this one, Mr. Norcross?” and Norcross never once answered him, just blazed away at the seal himself. Junior managed to sneak in one shot and that was all. He would have had much better luck if he had remained on the ship for the seals were all around us and the guns were gone.
At supper, Junior had his birthday cake, and Ed Wyer took movies of him blowing out the candles and serving it around. He convulsed us all by telling one of George’s characteristic stories about a man who was out in his schooner when he saw a dark cloud on the horizon. Thinking that it was wind, he had his bran new mainsail hoisted, in order to take advantage of it. However, when the cloud was “handy” it proved to be made up of mosquitoes who flew into the mainsail with such force that they carried it away with them! This was sufficiently astounding but George couldn’t let it go at that! Next day, he said, the swarm returned, and they all had on canvas jackets!!!
Billy was in my room this evening talking about Dad.
He said he never worked for a finer or a kinder man.
He said when old man Percy kept him working late in the galley, Dad would
stop by and in his quiet way tell Billy to step into his room before he went to
bed. And then he would take down a
bottle and glass and tell Billy to pour himself a nightcap and, said Billy,
“like a real gentleman, he would turn his back when I poured the drink!”
When the Roosevelt returned to Etah and Dad heard of the hard treatment
which Billy had received at the hands of the Bosun, instead of having Billy set
to work at once in the galley, he gave him supplies for three days, a gun and
ammunition and an Eskimo to accompany him and sent him off on a holiday hunting
trip into the hills for a rest and a change.
Although the sun was shining brightly, when I heard we were still fast in the ice, I remained in bed, sleeping and resting, until I heard that dog teams were coming off to us across the ice from the settlement at Salve Island. I was on deck by the time they arrived and it was a pretty sight. There were three teams of ten or twelve dogs each, and four men. The men went right aft to consult with the Captain and Inughito and soon started back for the settlement again after their wives and household goods. We were to give them transportation to Cape York.
While they were away, the mate and others started work building a pen to hold the dogs up on deck and more things were moved out of the engine room to make accommodations for the Eskimos. While everyone was busy on the port side, there came a gentle bump and then a splintering crash and dashing over the Starboard, we was that an iceberg had taken advantage of our preoccupation to come drifting down upon us. She was close in on our stern and the crash we heard was the main boom which was gradually being splintered off as the iceberg without any fuss whatever, forced its way along. Two men sprang to rescue the dory hanging at the stern davits and the others leaped on to the ice armed with the stout spruce poles that have been lashed in the rigging ever since Brigus and began to push and pry the berg away from us. It was an exciting and busy time while it lasted but we were finally out and into clear water again with no damage sustained but the loss of about three feet of the main boom. At times like that, when you would expect the Captain to swear a blue streak, he is the calmest man on board and reserves his famous profanity for the trivial disorders. He said: -“God, no, in a tight place while the men are listening to you curse them, more things may go wrong!”
By the time we had recovered from this excitement the Eskimos were back again. Among them was a woman, the daughter of old Nalegah whom we had seen at Thule and she also remembered me and said she used to play with Koodlooktoo and me. But the one I was gladdest to see was Ootah, still alive and well and a fine looking fellow. He and Matt Henson are now the last of the little group that helped Dad realize his life’s dream. It seems strange that they should be alive when Dad, who had so much more to give the world is gone. I had a long talk with Ootah, showed him Dad’s picture and a picture of the monument and he was very much moved. I let him keep a picture of the monument, knowing that he would show it to the others and explain it to them. I gave all the men cigarettes and the women scented soap and bright breast pins and they seemed delighted.
The dogs were hoisted in a struggling, snarling bunch into the pen; the sleds were taken aboard and in a short time we were off for Cape York in open water. Just in time, too, for a gale came up that grew fiercer and fiercer as we went along. Even when we were anchored in the little harbor behind the Cape and were sheltered by the glacier, the schooner shook with the blasts of wind that swept down upon her. It looked far from favorable for the landing and building. If we have the good fortune to finish the monument according to the original plans, and return home successful, not one person in a hundred will have any conception of the amount of effort and planning and (on my part) heartache and lying awake nights too worried and anxious to sleep, that it has cost.
After supper, for which I prepared Junior’s favorite dish of sweet
potatoes, pineapple and marshmallows as compensation for his yesterday’s
birthday dinner of pea soup and cottage pudding, I went into the engine room and
had another talk with Ootah and got some of the Eskimos to draw for me.
Sammy, the pride of the tribe and the biggest man in it, is dead, but
there is a curly haired native named Matt who is still alive and is a very smart
fellow they say.
One of the most terrible nights I have ever spent, bar none. The pen for the dogs was right over my head and they fought and struggled all night long. One in particular had a secret sorrow and long after the rest had quieted down, he would keep up a sort of subterranean gargle which in the end got on the nerves of the other dogs just as it did on mine, and brought forth a chorus of snarls and yaps and barks and growls and every so often precipitated a scrap. The thud, thud of their feet seemed right in my ear and when occasionally a man went over to try and make peace among then, his efforts apparently only increased the uproar. Mr. Norcross said later in the day that he didn’t see how the noise could have annoyed anyone (his quarters being far aft!) and I was delighted when Oscanyan murmured “Perhaps you are not so finely stung as the rest of us!”
But all our troubles were quickly forgotten when we found what a perfect day it was. Breakfast was half an hour earlier and then the excitement began. Everyone in the long room but Junior, the doctor and Oscanyan were going to the top of the hill and camp there until the work is finished, so there was a great packing up of mattresses, blankets and other gear. I had to help Billy sort the stores and decide what was to be sent up and what was to remain and if Jesus Christ answered every time Billy addressed him, he had no time to attend to anything else all day long.
The first boat load was soon off and we watched them land at the gently slopping beach beside the glacier. Then the whaleboats came out and were lashed together in order to land the cargo. First went a flooring of lumber with the Eskimos’ own sleds on board and some of those, which we had made on the trip up. The dogs had already gone and now their drivers were landed and, in what seemed like no time at all, we could see the trail breaking sledge followed by most of the men, start up the glacier. Everyone still on board was on the jump. First the deck cargo of lumber, sleds, tods, etc. was unloaded. Then all the camping supplies and food for the men on top. Then the hatches were opened and the cement began to be hoisted out. It was dry as a bone and I just sat on the rail of the ship and watched it and purred like a kitten. We were interrupted by seeing Jack Angel rowing the dory out alone and when he was within earshot, he called “I want a long gaff and the doctor, someone has fallen down a crevasse.” That seemed to be all he knew and we waited breathlessly until the shore party came out for dinner, only to find that it had been a dog and not a person and the dog was none the worse for his experience. Just before dinner, I saw seven sleds start up the glacier.
When the Captain came out to dinner, he brought a note from Belknap announcing that the trail breaking sled and he with it had reached the top on hour and 40 minutes from the time they started which really seems remarkable. The Captain is invaluable. He has remained ashore all day long, jollying the Eskimos, encouraging them and making them feel that what they are doing is appreciated. They are devoted to him and believe in him and know that he will treat them right. In spite of money and men and equipment we could never handle the Eskimos if we did not have Captain Bob.
Billy too, is wonderful. The Eskimos swarm in and out of his galley all day long and he always has hot tea or soup for them and kids them along in pidgin Eskimo which amuses them almost to death and altogether they have themselves a time. I looked into the galley once and couldn’t count the huskies there and I said “You’re full up aren’t you, Billy?” and he said: -“God, mum, this is nothing to what it do be some times. I’ve a had me galley so full, I had to put me feet in the sink and sit on the drain board cause it was the only place left empty!”
All day the unloading went on, and the work was not over until ten o’clock at night. Eight teams made two round trips from the shore to the summit and we are all feeling elated. Mr. Norcross launched his tin boat (and was a little offended because I said it should be called crouton instead of Pioneer) and later his canoe and played around like an overgrown child. My boys went on shore, Bud with forceps and a bottle of alcohol to collect bugs for the doctor, and Junior to climb the bird cliffs with the Eskimo boys. They are really having the time of their lives.
Having spent most of the day, loafing on deck and watching the unloading, I was suddenly seized with a burst of energy and went below and washed nine pairs of stockings and some gloves. The decks of the Morrissey are gradually emerging from under the miscellaneous mess that has been heaped on them since we started and the sailors are thrilled at the sight. Every square foot that appears is first carefully swept and then washed down with a bucket of water!
Billy has been terribly upset all day because of the overhauling of the store and the irregularity of the meal hours. So when Will began handing down bags of hard bread to him through the dining salon skylight, I said: -“ For heaven sake, Will, go easy with Billy because he has had about all that he can stand!” Whereupon Will up ended his bag of bread, the mouth was open and the entire contents of the bag poured down on Billy, hit the mess table and bounced all over the room. Will could have saved some of it, but he was so amazed to see what he was doing that he just stood as if paralyzed and continued to pour! I laughed until I was weak, and so did Billy after his first explosion of profanity!
The Captain did not get out for his supper until after seven, and I
don’t see how he stands it. But
he is re-living old days now and is perfectly happy.
We all feel well satisfied with the day’s work, and feel sure that the
camp on top is fairly established by this time.
Tuesday, 19th July 1932
We all had a wonderful sleep last night after the racket and disturbance of the night before, but I awoke in horror to hear the rain simply beating on the deck above my head! Wouldn’t you know that we would have our first rain as soon as all the cement was out of the ship and on shore? Fortunately, the Captain had it covered over last night at my suggestion although he rather pooh-poohed the idea at first. But this weather is going to delay the hauling and be bad for the men on top.
I received a not from Brute with my breakfast, brought down the mountain by the last sled last night. He said the tents were too small for the cots to be set up and only two men could sleep in a tent so that he was going to sleep out of doors. He said the old men were fussing and grumbling and if we did not do something to make them more comfortable we would have trouble. He also said that the men had worked steadily all afternoon and that the site was practically cleared. I asked the Captain to stop in and see me before he went ashore and he said he had had a note from Belknap to the same effect and he was rushing a big ten by twelve tent up to them and sending Tommy along to cook for them.
Aside from his disturbance the work of unloading goes on as usual. After dinner, the work was done, the oil barrels stowed near the engine room where the cement had been (I wish it were there now!) and the boats started after sand. Junior insisted on going ashore in spite of the weather to try and get some birds but Bud and I have remained in all day. I have done a great deal of writing and Bud has helped Billy in the kitchen in the absence of Tommy. He set the table, wiped the silver and glasses and kept Billy in good humor. We had seal meat for dinner, roasted, and it was pretty good but rather rich. Junior waited on the table. I am worried about the men on top.
The rain never stopped all day and the wind howled like fury. Right after supper, the doctor was called ashore to see a baby that had abscesses under its arms. It is the tiny thing that came on board Sunday looking more like a doll than anything human and we now find out that it was only born that morning. It is the first time I ever saw an Eskimo woman carry a baby in her arms, instead of in a hood on her back, but perhaps this woman had not yet had time to make a hooded kapetah.
Returning along to the ship in the tin boat, the doctor made a jump for the rail, kicking the boat away from him as he did so, although the painter was around his wrist. The rail was slippery and so were his rubber boots and he was just hanging by one had when Will appeared on deck and hauled him in, saving him from an icy bath. Still later, as I was thinking of going to bed, there was a commotion on deck, and in walked Belknap and Carswell, down from the mountain. They laughed and made fun of their predicament but I guess it has been no bed of roses up there. All the tents leak and the stove is hard to make draw. I told them that Will had said that it was a soft coal stove but they both replied that they had given it a number of very different names all day! In spite of discomfort and bad weather, they have succeeded in digging right down to bed rock, a distance of three to four feet and have the sight all cleared and ready for the concrete foundation as soon as the weather permits of its being made. They came down for tarpaulins and awnings and whatever the Captain can spare to make them dry and weather proof.
They were so tickled to be back it was amusing to see them and when
Carswell with his delightful Scotch burr began to tell of their various
adventures, you had to laugh with them. He
has a perfect affinity for crevasses and fell into one on the way down.
If Belknap had not been along he would have been a goner.
They remained onboard for the night and reveled in a roof over their
heads, a soft bed and a wash.
Still raining hard. Carswell and Belknap left right after breakfast and I sent my quart of Johnny Walker with them, thinking they might need an emergency ration of it because of the cold and wet at the top. They decided to go back by way of the cliff and I had a note form Brute later in the day, saying that they had made the climb in an hour and a half and that it was much easier than by way of the glacier and for me to come that way. I am dying to try it. Anything would be better than wading through that deep, soft snow.
In spite of the weather, Captain Bob has kept the teams going up to the summit. He really is wonderful with the natives. They are crazy about him and trust him and he understands them and humors them the way the old plantation owners used to their slaves. He lets them rest and gives them hot tea and crackers and every once in a while sends them out to the ship to get a good feed. Their worst trouble is wet footgear and our engine room has been full of Eskimo women all day, drying stockings and kamiks by the heat of the Delco and chewing them into softness once more.
Len and Sick Bird, by superhuman efforts and wonderful ingenuity, have worked the heavy hoisting engine up to the top of the steepest grade, making it putt itself up just as the Morrissey pulled herself off the shoal by her anchor and winch. This is a tremendous help as it saves the dogs and the engine pulling the loaded sleds up three at a time.
The whaleboat made a trip around to the deserted village on the other
side of Cape York and brought back a load of dog meat (seals so “ripe” that
they fell apart when handled!) and spent the rest of the time getting sand. 75
bags of it. It is wonderfully
encouraging the way the men go ahead in spite of the weather.
This rain can’t last forever. Will
says Friday is never like the rest of the week and the Bosun says the Eskimos
have a saying: -“August come, fish come!” and also better weather.
I hope so. After so much
labor it would be sickening to be beaten by the weather.
Fog, wind and a bit of rain. It is certainly most discouraging. I feel much better today and after the Doctor came in and dressed my cut, I got up and washed and comber my hair. This is the time I miss a woman terribly. I would have given something pretty to have had Julia beat up my bed and make it up fresh for me to get into. My back still hurts me enough so that I cannot use my arms at all. Bud was so constantly on the job yesterday, helping Billy and waiting on me when Junior went ashore after auks in the afternoon, that I let him go ashore this morning to see the hoisting engine work and investigate the Eskimo village. He came back at noon triumphantly bearing two little auks, which he had killed with a stone or caught in a dip net, I forget which. Will has been teasing him a lot because he saw Bud with a little Eskimo girl and now he says Buddy has a “Koonah” ashore! The Captain had offered to let Bud ride up the mountain on Ootah’s sled but Bud, like the gentleman he is, declined by saying that he and Mudger had planned to go up together and it would be mean to go without her! He is pretty sweet.
The Eskimo women have been on board all morning skinning the murres and receiving the skins as payment and so we had murres for dinner. I was looking forward to them but they turned out to be so fishy that I could not eat them. Bud watched the skinning process and said the women pulled to the tail feathers first, then cut all around the bill and pealed the skin back like a glove turned inside out. When they came to the wings, they broke them and then disjointed them at them at the body.
When the boats went ashore after dinner I let Bud go again with permission this time to go up with Ootah and from his account he had a gorgeous time. Bet he said the weather at the top was terrible. The men were going around with fog frozen in their beards and in icicles on their caps and it was too cold to mix any cement. Ootah told Bud that “Awanga-Peary-North Pole alanee alanee” and seemed very proud. When Captain Bob told him that Bud’s name was Peary also, he said: -“Now-I-O” and smiled all over his face. I gave Buddy a saw knife to give him, one left over from Dad’s last expedition.
The doctor advised me to stay in bed today and I have done a little reading, some mending and borrowed a book from Mr. Oscanyan, Hugo’s Simplified Danish, and am trying to master the first lesson. There are only sixteen lessons in the book and if I do one a day and get Mr. Oscanyan to “hear” me I ought to be able at least to pass the time of day when I reach South Greenland.
Junior has been helping in the galley and waiting on the table today and
he doesn’t like it very much but he grits his teeth and goes ahead.
He is a nice old thing!
In spite of the rain in the night, this morning it was only slightly misty and by the middle of the forenoon had turned into a really lovely day. Inspector Nielsen descended upon us at four this morning form the tiny settlement just above because he had given his thumb a nasty slice with the axe and wanted our doctor to fix it. That poor devil gets no rest, day or night. He remained to breakfast and then went back. I got up about ten o’clock although dressing was a slow and rather painful process and then Mr. Oscanyan brought my chair and a lot of blankets out on deck and bundled me up so that I was quite comfortable and it was a fine change from my tiny, stuffy cabin. Junior went ashore with his twenty-two to see how many auks be could get and came back with 14 auks and had fired 15 shots. After dinner, the Captain called me in to his cabin and handed me notes form Belknap, Carswell and Brute. I never had the wind so completely taken out of my sails before. The substance of all three notes was that the past week’s experience proved that it was impossible to build a monument up there needing cement as the weather was freezing constantly. Their alternative was either to lay up a thirty-foot monument of dry stone on the top there, using the tablet and cornerstone but omitting the metal cap.
I lay awake all last night, thinking, planning, scheming, trying to see some way out of this quandary, and by morning I was all in. In my present humor I thought it just as well not to mingle with the none to congenial crowd on board and so I remained in bed. The doctor dressed my eye and then quite suddenly, it occurred to me that while I could not phone Arnold Burton as I had done last winter when ever any difficulty arose, I could at least radio him and he might have some simple suggestion which would keep the cement from freezing and save the day. This thought cheered me tremendously and I wrote out a message for Oscanyan to send at his next contact, which will be this evening. At least I feel as if I were doing something.
What I cannot understand is the cause of the abrupt about face among the men at the top after my talk with Belknap only the evening before when he said Carswell was all for starting with the idea of only building a forty foot monument but that he was unwilling to begin with a compromise and thought we would follow the original plans for three weeks and then if the weather was still bad it would be time enough to draw in the walls gradually and make the tower only forty feet high. What I think occurred was that the men have been miserably uncomfortable for a week, cold and wet day and night and the thought of the rest of us here on the ship with dry beds, warm rooms, good meals and everything only emphasized their hardships. Then Friday was a good day and it put new life into them and they worked like beavers and put in the concrete sub-foundation. And next morning, to their horror, it was another bad day and they found that the concrete had frozen before it set and was no good. That was the last straw.
Now I have had a long talk with Norcross who agrees with my theories especially as when Captain Bob went up to talk to them in the afternoon when it had cleared and the sun was shinning, he found them all hard at work each at his own particular job. Norcross thinks they will be ashamed of their outburst and will plunge right in and make good. The Governor, Nielsen, the Eskimos and all the men who have experience with the weather up here, say that August is our best month as far as sunshine and warmth are concerned. And we are not yet behind in our schedule, which does not call for actual building operations to begin until the 28th of this month. In every other item on the schedule we have saved time. I just can’t believe that we are licked. If the men are unbearably uncomfortable in camp on top, or what is more important, if camping on top makes them feel abused, I will let them sleep on the ship. The instead of having three round trips made by the sleds carrying supplies to the site, the first trip will be to carry the men up, and they can walk down the short cut in the evening. Perhaps I can persuade the Captain to change our time to local Greenland time. Belknap in his note said that even at 9 a.m. things were still frozen too hard to let them begin work. Well, that is really only seven thirty local time so if we changed they would reach the summit and be at work by nine which would actually be ten thirty local time and that much warmer. Then I am going to suggest that they warm the water before mixing the cement. They get the water right out of a hole chopped in the glacier so that it is icy cold and needs only a little bit more to make it freeze. I think a windbreak of canvas will help keep the cement warm until it sets and if the weather is particularly severe we can put the canvas screen close around the work and keep fires going inside. The only objection to that is that we are short of fuel but if the walrus hunt is successful, we ought to have blubber to burn. All these ideas which occur to me I will pass on to the men as coming from the architect and builder in Boston and I do hope some of them will work. I just can’t give up now and I feel so helpless to do anything myself.
I tried to keep my mind off things and not worry and I read and studied my Danish and darned some socks and worked on one of Madge’s doilies. As if as a reward for tying to be a good girl, I received a radio from Mother in the evening, sent to 21st. She does not say that she is well but Ernst is with her and I know he will keep her up.
My radio message went off last night when Oscanyan made contact with the Times and I feel that that is good sign for sometimes there are days on and when he can hear the Times but cannot make them hear him. I was so absorbed in writing about my troubles yesterday that I forgot to mention that after groping about in the fog all morning in the fjord outside of Thule, we finally anchored there in the early afternoon. I had hoped that we would only stay an hour or so but there is no jolting these Danes out of their established conventions. The Captain had to escort Nielsen ashore, arrange about the Eskimo hunters who are to accompany us and then return on board ship. Later Nielsen, his wife and small daughter accompanied by Hans Brun to act as interpreter, came out on board to return the Captain’s morning call. I am certainly being trained out of the spoiled life, which I have led heretofore. I was afraid before coming on the trip that the men would have me on their minds all the time but it is quite the opposite. They simply pay no attention to me whatever. If the Captain had told me that the Nielsens were coming on board --- and he knew it, because he gave them a special invitation, --- I would have gotten up and dressed and been ready to see them, knowing what sticklers they are for etiquette. But he never said a word nor did he send me coffee and cakes from the tea party. It was Billy who brought in the almost empty plate with a few cakes left on it and asked me if I would like a cup of coffee to go with them. It is a novel situation in which to find myself. When I asked the Captain this morning if he had told the Nielsens that I was still shaky from my fall and that was why I wasn’t there, he said no, that evidently someone else had. The someone else was Oscanyan because I sent a note to him when I found that Nielsen would be here for dinner and asked him please to present my apologies and explain my absence. No one on board considers it important whether I am there or not but the Danes are different and it makes me ashamed.
I got up this morning in good season, feeling refreshed from my day in bed yesterday and I did a lot of typing until dinnertime. Then I went out on deck. It was a grand day, warm and sunny and the water like a millpond. The coast is beautiful. Even Buddy said: -“I didn’t know Greenland would be as pretty as this!” I had no idea where we were and neither did anyone else, so I took my Lauge Koch maps and went aft and asked the Captain. We had swung up through Wale Sound into Murchison Sound and were cruising along the north shore of Herbert Island. I was tickled to pieces because it would give me a chance to take a picture of Cape Lee, which Dad had named, for Hugh Lee and for which Lee had asked. There was an interesting study in glaciology as we went past Herbert Island. There were three dead glaciers there, an ice cap above having become insufficient to supply them any longer. One, judging from the pile of earth in front of it, had been dead about one hundred years, one had died since then and the other, from the tiny beach before it, was just dying.
Cape Lee was a very imposing sight and I think I got some good pictures of it. Cape Henson loomed up in the near distance, very high and as black as Matt himself. There were numerous bergs, some of them with an odd fluting like piecrust but no pan ice. It is the pan ice for which we are looking for it is there that the walrus crawl out and sun themselves. Nevertheless, about four o’clock, the natives yelled “Awick! Awick!” and everything was commotion. Two were swimming close to the starboard bow but in spite of the Captain’s efforts to keep the Eskimos quiet, their excitement made them chatter like a church sociable and the walrus soon disappeared. But the five Eskimos launched their kayaks just the same and started in pursuit. It was exciting to watch them. The walrus would suddenly appear and then the natives would paddle towards them like mad, trying to get within harpooning distance of them before they should dive again. Sometimes the Eskimos would call to them, trying to coax them nearer but this didn’t work. The whaleboat was launched and Norcross, the doctor and George went off in her. But it was more fun on the ship. The Eskimos separated, three going in one direction and two in another. Finally a shout from the three announced that a walrus had been harpooned and the ship started in that direction. We could see the sealskin float bobbing around like had because the walrus was far from dead. Now the Captain’s boat was put over and Junior and Buddy piled in with him. I watched with my heart in my mouth knowing what a big moment this would be for Junior, but although we heard a regular fusillade of shots we couldn’t see from the ship whether it was the Captain or Junior. Oscanyan laughed at me because I said: -“I don’t care how many shots the Captain fired, I KNOW it was Junior’s shot that killed him!” The Captain now ordered the ship over to him and as we drew neared I saw Junior’s face wreathed in smiles. He looked as proud as Lucifer and informed me at the top of his lungs that the Captain’s gun had jammed and Junior had fired all the shots! The Captain looked almost as pleased as Junior and said Junior should have the head for his own! Unfortunately it is a young animal and the tusks are not very long but the skin is unscared and it will make a much more livable object than a bigger one. Anyhow, Junior, who never shot anything larger than a hawk, is thrilled and perfectly contented.
The walrus was hoisted on board and the Eskimos immediately began to cut it up while we steamed over to pick up the other men and Norcross who had gone to them to shoot the walrus which they had succeeded in harpooning. This animal, a battle scarred old bull with fair sized tusks, was also lifted on board and then Norcross went through the greatest howdy do having his picture taken with it. He had it lifted to full length by the winch and then lowered again because he didn’t like it. Then he posed kneeling with his gun at its head; then standing, a la Osa Johnson, with his foot on its body and then again with the native who harpooned it. It seemed so childish for a grown man.
Having the walrus on board and watching the natives cut them up brought
back the old days to me with a rush. But
I had certainly forgotten that walrus have toenails on their flippers.
Maybe Barnacle Bill’s talk about bringing home the whales by lifting
them by their big toenails was not so funny after all!
Last night, quite late, Oscanyan brought me the answer to my radio to Burt on, which proved most encouraging. He doesn’t say the thing I most dreaded:- “If the cement is freezing, it will be impossible to build the monument”; he throws cold water on the laid up dry idea, and all the suggestions he makes are things I had thought of, i.e., warming the water and sand, making a windbreak to protect the work, having fires burning during severe weather etc. I feel much better about it.
I slept fully dressed, expecting a call any minute, because the Captain promised me that when we found the walrus on the ice, I might go in the boat with him also. But I was not disturbed and when Billy brought my breakfast in, he said there were hundreds of walrus on the ice around us but that they were restless and easily alarmed and the Captain was waiting for the sun to come out of the mist because then they would go to sleep. I had plenty of time to wash out two sheets and a pillowcase and tidy my room before the call came. Then it was from Buddy. When I appeared on deck all ready to go, the Captain looked surprised to death but let me come just the same. But if it had not been for Buddy I would have been left behind. That is Captain Bob’s greatest fault, he can only think of one thing at a time and now his one idea is walrus. From studying the chart, I have come to the conclusion that last night we passed close to Red Cliff while I was still on deck, because I called attention to the beautiful way the sun was lighting up red slopes along the shore and yet he never thought to tell me. It is very wearying to have to depend on myself or the boys for everything, knowing that if we miss a trick, it is gone beyond recall. And yet I hate to be asking questions and making demands all the time.
We all piled into the Captain’s boat, Dick Bird to run the engine, Ed Wyer for pictures, two Eskimos and their kayaks, Junior, Bud, the Captain and I. Norcross with another of our huskies and the doctor and George went in his own boat. Slowly and carefully we crept up to an enormous ice cake on which were about three dozen of the walrus, sound asleep. It was an impressive sight and I took pictures like mad, hoping and praying that they would turn out. We ran right in under a high icy shelf and the Eskimos three their harpoons. Pandemonium broke loose and the walrus started diving off the pan in every direction. Only a couple of well directed shots from junior and the Captain kept the walrus on the shelf above us from jumping down into our boat. And when the pad was clear, we discovered to our horror, that both the Eskimos had missed and their harpoons were lying harmlessly on the ice. We didn’t obtained a single animal out of all that bunch! The Captain made a few well-chosen remarks in Eskimo to the two hunters, which caused them to hang their heads, and then we started off to another ice pan. The game laws of Denmark absolutely forbid the shooting of a walrus before it has been harpooned and there are severe penalties for breaking the law. The reason is obvious. A dead walrus immediately sinks to the bottom, there is no chance of retrieving it unless the harpoon line and its float have already been attached. Even shooting walrus in the middle of an ice pan is usually unsuccessful for so great is the vitality of these huge beasts and so strong is their instinct, even in death, that somehow they nearly always manage to flop to the edge of the ice and into the water before they die.
We were more successful after that first failure but our efficiency was some what impaired by the fact that as soon as we had harpooned two walrus we had to sit and wait until the ship came alongside and hoisted them aboard because we only had two harpoons. We could have used a dozen. Buddy was so excited that he shook as if with a chill and I could hear his teeth chatter. This kept up all day with no thought of dinner. I had learned from my experience at Cape York and was equipped with chocolate so we didn’t starve and none of us would have missed the excitement for anything.
Captain Bob was just as bad as the rest of u. When we came to an ice pan he jumped out on it and dashed in and among the walrus just as if they were his flock of pet sheep. Once when his gun jammed and a walrus, which he had considered an easy victim, slipped past him into the water and escaped, he danced up and down in rage and then threw his clip full of cartridges after it! We finally returned to the ship so that the Captain could direct the work of picking up the slain.
This was most interesting to watch. The Morrissey would steam up beside a floe on which the bodies lay, Harold and an Eskimo would jump into a dory and row to the animals and then, cutting deep clashes through the tough hide and the deep layer of blubber underneath, they would pass a rope through the slits, make fast to a block from the ship and then with old Joe at the hoisting engine and the Bosun to boss the job, each carcass was slowly lifted onto the deck. By the time the day was over and all the dead walrus were on board, we had thirty one, ample for Thule and Cape York and also, I hope, to supply blubber for fires around the cement work on the monument if necessary.
The Eskimos began at once the task of cutting the animals into pieces
easy to handle and our supper was unpleasantly interrupted by a shower and then
cascade of walrus blood through the skylight right onto the dining table,
covering our food and spattering everyone and everything within reach.
It was quite horrid especially as there is an unpleasant, distinctly
offensive odor about the blood. I
suddenly decided that I did not care for any more supper especially as our
dessert unfortunately was red raspberries in their juice.
To my horror later, I came upon Dick Bird and Ed Wyer, out in the galley,
eating great dishes full of the clams, which had been removed from the stomachs
of the walrus! They had first rinsed them in fresh water and Dick was eating
his with pepper, salt and vinegar while Ed had sprinkled sugar over his.
I retreated to my room and spent the evening ready “Northward”.
A lovely day which the Captain pessimistically calls a “weather breeder”. I got out my charts this morning and found we were off Cape Chalou when the last walruses were killed and the day before were in sight of Redcliff but no one told me altho everyone apparently knew it, and so I never noticed at all. It makes me furious; the others sneak around behind the Captain’s back and peer at his charts and read the log and because I don’t do that I never am told a thing until it is too late. And then the Captain’s invariable response is:- “My God, it never entered my mind that you did no know!” From now on I am going to ask questions and pester everyone to death until I find out what I want to know for being decent doesn’t pay. I also learned by chance from Oscanyan that we are going on another walrus hunt; he know because he had done the translating for the Captain with Nielsen.
I spent my morning typing or watching the natives on deck, knee deep in the walrus meat and carcasses and with their bear skin pants splashed with blood and the kamiks perfect sights! We were passing behind Saunders Island when first I came on deck with Oomiak Mountain plainly in sight ahead of us. We reached the settlement of Thule about two o’clock and I went aft so as t be there when the Inspector came out knowing it would be the only way I would have a chance to see them. Sure enough, the anchor was scarcely down before their motor boat put off, with Nielsen and his wife and the wife of the new doctor and one of the hospital nurses aboard. The doctor’s wife speaks a little English and said our coming would put an end to a regular “folk parade” which had been coming every day to the Inspector’s house to find out when we were expected. The people are starving for walrus meat.
Everyone’s eyes bulged at the sight of the heap of walrus carcasses piled amidships and the Inspector after wandering over them asked if he might have six which we gladly gave in payment for the hunters he had let us have. Norcross was as agitated as a broody hen because he had been wandering among them all morning tying his personal tags on every animal that had a decent head or pair of tusks. He took pains to tell me however, that there wasn’t one really decent head in the lot, just average. Now he was afraid some of his pets might be landed.
The Inspector wanted the meat put ashore at the Eskimo village of Oomanui so with his party on board we steamed around the corner and the six carcasses were towed over to a small island where they were to be beached and cut up out of sight and reach of the dogs. The ship was entirely surrounded by excited Eskimos in Kayaks exchanging jokes and gossip with the Eskimo hunters still on board. As soon as we arrived, the Inspector and his party left us to return to Thule and we waited for the return of the whaleboat.
Suddenly a kayak shot out form the shore with a madly paddling native in it and as he drew within earshot he began to shout:- “Hullo! Hullo! Hullo!” just like Barnacle Bill the Sailor! As he reached the ship’s side, he flung the painter of his kayak to a small kid, leaped on board and made a bee line for me saying:- “Now I oh, I oh, I oh! Ahnighito!” He grasped my hand and shook it delightedly and for the life of me I couldn’t tell how it was, and I didn’t dare ask him his name for he took it absolutely for granted that I was just as thrilled to see him as he was to see me! So I sent for Billy but Billy didn’t know him but boldly asked him his name. It was Ooblooyah! I could recognize him after I knew and I was tickled to pieces to see him. He told me sadly that Achatingwah was dead, and his second wife also, but now he has a third. He also showed me just how tall I was when he last saw me. I showed him my boys and gave him a jack knife and took him down in the galley and gave him tea and crackers. Billy’s old sidekick, “Harrigan” joined us and we had quite a time. My guests would not have shone at a tea in the states for they had the unfortunate mannerism of blowing their noses on the floor, but their faces shone with pleasure and there was no doubt that they enjoyed the refreshments.
I asked them how many children they had and they were completely at a loss and had to help each other figure it out, each one reminding the other of a child that he had forgotten or left out! In the midst of their figuring, the winch started and they thought it was the anchor coming up! They were out of the cabin and up the companionway in a flash! It was a false alarm however and they had time to tell the natives hovering about in kayaks about the kitten they had seen and the Frigidaire. Ooblooyah also told me that Inughito was his brother and that he would have gone to Cape York with us also only he had been away at the time we came.
We left Oomanui at about five and started for Cape York. This is the day, when according to schedule the building of the masonry on the monument should have begun. I am dying to know what is going on there and yet I rather dread it. My heart is in my mouth. I want to get back also where I can get clear glacier drinking water in my own Thermos bottle. I have watched with horror, the dipper in the water cask being used as a drinking glass by all and sundry, the men with colds and without, those who chew tobacco and those who don’t , and then plunged back into the water again. But my endurance reached its limit when I watched the Eskimos, cutting up the partially decayed walrus and nibbling at choice tidbits here and there, go over to the cask and take a drink of water from the dipper to wash it down! No more of that water for me!
We were forced to close everything into our cabin but the porthole
because of the walrus on deck tonight and the resulting “Aroma Borealis” as
Mr. Oscanyan calls it. Even at
that, there was a very dead walrus on the deck just outside my porthole, who was
becoming more and more pompous looking as a result of the gases which inflated
him and I was in terror for fear he might burst in the night!
We reached Cape York this morning about eight, just as I was finishing my breakfast. I could hear the characteristic wind howling about the place and by the time I was up and dressed, the characteristic rain was also falling. I never saw such a place. Billy said when he brought me my tray that early this morning he had seen the monument against the sky almost fifteen feet high, and while he meant this to be reassuring, my heart sank for I knew they could not possible have built it to that high unless they had laid it up dry, the very thing I am so anxious to avoid. I was imply itching to get u there and end the suspense and know the worst at once.
I received three radiograms this morning, one from Mother, one from Stefahsson as a result of seeing my story in the Times and one from Kurt. Immediately I was ready I told the Captain I wanted to go ashore in the first boat and he said he and the doctor were going too. The doctor provided me with a climbing gaff, which was a great comfort as I am not very sure of my back yet. It was sleeting and blowing when we landed at half past nine but we started up the steep slope just the same. To my joy, I found my back did not hurt me nearly as much as I had feared and I had no difficulty in keeping ahead of the Captain. We climbed and we climbed. The hills up here are like a fireman’s ladder, just when you think you have reached the top, they shoot out another section and you must plod wearily upward once more. We finally came out upon a flat space and there was Dr. Belknap looking in his neatly belted raincoat and grey soft hat, as if he were walking down Piccadilly Circus! He came forward solemnly, removed his hat with a flourish and gravely extending his geologist’s hammer, said:- “Allow me to present you with the key to Camp York!” I didn’t dare ask him any questions but he went right on to say that they had had splendid weather, that the monument was up eight feet above a two-foot base, and, he said, looking me in the eye, “It is laid up with cement!” I couldn’t help it, I hugged him!
From there, we went on and on interminably until finally we reached the monument. I suppose I am ungrateful and hard to please but I was disappointed. They had changed the shape slightly from a triangle with flattened points to a regular triangle and this I can understand because of the difficulty with the stone at had of cutting stones to fit the points. But they have also made the base lines ten feet instead of the former twelve feet, which with the elimination of the corners makes a much smaller monument than was intended. Belknap said he hoped to overcome this by carrying the monument straight instead of tapering it gradually but that Carswell had been sure they could never build a monument with a twelve-foot base. He admits that Carswell, although as expert stone mason and very pleasant chap with no intentions of disloyalty, is nevertheless so naturally pessimistic and so unused to outdoor life that he has infected the others with his gloom and he (Belknap) could never have jacked the men up to attempting anything but a smaller shaft. The old men who came on at Brigus and of whom I despaired, are really the only ones who work steadily and without grumbling, suiting themselves to the conditions. The tablet is in place and the hole left for the cylinder and the cornerstone.
We went down to the Camp, which was decorated with humorous signs such as “Sunshine Alley”, and the mess tent “the Come-and-Get-It Delicatessen”. We went into the mess tent where Tommy had just hauled a fresh batch of bread out of the oven and found the old men assembled there. The place was warm and cozy and everyone seemed in good spirits. After a while Brute came in and Jack Angel. The attitude of most of the men seems to be: -“Well we are awfully sorry we couldn’t carry out the original plans but we are doing our best and thought you would rather have this than nothing.” But some of them seem to feel:- “You ought to be G—D—glad to get ANYthing up here!”
The Captain talked to them all and their chief desire seems to be more men to help them. They are so short handed that each man has to stop his work to wait on himself. How we will get them—or feed them after we have them—I don’t know but I suppose we will manage somehow.
The return to the ship was much more difficult and painful to my back than the climb up. The jolts nearly finished me but everything ends sometime and at two we were back at the ship eating a belated dinner of delicious stuffed roast walrus heart. The men were still busy unloading the rotten walrus meat and Norcross was cross as a poisoned pup because all the skins were spoiled. The walrus had been lying out on the ice so long that their skins were sunburned, a queer complaint for a walrus, and the skins were just falling into shreds. All this even after he had assured me repeatedly that the skins were no good and the heads really less than average! Even the skin on the head of the bug bull he shot in the water the day before our big hunt, had become rotten from being in contact with the others. By some miracle of good luck the skin of Junior’s head, which meant so much to me because it was his first, had escaped and was all right. Norcross could not believe it and punched and pulled and picked at it with Inughito right at his side, saying over and over:- “Peeuk! Peeuk!” At last he had to admit it and it made him sorer than ever. I made arrangements with Inughito to have the skin taken ashore and cleaned by one of the Eskimo women.
While the unloading of the walrus went on, one huge beast that had become too ripe, broke out of the hook and fell in a heap on the dining room skylight, braking one pane. When the Captain came on deck and heard about the broken glass and the ruined skins he swore something “hidjous” and even went so far as to say that the walrus which broke the skylight was a son of a bitch which is obviously impossible right on the face of it!
I spent the remainder of the day resting and typing and preparing the
contents of the cylinder, which is to go behind the cornerstone.
Also dried a lot of wet clothes for the boys and myself.
Warm but drizzling all day long. When I went on deck this morning, I found that during the night, Mr. Norcross had had the man on watch chop the tusks from the walrus heads which he did not want to preserve, skull and all. When I asked him where they were, he said:- “Oh, I have them put away!” and when I said that I wanted some of the tusks because I had a number of people whom I wished to remember, he answered:- “Well, I will look them over and let you have some!” I just boil and I am so helpless because when I sputter to Captain Bob, he says:- “Well, for God’s sake don’t say anything; I promised him the world if he would just put the money into the trip!” But we have the money now and he had the trip and I am not going to stand much more funny business.
Billy had a terrible time this morning, and incidentally woke me up with a jerk at four a.m. The Captain told him at that ungodly hour to start getting supplies out to send up the mountain. That, by the way, is typical of the way things are done here. The Captain has had the list of needed supplies since yesterday morning but he never mentions it until just before he needs them. The fact that Billy, hauling and yanking at the boxes in the cupboard at four a.m. would wake up everyone in the long room means nothing. He likes to get up and be awake at four and so everyone else must. It could have been done yesterday afternoon just as well and then Billy would have had someone to help him. As it was, he got stuck under some boxes way in the back of the closet and for a few minutes couldn’t go forward or backward. As he expressed it:- “There I was, mum, all of a crump” and in order to get out, he had to kick three wooden boxes away from him and they landed with a bang in the middle of the floor. It scared me stiff.
I studied my Danish, and had Junior read me the English while I wrote the Danish part of the lesson and then I got up. I changed my bed, washed twenty handkerchiefs and did a lot of typing before dinner. Afterwards, I decided to go ashore and Junior went also to get birds for the men at the monument. The encampment is far from a pleasant looking or smelling place. All the dead walrus, looking as if they had been blown up by some huge bicycle pump, are lying moored to the beach. Some of them have already burst and some are just on the point of bursting. The air is almost unbreathable. I went right up to the glacier as I was very anxious to see the engine haul the sleds up. It is certainly an ingenious arrangement. Klayoo went with me because she wanted to put the sealskin boots on her husband’s dog team and it was well for me she did for the surface of the glacier was just glare ice and it was almost impossible for me to stand up with my rubber boots on. She showed me a path skirting the edge and we went up there together. From there to the engine, the Eskimos had thrown dirt and rocks making a pathway, which it was possible to climb.
I watched Klayoo as she tied the shoes on each dog and then watched the sleds get away. The Captain took my picture with Ootah and Ootah proudly showed me a gold watch, in the back of which was engraved to “Ootah from Knud Rasmussen, 1931”. He is as proud as Lucifer of it.
After the teams left, I went down to the settlement again. On the say, Klayoo told me that she wanted to make a pair of sealskin pants for my “Pickaninny, not the pickaninny that went bang! bang! but his “eipah” Peary mikisjungwah!” This undoubtedly pointed to Bud and I knew he would be thrilled, especially after I saw the sealskins, which are very good ones. I gave her an alarm clock to show my appreciation and I have never seen anyone so thrilled. She cuddled it up to her and rocked it in her arms like a baby and ran about showing it to everyone.
I strolled down to the shore and wandered about among the walrus sizing up their tusks. One old fellow lay on his back with his flippers resting in a sort of “Rest in Peace” position across his much extended chest and to my joy I saw that he had only one tusk but that one was a beauty, much the finest of any that we have seen. I have wanted one for Bud, as a souvenir of his hunt as long as Junior is to have the head and here was my chance because with only one tusk the skull would be of no use to anyone. I went right to the Captain and told him what I wanted and he said it would be all right. I suggested having it cut out then and there, but he said to leave it to him, Bud should have that tusk. When the doctor came along, he spoke of the tusk as being particularly fine and I said that I was so pleased because the Captain was going to let Bud have it.
I then started up the cliff to join Junior as I had promised him I would and see his special nook where he goes to shoot each time. I took the climb slowly, pausing to rest frequently and once as I was resting, I saw an amusing drama enacted on the shore. Norcross came strolling along and suddenly spied the walrus with the fine tusk. He knelt beside it, measured the tusk with his little pocket tape and then shouted to some Eskimo boys. They came running with their saw knives and I was just about to roll down the mountain as the quickest way of getting there, when I saw the doctor go over and say something to Norcross which caused Norcross to wave the boys away and stamp over to a rock and sit down with his head in his fists as sulky as a poisoned pup.
I sat with Junior quite a while and his place is very comfortable. This Arctic moss is feet deep and as soft as any cushion. There are numbers of varieties of it and I took a few springs of each for Bud to examine through his microscope. Junior succeeded in getting about thirty-five birds so we called it a day, as the sleds were coming back down the glacier and we started for the beach. On the way down, the little orphaned boy who shadows Junior, whenever possible, had one of his fits. They don’t last long but they are terrifying.
On the beach I found Carswell, who had come down from the monument “to
break up his cold” I am disappointed in Carswell.
This is the second time he has been down and it’s a bad example.
Inughito had brought Junior’s walrus head and skin ashore and the women
were already at work preparing it. The
small boys were amusing themselves with bones about two feet long, which they
had removed from the paenus of the male walrus and of course Junior is dying to
have one. We called for a boat and
went on board.
A lovely day at last, warm and bright sunshine. Right after breakfast, the Captain announced that the clocks would be set back an hour. Of course he couldn’t have done this last night and given us an extra hour of sleep! I went ashore as soon as I had seen Norcross and the doctor safely off on an all day trip in the canoe. I like to know where he is and what he is doing before I make my plans.
Both boys came ashore with me. Junior had first rowed Carswell and Oscanyan over to the cliff as they were going up the mountain, then he came back for Buddy and me and Bud rowed us ashore. There was a heavy sea breaking which made it hard to land. The Captain said the Eskimos had been up all night, hard at work cutting up the walrus for fear the sea would snap the ropes and carry them away.
The boys, with chocolate and cigarettes, negotiated with the Eskimo boys for three bones such as the boys had yesterday and when I asked them why three? They said “One for Mr. Marden; I know he would just love it!” Klayoo tried on Bud’s trousers for him and he is delighted with the way she has used flippers to make the pockets. There was a very friendly dog tied by the settlement and I had a time petting him while waiting for the boys to return from watching Klayoo put shoes on the dog team. We went out to the ship for dinner and directly afterwards, the boys went in the boat that was carrying Dick Bird and his tent etc. to his prospective “diggings” at Cape York and Ed Weyer and I were left at the foot of the cliff, to go up to the monument.
I dreaded the climb. Last night I sneezed and somehow did something very queer to my back again. At first it felt just as if I had dropped a stitch but somehow it failed to get better and has been troubling me all day. Sure enough, the climb was a terrible strain. The first part of it is so frightfully steep and it always seems endless. After two hours we reached the monument and found everyone hard at work and the monument itself about two and a half feet higher than it was last time I was up. I feel sure that if we stay here until the monument is finished I can get it up to the height I want it just by going up every other day and praising them and taking it for granted that they are going to build it up to the required height. Carswell last night was saying that it might be that they would have to leave out the P’s because they would look out of proportion on a thirty-foot monument. I said that I wasn’t planning to have a thirty-foot monument, I would have at least a forty-foot one and probably a fifty or sixty-foot one.
I talked with all of them except Wells whom I cannot abide and Belknap told me that Brute was his right had man, he had never seen such a worker; that practically all the rocks at the monument had been carried there by Brute from the places where they had been cracked. He said Brute did not need to be told to tackle a second job when he had finished the first, he just went ahead of his own accord, and that he was invaluable with the Eskimos because they liked him and he was the only one who could speak their language at all. This pleased me very much for that is exactly what Brute said he would do if he came.
I started down ahead of Weyer because the descent is more painful for me that the climb and I like to take it slowly. But he soon caught up with me and when we were two thirds of the way down we caught up with Oscanyan. As an example of the consideration and courtesy with which I am treated on this expedition, I was leading the way and came to a patch of snow, which was the top of a steep glacier. To go around it doubled the length of the walk besides necessitating a little climb. I started across and had gone about fifteen feet when I noticed that Weyer, instead of following me, was climbing around. “What’s the matter?” I called “Is the snow too deep for your shoes?” “No, indeed,” he answered “I just think its dangerous as there is ice underneath and the whole thing is liable to slide. But you can go ahead if you want to!” Of course, I turned back but what got me was that he would not have said a word, just let me go ahead if I had not asked him!
When we reached the ship we found that a great section of the glacier had
fallen off during our absence making a tidal wave and causing much excitement.
The clocks were set back another hour last night so we had a long sleep. Even at that, I didn’t make Buddy get up for breakfast. I am worried about him. He doesn’t get enough sleep and he doesn’t get enough to eat because he can’t eat things like walrus heart and liver after seeing the walrus cut up and rotting and he can’t eat the half rotten birds that the men pretend to enjoy either. Last night he cuddled down on the bed beside me and admitted that he was not having a very good time and often he wished he was on Eagle Island. That doesn’t sound a bit like Bud.
I got up shortly after breakfast and gave my room a thorough sweeping. I also started overhauling the boys’ clothes, making lists, sewing on nametapes, etc. It makes home seem nearer and I less unhappy. I could die to think that in two months I probably still won’t be home. This is fine disciplining for me I guess. I was sewing all morning and after dinner I wrote my diary. The boys went ashore after dinner to try their had at shooting and Junior was going to take Bud up to his nook and teach him the fine points which he himself had learned by experience. I wish the tin boat were ours because Bud would rather row around in that than do anything else but I cannot bring myself to ask favors of Norcross.
The ice came in very thick from around the corner of Cape York and when I found that the whaleboat would not return from its last load of sand until between nine and ten in the evening, I persuaded Inughito to row up the shore after the boys and bring them home to supper. They had had a grand time with three Eskimo boys, Eningwah, who is Ootah’s son; Ootuniah, who is Npsa’s son and another whose name I believe is Achungwah. They brought home four live baby auks with the wild idea of raising them and taking them home as pets but while I say nothing, I still can’t quite see myself travelling from St. John’s to Portland with livestock!
The doctor has been busy all day skinning fish to mount as specimens, one for Mr. Norcross and the others for the Smithsonian. It is delicate work and I enjoyed watching him.
A simply beautiful day, clear and warm. I had planned to spend the morning ashore and go up the mountain in the afternoon but I felt so rocky when I woke up and had the beginnings of a slight headache so I decided to omit the mountain trip for the present. When I was dressed, however and went out on deck, I found it was impossible to get ashore. The ice flows were moving rapidly past the ship with the tide and the bosun said the tin boat was liable to be caught in the current and drifted under the face of the glacier. As this is continually sliding off, the position would not have been pleasant.
Junior had gone with the whaleboat after sand but we saw them stuck in the ice at the entrance to the sand cove unable to go backward or forward. All morning this went on and then we saw the Captain coming out from shore with a gaff, jumping from one cake to another. He may say he is old but he is agile and spry as a boy and I would trade all the young men in the party for one Captain Bob. He even walked out on the submerged part of the floes in order to get near another. It was thrilling to watch him. Soon after his arrival, the whaleboat succeeded in extricating itself and the men came aboard for dinner.
After dinner I was already and while Captain Bob and Ootah walked ashore and Junior decided to stick around on the chance that the whaleboat might be going for sand but Bud and I were able to go ashore in the tin boat, as the tide had slacked. Klayoo had almost finished Bud’s sealskin trousers and they look fine. The only trouble is that they are too small across his stomach but she can fix that. Nipsa’s wife presented him with a beautiful pair of frost-bleached kamiks and a new pair of sealskin mittens so he feels very proud and haughty. The only explanation I can give for their singling out Bud for presents instead of Junior is that his name is Peary. I gave all the women presents and left Junior’s oiltan moccasins and Bud’s sheepskins to be resoled.
Norcross had had all the tusks and teeth chopped out of the heads ashore but they were still there so I took two broken tusks for Robert for ivory and Bud’s long one and picked over the teeth until I got some for Bud to use for carving. I also took a lot of pictures and we had a fine time. About the middle of the afternoon the Captain came over and said he thought we were going to have good weather for some time now; That the men on top had sand to last them several days and it was impossible for us to get more until the ice cleared out and he suggested that we take a run in the Morrissey down beyond Meteorite Island to pick up the six men who live there in order to have them assist in the work at the top. It seemed a good thing to me and I agreed.
We called the gang together, sent a note to the top and were on board in half an hour and then were off. Junior busied himself all afternoon skinning the big gull (Glaucus) which he shot on the trip to Cape York. He made a good job of it. Bud spent the time braiding strands of rope for George, who has promised to make him a pair of rope slippers and I first boiled and then scrubbed the tusks and teeth which we had brought off with us. I spent a lot of time on deck trying to see my monument bet we had to hug the land so close on account of the ice that it was impossible.
We stopped at the tip of Cape York to pick up Dick Bird and take him on
to Meteorite Island. The sun shone
brilliantly and the bergs were thicker than I had ever seen them.
The Captain promised that after we reached the settlement seventeen miles
away, he would stop at meteorite Island and let the boys and me go ashore and
see the place where the Ahnighito meteorite was found.
He had no idea when that would be but promised to call me so I went to
bed with all my clothes but my boots on ready to jump out at a moment’s
When Billy brought my breakfast he said there were no Eskimos on board and a few minutes afterwards the Captain came to the door and said that the ice had been so thick that there was no possibility of forcing the ship near land and he was afraid we might get stuck for a week or ten days and the men on top without food or sand. We discussed the matter and decided not to wait any longer but to return to Cape York. It is another glorious day and I am thankful. Good weather is just what we need to push along the work on the monument and boost the morale of the men up there.
I washed out ten pairs of socks and wrote my diary in the forenoon, only stopping once to dash out on deck and see the monument. It is visible to the naked eye already at quite a distance and when it reaches its full height and is topped with that shining metal cap it is going to be grand. We had some of the lake trout for dinner and we enjoyed them very much. They are a welcome change.
Cape York harbor where the ship has been lying all during the work proved to be free of ice as we swung into it and as soon as we were anchored, Norcross and the doctor went off in the canoe after more fish, and Bud rowed me ashore in the tin boat, the others following in the whaleboat to get more sand bags. The women all pretended at least to be glad to see us and Klayoo was working diligently at Bud’s plant. They had been having a washday and clothes were spread everywhere to dry. It was so warm in the sun that I took off my coat and just sat around in my jersey dress.
We had not been there long before the teams returned from the top and
Ootah had a note of required supplies for the Captain in which Belknap said that
the s.e. corner of the monument was now sixteen and a half feet above the base!
Isn’t it grand. Tomorrow the Captain is going to send all hands on top to
haul rocks etc. and give the men a lift. I
remained on shore taking pictures and chatting with the women until Bud’s
trousers were finished and then I came aboard again, Klayoo accompanying me for
a cup of tea.
I was awakened this morning by the Captain’s voice in my ear saying, “Well are you going up the mountain today?” I was so startled that for a second I didn’t know where I was and the Captain laughed like anything! He has everything planned and he really is wonderful the way he sees to it that the ship’s affairs are taken care of, the Eskimos kept in good humor and constantly humping to the top with supplies and Norcross busy and amused. The ship’s boat went off after water first thing and Norcross accompanied the doctor around to a nearby settlement where there was a sick baby. Two sailors, George and Harold and two Eskimos were sent to the top to help the men there and the Captain and I decided to go up together after dinner.
I spent the morning darning socks, quite a pile of them but it made me feel noble to get them finished. After dinner the Captain and I started. My back is much better and besides, the Captain is not a fast walker so I thoroughly enjoyed the trip up the mountain. After we had climbed the fist rise, we could see the scaffolding of the monument! Everyone was as busy as a bee when we reached there and I expected to find them smiling as a basket of chips, instead, Belknap greeted me with gloom and said he was particularly glad the Captain and I had come as he wanted definite instructions as to the height of the monument. The men felt, especially Carswell, that by Sunday the monument would be high enough and they could cap it off and call it a day. I was thunderstruck! Here we have just gotten them comfortably housed and the transport of supplies so arranged that we can spare them extra huskies and sailors from the ship to help and now they want to quit! It is just one heartache after another!
We stuck around until the day’s work was done and with the added assistance they got up to twenty-two feet! Then we had a talk with the men. As I thought, Carswell is the head of the discontent. He is terrified of the Arctic and afraid he may have to stay here all winter. I reminded him that when we left no one expected the monument to be finished before the middle of September and there had been no objection to the idea. He tried to tell me that it would take three weeks to set the cap and while I know nothing about masonry that seemed perfectly idiotic to me. He said it was owing to the changed plans but I soon shut him up there, pointing out to him the fact that it was he who had changed the plans. I still don’t see how anyone dared take the responsibility of changing the architect’s plans without first consulting me. They knew we would only be gone two or three days and they could certainly have waited that long. Carswell maintains that there were not enough men to carry out the original plans but he doesn’t seem to realize that we would have had plenty of men in a short while just as we have now. I blame him for all the trouble and Belknap for being so weak kneed and soft spoken that he lets Carswell talk him into anything. Of course I cannot complain of Belknap when he is doing this as a favor to me but I believe in my heart that if I had had a man of forceful personality like the Captain, for instance, the work would have gone on as we planned to have it. If I had been here I would never have let them cut down the size of the monument so ruthlessly. But we knew nothing of such a possibility at the time; it was absolutely essential that we get walrus meat for Eskimos and dogs and I was still so badly battered as a result of my fall that I could not have climbed the mountain to save my live. Had I realized how vital to the successful completion of the monument my presence was, I would have had myself carried to the top on a dog sled and remained in the camp there while the Morrissey wen ton the hunt. But I didn’t have the faintest suspicion of such a thing and the harm is done now. All I can do now is push the monument up as high as possible in spite of everything.
Captain Bob backed me splendidly and gave the men a fine talk. He said that we had come to build the monument and that was what we were going to do. That we had all worked too hard to make a bum job of it in the end and while we might all be discontented and sick of the work now, when we got home and looked back on the thing we would never forgive ourselves if we had not done the thing right. I said I would take entire responsibility for the possibility that we might get the monument up so far and then not be able to finish it on account of the weather and the men agreed to stick with it. I told Carswell, who was the only sulky one, that he could quit and come down to the ship whenever he wished but that if he quit before the monument was finished, his pay quit that same day. I told them all that I wanted the monument put up to thirty three feet before the letters were put in (Carswell was for omitting the letters entirely because they would be so hard to put in, until I reminded him that they wouldn’t be any harder now that they had ever been!) then the eight foot letters and then eight feet above them before the cap was put on. That will make a fifty six-foot shaft, cap and all and I will be as satisfied as I could ever be with the alteration in plans.
Everyone had a good word for Brute.
The masons told the Captain that he had Sandy were the hardest working
men on the job and Belknap said that he didn’t know what he would have done
without him. Ed Weyer was up there and walked down with the Captain and
me. I picked a handful of poppies
on the way down and pressed them in the evening.
It was grand and peaceful on the ship as Norcross has gone in the
whaleboat with old Joe and the Doctor to move Dicky from the point of Cape York
to the village. They are to be gone
forty-eight hours and took provisions for a month “for fear they got caught in
the ice!” He is a great
sportsman. Junior presented me with
a huge glaucus gull which he had shot and spent the afternoon skinning. He said he would have it mounted for me as a souvenir of the
trip. I wonder if I will ever get
to the point where I will look back on this trip with any pleasure at all!
I can’t remember when I have been under such a continuous strain for so
long. I never dare relax a moment.
And now added to everything else, I am worried sick because for over a
week Oscanyan had been unable to send any messages and I know Mother is terribly
anxious about us. I started trying
to reach her last Thursday, the day her radio came.
A beautifully quiet peaceful day and as for weather, what the Bosun calls a dull fine day! I slept fairly late and Junior went off with Will and Inughito in the whaleboat after sand. The Captain went ashore to start the teams going and Harold and George went up the mountain again. Buddy was made perfectly happy by being allowed to act as ferryman between shore and ship in the tin boat.
I washed three pairs of pajamas and two union suites in the morning and spent the afternoon with a great pile of mending. I also did some writing and pasted the various sections of my Lauge Kock maps together.
Klayoo came aboard with a sealskin netcha for Buddy, which was too large and will have to be altered and she also presented me with a pair of sealskin mittens. She is a good old soul and a wonderful sewer and I am lucky to be getting these things for the boys.
The Captain came off to supper pretty tired but said the things were
going up to the top in fine style. Will,
in spite of being short handed, bagged over a hundred bags of sand, and when
Harold and George came down the mountain, they said the monument was up to
twenty five feet.
Still no chance to send word to Mother and my distress was increased by the receipt of a radio from her saying she had not heard from me for two weeks and was worried. If only the Times would have the thoughtfulness to let her know that the hitch is the result of their operator being in Halifax and trying to work us from there, it would relieve her mind. It makes me sick to think of the anxiety, which she is undergoing so unnecessarily. I was with her when Robert was north and I know exactly how she is feeling.
It is a fine day and I sent a note to the mountain
re-iterating my desire to have the monument go up to thirty-three feet before
the P’s were set. Under the
circumstances, I thought it just as well for Belknap to have my wishes in
writing to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding.
I was busy on board ship all morning, still mending and after dinner the
boys and I went ashore for a little while.
I like to see the Eskimo women every day and sort of jolly them along.
They are like children. Klayoo
had Bud’s netcha finished and it certainly looks fine but has a noble smell.
Junior’s pants are also well on the road to being done.
I sat around with Klayoo and Ootah’s wife and Klayoo showed me how she
could juggle three stones and tried to teach me to count beyond five.
When a little of my forgotten Eskimo comes back to me and I use it, they
are simply convulsed. Junior was
throwing tiny pebbles at us in fun and I said “Dessa!” a couple of times and
then as he continued, I said, quite involuntarily:- “Dessa badooglie I oke
nigh!” Well, it set them in a gale!
They laughed and coughed until they were breathless and just as they
would begin to calm down, one would repeat in a high falsetto voice:- “Dessa
badooglie I oke nigh!” and they would be off again! I gave each one a piece of chocolate and we sat together
eating it. When it was gone, they
must have spent as much as an hour playing with the silver paper in which it was
wrapped. I came off to the ship in
time for supper and spent the early part of the evening talking with Will and
Oscanyan. A little after ten, the
whaleboat with the doctor and Norcross and old Joe returned.
It is characteristic that they would get back after everyone turned in so
the men would have to be routed out and the winch started in order to hoist up
the boat. The doctor said they had
not gotten any game except a few birds and also that the monument could be seen
from all parts of Melville Bay where they went.
When George and Harold returned from the top after supper they brought
the news that work had stopped at three thirty because the monument was then up
to thirty feet and they were afraid to go any further before seeing Mrs.
Stafford because they didn’t know exactly where she wanted the letters placed!
If I don’t lose my mind before the end of this trip, I never will!
I heard Norcross inform Billy at breakfast that they would be going off on another trip this evening and telling him what supplies to lay out. I decided to go up to the top today and remain all day so as to avoid any further misunderstanding of what I did or did not want as long as my written messages are unintelligible. I also determined to take the doctor with me to look over the men up there and make sure they are all right before he starts off again. I had Bud row me ashore to tell the Captain of my plans and evidently Norcross thought I was gone for the morning for when I returned on board in a quarter of an hour, there sat Joe skinning a blue fox. I as mad enough to bite a nail in half. I turned to the doctor, who had told me they had gotten no game except for a few small birds, and said:- “Oh, so you got some blue fox!” He squirmed and looked uncomfortable and said:- “Yes, we got two!” “Are they for the Smithsonian or are they for Norcross?” I asked. Again he wriggled and said:- “Well, I would like to have one for my collection!” Gee, what people! I asked him if he didn’t realize that the blue fox were protected from the middle of April until the middle of September and he said he didn’t know anything was protected except the eider duck. This in spite of the fact that Nielsen gave out copies of the game laws when we were last at Thule.
We were rowed ashore to the foot of the cliffs and made a slow easy climb up the mountain. It is 1420 feet from base to the monument and so steep it takes me just about two hours. We found work going smoothly and I soon made my wishes plain. The hoist that was sent up yesterday and which George installed, works beautifully and frees one man for the task of collecting rocks. A week of good weather should certainly finish the masonry and perhaps the cap also. Then there will be the tearing down of the scaffolding, cleaning up around the monument and carrying down to the ship the camping equipment, lumber for Belknap and tools. The lumber for the Eskimos we will pile up and leave there for them to get in the winter. It looks to me as if two weeks should see us away. I went down to the camp to see Tommy and had dinner with the men and then the doctor and I started across country to the top of Cape York. Last night in reading the second volume of Northward I discovered that in June, 1893, Dad had rowed ashore at Cape York, scaled the bluffs and left a record in a cairn on top. I have never heard of it being found and it would give me the biggest thrill in the world to find it now under the present circumstances. We did see a number of rough cairns and fox traps but no sign of Dad’s. It’s a little difficult, because we don’t know exactly where he landed. However, there are numerous other places to look and I will try again. We returned to the monument about three and I took a lot of pictures while waiting for the dog teams to come up with their third load. We planned to ride down with them. There is a forlorn little Eskimo woman who comes up every day with the Eskimo men in order to keep their kamiks mended for them Belknap says that the first day she was there, she stayed down in the camp alone with Tommy but ever since she had stayed on top no matter how cold it is. He says he told Tommy he was going to write a note to Tommy’s father and tell him that he was so bad that it wasn’t safe for an Eskimo woman to stay in camp with him and Tommy turned as white as a sheet and said:- “Christ Jesus, don’t do that Mr. Belknap!
When the teams camp up I got some good pictures of the dogs and then asked Ootah to take me down on his sled. It was not a particularly thrilling ride although it was interesting. I spite of its being down hill, the snow is so deep and granular that there was no chance of our going very fast and whenever we reached a smooth place, Ootah halted the team and applied the brakes by slipping loops of raw walrus hide over the runners. The glacier was covered with streams of melting snow and as we dashed merrily through them, the water splashed up between the slats of the sled so I was soaked when we reached the bottom. But it was fun just the same. Ootah confided to me that he was the only one of the Eskimos to whom Peary ever gave liquor. That it made the others piblockto but he could stand it!
After the doctor and I had had a belated supper I went aft to report to the Captain and also to talk to Norcross before he left. I am worried about the scaffold, which is now forty feet in the air, and which some of the men say is not safe because we were given the wrong kind of lumber. Under the circumstances, it seems to me the height of insanity to send the doctor away but of course what Norcross wants he gets, and the Captain is anxious to get him away from under foot because if he is not kept constantly amused and interested he mopes around and is generally disagreeable. They only plan to go as far as Parker Snow Bay and we could go after the doctor in the Morrissey and get him back from there in eight hours. So I said that while it was against my better judgement to have the doctor leave just now I was willing to take the chance if Norcross would promise not to go any further than Parker Snow Bay. At this politely worded and (I thought) entirely reasonable request, Norcross swelled up as black as a thunder cloud and the Captain immediately leaped into the breach, saying he knew where the boat was going and they wouldn’t go any further than Parker Snow Bay and not to worry because nothing was going to happen. Of course talk like that is idiotic, because no one can tell whether an accident is going to happen or not and the other day when the men on the mountain sent down for just such simple things as boric acid and adhesive plaster, it took the Captain and Ed Weyer an hour to locate them among the doctor’s things. Norcross said that we couldn’t have gotten the doctor back to the men in eight hours when the Morrissey was gone on the walrus hunt but the Captain and I had discussed that and as long as the men were not working off the ground, we thought the doctor was more needed with the greater number who were hunting. Then I also said that I did not want Norcross to kill any more blue fox. The Captain immediately jumped up and said:- “He never killed any blue fox!” And when I said he had, that I had seen Joe skinning them, he said:- “Where in the world did he skin them?” to Norcross, showing that he had known it all along. My idea was that we were guests of the Danes who are going out of their way to be nice to us and it is only decent of us to observe their laws. Besides, there was never the least trouble between Dad and the Danes and I certainly don’t want it to begin now and have us put in the class with MacMillan. It wouldn’t be Norcross who would suffer but Captain Bob and I who are responsible. But as soon as the Captain saw that Norcross was getting peeved he proceeded to smooth everything over and make little of it, saying no one would know it, although Joe showed them to Oscanyan who is hand in glove with the Danes and I saw Inughito looking at the skulls and nothing could make an Eskimo lie if asked a direct question. Besides my idea was not that we could do anything as long as we got away with it. I wanted to play just as fair with them as they were playing with us. But the Captain got out the game regulations and read about not shooting a walrus before it was harpooned etc., etc., which of course was done on the last hunt although against my wishes and they all just laughed and jeered and I had to get up and leave.
I don’t know why it was ever suggested that I come on this trip unless
it was to make me the goat. Nothing
goes my way, I am not consulted about anything.
When I ask the expedition photographer right in from of the Captain, to
make prints of certain pictures which he has taken at my request, he says:-
“Well, I don’t think I will have the time anymore;” and when I say that if
he will let me have the negative I will have them done at my expense when I
return, he says:- “I wouldn’t like to do that because not many people
understand how to print these pictures.”
And the Captain says nothing. When
Norcross wants the doctor, he takes him in spite of what I say, but the
expedition pays him one hundred dollars a month for his services.
Norcross not only keeps everything he shoots himself but hogs everything
else, as witness the walrus ivory from the last hunt. I have never been so unhappy, so sneered at and ignored and I
could weep most of the time. I wish
to the Lord I had never come. No
matter how many lectures and articles I get out of the trip, they will never
make it up to me. I have the
sensation of groping in the dark and often I stumble over something, which I
never suspected. For instance, I
found out accidentally today that by Norcross’ orders, a picture had been
made, to be used for advertising purposes with the people who gave us the
evaporated milk, of Eskimos drinking the milk, carefully posed in front of the
memorial tablet on the monument. I
knew absolutely nothing about this and would never have believed anyone could be
so crude and lacking in sensibilities as to think of such a thing. I will not have the monument commercialized and I told them
so and also that pictures of that kind could be made of the Eskimos but I would
not allow the monument to appear in it in any way. I feel so alone, no one to talk with, no one whom I can
trust, no one who gives a damn for anyone but themselves. It isn’t worth Mother and my eating our hearts out through
being separated all summer.
Madge’s birthday and although I have had a radiogram written and filed for sending for the last week, Oscanyan has been unable to get it off. I hope Mother remembered to send the packages, which I left with her. It was a little damp and cloudy this morning and I was feeling tired and forlorn and did not get up very early. When I did, I tidied the room and did typing until dinnertime. I learned from Will that he expected to go over to Dickie’s camp in half an hour so I bundled up well and put on my oils and had the boys do the same and we were ready in plenty of time. I was rather disappointed to see that Weyer was going along. He affects me very unpleasantly and makes such a fool of himself when Junior is along with his gun, ducking down every time Junior moves and going over to the opposite side of the boat when Junior shoots, as if he thought Junior didn’t have good sense. I used to warn Junior and try not to annoy Weyer but not I am getting hard-boiled and as inconsiderate as the rest and if they don’t like what we do they can keep away from us.
It was very interesting travelling so near the shore and so low down. The rocks are certainly impressive and are so rugged and tossed about that it seems impossible to get about over them. The cliffs are alive with birds and above the bare grey rocks lie vivid green beds of moss and whole slopes of flowers. I was perfectly delighted to see the great stone arch of which Dad speaks in Northward and, like a fool, I called Weyer’s attention to it but he is the sort that only realizes when a thing is picturesque or worth looking at if it has been so labeled and so he was not at all impressed. But I am coming back some day soon and bring Inughito and his kayak with me and take a picture of him in the archway.
We found Dick’s camp just around the corner and he is comfortably installed and has made some amazing and satisfactory discoveries. He is digging away for dear life and says there is work enough there for two years. He had saved a bear tooth for Buddy and some bleached walrus teeth still in the jaw, which pleased Bud very much. While we were investigating the diggings and taking pictures, Junior went up in the rocks behind the camp and shot a mess of little auks for Dick.
When we left, I asked Will to cruise down towards the glacier as I am
trying to locate the little ravine with the icecap at the top, up which Dad
climbed and built his cairn. I
think I know where it is. On the
way, we saw two Arctic ravens and to Junior’s pride and joy, he as able to
soot one. I took so long to go ashore and fetch it and the Mate was in
such a furry that I let him turn back from there towards the ship.
Before we reached the Morrissey a real storm was upon us, fog, and rain
and wind and I was glad to get on board. We
no sooner arrived than George and Harold appeared from the mountain where they
said it was impossible to work on account of the wind and damp.
But the scaffolding is finished and a lot of rocks have been collected,
so the work is not really delayed. I
spent the evening reading Northward and tracing Dad’s various sledge
journey’s on Lauge Kock’s map. The
storm grew steadily worse and I knew Carswell was spending the evening gloating
for the monument has reached the exact height beyond which he said it would be
impossible to go!
Storming so furiously that Billy, when he brought my breakfast, suggested that I remain in bed as being the most comfortable spot on board. I did stay there until ten and then got up and dressed. Such a sea was running that no one could get ashore and I spent the morning reciting Danish to Oscanyan and embroidering a doily for Madge. While we were eating dinner, the sun came out as if by magic and when we went out on deck, the wind had dropped and it was a lovely day. The sea, however, continued to be rough and the Morrissey rolled so hard we had to have fiddles on the table. The Captain and Inughito tried to land at the settlement in the tin boat but it was impossible. The whaleboat went for sand, however, and I remained on deck with Junior trying to help him skin his Arctic raven. The difficulty is that the bird is alive with lice and I am terrified for fear they will get on Junior. I asked advice of Harold and George and one said to spray him with liquid made by steeping a plug of chewing tobacco in boiling water, and the other said to sprinkle him with Epsom salts but Len, who admitted he had once been “pretty crummy” himself and had spent a winter in a lumber camp where even the insects were lousy, suggested gasoline. This we did and sprinkled on Epsom salts besides and wrapped him up well and let him simmer in the fumes a while. When Junior finally tackled him, there was not a bug to be seen. Inughito being idle, I had Bud take him a walrus tooth and ask him to make me a polar bear and he turned out a very neat article. All day while I have been sewing, I have been trying to calm myself down and not feel so deeply hurt and offended at the way I am treated. It will be better for me in the long run if I don’t burst out and speak my mind but if things keep getting worse all the time I’m afraid I will. Towards evening we hoisted our anchor and moved over to another mooring. The violent wind had swept us quite near shore and this together with a heavy sea and constant “founders” from the glacier which filled the waters around us with trash ice, made our former anchorage unsafe.
The ship rolled heavily all night and continues to do so. The constant motion with its attendant groaning and creaking of timers, the knowledge that the weather is preventing work on the monument from going on, and the thought of Mother anxiously waiting for a message which I am completely unable to send have made me so nervous and keyed up that I could scream. I try to keep busy and keep the boys amused during their enforced confinement on the ship but my heart is not in it and I can only count the days until I will be back with Mother again. I am glad she will not know how differently the trip has turned out for me from what we had thought; at least she will not know until it is all over and done with.
The glacier continues its disturbances. No real bergs break off but great sheets of ice slide down into the water and cause heavy seas. About noon, the entire face of the glacier, almost a mile in length and six or eight feet deep slid off with a roar and a rumble that must have been heard at some distance. We were on deck at the time for a preliminary report like a pistol shot had warned us what was coming. The Morrissey rolled until her boats at the davits almost scooped up the water and everything on board that was not firmly anchored in place crashed loose. But this was nothing to the pandemonium on shore. I watched it all through the glasses. The water receded leaving yards of beach bare and then returned with a terrific rush, bringing great chunks of ice with it. Up the beach it raced further and further, with the Eskimos fleeing before it. It covered all the carefully cherished piles of walrus meat, flowed across two of the tents with their contents, put out the fire over which the noonday meal for the sled drivers was being prepared, and stopped a matter of inches before it reached the pile of cement waiting to be taken up the mountain. Fortunately, in spite of heavy sea, which was running, the Captain had managed to be set shore this morning so he was there with them to help straighten out things and calm them down. He told us afterwards that they behaved wonderfully after the first few moments of panic. Under his direction they were able to salvage nearly everything and soon had the tents pitched higher up the hill, the furs and blankets spread out to dry and the walrus meat hauled up to safety. This seems all the more remarkable when you consider the fact that only women and children were in the camp, the men not having returned yet from their trip down the mountain. The women laughed and chattered and seemed to think it all an enormous practical joke that had been played on them.
In the course of the day, I did two small washes (the size of my washes
is limited by the amount of clothes I can soak in my pail and the amount that I
can dry in my stateroom during the day); finished a large doily; finished one
batch of mending and read Rasmussen’s “Greenland by the Polar Sea”.
Mother’s forty fourth wedding anniversary and I am unable to send her a radio to let her know I am thinking of her and to set her mind at rest. How glad I am that I arranged about the flowers before I left, although they will do nothing to relieve her anxiety. It is a gorgeous day, clear and warm and sunny. Harold and George went up the mountain before eight and the Captain got ashore in spite of the heavy sea and the presence of ice. I did a big wash in the morning and persuaded the Bosun to hang my sheet in the rigging to dry in the sun and wind rather than in my stuffy cabin. I helped Junior retrieve his Arctic raven from the rigging where it had been triced up (and almost spoiled!) in a well meaning effort to get it out of the way, and I also had him take all of his birds from the cupboard by my bed, re-salt them, label them, and wrap them separately in a box which we will keep for that purpose. I hung Buddy’s fur suit in the rigging to dry out from the dampness of the box on deck where he has been keeping it and the Bosun re-salted Junior’s sealskin and walrus head. I thoroughly overhauled my stateroom and emptied my trunk so that Len could mend it and the tray where they had been smashed at the corners and he made a slick job of it. After dinner, I persuaded Will and the Bosun to set us ashore in the dory. It was rather exciting landing but we made it alright and it was a relief to be on shore again after three days cooped up on the ship. The Eskimo women lost no time in telling all about the excitement of their near flood and laughed a great deal over it. The boys went up in the bird cliffs to get birds to send up the mountain. Junior went alone with his shotgun and Bud with an Eskimo boy and a net. I wandered around the village, taking pictures of the women and the dogs and the beach, and while I was there, the old lady of the group set off quite calmly, just as she was except that she carried a pair of mittens and a white enamel cup, to walk over the glacier to Cape York about five or six miles away. I gave Nipsa’s wife and Ootah’s wife each an alarm clock; gave the baby’s mother a silk scarf and gave devoted Klayoo a fox trap, which caused a great sensation. Each woman had a turn at setting it and every once in a while Klayoo would jump to her feet and start off with determination as if she were going a great distance, saying:- “Look out, Mr. Bluefox, I am going to catch you this time sure!” Then she would laugh and come back and sit down again. I got her to repeat her counting for me which she did the other day. 1 atahsuk; 2 mataluke; 3 pingasuk; 4 sissamin; 5 tedlamin; 6 igloomee; 7 martaluke; 8 pinasuk; 9 sissamin; 10 tedlamin; 11 iHICKkenny etc.
I started up the cliffs to join the boys and try to get some close-ups of the little auks but paused on the way to examine the lichens with new interest after reading what Rasmussen has to say about them. They cover the rocks as thickly and closely as leaves in fall and yet Rasmussen writes:- “Lichens are organisms consisting of an alga and a fungus which have united for the benefit of mutual housekeeping. They are highly impervious to drought, warmth and cold and are only able to vegetate in turgid conditions but are at rest when it is dry. In this climate they probably vegetate merely a few days in the year and a patch as big as a penny can often be more than a hundred years old in this neighborhood where vegetation is at rest for 350 days of the year. Their chief nourishment they get from the stone through its slight crumbling and that cannot be much. The lichen thus is a plant which in all its lowliness nevertheless has eternity before it.”
Before I could get settled long enough for the birds to become accustomed to me and alight near me, the dory came to take us out to the ship. It was still rough and when we came alongside, we had to jump for the ladder. As I did so, the fingers of my right hand slipped down between the step of the ladder and the ship and I felt a grinding crunch followed by the mo9se excruciating pain. I managed to get up the ladder and down into my room and I can’t remember when I have felt such agony. It ran all through me in white-hot waves and I was afraid I would scream. The doctor, of course is not here, but Billy said that when he dropped a weight on his toe and mashed it, the nurse in the hospital bathed it in water as hot as he could stand. I tried this and it did relieve me a little. At least I found that I could bend all my fingers which shows that none of the joints are mashed but my middle finger is so swollen and discolored I cannot tell whether the tip of the bone is crushed or not. It certainly felt and sounded that way.
When the pain was a little easier and I was able to pay attention to what
was going on around me, Oscanyan showed me some things, which the Bosun had
fished out of the water with the net. For
some time, Bud and I have been interested in watching round black spots as big
as a small pea, which float through the water by means of little black flaps
like wings which they work back and forth.
These were what the Bosun had fished up and while I do not know the
technical name for them the Captain says they are known as “blackberries”
which explains George’s telling Bud that the auks and pigeons live on
blackberries. When the men came down from the mountain, they reported five
feet of masonry done today, up to the curve of the “P” and the men back at
work after supper. I had a talk
with Captain Bob and apparently he has promised Norcross everything, pick of all
game, photos etc and there is nothing I can do.
A perfectly miserable day with fog first, then rain and later snow, not just a few flakes but a real snowfall that has covered the hills completely. Of course, it is out of the question for the men to work in weather like this and I am terrified for fear the monument will not get finished. It seems like the hand of the Lord that it should now be exactly thirty feet, the height beyond which Carswell told me it would be impossible to go. I don’t have confidence in anyone any more and the repeated assurances of the mate and others that this is unseasonable fail to reassure me. I have found that their policy is to gloss things over, and even lie so there won’t be “any trouble”. Oscanyan took the trouble to look up Vergoeff’s weather records for the same time of year, showing that the first part of August was fine, then there was a spell of bad weather and then fine again. That is at least something definite.
I can neither sew nor do any washing because of my bruised finger but I
have done a tremendous amount of typing during the day and also some reading,
not to mention the plans I make and the memorandum I write about what I will do
when I get home. It makes home seem
nearer. I have always taken for
granted the affection with which I have been surrounded.
Now it seems as if it must be a dream to think that I could be somewhere
where the people were really glad to have me, really wanted me and did not
either frankly ignore me or try to slip something over on me or show me how
plainly they considered me a nuisance.
August 13th, 1932
I was so mentally exhausted last night that I slept like a top in spite
of the ice bumping against the side of the ship all night long.
I asked to see the Captain this morning before he went ashore and when he
came in, I suggested that he go up on top with one of the sledges and see the
men and reassure them that winter had not begun and that we were in for another
spell of good weather soon. Last
time they got panicky, my monument suffered and I didn't want them to butcher it
any more. But of coarse I received
my usual answer:- “Nonsense, nonsense, don’t you worry about the men,
they’re all right. Just leave it
to me. Don’t worry, everything
will be alright.” All of which
means exactly nothing and I have heard it millions of times before. Later when I went on deck and looked ashore, I saw the
Captain going up the glacier on a sledge on his way to the top.
He invariably, treats me like a fool when I make a suggestion and then
follows it out. Snowed again in the
afternoon and if I weren’t so worried about the monument, I could enjoy the
beauty of my surroundings better. It
really is lovely in this little harbor, surrounded with white hills.
I did more typing in the course of the day and in the evening, found my
finger was enough better so I could use a thimble and so I resumed by
embroidery. I started Bud to work
on some more ivory carving and in the middle of the afternoon, gave the boys a
tea party, just to break the monotony for them.
They are really awfully good when you consider how cooped up they have
been nearly all week. In the
evening when the Captain returned he gave me his usual bawling out which he
usually does at the table in order to make it as public as possible.
He said:- “You ought not to go up on the mountain.
You can’t do anything and the men just make a fool of you.
You came down the other day and said one of the men needed shoes because
his were all worn out! Why, they
have plenty of shoes up there, because when I got my feet wet, they offered me
dry shoes and stockings to wear down, they just try to make a fool of you!”
I was all ready to go up the mountain this morning, seeing that it was a
fine day because in spite of what the Captain says, they only way I can find out
what is going on is to go and see for myself, but Will would not have me set
ashore because he said he was afraid it might snow.
I never felt so helpless in my life.
When the men say it is too rough to land or there is too much ice to get
ashore or the weather is going to change and it won’t be safe for me to go, I
can’t do anything but remain on board. It
is maddening. Today for the first
time since my fall, my back has felt as if I could move anyway I pleased without
its hurting me. It has been a
nuisance not to be able to do this, that or the other, or what was worse start
to do then and be brought up short with pain.
I had an inspiration last night and as a result, have been able to get
Len started making a sea chest for the boys.
He is going to make it and the Bosun will decorate it with Sinnett
whatever that means; any how, it is going to be a dressy sea chest and one the
boys will be glad they have in later years.
The Bosun is really unique anyhow. I
happened to say something to him about the pathetic looking dead birds that are
always flopping about in the rigging and he said:- “I bees tired of throwing
them damned puffins overboard!” Which
may explain where some of Junior’s treasured little auks disappeared!
I copied my monument schedules and the various notes that have been
written me on the subject, sorted a box of old letters, and tidied the
cupboards. I have to keep busy or I
would go crazy thinking. I try not
to say anything at the table because no matter what I say the Captain always
jumps but tonight I happened to mention something that I had just read in
“Northward” and the Captain yelled:- “That’s all wrong!
You should never read books about the place where you are!
In all the years I was with your father, I never saw him read a book!
He was planning, planning all the time!”
It does me no good to plan because no one listens to me or even considers
letting me do what I have planned. Oscanyan
says he thinks it is just a habit. If
they say I can’t do a thing they have no more responsibility; if they say yes,
then it has to be followed up and it is easier to refuse.
I got up this morning with my mind made up to go p the mountain in spite
of everything. I was a nice day and
as it has been over a week since I was up, I thought I better go.
But when I told the Captain, he said not at all! Not at all!
You stay on the ship and wait till it’s a fine day and then you can
go!” I said I had been prevented
from going ashore for a week for one reason or another and it seemed very funny
to me that everyone else could do as they wanted to bet me.
In short, I made a scene, which I regret to say, is the only way to get
anything out of Captain Bob as I have found out.
If you are nice and quiet and don’t nag, he forgets you and you get
left. Just like ten days ago I asked him for a new blanket to make
into an anorak for the boys and he said I could have it. I suggested that I get it right away but he said “Just leave
it to me, you’ll have your blanket!” The
time has been getting shorter and I was afraid that Klayoo would not be able to
finish them in time, so last night I got Will to go aft and ask him for one.
He sent word back that he was sorry, but he had sent all the blankets up
to the mountain! Anyhow, I got
ashore this morning and took Junior with me and a grey blanket off his bed to
make an anorak to go with his sealskin pants.
The Captain said we were not to walk up but to go on sledges and I was
willing as it is much easier even if it is slower.
Just before we left the ship, the whaleboat returned with the “Ovaltine
explorers” and I was doubly glad to be getting away, where I would be spared
the irritation and annoyance of things which I am helpless to prevent.
We started off with Ootah’s sledge, at least I did, Kyanga claimed
Junior saying loudly that Junior was his “pickaninny” to which Ootah
retorted that he (Ootah) had two “Koonahs” because his wife was going along
with me on his sledge also! Klayoo
went with Pooadloonah for evidently the women have all decided it was high time
for them to find out what all the excitement was about!
The last snowfall has greatly improved the going but before we were
anywhere near the top there was a thick, heavy fog through which it was
impossible to see the team ahead. I
could understand so well the eyestrain, which Dad suffered on the Inland Ice
during a fog for there on the glacier it was impossible to tell the difference
between the ice and the fog and the sky. Fortunately,
there was a well-defined track for the dogs to follow, so there was no danger of
being lost. Ootah has eleven dogs,
which he drives and a pet dog, owdlihwah, which runs along beside or ahead of
the team. It belongs to Wane,
Ootah’s wife. It was cold and
camp on top but fortunately not cold enough to freeze.
The men, who had been standing around in little groups, immediately began
to work when we appeared and soon were up brushing the snow off the scaffolding
and preparing cement. There are six
inches of snow on the ground up on top and it was pretty cold standing around
even dressed as warmly as I was. It
is a constant source of amazement to me to see the Eskimos bend over, their
shirt slip up from their trousers and then instead of the strip of warm brown
skin which was usually visible, to see in its place a band of red flannel!
The women were intensely interested in the most minute details and went
around “I Ohing” at a great rate. I
upset Klayoo by powdering her nose, rouging her cheeks and “doing” her lips
from a little pocket vanity case I was carrying, the very one in fact, which
Mary gave me before I went though the canal. And Ootah’s face was a study when
his wife appeared before him with a vivid Cupid’s bow mouth!
We had dinner down at Tommy’s and then Brute showed me through the
“shack” as they call the bunkhouse and I went up on top again.
But hanging around, even with the Eskimo women to talk to, soon grew a
bit wearisome and I only stayed long enough to see all but the last piece of the
marble P’s in place. They
certainly show up against the stone walls.
I rode down with Ootah and Junior with Kyangwah and halfway down another
team tried to pass us. It was the
first time I ever saw Ootah peeved but he swung around and cracked his whip
right in the faces of the advancing team. There
was nothing for the poor dogs to do but lie down or be lashed and Ootah went on,
cussing (I suppose!) under his breath! At
the ship, I found my lamb-like Buddy had put in his day scrubbing all the white
paint in my stateroom and the bathroom. It
looked fine and I was very much pleased. The
Captain did not arrive for supper, in fact not until ten o’clock and had kept
the men working until half past nine. He
was wild with enthusiasm, like a boy, and pounded the table and banged on the
door, announcing that he monument would surely be finished tomorrow!
It was killing to see his face when Buddy, whom I had roused from bed for
the purpose, appeared in the door carrying a birthday cake with three lighted
candles. He had no idea that any of
us remembered his birthday and immediately accused Paul Oscanyan of having given
it away through receiving a birthday message.
I had been told that he might throw the cake at me, because last year
they had a birthday cake which Billy had baked and Charlie Pope had iced and the
Captain had sort of grumbled and then said:- “Well, I’ll have a bit of cake
but I don’t wan any icing!” The
little wooden birds from the ten-cent store, which served as candleholders
pleased him immensely especially when I explained to him that I thought birds,
were more appropriate to him than pink rosebuds!
A pleasant enough day here but we could see that it was foggy on top of the mountain. Bud passed a hectic few hours this forenoon with Len while the latter was working on the sea chest. Len, it seems, was a dabster at arithmetic when he was in school and he gave Bud some trick problems. Here they are.
A woman didn’t have a score of eggs but if she had as many more than half of that, and two and a half, she would have a score. Seven eggs.
A man had a hundred dollars and he wanted to buy a hundred books. He paid ten dollars for a book, and five dollars for books. What did he pay for each remaining book? 90 books for forty-five dollars, so fifty cents a book.
A man with a five-dollar bill bought something for eighty cents and asked for his change in 21 pieces of money, no quarters among them. What money did he get? Seventeen dimes, three fifty-cent pieces and one dollar bill.
About ten o’clock the boys and I went ashore. I wanted to take pictures for Hershey chocolate and Horlick’s malted milk and to trade Mane for one of her N.W. mounted police buttons and to order two blanket anoraks this time. I also went up to the rocks above the settlement and Bud helped me gather lichens for my Christmas cards, while Junior went off shooting with Egingwah. We had a fair sized crop by the time we were due to start for the ship. Bud made a fine little ice pilot, for the trash ice had drifted in close around the shore and when we reached the Morrissey, I decided to go over to the cliffs and pick up Junior. He had killed a couple of snowbuntings and some pigeons for Egingwah and I had the boys set me off to the chip and then take Egingwah ashore because I knew Billy would be wild to have him on board for dinner. Imagine then my horror, when I saw the tin boat returning with not only my two boys on board but old Pootoo and Klayoo and Nepsa’s wife and the queer little half starved “koohan” not to mention Egingwah and Ootooniah and Seegle’s orphan boy! But they paid their way by sitting right down and skinning all the murres brought back by the whaleboat party as well as the hare. They were quite amusing and I took several pictures of them.
