American Merchant Ships and Sailors eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 320 pages of information about American Merchant Ships and Sailors.

“At this moment there was a confused murmur within the tent, and a voice said:  ‘Who’s there?’

“Norman answered, ‘It’s Norman—­Norman who was in the “Proteus."’

“This was followed by cries of ‘Oh, it’s Norman,’ and a sound like a feeble cheer.

“Meanwhile one of the relief party, who in his agitation and excitement was crying like a child, was down on his knees trying to roll away the stones that held the flapping tent-cloth....  Colwell called for a knife, cut a slit in the tent-cover, and looked in.  It was a sight horror.  On one side, close to the opening, with his face toward the opening, lay what was apparently a dead man.  His jaw had dropped, his eyes were open, but fixed and glassy, his limbs were motionless.  On the opposite side was a poor fellow, alive to be sure, but without hands or feet, and with a spoon tied to the stump of his right arm.  Two others, seated on the ground in the middle, had just got down a rubber bottle that hung on the tent pole, and were pouring from it into a tin can.  Directly opposite, on his hands and knees, was a dark man, with a long matted beard, in a dirty and tattered dressing-gown, with a little red tattered skull-cap on his head, and brilliant, staring eyes.  As Colwell appeared he raised himself a little and put on a pair of eye-glasses.

“‘Who are you?’ asked Colwell.

“The man made no reply, staring at him vacantly.

“‘Who are you?’ again.

“One of the men spoke up.  ’That’s the Major—­Major Greely.”

“Colwell crawled in and took him by the hand, saying:  ’Greely, is this you?’

“‘Yes,’ said Greely in a faint voice, hesitating and shuffling with his words, ’yes—­seven of us left—­here we are—­dying—­like men.  Did what I came to do—­beat the best record.’

“Then he fell back exhausted.”

Slowly and cautiously the men were nursed back to life and health—­all save poor Ellison, whose enfeebled constitution could not stand the shock of the necessary amputation of his mutilated limbs.  The nine bodies buried in the shallow graves were exhumed and taken to the ship, Private Henry’s body being found lying where it fell at the moment of his execution.  At that time the castaways were too feeble to give even hasty sepulture to their dead.  A horrible circumstance, reported by Commander Schley himself, was that the flesh of many of the bodies was cut from the bones—­by whom, and for what end of cannibalism, can only be conjectured.

Following the disaster to the Greely expedition, came a period of lethargy in polar exploration, and when the work was taken up again, it was in ways foreign to the purpose of this book.  Foreigners for a time led in activity, and in 1895 Fridjof Nansen in his drifting ship, the “Fram,” attained the then farthest North, latitude 86 deg. 14’, while Rudolph Andree, in 1897, put to the test the desperate expedient of setting out for the Pole in a balloon from Dane’s Island, Spitzbergen; but

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American Merchant Ships and Sailors from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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