Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

DEATH OF BARENTSZ.

297

men, Nicolas Andrisz, was likewise ill. That they might be the more commodiously attended, they were embarked one in each boat; but all the care and nursing that could be bestowed on them, exposed to the open air in a small boat, was not capable of saving them from falling victims to the severity of the weather. On the 16th, the boats were at the Isle Van Orange, which lies near the northern extremity of Nova Zembla. The next day they were beset by ice, and remained the three following days without being able to proceed. On the forenoon of the 20th, word was brought to Barentsz that Andrisz appeared to be drawing to his end. Barentsz said, in reply, that he believed his own was not far distant. The people in the boat with him, seeing that he was at this very time inspecting and considering a chart which Girard le Ver had made of the places they had seen in the voyage, did not apprehend immediate danger, but continued sitting and conversing, till Barentsz put down the chart and asked for some drink, to which he was helped, and immediately after expired, to the great affliction of his remaining companions, he being esteemed one of the most capable seamen of his time.

They proceeded westward and southward along the western coast of Nova Zembla, as well as the ice and

specially mentioned. These, with a clock and other precious relics, are now deposited in the Royal Museum at the Hague, and we are able to give, on page 11, a slight sketch of the group as it is arranged in the Museum.

CHAPTER XII.

“I go across the ocean foam,

Swift skating to my southern home,
Upon the ocean skates fast driven,
By gales, by Thurse's witch wife driven.”

Saga of King Harald Greyskin.—LAING.

On the eleventh we weighed and paid a visit to the salmon lake from whence the fish we had received the other day had been taken. This lake lay at the foot of the mountains, and was about two miles in extent. The scenery here was peculiarly striking, and to the lover of the rod and line a more enchanting scene could hardly be found elsewhere. The day was lovely, the air bright and serene ; we hurried along the distance that separated us from our expected sport with feelings not to be described, and were looking forward to the successful capture of splendid char or Alpine trout without fear of hitch of any kind, but when we arrived, the water, to our dismay, was frozen over, and we could not use our net for fishing. Winter surely comes, and it is time for us to return home-time to hasten too, for up here in the north when winter approaches, it comes with such haste as we have little experience of at home, and an Arctic winter must not be trifled with if we mean to go. The rest have already gone. The Norwegians have many superstitious beliefs to compel them to hasten home, and besides they have scant provision for the voyage, only intended to last them till October. They go back, poor fellows, empty this season to begin again later in the year along their own coast with the herring fishery, when we hope they may have such luck as will repay them for their ill-spent time in these desolate waters of the Spitzbergen Islands. Now our acquaintance with wild nature grows more limited every day. The wild geese begin to wing their way to the far south ; most of the migratory birds have gone, and we turn to look again upon a land, uninhabited no doubt, but a land full of pleasant recollections : the climate, with all its threatening aspect, so well suited to the manly sports we entered on by land and sea; the whole region, rough beyond compare, but still a region of enchantment and delight. It is a world in itself, of which the traveller who has not seen it can form no conception whatever—where the light of heaven is so unlike what we elsewhere experience, that we are unable to describe it. Its ice blinks and auroras, its heavy blue reflections against which the prismatic ice glitters in the purest light of day; and all the

PROFESSOR NORDENSKIOLD.

303

family of nature that dwells here in its vast expanse of water-its whales and walrus, amphibious bears and seals, the host of winged sea-fowl, and stately deer.

We found Professor Nordenskiold a very pleasant man advanced in life, and his selected party full of zeal in the honourable undertaking they had entered upon : they seemed inspired with the enthusiasm of their leader, who certainly manifested all the aplomb of a man confident of success. They were waiting here for a supply of coal to be brought to them by a steamer not yet arrived. Every day at this season is precious time lost; the sun has already set in the heavens, and the long night of the Arctic seas gradually approaches. They are a long way from the point they have selected for their winter quarters, and the road is being rendered more difficult as the season advances. Their intention is to sail along the western coast we have lately visited, and then to fight their way to the Seven Islands along the unusually frozen sea which bounds the coast to the north. Arrived at their halting place they have much work to do before they can hope to be settled fairly down in their winter quarters. They bring with them all the requisite materials for the construction of a home, and to expedite this laborious undertaking they have had the wooden houses

« AnteriorContinuar »