After dinner, Bud and I went ashore again, this time further along the
shore by the moss slope. Junior
preferred to remain on board as he had seen a young sea pigeon and was anxious
to add it to his collection. As Bud
and I were about to land, he spied a curious arched tunnel through one of the
rocks with the waves pouring through it. I
took a picture of it and he insisted that as he had discovered it, he had a
right to name it. So I suggested
wither “Peary’s Passage” or “Buddy’s Bight” and he inclined to the
latter, saying with a pleased smile:- “Now there will be something named for
me in this Arctic land!” He
certainly is quaint. On shore, we
found a book flowing between high banks of moss and I decided to take a picture
of it. First Bud remarked that it
looked “almost tropical” and then he said:- “Come where I am and take the
picture. Of course, I don’t
pretend to be artistic, but I do think this is the place to take the picture!”
We wandered about over the moss into which we sank above our ankles and
then I went up on the hill to try for another close up of the auks.
While I was there, Bud dug a tunnel and explored some caves, inflamed by
Weyer’s stories of buried treasure at the dinner table.
I remained in one position until I nearly perished and then my chance
came. By creeping cautiously closer
and closer I came within ten feet of an auk perched on a rock and silhouetted
against the sky. It was a dandy
picture and just the second before I snapped it, Junior on the ship, fired his
gun and the report startled my bird into flight.
There was no use waiting any longer so Bud and I returned to the ship.
The Eskimo boys remained on board all evening to the great joy of Junior
and Bud. They had a grand time and
Junior got into their good graces by allowing them to use his gun while Bud
astounded them with magic tricks, which he had learned from George.
It was killing to see Egingwah’s face when Bud picked a penny out of
A bright, sunny day but the coldest we have had so far. The Captain was in to see me before he went up the mountain and I asked him to remember particularly, if the maso9nry was finished today, to have some kind of pulleys placed at each corner on which we could string the flags for the dedication. He said he would. We have nine flags, which we have promised to fly and it will be quite a sight.
Bud dressed himself in his complete sealskin suit, Netcha, pants, kamiks and mittens and Junior and I went ashore with him to see him safely started up the mountain. The Captain had had Ootah wait behind just to take him up for I have been promising him all along that he might go some day. When we got close to the shore, however, the ice was so thick and there was such a heavy swell, that Junior and I remained in the boat, and only Buddy and Weyer went ashore.
Returning to the ship, I spent the morning, preparing the contents of the cylinder, which is to go into the cornerstone and in writing the record, which goes with it. It is rather a solemn business writing something, which may not be seen for fifty or a hundred years. There is a finality about it, which is appalling. I was through by dinnertime and afterwards, Junior, Norcross (altho it was my party and I had not asked him) Weyer, the doctor, and Brute, who had come down the mountain for water, went with me in the whaleboat to take a picture if possible of the stone arch on the south side of Cape York. My idea was to get a movie of Inughito in his kayak, paddling through it. We also wanted to get Dick Byrd’s signature on the list of personnel which is to be enclosed in the cylinder. Junior wanted to have a shot at the falcon he saw the other day and when I found out that Norcross was going, equipped with two guns, an ammunition box, his movie camera and his graflex, I knew Junior would stand little show. So he and I packed his blankets and some grub and his warmest clothes in a burlap bag and said nothing to nobody. We had no sooner rounded the Cape than we realized that all possibilities of getting close to the arch were gone. There was a heavy swell rolling in and the ice was packed close against the shore. It was all we could do to get to Dick’s point and even there it was rather precarious. Dick came on board to sign the paper and I asked him if Junior might stay a few days with him. He said he would be glad too have him, so Junior’s things were flung ashore with Dick’s to the open mouthed astonishment of all the others and Junior stayed behind. The rest of us did not even land. I was in a frenzy of impatience to get back and get up to the top with the cylinder, but, all the return trip we slowed down, or stopped entirely, for Mr. Norcross to get movies of the auks on the surface of the water, something he could do at any time.
It was nearly four, instead of three when I got ashore and started up the
mountain with Ootah. Ed Weyer came
also and half way up told me of the cache he had made and marked with his skis
but that some well-meaning person had removed his skis and now he could not find
the cache. All this was in English,
but Ootah turned to me and pointing with his whip, indicated a spot further
along and going to it, Weyer discovered his long lost cache.
Ootah is a marvel. He asked
if Mother was still in “New York” I judged it was his pleasant way of
finding out if she were still alive for when I said yes (not thinking it
worthwhile to differentiate between Maine and New York) his whole face lighted
up and he said:- “Pee-ook! Pee-ook!” He
then went on to tell me that he was only a little fellow when he had seen Mother
but ever since then, “Shoodaly shoodaly” he had wanted to see her again!
He also showed me a place where he said the glacier was constantly rising
and falling, indicating the spot where it had been when he was a boy compared to
where it is now, and saying that when his mother was a child the glacier was the
way it is at present. When we
reached the top of the rise from which the monument is first visible, I saw to
my amazement that not only was the monument finished and the cap in place but
all the scaffolding was down. Could
scarcely believe my eyes. The
masonry was not finished by two feet this morning and I had been given to
understand all along that the collar of the cap would have to set for 24 hours
before the top could be put on. Now
it was all finished! I was so bitterly disappointed not to have been there that
I did not now what to do! I could have done it quite easily if I had only known.
When I camp up to the group of men and found they had had all kinds of
ceremonies connected with the final placing of the cap and had taken pictures of
Captain Bob seated on it alone and then of the whole crowd on it before the
scaffolding was removed and I could scarcely keep back the tears. It would have
meant so much to me to have been there at the end after all the worry and
anxiety. When I told Captain Bob
how I felt he was peeved as the deuce and said:- “Why, damn it, the fellows
have been working hard and I worked hard to get the damn monument done and when
it came to finishing it off we never thought of anything but getting through and
getting ahead of the weather. I never gave you a thought!” I said no more but
there is the whole attitude in a nutshell. It is a “damn monument” and
everyone has concentrated on hustling it thru as quickly as possible regardless
of how it looks and what it stands for. When
you think that all these men left home believing that the monument would not be
finished before the fifteenth of September, you would think they might have
waited a few hours now. Everything
has been sacrificed to their getting thru and back on board ship, sentiment,
beauty, everything. But the cap
reflects the sunlight as brightly as we hoped it would and the P’s stand out
as boldly and the height, for every foot of which I have argued and fought and
plead, will make it a landmark for some distance. If you have not seen the
original plans, this monument looks fine. I am too heartsick and worn out by all
the minor annoyances and irritations of its building to get a proper perspective
yet. All the others seem
tremendously thrilled over it. The
Captain read aloud (with much stumbling over my handwriting) the record, which I
wrote for the cylinder, and everyone signed the roll, even such Eskimos as could
write. I explained to Ootah what we
were doing and showed him the picture of Dad in his polar costume, which was
among the cylinder contents, and he seemed to understand. Later
the cylinder was put in the opening and the cornerstone plate cemented in.
I came forward boldly and insisted on being included in the pictures at
this point. So a movie was taken of
me handing the cylinder to Captain Bob and then of Bud giving him the
cornerstone plate. I was glad Bud
was all dressed up in his sealskin costume and that he was included in the
pictures taken on top of the monument but I felt badly that Junior was not
there. Not that he would have
missed anything for it was all done in such a brisk, businesslike way that you
would have thought the movies were the things of most importance, but I would
have liked to have had him in the pictures for the sake of the future record.
By this time, I felt so hurt and forlorn and cold that I could hardly
wait to get back to the ship where I could be by myself.
I feel cheated and defrauded. Evidently,
Captain Bob knew from the first that we could not possibly stay up here until
the fifteenth of September and that Cape York is noted for its bad weather and
all that, but in his characteristic way, he said nothing about it and hoped for
the best. Had I known what I know
now, the memorial could have taken some other form or a different site been
chosen for it but I was ignorant of conditions and trusted to him.
I also believed him when he said it would be his expedition and mine and
that together we would make a pilgrimage to places that had been Mother and
Dad’s own old stamping grounds. As
a matter of fact, he knew months before we left, in fact as soon as he made his
arrangements with Norcross, that nothing would be possible until Norcross’
wishes were first consulted. He
promised Norcross all the pictures he wished to take, to be his own private
property to use as he wished; the pick of everything that was killed by the
expedition, regardless of who killed it, in addition to what he killed himself;
the exclusive use of the doctor whenever he wanted him and for as long a time;
the second of the free copies of the expedition movies which Pathe promised us;
the direction of the movies that were taken; and the privilege of having his
mane attached to the collection for the Smithsonian, something which Captain Bob
has always done himself. All this
for five thousand dollars and without consulting me.
In addition, everything on board is apparently Norcross.
I have never seen any of the things, which were bought for trading
purposes, but he uses them liberally. Cigarettes
and candy, which were presented to the expedition, are dispensed “with Mr.
Norcross’ compliments” and so it goes.
The only movies that I have been in on the entire trip were ones where I
myself have said:- “Now I want to be in this picture.”
To such an extreme is this carried that more than once I have been asked
by Weyer to step out of the picture or get the boys out and only today when Dick
signed the paper, Weyer took a picture of him signing and as I was holding the
paper on my lap, he had to take it over my shoulder in order to exclude me,
instead of taking it from the side and getting us both in.
It may be super-sensitiveness on my part, but I doubt it. Still, I do not regret having come. The boys are getting something out of it, I think, and I know
that had I not been here, either the monument would not have been built at all
or it would have degenerated into a rough cairn
of loose stones with no cap, no letters and only the tablet stuck in
somehow. The present monument is a
makeshift as far as the original plans are concerned but at least it is imposing
looking, will last a long while and there is no chance of the natives prying the
stones out to use for fox traps or the like.
I have done my best in the face of opposition, which I was powerless to
beat down and weather which no one could control.
Terribly tired and let down. I
sort of feel what’s the use and if I could do as I pleased, I would go
straight home. But Norcross must have his narwhale hunt and we must get more
walrus to leave with the huskies, so it can’t be done.
However, Captain Bob’s insurance is up the first of October so he has
to be back in New York before then. When
we drop the last of the natives, we must leave Belknap at his camp (and I have
persuaded the Captain to take him and his lumber directly there instead of
dumping him at Kraulshavn to await the convenience of the Governor and his motor
boat) then I would like to stop at Doghavn or Sukkertoppen just to pick up a few
souvenirs to take home, and then its straight for Brigus.
From there I will continue on the Morrissey to Eagle Island, not because
I like it but because it will be much cheaper and I can land all my gear direct.
I am hoping that Norcross will leave us at Brigus.
When I finally got up, I tidied my room and spent some time writing.
Everyone is busy breaking up the camp on the mountain and bringing the
stuff down on board ship. Part of
the men arrived in time for dinner and the rest were here by suppertime.
It is cold and raw and I keep worrying about Junior and wondering if he
is warm enough. I have done a lot
of reading and some mending and a small wash, and after supper, talked with the
Captain. To his surprise, I said I
did not want the monument dedicated tomorrow as both Mother and I have very
unpleasant associations with Friday, so he consented to wait over until Saturday
morning. The little auks have
started flying south. These are the birds, which Rasmussen calls “Sea Kings”
and for whom he named his Arctic schooner.
When they are here in full force, the noise they make on the cliffs can
be heard from the deck of a ship passing at a reasonable distance away.
Rasmussen says of them:- “They sit in close flocks on the even slope of
the mountains, covering the stones and their tuneful chirping and merry
whistling merge into one mighty tone which makes the whole landscape resound.
When these flocks do occasionally lift and shoot up into the air, they
sweep over land and sea like a tempest.”
Cold and windy and cloudy. I stayed in bed late, reluctant to get up and mingle with all these uncongenial people not one of whom thinks as I do or feels as I do. For that reason I have decided not to make a speech at the dedication of the monument. It would be different if we were making talking pictures or if the dedication ceremonies were to be broadcast but it would be a farce for me to say the things I want to say, before this group of people whose only feeling is one of relieve that they have hustled the thing through and to whom, even to Captain Bob, Dad’s memorial is only “The damn monument”. I shall have Dad’s personal flag draped over the table and with one of my boys on either side of me, I will remove it, unveiling the memorial. That is all and will be enough for the picture record. If the Captain wants to make a speech and stammer and wave his arms around, that is up to him. I believe they are planning a regular circus day movie with the Eskimos and their dogs and sleds and heaven knows what all. That I cannot prevent and can only trust to Pathe’s discernment to choose the interesting and valuable from among all the trash that has been taken.
After dinner, I went in the whaleboat, and at the last minute the
Captain, Belknap and Brute went too, to get Junior.
It was cold and raw and we were covered with spray but I was bound Junior
should be here for the dedication. When
we reached Dick’s camp the ice was all gone and Junior was on a rock by the
shore, washing some auks, which he had killed and cleaned.
We all landed and Junior has had such a wonderful time that he was a
little reluctant to come back. Dick
has been very good to him and fixed him a warm comfortable bed and showed him
how to prepare the auks and altogether the experience has been a high light for
him. Packed him up and we started
back to the ship. It was too rough
to take pictures for the arch be we went inside in the boat and it is certainly
impressive. I am still hoping for a
chance to get that movie. The
evening I spend reading and trying to get everything, which the boys have
accumulated, off the deck and into this stateroom, the only place where it will
be safe when we start for sea.
August 20th, 1932
I forgot to tell of the scare Junior gave me yesterday when he returned to the ship from Dickie’s. I was the first up the ladder and went forward at once to go below. I heard a queer whimpering cry but thought it was Bud fooling with someone as he so often done. Imagine my horror on turning around, to see Junior stretched bull length on the deck with several people, including the doctor, bending anxiously over him. I rushed to him and found him crying in strange little frightened gasps, something unheard of with Junior. I found that on crossing the deck, clumsy in his bulky oils and carrying a bag of duffle, he had tripped and been thrown violently to his knees. The shock had knocked the wind out of him and the contraction of his deflated lungs made him think his back was hurt. I was terrified but fifteen minutes later, he was as lively as ever and has had no after effects at all.
This morning it was grey and cloudy but there was some talk of holding
the ceremonies as planned but by the time we were ready it was snowing furiously
and blowing a gale both of which continued all day long, so the ceremonies were
postponed until good weather. I
worked steadily at my typewriter all morning and after dinner did a wash and
tidied the room and read. Mid-afternoon,
Ootah came aboard for white man’s food. He
said that the natives were sick of “shoodally shoodally walrus!” I had him come into my room and gave him a colored picture of
himself at the Pole with Matt, Egingwah, Ooqueah, and Seegloo.
He was delighted and told me how he had gone with Dad on the sledge while
he made the trips back and forth across the Pole.
He is a fine looking man and unusually broad shouldered for an Eskimo.
A lovely day. The Captain
went ashore at six o’clock, which was my only intimation that he had decided
to have the ceremonies today. I had
my breakfast at the usual time and then everyone but Tommy and Len went ashore
to attend the dedication. In the
settlement, we found that Klayoo had finished the anoraks for the two boys for
which I was very glad for it meant that they could be dressed alike in the
pictures. There were three or four
teams waiting for us as the snow was so deep that walking up to the top would
have been quite a chore. Ootah
drove me as usual and Bud came with me while Junior went with another driver. It was quite an imposing sight to see the string of people,
nearly fifty in a all, streaming up the snowy glacier.
At the top, it was cold and windy and the monument was covered with blown
snow. The Captain was busy rigging
up ways to fix the flags and found that in spite of the list, which I had sent
him, last night, he had forgotten the Women Geographers’ flag.
There was noting to do but send Harold and the Mate with a team, back to
the ship after it. While we were
waiting, I took a number of pictures and arranged the flags* according to my
idea and gave my version of the way I wanted the ceremonies.
Weyer was intensely disagreeable sitting changing films with his back to
the monument most of the time, only appearing occasionally when something was
completed, to find fault with it and say it would not go in his camera!
Fog came sweeping down on us several times and I was afraid we would not
be able to get pictures after all. Finally,
Will arrived with the flag and we could begin.
I had previously requested the Eskimos to wear fur clothing as much as
possible for this particular occasion and they looked much more like the old
time Eskimos of Dad’s than they did in cloth anoraks and wool caps.
I had arranged to have the memorial tablet covered with Dad’s personal
flag. Then, one at a time Captain
Bob, and I, accompanied by Belknap, Ootah and my two boys walked out in front of
it. Captain Bob made a speech,
praising Dad, saying how glad he was that Newfoundlanders had helped to put this
monument in place just as Newfoundlanders had always manned Dad’s ships and
then spoke of his love and admiration for the man as well as for the leader.
I said none of the things which I might have said had the speech been
broadcasted but I mentioned how much I wished Mother could have been there and
then went on to say that Peary had been the first explorer to recognize the
possibilities of the Eskimos; that he had gained a working knowledge of their
language and had adopted their methods of dressing, hunting and travelling.
Rasmussen says that in return, Peary took them from the Stone Age of
culture to their present technical development and gave them their present
effective means of gaining their livelihood.
There have been monuments dedicated to Peary’s memory already and there
will be others as time goes on. But
this monument I dedicated not only to his memory but to the bond which existed
between him and the Eskimo people. As
I said this I turned to draw aside the flag and unveil the monument but Weyer
yelled:-”Please wait a moment while I change my film!”
I am thoroughly fed up on movies. You
can have no sentiment or feeling when they are to be taken.
It was a big minute to me after all we have all gone through, actually to
be dedicating this monument and to be halted just at the climax was like a dash
of cold water. Finally we continued
and I unveiled the tablet. Then
pictures were taken of the Eskimos grouped around the base and of the building
crew. By that time, it had begun to snow so we finished just in
time. I helped take down and unfold
the flags and then went down to the base. Egingwah
and Ootoniah had each made a small wooden sled, one for Junior and one for Bud
and old Pootoo had made Junior some kamiks.
I lined the women and children up and gave each woman an enamel ware
dish, two spools of linen thread and a fox trap and to the three boys I gave
small hatchets. They simply burbled
with glee. The sea was running
stronger and stronger and we had quite a job getting off to the ship.
Ootah with his wife Mane, his son Egingwah and his stepson, Mahutchin,
also Pooadloonah and his wife Klayoo with the orphan that has fits, and Kreshook,
are all coming with us to visit their families and friends at the various
settlements and to accompany us on the walrus hunt.
By five o’clock, in a blinding snowstorm, we were underway but it was
so thick, I was unable to get a sight of the monument from the north.
I had Oscanyan and Belknap and Brute in to my room to drink champagne to
celebrate the dedication. *
Captain decided when the monument was finished, not to put the pulleys on
top as I had requested because he didn’t like the idea.
My party last night lasted almost until midnight and when I went up on
deck then it was clearing and we were opposite the Petowik Glacier.
From then on we were out of sight of land until Cape Parry appeared about
nine this morning. But I was
terribly tired and stayed in bed till dinnertime.
Afterwards I wrote the eight hundred word press dispatch for the Times
and then went on deck to look about. The
sun was shining brightly and we were just rounding Cape Parry into Whale Sound
on our way to Inglefield Gulf. It
is thrilling for me to be right in the midst of the old haunts of Mother and Dad
and with “Northward” and “My Arctic Journal” right at hand, I am able to
follow them almost step by step. Junior
has been having a thrilling time himself adding to his collection of birds.
He shot a knotty and a kittiwake and was able to get them in the dip net. Later George gave us some excitement by shooting, as we
supposed, a beautiful harp seal but when the Eskimos harpooned him and brought
him on board, there wasn’t a bullet mark on him.
We have teased George and told him it was another case of his shot
cutting off the seal’s breath! The
skin is a dandy and is mien; there was no question of that because Norcross did
not even appear on deck until the excitement was nearly over.
It ought to make a good looking back to a coat though Captain Bob
suggests a rug. Mane was mending
the Bosun’s boots and I was fascinated watching her sew.
She wears her thimble on the forefinger of her right hand and takes the
queerest little stitch. I tried to
get a close up movie of it and hope it turns out well.
I had a marvelous time with one volume of Northward showing the pictures
to the natives, especially Ootah. He
identified nearly all of them and told spicy bits of gossip about them in the
bargain. He has a very picturesque
way of expressing himself so as to be understandable to my limited intelligence.
He lived at Karnak when mother and Dad were at Anniversary Lodge and he
remembers it all well. He pointed
to a picture of someone I didn’t know and said he had often seen her. I
asked her name but he didn’t know that but he said Mrs. Peary spoke to her and
she worked what Mrs. Peary said. I
looked more closely and it was Cross. He
also showed us how frightened he had been of the burros.
I went right through the book with him and made notes of all he said.
I will try him on the second volume some other time.
I turned in early as the Captain said we would probably reach
Kangerlooksuah at midnight.
This has been a wild day and I am a wreck, with more in prospect.
I woke up at one thirty a.m. because the engines had stopped.
I had not undressed so it only took a few seconds to put on my heavy
outdoor clothes and go on deck. The
sun was just rising and the sky was lovely.
Beside the ship were red brown cliffs almost free of snow and nestled at
the base several large skin tents. There
were three kayaks on the way out to us already and on the rocks ashore we could
see the flash of the women’s white kamiks as they hurried to meet us. When the kayaks were near enough for us to see them, both
Captain Bob and I were struck with how nearly white the men were.
They are much more like South Greenlanders than formerly.
One of the men had grey green eyes.
One of them was Sipsu’s son. A
few years ago, some of the finest young men of the tribe were out in a dory
which they had traded from some white men and in a squall it was upset and all
the men were drowned. These were
Sipsu, Seegloo, Ooquah and Sammy, really the flower of the younger men.
This accident and the flu have left many orphans in the tripe.
The boys and Norcross (of course) and Brute and I went ashore with all
the ship’s Eskimos and the whaleboat could not get quite in to the beach.
One huge old Eskimo, a fine looking fellow whom I recognized later as
Tungwee came out in the water and carried me ashore piggy back.
Here the entire population of the village was waiting.
Old Ahnawee and Tungwee’s wife were the only ones who remembered me and
they immediately gave me presents. One
gave me a white, baby sealskin and the other a puppy skin.
Mane’s sister was there, a fine looking, immaculately clean woman with
a precious baby in her hood. When
she took it out to nurse it I noticed an improvement over the old days.
Instead of the baby being naked from the waist down, it was encased in a
shaped bag of fur, with the skin side out.
The bag just fitted into the mother’s hood and must have been much more
comfortable for both of them. I
gave all the women soap and perfume and all the children candy and all the men
cigarettes. They were for the most
part a sorry looking crowd. Some
had thick scabbed sores on them; one man as lame; another was deaf and dumb;
while on the other had most of the women were fine looking although nearly
white. There was a woman there
named Ahnighito and she gave me a sealskin for myself and several others to make
a netcha for Junior. There were a
lot of puppies tumbling around, most of them at the most attractive stage but
none of them were the kind that Everett wants. In
the meanwhile, Norcross was wandering about, a little disconcerted by the
presents, which had been given to me. He
managed to dig out some narwhal horns, miserable short affairs which, Dad would
not have looked at twice but they pleased him.
Ahnahwee invited me into her tent, which was large and roomy and quite
clean. An old fashioned ikama was
burning in sharp contract to a barometer hung from the tent pole, china cups and
saucers, and --dare I add?--a china pot under the edge of the bed platform!
I took a number of pictures and was shown with great joy and pride, a
really lovely looking little girl of about ten, with an unusually bright face,
who is Sammy’s orphan. Her name
is Tookamingwah. The whole village,
at my invitation, came on board for tea and biscuits and behaved like small
children on a picnic. They had a
grand time. Billy greeted the old
timers with open arms and then Captain Bob had them down in his cabin for
smokes. Len made a tremendous hit
with them and when they found out that he had nine children, the women clustered
around him like bees around a honey pot! Captain
Bob said Dad would never let Ahnahwee on his ships after the first because she
was such a troublemaker and so greedy. She
certainly was the latter because she kept asking for more things, coffee, sugar,
tobacco etc. until Billy said, with sarcasm and in his excruciating Eskimo:-“Tbly
peamanadore oomiaksoah anumamee, eh?” (You would like the whole ship sent
ashore.) and she had the grace to
wilt. Finally, at four, they went
ashore, sending back as a bread and butter gift, a generous slice of fresh
narwhal hide, which is like candy to the Eskimos. They all gathered around, knives in hand and with delighted
cries of:-“Mamoktok!” began to eat it.
Brute tried a piece and said it did not taste at all of meat or blubber
but was much more like coconut. I
could not bring myself to try it. They
must have the same way of saying that a thing or a person is “sweet” that we
do, for while they will say that chocolate or jelly or, in this case the narwhal
skin, is “mamoktok” when Buddy appeared in his sealskin outfit, all the
Kangerdlooksuah natives cried:-“Taku!Taku! Mamoktok!”
At four thirty, I turned in, more dead than alive and had hardly gone to
sleep it seemed before Billy was there with my seven thirty breakfast.
Then I went to sleep again till nine when Brute came down to say we were
well up in Bowdoin Bay. By the help
of Dad’s book, the Captain was able to go right to the anchorage in Falcon
Harbor with no trouble at all. I
was so excited I could hardly breathe, with Bowdoin Glacier and Mount Bartlett
close at hand and the site of Anniversary Lodge within reach.
I went ashore at once and took Ootah with me.
I also had Dad’s book and Lee’s careful description of the place sent
me just before we left. First we
landed at the extreme point to investigate a cairn there, but although Ootah
said it was built by white people, to my disappointment there was nothing in it.
Then through moss beds and countless numbers of new flowers and willow
sprays, we scrambled over to the site of the Lodge.
Ootah was a wonderful guide. He
located the Lodge, the Eskimo igloos and even the places where the dogs had been
tied. There was little to be found
at the site except melted glass from the great skylight, destroyed when the
lodge burned. The boys found nails
and bits of china and old ivory sled shoes and after taking some pictures, we
went over to the gravel bank where Mother used to lay me naked on a bearskin to
take my daily sun bath. The boys
were anxious to get a picture of me lying there not but I scarcely thought it
proper!!! We then wandered up the
brook and on until we came to Baby Lake. I
got a tremendous kick out of it all and only needed Mother’s presence to make
it perfect. When we returned to the
shore to go off to the ship we passed the coal heap where there must still have
been about a bushel of coal. Going
out, Ootah told me how much he and the other natives would like o have a picture
of me and so I will give him a glossy of the one Bud took last Easter.
We reached the ship just in time for dinner and after tidying my room,
which looked as it had been struck by lightning after the early morning
excitement, I went to sleep. It was snowing hard and was cold and I was simply dead tired
and so I saw no point in going ashore once more.
Brute went however, to get more pictures, and some of the flowers.
Belknap went geologizing and Oscanyan went because he has gotten so
steamed up reading Dad’s book that he said he felt it was a privilege to
follow in his footsteps and he went clear over to where Dad and Lee and Matt
came down off the glacier. He also
found at the house a much battered old watch or perhaps pocket compass case
which he has fixed up and given to me. He thinks it might possibly belong to Lee or Henson and I am
going to try and find out. He also
found an electric light socket, part of the lighting outfit which they took with
them and never used and says he can fix that up for me.
He really is awfully nice. Junior
went out in the tin boat with Egingwah and Mahutchin hoping to get a seal and
Norcross was gone all day in the whaleboat trying for narwhal but neither of
them had any luck. About six thirty
we up anchored and started for Karnah. As
we left Bowdoin Bay I had my first glimpse of Castle Rock on the left and to the
right as we swung towards Redcliff, the “sculptured cliffs of Karnah.” Dad certainly had an eye for the beautiful and the unusual
and the faculty of giving each an appropriate name. The Karnah cliffs remind one vividly of the ruins at Karnak
and Luxor in Egypt and there are places where you would swear the rocks had been
put in place by human hands.
This has been a wild day and apparently endless. We arrived at Karnah in a blinding snowstorm at 1 a.m. I woke up as soon as I heard the engines stop and being all dressed, it did not take me long to go on deck. Ootah was all excitement of course because most of his family live here, his mother and brother and son and the son’s wife and three children. Brute and I went ashore with the crowd, Norcross for once deciding to remain on board and contenting himself with giving orders that all narwhal horns should be brought out to the ship to him.
As we landed, Ootah’s oldest grandson, a cunning little toddler came running down the beach to meet us. His mother, although her hair is snow white, is very spry and his son is the handsomest Eskimo I have ever seen. He is big like Ootah and has a fine face, exactly as Ootah looked when he went with Dad, so Captain Bob says. I gave them all presents as usual with special ones to Ootah’s mother and son and daughter in law and they came back with the only things they had apparently which they considered worth giving, bundles of sineshaw in various sizes. This used always to be made from the sinews in the backs of the reindeer but since these animals have become so scarce, they use narwhal sinews instead.
I brought the whole crowd out to the ship for tea and we took pictures of them and gave them a good time. They are the best looking bunch of Eskimos that we have seen so far, particularly that boy of Ootah’s.
As soon as we left Karhan, I turned in again, still fully dressed and slept until the stopping of the engines announced that we had arrived at Redcliff. It was six thirty in the morning. It was just by luck last night that I overheard the Captain say that after Karnah our next stop would be Igloodahominy and so I was able to remind him that I wanted to go to Redcliff. He had forgotten. We anchored right off the sight of the house, which was easy to identify from the picture in Northward. Captain Bob went ashore and Buddy but not Junior. Strange to say, the foundations of this house are much more distinct than those of Anniversary Lodge although they are older. Which reminds me of what Oscanyan said yesterday at the Lodge. Someone spoke of how wonderful it was still to find remains of tin cans lying about when you thought how long they had been there. “Yes,” said Oscanyan “fifty or sixty years!” and when I gave a shriek, he said he had been planning that remark ever since he had found that we were to stop at the Lodge!
The stones outlining the foundations of Redcliff are still all in place and it is evidently a favorite picnic spot for the Eskimos. All around were little fireplaces built of stone in which coal fires had burned, utilizing the coal left there by the party. Some had flat stones across the top for roasting blubber and one even still had strips of blubber on it, while junks of blubber lay all around. I was able to pick up an old spool and some shells and some poppies that grew within the foundations, and I took a number of pictures, especially of Cripple Beach, before returning to the ship. Bud was charmed to find the lower jaw of an old walrus skull and came off the richer by eight teeth. The anchor up and breakfast over, I went back to sleep again and did not wake up until we reached Igloodahominy (Igloodahominy is Siorapaluk – D. Taub) at eleven. This is the place I have been dying to come to ever since we started north and found out that it is here that Koodlooktoo lives. I had not realized that there was a Danish station there until I saw the green building. I was all excitement and planned to give Koodlooktoo my wristwatch. There was a long delay in having the kayaks come off and when they arrived, I found to my surprise that there were small boys in each of them. They brought bad news. Some epidemic had hit the place, we couldn’t make out whether it was flu or pleurisy or pneumonia because the Eskimos could only point to their lungs to indicate that that was the trouble. Anyhow Ootah’s brother in law was dead and his sister dying, and Koodlooktoo and his wife and one child had just died that morning. One of the boys in the kayaks was Koodlooktoo’s last child. I could have wept and Billy felt almost as badly as I did. There is little hope for the people in the settlement, for things like that spread like wildfire among the natives. The Captain and I decided against landing or letting anyone from the place come on board on account of our Eskimos on the ship and when letters were handed on board to be delivered at Thule, the doctor put them at once into a jar with cotton saturated in formaldehyde. I was dreadfully depressed as the anchor came up and we started for Nerke. There is something fatal about this trip for me. Everything that I have looked forward to, particularly or attempted to pull off, has fallen flat. Each day seems to bring a fresh disappointment and just as I have become reconciled to that, something else occurs. The Eskimos, with whom I have been such good friends and to whom I have given little presents whenever I saw them, even they are a source of disappointment to me. I had them carving little figures for me out of the teeth, which I salvaged and suddenly they stopped and said they couldn’t carve any more. I thought they were sick of it and so said nothing until I found them carving away for dear life on very large and dressy things for Norcross. It hit me hard, especially when I found out the cause of this change of front. He pays them for their carving with liquor. It simply breaks my heart to have such a creature on what is to the Eskimos a Peary ship. To pay an Eskimo for services or goods with liquor was one of Dad’s pet aversions and I had hoped to make this trip a sort of pilgrimage to keep Dad’s memory alive. That is why everywhere we have gone, I have given presents showing that I was not trading but giving them things as remembrances. Then Norcross comes along and simply bleeds them white. He pays a package of cigarettes and two bars of chocolate of the two for five variety for a narwhal horn, and so on. There is no protest I can make because Captain Bob is behind him as solid as a rock and the only reason that I can make out for that attitude is that Captain Bob is counting on taking him to Fox Basin and Baffin and Ellesmere Lands next year. The minute anything happens to provoke Norcross, the Captain is on pins and needles until it is smoothed over, no matter at whose expense. However, I am not so unreasonable as to hold him responsible for the death of Koodlooktoo. It is just one more thing.
When we left Igloodahominy, all the Eskimos on board were very much
subdued and so was I for that matter. I
was able to have dinner and do a small wash before we arrived at our last stop,
Nerke. Klayoo was all excitement for her three brothers live here.
She stuck right by me every minute until she had me safely up by her
brother’s tent and could show off her “kabloonah”.
Her brother is an immense creature, not very pleasant looking and his
name is Arpella. He is one of the
Eskimos who went with Cook. His wife is Atita about whom we used to tease George Borup
and about whom Frank Sayre made the poem ending:-“Loud she wailed and oft
repeated, ‘Inuaho! Atitata!” I
told Klayoo I wanted a walrus tusk and her brother immediately produced a huge
one, unfortunately broken at the tip, but I could not find fault with a gift.
When she explained who I was, he brought half of a big bear skin out of
his tent and gave it to me, Atita gave Bud a can full of walrus teeth, and a
coil of rawhide and the wife of another brother gave me two puppy skins and four
blue fox tails, sufficient to make fur collar and cuffs.
When they came on board, they gave Junior two pairs of mittens and one
brother presented me with a harp seal skin which just compliments the one that
was killed the other day and I certainly ought to get a coat out of the two of
them using my Hudson seal coat as trimming.
On board we fed them coffee and biscuits till I thought they would burst. There was a little girl among them named Achatingway, a boy
named Ahsayyou and a woman named Ahnighito.
I was amused at Klayoo. She
acted as hostess and go between. She
came to me for sugar for a woman who had no husband.
Later she wanted tea for a woman whose husband had been drowned.
Still later pipe and tobacco for a woman who had three children.
And when they finally disembarked, I saw that the things were all for the
same woman!!! Just as they were
leaving, Junior said how much he would like to have Arpella’s bearskin
trousers and just for fun I told Inughito who was standing hear.
He shouted something, which I could not understand to Arpella and the
boat shoved off. I saw to my
surprise that altho the Captain was apparently in a hurry, Norcross or “The
Great White Father”, as Oscanyan calls him, was going along.
The Captain said as if it were a grand joke that Norcross didn’t get
enough stuff and had gone ashore to see if he could dig up anything more.
“God” said the Captain with a huge laugh, “these people won’t
have a thing left when that fellow gets through with them!”
I was terrified. Not
realizing his extreme ignorance I had said in front of him to Len that these
people were better dressed than any we had seen so far, pointing out
particularly the fine blue fox pants the women were wearing.
Norcross came right over to me and said:-“Where are there any fox skin
pants?” When I showed them to him and said also that Atita’s entire
costume was made of blue fox, he exclaimed:-“Why, I thought all along that
that was dogskin!” So now I was
afraid that he had gone ashore to get them to trade their clothes to him, in
return for which he would give them liquor or tobacco or candy, none of which
would keep them warm this winter. I
was nervous as a witch until the boat came back, bearing Arpella for some
strange reason, which I promptly discovered.
He came rushing down to my room, followed by Klayoo.
It seems Inughito had told him about Junior’s wanting his pants and
while he would not give up his pants, he was willing to trade me the makings of
a pair, which Klayoo would make. I
asked what he wanted in return and he said a coat. Before I could answer, he proceeded to look over all the
coats of the boys which were hanging there, also my fur lined one, my suede
jacket and my mackinaw, all this in less time than it takes to write it.
Then he opened my closet door and was beginning on the things there when
I stopped him. They were already calling for him and he was about to leave,
bearskin and all, when he spied my oils and grabbed them and Junior’s old
sheepskin lined coat and fled, leaving the skin on the floor.
It took my breath away and when Oscanyan and Belknap heard about it, they
roared with laughter saying the joke was on me considering the fact that I had
just given myself a miserable half hour, worrying for fear the natives would be
stripped of their clothes by the Unscrupulous whites!
As a matter of fact, I had planned to give both things away eventually
but not to have them lifted off me! But
Junior is thrilled to death, a pair of bearskin pants being beyond his wildest
dreams and Klayoo spent the rest of the day washing them.
I scrubbed all the teeth, which Bud had been given, and also the tusk and
went to bed early, exhausted from so many social activities.
It was simply grand to sleep right through the night which, I did in
spite of a howling gale. So hard
did the wind blow in fact that this morning we are still abreast of the same
spot where we were at ten-thirty last night.
There is more or less motion also and the Eskimos, who have to sleep in
the hot, noisy engine room, feel it considerably.
We are just holding our own and waiting for the wind to go down so we can
round Cape Alexander and get to Etah and the walrus grounds.
Norcross of course is much upset. The
narwhal are all gone so he has no chance of getting them as he had planned so he
is banking on another whack at the walrus.
I was glad enough of a day when there was nothing special going on and I
could sleep or do whatever I pleased without the fear of missing something.
I spent the morning fixing the boys’ anoraks.
Bud’s I blanket stitched with red around the neck and pocket flaps, and
reinforced it in several places. Junior’s
I reinforced and then sewed the white polar bear from my workbag on the front of
it. He is pleased as Punch.
After dinner, I made shoulder straps for all my sweaters, nearly finished
another doily for Madge and suddenly had an inspiration regarding something to
bring home to Mother. When we get
back to Cape York, I am going to gather a bag of rocks and then Carswell and the
stone cutters, between there and Brigus, will build me a small model of the
monument, using rocks from the actual site.
They will build on a scale of one-quarter inch to a foot and follow the
original plans. Jack Angel will
make me a cap from a tin biscuit can and while at first I thought of making the
“P” from quartz, we decided that would be difficult to cut and we will make
it from Ivory and get Ootah to carve it if possible.
I think Mother will be well pleased.
There is nothing I could bring her from here, which would not be an old
story to her and which she, would not have better already.
Klayoo has been too seasick all day to do any work and I am beginning to
be afraid she won’t get both the netcha and the bearskin pants done.
In the evening I read some French and had a long call from Belknap and
Oscanyan. Passed Diebitsch Glacier.
Still blowing very hard. The
Captain came into my room this morning before breakfast and said that he was
burning a large amount of oil just to hold his own against the wind and he saw
no prospect of it slackening. I had
thought last night that we did not really need the walrus, as there is plenty of
meat at Cape York and the natives there were already sick of it.
I am so impatient to get home that I would gladly give it up and start
home but I thought the Captain would not hear of it on account of Norcross and
so I did not mention it. Now it
seems that is exactly what he wants to do and no sooner did I speak of it than
he agreed and hurried from the room and in five minutes we were headed south.
I spent my day writing, sewing and doing a wash.
All the Eskimo men on board are carving like mad for Norcross.
His idea is that everything must be “bigger and better”.
He has them carve a bear or a seal or native figure out of a whole walrus
tusk which is a terrible mistake because their work is crude at best and the
larger the carving the more apparent the crudities.
But a man who can’t tell fox skin from dog skin would be3 satisfied
with anything. We passed in sight
of Josephine Headland and between Capes Lee and Henson.
Towards evening fog and cold and wind settled down on us and I gave up
all idea of visiting the remains of the boat camp and the Ignimut Glacier.
A lovely day and the wind completely gone. We arrived at Thule right after breakfast and the Governor came on board at once with Hans Brun to act as interpreter. He was very much disappointed that we had no walrus which peeved the Captain but Later I found that when we were here before the Captain had said they could only have six walrus then but we would bring them more later and they were counting on them to such an extent that they had made no effort to get any for themselves. That is Captain Bob’s besetting sin. He will promise you the world with a fence around it and if you attempt to keep him to his word, he fees aggrieved. I asked the boys this morning what they were planning to do today. Junior said he was going to take the tin boat and his gun and try to add to his collection of birds while Bud startled me by saying that he would like to climb Jesus’ mountain. Evidently the picture of Christ sitting on Umanak Mountain made a deeper impression on Bud than I realized at the time! We promised not to come ashore officially until three o’clock in the afternoon in order to give the people a chance to write their letters as this will be their last chance to send mail this winter. But I decided to go ashore in the first boat and take presents to Klayoo’s mother and other relations. On landing, however, we found that Klayoo’s grandchild was in the hospital and she wanted to spend the morning with her. I went over to see the baby later and found it sitting up in bed with pilot bread, chocolate, chewing gum and a hunk of cooked seal meat spread out on the table before it, presents from an adoring grandmother. And the child is in the hospit5al because it is undernourished and its food does not agree with it! As I was leaving the hospital, I heard some one calling:-“Ahnighito! Ahnighito!” The Eskimos always call me that and it has taken me some time to get used to it and realize that it is I whom they are addressing. Turning, I saw a woman sitting on a bed outside, beckoning to me. It turned out to be the girl that accompanied Rasmussen across Arctic America and whom I saw in Washington long ago on their return. She is being treated for T.B. Inughito also called to me to meet his wife and daughter, the latter a patient for T.B. too. It seems that when we were here last time from the walrus hunt the Captain had told everyone that we would be back in a week or ten days and when we didn’t come and didn’t come, Inughito’s wife and child gave him up for lost and have spent most of their time weeping for him. There were still tears in his wife’s eyes! When I found that Klayoo did not wish to go over to Oomanooie until early afternoon, I went back on board ship. Here I found Ooblooyah waiting anxiously for me. Since our last visit he had carved three paper knives in graduated sizes, just like the Daddy Bear and the Mother Bear and the Baby Bear, for Buddy and Junior and me. He was waiting to give them to me. I was delighted, more at the attention than at the gifts themselves, although they are very nice. While I was still talking with him and giving him a few things in return, an Eskimo woman with a baby in the hood on her back, knocked timidly at my door. She told me her name was Evaloo and that she had been on the Roosevelt and when she heard that I was coming she had made me a present. She brought out a pair of ivory knitting needles. I was completely over come. Her baby was one of the cutest I have seen, simply gurgling and dimpling with delight the entire time. Seeing my admiration, Evaloo plucked it out of her hood and offered it to me to hold. To my despair, t was NOT encased in a fur bag like the others I had seen and I was a bit nervous until I had it back in its mother’s hood. After dinner, we all went ashore again and I took a package which I had, containing a big musical top which I planned to give the Governor’s little girl. I took it up to the house to leave it there and also to get my brief case which the Governor took charge of for me this morning. Mrs. Nielsen insisted upon my coming in however, and called her little girl who shyly presented me with a beaded mat, which she had made for me while the ship was away. This before any of them knew the contents of my package. So instead of waiting till teatime, I opened the box at once and set the top going and the child was perfectly delighted. So, I might add, was I with the mat and the thoughtfulness. When I came out, Klayoo was waiting for me and we walked over to her village. At her mother’s tent, I gave out my presents and her mother gave me a pair of mittens and gave Bud a very nice sealskin. Then Harrigan, the Eskimo who went around the north end of Greenland with Rasmussen and who before that had been on the Roosevelt, asked me to come to his igloo. It was of turf and I entered with fear and trembling only to be very agreeably surprised. It had a board floor, was quite clean and was well lighted from two windows of oiled sealskins. His wife was a clean, pleasant faced woman and he apparently has dozens of children. There were china cups and saucers, a lot of enamel and aluminum cooking utensils and a small iron stove. He asked me if I would like to have some seal meat which, was cooking on the stove and politeness forced me to say “Yes”. His wife brought out a clean enamel platter, put two lumps of well-cooked meat on it which we ate with our fingers and then she brought a white enamel basin with warm water in it for us to wash our hands. I was pleasantly surprised at the whole performance. When we left Harrigan’s (and by the way, he christened himself way back in the Roosevelt days by singing constantly:-“Harrigan, that’s me”!) we stopped by at Inughito’s tent and then streaked it for the Governor’s where we were expected for tea. The Captain had already arrived when we go there and had a nasturtium pinned to his anorak. A pot full of climbing nasturtiums filled one window and Mrs. Nielsen broke off several and gave them to me. The house is charming, warm, well furnished and with the obvious idea of living like civilized people even when cut off from the outside world. I like both the Nielsens very much indeed. During tea, the Captain was telling about the monument—it is cause for the greatest astonishment among the Danes that we actually got it finished!—and he went on to say that he hoped when Ootah died, he would be buried right beside it. To which the Governor made the practical answer that in that case, he hoped Ootah would not die far away! After tea, we went into the sitting room, where Mrs. Nielsen played American jazz records for us, given her, she said by Robert when the Morrissey was here with Putnam, and then served us with apples which had come from Australia! The Governor had to go down thru a trap door in the sitting room floor to get them and they were cold and crisp and delicious. From the Governor’s I went over to the doctor’s to say goodbye. He is very nice and his wife is charming. She has been practicing her English since we were her last and has made great progress. Their house, which adjoins the hospital, is charming too and shows a keen appreciation of the possibilities of the country in which they live. Wall hangings made from the breasts of birds decorated the room; there was a hassock made of contrasting bits of sealskin, sewed together to form a pattern and there was an almost perfect piece of cryolite, pierced thru with a brass standard and used as a paper weight. The whole place seems so peaceful, so shut off from the world that I would give anything to spend a year there. I could accomplish so much in the winter, and in spring, before the snow melted. I would make sledding trips to all the places where Mother and Dad went. When we went down to the beach to go out to the ship, I found Junior waiting in great excitement. He had had a most successful day, having secured two turnstones, two knots, and four different kinds of Arctic terns. He was elated. Everyone came down to see us off and took pictures and the Governor brought forward an Eskimo girl who could speak English, he said, her entire knowledge of the language being:-“Okay, big boy!”
