Imágenes de páginas

should happen that a steamer did get caught in the ice here, she would naturally drift south, at the rate of about six miles each day, that being the rate at which the ice fields move during the year.

Another difficulty to be anticipated on this Swedish journey. The reindeer, tractable at all times and easily managed by their Lapland keepers, may in some gale of wind prove untractable, and it is possible the whole may become separated, or they may drift away on the broken fields of ice. Such a loss is hardly to be endured. In that case two boats will be discarded as incumbrances no longer of service, and their fortune will be staked on the remaining and smallest of the three. The deer, we learned, were suffering from the journey, and two out of the herd had already died.

Should the deer fail them they will have recourse to the ordinary food of Arctic travellers, that “pemmican we have heard of so often and so few of us have tasted.

If the exploring party of twelve is forced to depend upon

this little boat of some sixteen feet it will cause much discomfort to the explorers; but even this "detail" has been carefully studied, and we saw the dog-skin mantle which is to serve as their sleeping coverlid if it should come to this. Dog-skin is found far warmer



and lighter than any other known variety of fur in use. The Russians know how to appreciate its heat-retaining qualities, and even the Esquimaux prize it at its true value; but with us almost any other fur is sought for with greater zest, perhaps the attraction being rather in the finer texture and more attractive

appearance of various skins in use. Professor Nordenskiold expects to meet with land in the north. This land, if found, will be a source of danger in the opinion of some of his party, as a gale off the land, should it happen, will cause the trouble they almost anticipate. We heard further particulars respecting the mode of compassing their object, which to us appeared of the greatest possible interest. Thus, the food rations consisted of three pounds weight per day for each man, and their reindeer will be added to this supply, as we have stated. Necessaries, clothing, and other baggage would weigh 4050 lbs. It is calculated that each man can drag 425 lbs. over the ice; and we heard of bread, coffee, lime juice, concentrated rum, a cooking apparatus, supplied with petroleum, besides guns, ammunition, axes, spades, saw for cutting ice, and for building snow buts, blanket sleeping bags, India rubber mattresses, and the dog-skin coverlid.

We thought of the wonderful exploits of the dogs we had often heard and read about, and we spoke of

the Russian and Esquimaux sledge journeys performed by these sagacious friends of man; and we spoke to the Professor of 600 miles' journey out and the 600 miles home again before he could accomplish the intended journey; we spoke of the Esquimaux driving six dogs thirty miles a-day with a party of eight in a sledge, and of a smaller number doing their sixty miles ; we talked of the story of a Cossack, Alexander Markoff, who was sent from Yaktush to explore the frozen ocean in the summer of the year 1714, by order of the Russian Government, but the sea was so crowded with ice he was unable to make any progress. In this dilemma he formed the design of travelling in sledges during the winter or spring of the year over the ice, which then might fairly be expected to be firm and compact. Accordingly he formed a party for the purpose, preparing several of the country sledges, drawn by dogs, and, accompanied by eight persons, he set out on the 16th of March from the mouth of the Lena, lat. 70° 30', long. 138°. He proceeded for seven days northward as fast as his dogs could draw, which, under favourable circumstances, is eighty or a hundred versts each day (a verst is about 3500 English feet), therefore the average is ninety versts per day, equal to sixty-two miles, amounting to 434 miles in seven days. Markoff continued his journey until

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »