“Yes, yes, I shall be all right,” I answered.
On the fifth day my nurse left me, and shocking as that fact seems to me now, I thought little of it then.
I was entirely happy. I had nothing in the world except my baby, and my baby had nothing in the world except me. I was still in the dungeon that had seemed so dreadful to me before—the great dungeon of London to one who is poor and friendless.
But no matter! I was no longer alone, for there was one more inmate in my prison-house—my child.
I AM LOST
"Is it nothing to you, ye that pass by . . . ?"
I hate to butt in where I may not be wanted, but if the remainder of my darling’s story is to be understood I must say what was happening in the meantime to me.
God knows there was never a day on which I did not think of my dear one at home, wondering what was happening to her, and whether a certain dark fact which always lay at the back of my mind as a possibility was actually coming to pass.
But she would be brave—I know that quite well—and I saw plainly that, if I had to get through the stiff job that was before me, I must put my shadowy fears away and think only of the dangers I was sure about.
The first of these was that she might suppose our ship was lost, so as soon as we had set up on old Erebus the wooden lattice towers which contained our long-distance electric apparatus, I tried to send her that first message from the Antarctic which was to say we had not been shipwrecked.
It was a thrilling moment. Exactly at the stroke of midnight on January 21, while the midnight sun was shining with its dull sullen glow, the whole of our company having gathered round, the wireless man prepared to despatch my message.
As we were not sure of our machinery I had drawn up the words to suit any place into which they might fall if they missed their intended destination:
“South Pole Expedition safe. All well. Send greetings to dear ones at home.”
For some forty seconds the sparks crackled out their snappy signals into the crisp night air, and then the settled calm returned, and we stood in breathless silence like beings on the edge of a world waiting for the answer to come as from another planet.
It came. After a few minutes we heard from our magnetic detector the faint sound of the S signals, and then we broke into a great cheer. It was not much, but it was enough; and while our scientific staff were congratulating themselves that electric-wave telegraphy was not inhibited by long distance, or by the earth’s curvature over an arc of a great circle, I was thinking of my dear one—that one way or another my message would reach her and she would be relieved.
Then in splendid health and spirits—dogs, ponies, and men all A1—we started on our journey, making a bee-line for the Pole.