Out on the ship, dancing had been going on all afternoon for the benefit
of the moving pictures which Norcross directs, exactly the cheap sort of thing
you would expect from him. The
hunter who went with us after walrus was also there, waiting impatiently for me
because he had heard (through Klayoo I suppose) that I wanted ivory.
He had brought me four tusks and almost a hundred teeth.
I certainly was pleased. At
the last moment, I found that Hans Brun has decided to accompany us, how far no
one knows. It seems he is a creature of impulse and never knows today
where he will be tomorrow. He would
be an addition to our group only I suppose, he will be absorbed by the aft
cabin. When the anchor was up and
we were under weigh, the Governor’s boat with all the Danes on board came out
and circled round us, waving and cheering and at the last, firing three salutes.
They have been mighty good to us. I
hope I will see them again. (Doctor’s name is Ludwigsohn)
Yesterday I asked the Governor, who speaks Eskimo like a native, to explain to Ootah how much it meant to me to see him again and to have my children see him, for he is one of our last links with Dad. I also asked the Governor to explain to Ootah about the model of the monument which I plan to have made for Mother and that I want Ootah, because he is Ootah, to carve the ivory letter P’s which are to go in the sides. Apparently it made a deep impression, because Ootah came to me first thing this morning and asked for the ivory and really turned out a fine job. The sun was out today and there is no wind although last night it was a hum dinger and the Captain says he could see the monument clear up the coast from beyond Conical Rock. It was certainly standing out boldly when I came on deck about nine, after we had dropped Krechook at the mission station. All around the Cape as we went, the monument was in plain view and the Eskimos gazed at it open mouthed. It reflected the sunlight brilliantly, just as we hoped. At Cape York village, the motor boat was sent up to the point to get Dick and bring him on board and also to take my movies of the stone arch which we saw as we passed it was free of ice. I was going to accompany them but at the last moment spied a cairn silhouetted against the sky in exactly the place where Dad’s cairn might have been. It was a terrific scramble to get to it and the sort of thing I loathe but I couldn’t risk its being the actual one and I not go to it. So in spite of the Captain’s disapproval, I persuaded him to let me have the doctor and we started up the steep snow slope. We were only a third of the way however, and I was already feeling that only the discovery of Dad'’ record would repay me for such a climb, when we heard Ootah shouting to us from below. As soon as we could understand him, he told us that the cairn had just been built by the Eskimos of the settlement. So there was my last hope gone. I came down and mingled with the Eskimos while the dogs belonging to Ootah and Pooadloonah were taken to the ship. Nepsa’s wife gave me a very prettily marked sealskin, two bear claws for the boys and an old harpoon head, while the old sick man gave me a bag made of eight gull feet, skinned and split and sewed together with the tiniest stitches I almost ever saw! It is unique and no one on board has ever seen one like it. In this man’s igloo were several religious books, in Eskimo, which he apparently can read because one was on the stand near his place on the bed platform. In his igloo and in Nepsa’s, ikamas were burning but instead of being made of soapstone as in the old days, they were shaped of tin! Finally the dogs were all on board and just as we had said goodbye and were ready to climb into the boat, Nepsa’s wife asked Buddy if he would like a puppy! I could have murdered her because I have been stalling that off during the whole trip and thought the danger was past! Of course Bud was thrilled to death and, instead of choosing one of the grey pups as I begged him to, his heart was set on a black and white one which may turn out to be a lovely dog but isn’t anything like a husky dog except for the shape of his head and his curly tail. I dread taking him aboard and facing the Captain and still more I dread Mother’s face when we arrive with him on Eagle Island! Of course, Junior was just as charmed as Bud and they spent the rest of the day with the assistance of George, fixing a place for him to live. The have named him Egingwah after Ootah’s boy. They have distributed their coats and sweaters so generously among the children of the tribe that I have a hard time telling which is my child and which isn’t! At last we pulled away from Cape York and headed for Salvo Island where Ootah, Pooadloonah and Kyangwah live. Just before we arrived Klayoo finished Junior’s bearskin trousers and insisted that he put on his entire costume so she could see him in it before she left. I must admit, although he is my own child, that he looked perfectly stunning when he was all dressed. The Eskimos were delighted with him and as they have always called him Ootooniah, he was entirely Eskimo, even his name. But Pooadloonah was distressed because Junior had no rabbit skin stockings and as there was no other way of remedying the difficulty at such a late date, he sat right down and took his off and insisted upon Junior’s wearing them. Junior was more pleased at the gift than I, under the circumstances!!! Ootah hated to leave and to say goodbye. He showed me how the monument could be seen from his village and how it would always make him think of Dad. He said he would always hope that he would see me again and Mrs. Peary, he added, and he just beams whenever he mentions Mother. He said that he had seen Peary and Peary’s wife and Peary’s daughter and her children. Perhaps in the future, Ootooniah and Pearymikishupadoo’s children would come north and see Egingwah’s children. Then he gave me, for a farewell present, his whip. I had told him that I had Dad’s whip stock, which he had used on his Polar trip but had no lash and so this was to go on Dad’s stock. I am delighted to have it. While we were feeling our way into the harbor, Pooadloonah was frantically trying to finish a last carving for Norcross. He grinned from ear to ear as he said that he had never seen such a Kabloonah, peamanador, peamanador all the time! (Wanting something, wanting something all the time.) When he finished the carving he wished to make the eyes and nose and mouth stand out and winking at me, he spit on the kamiks of the man near him, scraped the wet spot with his knife and used the dirt to rub into the holes which indicated the features on the carving. I was convulsed because just the night before, I had heard Norcross discussing how the Eskimos obtained the coloring matter which they used on their carvings and saying that it must be a secret process because when he asked them, they wouldn’t tell! Before landing, Dick brought out his turtle to get movies of it with the Eskimos and I thought Klayoo would jump out of her skin. Actually she threatened to jump overboard if they came any nearer and she certainly meant it! Pooadloonah took it and held it a moment and then started to slip it inside his shirt as he had seen Dick do. Klayoo gave one yell and then said very impressively and illustrated her remarks with gestures, that if he put that thing inside his shirt he couldn’t sleep anywhere near her! That he would be on one side of the bed platform and he—tawani, tawani—on the other side! We managed to calm her down by having Billy bring out a huge box of sugar and tobacco and candy which Harry Whitney had sent up to the natives who had spent the winter with him at Anorotok. Klayoo was to divide it among them when she saw them and it was a scream to hear Billy, in his pidgin Eskimo, tell Klayoo that if she stole any of the things instead of dividing them, the devil would get her and God would strike her dead!
We landed at Nerketat, and while the men were getting their teams ashore
I went up to the houses with the women. You
never saw such destruction. A lot
of young dogs had been left behind when the families came to Cape York with us
and, though there was plenty of food for them, with that perversity for which
Eskimo dogs are noted, they had preferred to eat up the skin tents, not a trace
of which remained, and then to claw their way into the turf igloos, tearing down
whole sides as they went and to chew up the skins inside. The women were heart broken.
I left them to kind of pull themselves together and I wandered off.
The village is situated very prettily between two hills, with a lake
behind it. On the shore of the lake
is a small group of graves, several of which to my surprise, had wooden crosses
stuck up over them. Then I remembered Ootah’s pride in a colored print of the
Ascension, which had been given him at Thule.
When I got back to the village, the women were their cheerful selves
again. Klayoo had found the pair of
bearskin trousers, which Pooadloonah had promised Brute, and had squatted right
down in the midst of all the confusion and was patching them up.
She then dashed over to the lake and gave them a vigorous washing.
I never saw such a woman. Ootah
discovered to his horror that his canvas tent, of which he had told me so
proudly, had been chewed to ribbons and I sent him out to the ship to ask the
Captain for another. At last
everything was ashore and we were ready to leave.
I certainly felt rotten to say goodbye to Ootah and even he was quite
moved. Klayoo wept frankly and
dashed off, to return with her oodoo which she presented to me saying that I had
been so kind to her and given her so many things and this was all she had to
give me! This after having sewed
her fingers weary making two complete costumes for the boys!
I was glad when we were on the ship and the last parting was over.
I like to think of Ootah spending his last days in that peaceful valley.
When I asked Nielsen why Ootah lived way down here when all his people
lived at Karnah, he said it was because the seals were so plentiful it was easy
to get a living while in Inglefield Gulf, now that the walrus were scarce and
narwhal practically gone, it was very difficult.
The little group on the beach waved and waved as long as we could see
them. I went below, utterly weary,
and only came up once again, when there was an iceberg in sight so huge that
even the Captain thought it was an island until he consulted his chart.
He said it was the largest he had ever seen.
Robert’s birthday. The sun
was shining brilliantly all day and this crossing of Melville Bay is apparently
to be uneventful as there is no ice in sight.
I slept all morning, as I am pretty tired.
After dinner, I packed the furs away in the sea chest because we are
getting into rough weather and besides I can scarcely stand the smell of them. I also cleaned the new ivory which we received last and sewed
trouser buttons on the boys’ sealskin pants.
This was quite a job as the skin is so tough and the finger on which I
wear my thimble is the one I mashed in the ladder. Junior skinned birds, seated up in the whaleboat and Bud
busied himself with his dog. Junior,
with his inherited instinct for saying the wrong thing and making a bad
situation worse, came into the long room carrying a roll of toilet paper in his
hand. He uses it in cleaning his
birds. Someone made some joking
remark about that being a fine thing to have in the long room, and Junior
answered:-“That’s all right, it comes in pretty handy sometimes!”
Which is undoubtedly true.
Very rough and rolling heavily not to mention shipping seas.
We expected to get into Kraulshavn at an early hour this morning but
something went wrong with the Captain’s calculations or the compass or
something and we went way past it. So
the entire day has been spent beating back against wind and current.
I slept nearly all day and did little or nothing.
Belknap, who will leave us during the next twenty four hours, has given
me his official report on the building of the monument and I now find out for
the first time that after the first few days of building, Captain Bob gave
orders that no notes were to be written from the top to anyone but him.
That if anything occurred that he thought I ought to know, he would tell
me, otherwise he did not want me disturbed.
I certainly like being treated like a half-wit.
I was considered intelligent enough to make contacts at home and work
like a dog all winter raising the money. But
since coming on the trip, I have not had one courteous act extended to me nor
has anyone given me a thought except to kick me out of the way.
We reached Kraulshavn at seven and the Captain wanted to pick up a pilot.
I went ashore in the boat to see about the costume, which I had ordered
to be finished for me on my return. Like
everything else on this trip, that too, turned out to be a disappointment.
Nothing was finished except the collar and that is one of the homeliest I
have ever seen and cost me five dollars. Not
even the kamiks were done. I am so
sorry because I thought that was one thing I was sure of, anyway.
While waiting for arrangements to be made about the pilot, Dick Bird
started dancing with one of the half-breed girls, and when he found that the
pilot wanted us to wait until daylight before proceeding, nothing would do but
he must get the Captain’s permission to go ashore and have a dance.
A whole crowd went and they must have been hard up for female society for
I never saw a drearier bunch of women than the handful here.
I went to bed and to sleep.
Woke to find the sun shining and the engines stopped at seven. I dressed hastily and found the whaleboat was out taking soundings of the fjord at the head of which Belknap’s camp is located. I packed the box, which I want to leave with him for Christmas, and was on deck when Schmelling and Gardiner came aboard. They look fine, although they have gone thru merry Hades. The fjord is a regular cave of the winds but as wind is one of the things they have come to study, they have to put up with it. They have no boat and when Schmelling killed a seal, he had to swim out to get it. Their only excitement was a call from Rockwell Kent. We had all Belknap’s lumber put ashore and were away before dinner. The Eskimo pilots showed us where to fill our water casks and this done, the pilots in their kayaks were dropped at the entrance to the fjord and once more we headed south.
This was written a little prematurely for the Eskimos were afraid to get into their kayaks from the side of the ship and there was nothing to do about it but take them all the way back to Kraulshavn. Of course, the Captain was wild so I did not go near him. He was averse to taking Belknap home in the first place and then said if we needed a pilot that Belknap would have to pay for him, but I promptly squashed this by pointing out to him all that Belknap had done for us for nothing. He seemed to think that the lumber which I was giving Belknap more than repaid him but if he had then to hire a motor boat to get it from Kraulshavn to his camp, the gift would be decidedly cut in half. Anyhow, about this one thing I have had my way and fortunately the pilot was willing to be paid with provisions so no one was out of pocket. Two things I want to write down before I forget them. First of all, there was a queer growly whining sound coming from one of the piles of stones on the beach at Kerketat where we left Ootah and his family. I could see it was a meat cache and I called Mane’s attention to the sound. She went over and removed some of the rocks and out came a greasy, bedraggled looking small dog. She told me that the dog must have crawled in as a puppy shortly after they all left to come to Cape York and having eaten so much, he was unable to get out through the small opening thru which he had entered. So there he stayed. As soon as the other dogs saw him, he was surrounded, all of them eager for a chance to lick some of the blubber in which he was coated.
Last night Bud was talking about the monument and how glad he was to have
been there and climbed up on the metal cap before the scaffolding was taken
down. He said:-“You know, they
had a lot of trouble tightening the last bolt and I kept hoping and hoping that
you would come because I thought now nice it would be if you could fasten the
last bolt on the monument!” Bless
his old heart, he is thoughtful!
At last the month that will see me home again!
I slept until ten and awoke to find we are making excellent time, with a
following breeze. I finished up
some odd jobs in the morning, among them being the buttons on the sealskin pants
and after dinner packed and sorted, likewise reading, sewing and typing.
Junior has worked in earnest at skinning his birds, finishing three today
and Bud has tackled the apparently hopeless task of braiding 30 fathom of sinnet
for the Bosun to use on Bud’s chest.
Slept late again. When I
finally got up, I went aft to talk to the Captain and to try to persuade him not
to get into Godhavn at mid-night as we will do if we continue as we are going
now. For a wonder, he agreed and said he would slacken speed the
latter part of the afternoon and fix it so we would get in at seven, tomorrow
morning. I wrote a letter to Ulrich
Palm on his won water marked paper, which he sent me just before we sailed.
I thought he would like to know how far his sheet of paper had traveled
and be glad of the Greenland stamp which I would put on it.
Mail for Europe will just catch the Disko back to Denmark.
We would beat any mail to the States so it is useless to write any.
I prepared some presents for the Governor’s wife and children if he has
any. I asked Hans Brun if the
Governor had any children and he said:- “Well, I know he has a wife and so it
is natural to suppose that he has children!”
I laid out the clothes for the boys and myself (the nightmare of our
arrival in Brigus still haunts me!) and did quite a bit of sewing and reading.
Junior finally finished skinning his birds and Bud put in a busy day,
Another one of those awful days, which I have been getting right along on the trip and should be accustomed to by this time. We arrived in Godhavn just as the Captain said, at seven, and we were up and dressed and ready. It was a lovely day with the sun shining brilliantly on the famous Disko cliffs. Right after breakfast, the Governor, a young man named Schultz, and speaking English fairly well, came off and examined our papers and said it was all right for us to remain there for the day and get water, etc. He also offered to change my American gold into Greenland money for me, as a private enterprise, the government not bothering with such things officially, I thought I would let him go ashore and give him a little time before I followed but, as the Governor’s boat was leaving the ship, Norcross appeared on deck and jumped in without ceremony, waving a handful of greenbacks which he wanted changed. The Captain said he would have me and anyone else who wanted to go, set ashore at once and asked me if I would pay the official calls on shore and make excuses for him saying he was busy on the ship and would come ashore in the afternoon. I said I was anxious to hang around on board in order to buy the things that the natives might have to sell. This really was my only reason for stopping at Godhavn, to get a few souvenirs to take home, everything in North Greenland either being controlled by the Danes or gobbled by Norcross. But the Captain said there would be no trading on board, that it was all done ashore and there would be my best chance. Also, Oscanyan said the Governor would be able to get anything for me that I wanted and that he would also speak to the radio operator, a good friend of his and have him look up some things for me. So the boys and I went ashore. A whole crowd of children followed us as we went up to the Governor’s house. Here is his office, was Norcross but he left in great haste almost as soon as we arrived. We were ushered into the living room and Mrs. Schultz appeared. She was young and quite pretty and although there are no children in the family now, it is quite evident that the situation will soon be remedied. She served us with coffee and cakes and we carried on a funny conversation, she speaking German, which I could understand and not speak and I talking English, which She could understand but not speak. I gave her a torridaire pad which seemed to delight her and she showed us the china she has painted, some of it really lovely and all of it Royal Copenhagen. The governor changed my money for me and the Greenland money is very pretty, with whales and polar bears and ships on it according to the denominations. The metal money also has polar bears stamped on it. I bought some Greenland stamps and a package of Greenland postals and then we set off to find the radio operator and see what he could get for us, the governor having said he could get nothing because what with the recent visit of the French inspection ship and a Danish naval vessel and the Disko, the town was pretty well cleared out. We were followed to the radio station by the same troop of children so that I felt like the Pied Piper of Hamelin and just before reaching our destination we met the town water cart, drawn by six dogs and carrying a can like a huge milk can with which the drinking water is delivered in the town. The old man who drove it hailed me enthusiastically and said he had seen me long ago when I was very little and he had worked with the Brobergs. The radioman was so busy that it was impossible even to speak to him but Oscanyan said that if he had a breathing spell he would see what he could do but it looks pretty hopeless. Looking out to the ship, we saw swarms of little boats around it and I realized I had been jipped again, there was trading going on on the ship and that’s why Norcross had dashed back in such a hurry! I decided to go out at once myself but when I was at the dock and had finished negotiating with an Eskimo man to take me out, the doctor came running to me and said that the boys and I were invited for luncheon to the home of Dr. Porsild, a great Danish scientist and a friend of the Captain’s. The Captain was already there and as luncheon was at twelve and it was now eleven thirty, we must go.
So off we went accompanied by Dr. Porsild’s son. The walk was pleasant and the Porsild house charming with lovely old Danish furniture. Both the Doctor and wife spoke excellent English and such a library of Arctic books I almost never saw. They just made my mouth water, especially one very old one by Hans Egede. All of Dad’s books were there, and some of Stefansson’s and Cook’s “Thru the First Antarctic Night” and a number by Rockwell Kent who had visited them last year. I was awfully glad to have the chance to meet and talk with such a man as Doctor Porsild. Just before luncheon was announced, in burst Norcross for whom the Captain had evidently sent. He just doesn’t dare to let Norcross miss anything. I never saw anything like it. He was entirely out of place in such an assembly because when he finds himself in a milieu where he can’t say “My Christ!” or tell stories about drunks, his conversation is nipped in the bud. He’s the kind that you can’t give a book to because he has a book! Luncheon was delicious and there were great bottles of sauternes on the table. Over the cloth were scattered geranium blossoms and their leaves and the whole thing was evidence of people who enjoy the niceties of life. As the past three months for me have been spent among people who think it smart to ignore and despise everything except brute animal necessities, it was a wonderful and refreshing change. The small grandson of the family sat on Doctor Porsild’s knee all during the meal and was as good as gold. They said he was their daughter’s child and I think the father must be the civilized and decently dressed Eskimo who sat at the table with us but no one said so and when we met the daughter after lunch, she was presented simply as “our daughter”. Mrs. Porsild told me that in 1908, an Eskimo had found a cairn on the top of the Disko cliffs and in it was the money and message which Mother and Dad had left there in 1891. He brought the things to her and she said that put away somewhere in a box, she still had them and if I would give her my address, she would send them to me when she found them. I was certainly delighted, and I knew Mother would be interested and pleased to know when they were found and how long they had stayed there.
Norcross left again immediately lunch was over, he had not spoken during the meal but had finished a quart of sauterne, one glass after another in rapid succession in the course of the meal. The rest of us sat around a while and talked. I had brought Mrs. Porsild a torridaire pad and the baby a polar bear made from soap so when we left, she gave each boy an ivory sled with dogs attached and to me she gave a series of water colors by an Eskimo and a pair of sealskin stockings with dog skin feet.
When we got out to the ship finally things were in wild confusion.
It was then four o’clock and trading had been going on since early
morning. Brute was jubilant to show
me all the treasures he had obtained for me.
My heart sank at the sight. There
was nothing but what I would call trash. Almost a dozen crochet hooks, most of them bone and poorly
done; half a dozen bone paper cutters; two pairs of enormous, grotesque looking
fur lined slippers; a dog skin baby bonnet(!); a bone sled; a bead mat; a fish
pin and a seal pin; knitting needles; a pen holder; three sealskin tobacco
pouches; I can’t remember them all. The
only thing I was crazy about was a portfolio with about a dozen native drawings
in it. But when I found that in
order to get it he had traded an almost new pair of Junior’s trousers which I
had counted on his using for school this winter, even that joy was dimmed.
I couldn’t say a word to him because he thought he had done so well and
the trousers were in the closet where I kept the trading goods.
But I had put them there yesterday when I laid out the things for the
boys to wear today and had planned to have Junior wear them and then decided
that they were too good and had hidden them.
So the joke—if that’s what you can call it!—was on me!
Skin kayaks and ivory paper cutters and soapstone figures had all been
seen on board but they had all been grabbed by Norcross, aft. I will have to do a lot of planning to find something in this
collection that is fit to give away. But
it was when I went ashore with the Captain to say goodbye to the Governor and
his wife, that the worst blow of the day fell.
We met a woman with a bead collar over her arm, which she offered to us.
I said;- “Oh, I wanted one of those!”
So we stopped and I looked at the collar which really was a beauty.
I paid 20 kronen for the one at Kraulshavn, which is about five dollars.
So I offered her fifteen to start with.
She said more, so I added another five but she still said more.
I was about to give her one more 5 and then call it a day, when the
Captain just reached into my bag and said “If you want it, you want it, so why
fuss?” and gave her as much money as he could grab, taking the collar with one
hand and me with the other and led me into the governor’s.
I was aghast and said “Why, I don’t know how much money you gave
her!” and he said;-“What does it matter?
We are leaving now and your Greenland money won’t do you any good
anywhere else!”: It never seemed
to occur to him that I could have gotten the governor to change it back for me! On the ship, after we had left I found by figuring up my
expenditures that the Captain had paid—with my money!—fifteen dollars for
the collar! Altogether what with
this and that, I went to sleep more than usually heart sick and weary.
Woke up this morning with the sorest throat I have ever had and a general
stuffed up feeling; my semi annual cold. It
is the strangest thing the way I seem to indulge in a cold each spring and each
fall, no matter what I do. I stayed
in bed till ten and then the room was so hot I had to get up.
I was too restless and nervous to do anything like reading or sewing, so
I rummaged around and packed a couple of boxes of books and cleared out the
cupboards and stowed things away for rough weather. With yesterday’s disappointments still so fresh in my mind,
I don’t think I could stand it if I didn’t know we would soon be home.
I would give anything in the world if I could afford to leave the ship at
Brigus and go home by train. But I
would not dare to leave the boys on the ship, no one would give them a thought
and to take them with me would run our fare up into the hundreds of dollars.
I didn’t go in to any of my meals because the thought of this crowd
sickens me let alone the sight!
A miserable night because of my throat and stopped up nose.
I remained in bed all day, dozing and reading a little but there is
something in my right eye and after I have been using it a while it begins to
tear and I have to stop. No one
inquired after me at the table or apparently noticed that I was not there. We have a slight head wind.
George Borup’s birthday. I
remained in bed all day today again only getting up long enough to wash and to
comb my hear. My throat is better but my nose still irritates me.
I did some mending and a little embroidery and read a history of
Newfoundland. Junior has been busy
all day copying his diary and Bud created a little excitement by jabbing a long
splinter into his thumb. In order to get it out, the doctor cocained it and Junior,
standing by to comfort Bud, got so sick that he had to come in the room and lie
A very stormy day and terribly rough.
Fortunately, my cabin and bathroom are well stowed and nothing slides out
of place during the terrific rolls but there is a constant sound of crashes from
long room and galley. During
dinner, a camera tripod and a banjo landed in the middle of the table!
Although I felt rotten, I got up during the forenoon because I just
couldn’t stand my bed another minute. I
put on all clean bedclothes and will feel better. I also did quite a lot of packing in the course of the day,
although I had to take frequent rests in between. I now have everything sorted so that the boys clothes are all
in the trunk, my things which I won’t need the rest of the trip packed in the
two telescopes, and my “city clothes” for St. John’s and Brigus are in my
fitted bag. Due to my careful
“going over” every blessed thing is mended and in perfect condition and it
makes me feel fine. Still no one
but the boys and Brute have been near me nor asked for me.
It is a strange situation for me the “spoiled darling” to find myself
in! I have done a little embroidery
but my eye nearly drives me crazy.
Well, last night was a wild one. It
grew rougher and rougher as time went on and about ten o’clock when we were
shipping seas heavily, I began to worry about the dog for fear he might either
be washed overboard or drowned in his barrel and I knew the boys would be heart
broken. So a little after eleven,
when I heard someone stirring in the galley, I went in and found Harold down for
a “mug up”. He said the dog was
alright now and that the Bosun had tipped the barrel up once and drained the
water out and the dog was asleep. But
at midnight there was a knock at the door and there was Harold with the pup in
his arms. He said there was so much
water on deck he was worried about the dog and thought I better keep him in my
bathroom until the seas went down. So
I put him and was no sooner back in bed before the blooming thing began to howl.
That would never do, because he would have the whole long room awake.
He was lonely and as long as I stayed with him, he was fine but when I
left him, he began to howl. This
was no time to discipline him so from then until four a.m. Bud and I took turns
sitting with the pup. Sometimes he
would go to sleep and we would crawl wearily into bed only to turnout again in a
few minutes because he had waked up and was howling!
I haven’t spent such a night since Junior was teething!
At last, at four George came and said the sea was going down and he would
put the dog back in his barrel and Bud and I fell exhausted into bed!
This did not help my cold any and I spent the day dozing and fighting
against a sick stomach and pain in my eye.
I am so hungry all the time and can’t eat this stuff on board and have
spent a lot of time thinking of all the good things Pape can cook.
Why even my own cooking would taste good to me now if I could just step
into my clean little Cambridge kitchenette and scramble some eggs, make some
buttered toast and ca cup of REAL coffee! Bud
came in with his eyes as big as saucers, because Harold had been telling about
the Viking disaster. It seams
Harold was just on his way to relieve the man at the wheel when the explosion
occurred and the body of the helmsman was afterwards found on the ice, split in
two pieces! Harold had taken his
young brother with him, the boys’ first trip, and so Harold told the boy to
stay on deck while he went below to get their things.
He packed their best suite in a bag and then remembered three dollars
that he had stowed away in a corner of his chest, so saved that and brought the
bag on deck. Leaving his brother to
stand guard over it, Harold turned to his duties of launching the dories and
saving what he could about the ship. While
he was on the ice with one of the dories, there was a second explosion on the
ship, causing one of the masts to fall and when he returned on board he found
his brother dead, pinned beneath the blazing wreckage of the rigging. They made their way, those who were saved across the ice,
pushing and pulling the dory and were twenty-four hours getting to the Horse
Islands. From there, the blazing
ship could still be seen and the people said the force of the explosion had made
their windows rattle. Bud tells the
story just like a Newfoundlander and mother is going to be convulsed when she
hears him talk. He was telling me
about George carrying the dog up last night and he said:-“You know George like
to pitched the dog overboard! He
caught his foot on the anchor that had gone adrift, and to catch himself, he
just HOVE the dog away from him but luckily it landed alright!”
A pleasant day at last and we are in sight of the Labrador and hope to
reach Turnavik before dark. I
always thought the name Labrador was French and meant Le Bras d’Or (the golden
arm) but, in reading the history of Newfoundland the other day, I find it is a
corruption of a Portuguese word Ilavrador meaning a yeoman farmer.
Portuguese yoeman farmers, having been among the first to settle there.
I finished some sewing and then got up I fixed the label on Mr.
Paquet’s mayonnaise jar and wrote a paper to go in it which I hope will please
him. I also arranged with Dick to
make the cap for the monument and I wrote up my diary on the typewriter.
Junior was lucky enough to shoot a murre to complete his collection and
got it in the dip net. The sailors
call the murres baccalloo birds and I found from the same Newfoundland history
that Baccallao was the name the Portuguese gave to Newfoundland meaning land of
codfish. The sailors say wherever
you find murres you find codfish.
We were delayed by head winds so that we did not get to Turnavik until
after dark and as the entrance to the harbor is narrow and there are numbers of
shoals and submerged rocks about, we lay off the land until daylight.
Never have I felt the old Morrissey roll as she did then. It was almost impossible to remain in my berth.
The doctor called me at five thirty, saying we were just about to drop
anchor so I hustled into my clothes because I was afraid we would only remain
there a few minutes. As a matter of fact, we stayed all day. It was a beautiful day and right after breakfast Brute, Ed
Weyer and I went ashore. All my
life I have heard of Turnavik and was even in here when a little girl, but of
course I don’t remember anything about it.
Here Captain Bob’s grandfather and his father ran a fishing station and
hundreds of thousands of dollars went out of Turnavik.
Three hundred and fifty people lived here in the summer time, splitting,
drying and salting the codfish as they were brought in.
Now the whole station is in ruins, the stages are falling down and the
only people living here are the caretaker and his family.
It is a sad place for Captain Bob to come to and remembering the wealth
of other days, think that his father died last year with nothing to his name
except his gold watch and chain. Ernie
Lyall, the caretaker took us up to his house first.
It used to be Captain Will’s house in the old days.
It is very bare and poverty stricken now and Mrs. Lyall, an enormous fat
woman entertained us with tales of former splendor. From there we went over to the other island and made the
complete circuit of it, looking for the “Indian Caves” supposed to have once
been the homes of the Tunits. We
did not find them but we had a grand walk and I was amazed to see that the wild
flowers are identical with those on the Island.
The fireweed grows in profusion, also twinflowers and bunchberries and
wild iris. Make apples, that I
haven’t thought of since I was on Labrador before, are ripe and when we
returned to the house, Mrs. Lyall presented me with a gallon of them. Junior decided to go with Will to Ben’s Cove after a man
that the Captain wanted to see, and Bud wanted to go jig codfish with a boat
from the ship, so neither of them came ashore with me.
When the boat came back from Ben’s Cove, there was a woman on board
also, Liz Gear and she started right to work making a pattern of the Captain’s
sealskin coat in order to make him a new one this winter.
I got to talking with her and gave her some of the boys’ old clothes
and some films for her camera and before she left she asked the size of my shoe
and said she would make me some deerskin slippers this winter and send them to
me. After dinner, Will took me
ashore and up to the house and asked Mrs. Lyall if any of the dishes were left
form the old days when they used to come up in the summers and keep house for
her men. There was a whole cupboard
of them and Will picked out a lovely old Staffordshire platter and an old
pressed glass dish and gave them to me as a souvenir. Of course I was much pleased.
These Newfoundlanders are certainly a queer lot.
That was Captain Bob’s idea and a very nice one but when I came on
board I found that he was giving a wheelbarrow and the camp stove and three bags
of cement to the people ashore, things that had been paid for with Mother’s
money. I was glad to have the
people have them and had no use for them myself but he might at least have asked
me if I minded but such a thing never entered his head.
Bud had a grand time fishing and Junior was fortunate enough to kill a
young eider duck so both of them were happy.
We got away about five and were in a rough sea and rolling heavily the
minute we passed through the tickle. I
slept to make up for time lost this morning and in the evening read and
embroidered. My eye is increasingly troublesome and I am worried about it.
This morning right after breakfast, Bud came down to say we were close in
to the land and at nine the engines stopped.
I was still in bed but Bud reported that we had run into Indian Harbor to
escape a southerly gale and the Captain said we might be here ten minutes or an
hour or a day, depending on when the wind went down.
I got up and dressed to have a look at the place although with my eye the
way it is, looking at anything is getting to be pretty painful.
It was from Indian Harbor that Dad sent the first word of his discovery
of the pole on September 6th, 1909.
I could just imagine his pleased excitement when he sent the message.
It is so fine to have good news to tell and the poor lamb little realized
what a heart breaking fight was ahead of him.
I took advantage of the quiet of the ship to do some packing and stowing
of my room and when I found out at dinner that there is a Grenfell mission
station here with a splendid English physician in charge, I suggested to the
doctor that I go see if he could do anything for my eye.
We started at once and Bud went along.
The doctor, named Padden, was very pleasant, I liked him at once and he
gave us a long take on how he is educating the people to raise small gardens and
then put up the vegetables and wild berries to tide them over the winter.
He certainly is an enthusiast. All
this while his instruments were boiling and finally a nurse came in and said
everything was ready. I am glad I
didn’t know what a siege was ahead of me.
First, he dropped cocaine and then Novocain in my eye.
Then he used an infernal machine called a spectrum, which fastens on the
edges of the two lids and screws them apart.
It was painful in spite of the anesthetic.
He could then see two small ulcers on the inside of my upper lid and he
opened them with a needle and drained them.
He was inclined to think that that was the cause of the trouble but I did
not want to go thru such a performance again, so I asked him to make sure.
He looked at my eyeball thru a magnifying glass and then took hold of the
skin of the eyeball with tweezers and pulled the eyeball out and down.
Then he could see quite plainly a small spike sticking in the upper
eyeball. His probe made a rasping
sound as he moved it across the ball. He
managed to dig this out and said it was evidently causing the ulceration of the
upper lid and if I had had to wait until I reached St. John’s I might have
lost the sight of my eye. That
would have been a grand souvenir of this damn trip.
In spite of his invitation to supper, with the offer of a hot bath thrown
in as an extra inducement, I was feeling so rotten by the time he was through
that I wanted to get right back to the ship and lie down.
It was just as well that I did for when the anesthetic began to wear off
I thought I should go crazy. I
can’t remember when I have suffered so, and I was scared in the bargain for
fear my sight would be affected after all.
Evidently Doctor Padden thought it more or less serious also because in
an hour he came out in his boat to have a look at me. That really scared the people on board. Up to that time not a soul had been in to see me except my
boys since my return from shore, not even the doctor, and it was the longest
three hours I ever spent. The pain
was the kind where you want to beat your head against something.
When the doctor saw my eye all swollen shut with pus oozing out from the
edge of the lid and I on the ragged edge of hysterics he immediately prescribed
two codeine tablets and asked the Captain if he might remain on board until he
saw what effect they would have. That
did get Captain Bob excited and he came right in to see me.
Luckily for me, the codeine had a very soothing effect and as soon as I
could stand it, Doctor Padden bathed my eye open with warm boracic and dropped
more cocaine in. At last, it
quieted down so I was able to go to sleep, pretty well tuckered out.
The wind died down in the night and at five o’clock we got under way. We had not been out of the harbor long before the wind sprang up again, this time from the north and simply blew us towards home. My eye was practically alright in the morning so there is one more scare all for nothing. It is a relief to have the thing out of it, for it has been troubling me for about two weeks. Junior crept into my room at midnight last night and arranged my birthday table for me with the packages from home. He had covered the table with white paper napkins and borrowed the bead mat from the doctor to make it look “priddy”. He and Bud were so excited and had tried hard to do for me what they have seen done all these years. Junior said:- “Gee, mama, I feel bad to see you have so few presents when you usually have such a grand birthday!” But he gave me a gook I had wanted for a long time, and Tante sent me another and Madge sent a mosaic pin to complete the set she has been giving me, and two pairs of silk stockings so it really was not at all bad. Brute came in after breakfast and brought a pair of earrings and a locket which he had carved from a piece of ivory, which he had dug up at Anniversary Lodge. He had carved the monument on each of them and it is really quite pretty. The Captain came in later and said he had twelve bay sealskins for me for a coat. He had just obtained them in Indian Harbor yesterday. Bud’s present to me is a rope rug but I don’t believe the poor kid will be through with it before he is twenty-one! It is a tremendous task and he has been at it for over a month.
It is very rough but we are just humming along so I don’t complain.
I dressed in city clothes for dinner and Junior felt terribly because no
one noticed or commented on it, but I explained to him that I only dressed for
them and for myself, but it is hard from them to become accustomed to the way I
am ignored on board her when they have always seen me made much of no matter
where we were. I embroidered all
afternoon to make up for the time I lost yesterday and after supper, Brute
brought in a pint of Barsac and the boys had ginger ale and we had a party.
In the midst of it a grand radio from mother came, so I felt the day was
Just flying along still. I
roped and labeled all my boxes and wrote some letters to mail in Brigus.
I also did a lot of sleeping to make up for last night when I scarcely
slept at all. Bud has been busy all
day working on his rug and Junior has been desperately trying to get a puffin.
In the evening it turned warm and mild with a full moon and Junior begged
to be allowed to take his sleeping bag and sleep out on deck, so I let him.
Forgot to say that yesterday for supper we had FRESH lettuce from Indian
Harbor, as well as a birthday cake which the boys had asked Billy to bake, and
today we had fresh cabbage for dinner with ham.
I read and embroidered.
A lovely sunny day and I had lots to do as we expect to get into Brigus
tomorrow morning early. I picked
over the flowers for Christmas cards, did a lot of typing, took some pictures of
the men who leave at Brigus and had a long talk with the Captain.
He thinks I should give the masons a bonus when I pay them but I will not
do it. Their three months are not
up until the 29th but I will give them three full months pay.
Considering the fact that they were only on the mountain five weeks and
did not work all of that time, I think I am doing as well by them as they can
expect. I wrote more letters,
finished my next to the last doily and the large book on Newfoundland.
Junior skinned his eider duck and young pigeon and both boys took a good
wash after supper.
We were called at five and the clocks were then changed to seven
o’clock to make us Brigus time. Bud
jumped into his clothes in short order because he wanted to be on hand to hear
the skipper take her into the harbor. “Boy,”
he said, “it’s fun! He yells
orders and then when they think he said stop her! And he has really said
Starboard! You ought to hear him gnash his teeth and see the white froth fly!”
I was on deck just before we docked and could see Triss and Bess and
Eleanor and Emma all on the wharf. My
friend Mr. Cantwell was there to had me gallantly ashore and with last
instructions to the boys, I left them and went right up to Hawthorne.
I planned to go to St. John’s at once but there was no mail or check
for me from mother and the next mail was not due until one o’clock there was
no sense in going before. So I read the mail that was there, all old letters dated last
June and which had just missed us and there was a wonderful one there for me
from mother who must have felt intuitively what I would be up against this
summer. It would have helped a lot
if I had had it with me. Then I
walked over to the post office to redeem the packages, which Ted had sent last
June and which had also missed us. There
was six dollars duty, almost seven to pay on them!!
Bess walked up with me to the Bartlett burial plot and by the time we had
finished looking around, it was dinnertime. The boys arrived, very much surprised to see me as they
thought I had gone to St. John’s . Mr.
Norcross was with us for dinner. Mrs.
Norcross arrived in St. John’s this morning at nine and I think it is so funny
that instead of going up to meet her himself when she has come all this way to
see him, he sent Mary Angel to get her and bring her down to Brigus!
Queer people! After dinner, I spent some time going thru the books in the
house which have been given Captain Bob at various times and listing the Arctic
ones which I do not own. I also
sewed the hem in my blue dress and put it on for supper.
Ede Bartlett dropped in to see me for a few minutes and I promised to
call on her Saturday morning when the mail came in there was a lovely letter
from Mother and the check to pay the masons.
It seemed wonderful to hear from Mother again and to get news from home
although all of it was not good. After
supper, Mr. Dove and the doctor drove me to St. John’s.
It was after nine when we left Brigus so it was nearly midnight when we
got to the Hotel Newfoundland but I was thrilled with my room and bath.
The room over looked the harbor and I took several time exposures of the
moonlight on the water. My bath
gave me a real thrill and so did my clean soft bed afterwards.
Slept like a log all-night and felt fine this morning. Had a late breakfast and then started on my errands. What fun I had. First I went to the bank and the telegraph office to get my money. Then I went to the photographic studio and bought paper for Dick and also some snapshots of the town, which I had been unable to take myself. Then I went to Nonia and bought some lovely hand woven things for people like Mrs. Carson and Mrs. Usina etc. I bought hardware for the boys to finish their chest and ivory souvenirs at Ayre and Sons. By that time I had to leap to meet my appointment to have my hair washed. That certainly felt wonderful although I was ashamed to have the woman see my head so dirty. She gave me a splendid shampoo and a fine wave in an hour and a half, the snappiest I have ever had it done. I walked back to the hotel, stopping in at the cathedral on the way and as I was going in to lunch the doctor joined me. When we had finished, he walked with me down to the liquor commission where I got some sauterne, some sherry and some cassis and he arranged to call for it later and take it to the hotel for me. We also stopped in at a florist where I wanted to get a few roses for Mrs. Barlett and while waiting to be waited on, what should I spy in a showcase, but a vase exactly like the pitcher and bowl which Dad bought for me in the Labrador in 1900! This was blue and they were green; that was the only difference. With bated breath I asked the girl to show it to me and finding it was had blown, as I had thought, I timidly asked the price. “Oh,” she said scornfully, “you can have it for seventy cents!” I almost snatched it out of her hands, I was so glad to get it.
After returning to the hotel, packing and paying my bill, I did not have
long to wait for the taxi that was to take me to Brigus at five.
The driver, Mike Hayes, was an extremely interesting man. He comes from Harbour Grace, and had many amusing anecdotes
to tell about the transatlantic fliers that hop off from there.
We also had as a passenger, Louis Bartlett, the only one of the family,
which I had not seen. We passed through the town of Topsail where the women
attacked the men with pitchforks and threw them into the water when the railroad
was being put thru. No one had
explained to them what was going on and when they saw strange men climbing over
the fences and measuring the ground, and their own men away with the fishing
fleet, they took steps to protect their property.
We also passed a funeral, a dreary looking affair, the pine coffin,
covered with artificial flowers in a rude farm wagon and the mourners following
on foot, two by two, with WHITE bands on their arms instead of black.
We reached the Bartlett’s a little after seven and found the folks,
including my two boys, still at supper.
Mrs. Norcross was there, just the tiny, baby doll, affected type who
would marry a man of that type. I
had a grand time showing my “bargains” to Mrs. Bartlett and Triss and later
Mrs. Bartlett called me aside and said if I was interested in glass, she wanted
to give me my choice of two old glass bottles that had been in her family for a
long time. Triss was there too, and I said that one, which I am sure is
Waterford glass, was much too lovely to let go out of the family but I would
gladly have the other. Afterwards,
Mrs. Bartlett gave me the dickens for not taking the nicer of the two and said:-
“Never mind, I’ll fix it up!” I
went to bed quite pleased with my day. It
is almost conceited to enjoy your own company so much.
Had my breakfast in bed and the boys came before I was up.
I went up to the teahouse with them while they bought themselves a model
of the Morrissey and then I went to call on Ede.
We had a nice chat and she gave me a picture of the Windward for Mother
and two lovely pieces of old glass for myself.
After dinner, Triss came to me and said:- “Now if Mother asks you if I
gave you one of her old glass plates, do say yes, because she told me to and I
am not going to do it because I don’t want them to go out of the family, I’m
sure you understand!” I had
hardly caught my breath after Triss left, before Mrs. Bartlett came bustling in
and said:- “I asked Triss to give you this plate and then I decided if I
wanted anything done, I better do it myself, so here it is!”
I protested and said the girls would not like it, but she said the girls
had had plenty of things and would have lots more and she wanted me to have it
because she knew I would appreciate it and she could guarantee that it was over
a hundred years old. Of course I am
delighted. Later Triss and I went
to see the house of Mr. Harris, the etcher.
It is where Rockwell Kent lived while he was in Brigus, playing at being
a German spy and some of his mural decorations are still there.
It is a charming place and clean as a new pin.
Mr. Harris brought us to the teahouse for tea in his baby Austin, my
first ride in one. After tea, I
just had time to go over and say goodbye to Mrs. Bartlett and then go down to
the ship. Everyone was there
to see us off and we sailed promptly at six.
At last we are straightened out for home!
Foggy and very, very rough. I
stayed in bed all morning and even then was thrown about considerably.
I feel terribly tired and let down and slept nearly all afternoon.
After the comfort and cleanliness ashore this dump seems even worse.
I find that six cartloads of stuff were carried up to the Bartletts
including five tons of coal and six hundred pounds of sugar, and that Billy came
with a boat at two in the morning and loaded up his share.
I don’t mind their having it but after my suggesting it to Captain Bob
and his giving me the devil and explaining how careful he had to be about
customs etc, it does seem rather odd. Found
some new magazines on board and had a treat!
A dreary day, raining and blowing and rough.
We have had a following wind most of the time, which cheered me
tremendously, but this afternoon it flattened out and then sprang up dead ahead.
I slept nearly all day today too. Evidently
the social life ashore exhausted me. In the evening I read, brought my diary to date and did some
Did not sleep very well last night, probably due to so much sleeping
during the day and also to the fact that it is so rough that you are jolted
awake every few minutes. But the
wind is favoring us again. In the
afternoon, I actually came to life sufficiently to do a lot of packing.
After eating everything and reading everything and wearing out a lot of
things and giving away a lot of things, how in the world do we still have so
much to take with us? In the
evening I mended and did some embroidery.
This is what the Newfoundlanders call “fine sociable weather” and a
“wonderful time along!” We are
making good time but we can’t get there quickly enough to suit me!
The boys are beginning to rebel against the food and Junior is laid up
with sick stomach, headache and fever. I
have dosed him with Bellans and alophen pills and brought him to sleep in my
room. I continued my packing today,
quite difficult in my cramped quarters, finished Madge’s last doily, and Sven
A better sea and I was able to do a great deal of packing.
Junior responded nobly to treatment but I am giving him powders all day.
All the poor devil can talk about is what he will eat when he gets
ashore. Passed Cape Race at three
Fine day. Finished packing. Boys washed their dog. Got supplies from Billy. Sighted Halfway Rock at seven thirty. Home at last!