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The BildLn Librry
A BOOK FOR THE YOUNG
JACOB B. BULL
TRANSLATED FROM THE NORWEGIAN BY
THE REV. MORDAUNT R. BARNARD
VICAR OF MIARGARETTING
ONE OF THE TRANSLATORS OF "FARTHEST NORTH"
ISBISTER AND COMPANY LIMITED
x5 & 16 TAVISTOCK STREET COVENT GARDEN
Printed by BALLAN-IYNE, HANSON & Co.
London & Edinburgh
NANSEN'S BIRTHPLACE AND CHILDHOOD HOME.--BURGOMASTER NAN-
SEN, HIS ANCESTOR. HIS BOYHOOD AND EDUCATION. EARLY
LOVE OF SPORT AND INDEPENDENT RESEARCH.
IN West Aker, a short distance from Christiania,
there is an old manor-house called Store Frben. It is
surrounded by a large courtyard, in the middle of which
is a dovecot. The house itself, as well as the out-
houses, is built in the old-fashioned style. The garden,
with its green and white painted fence, is filled with
fruit-trees, both old and young, whose pink and snow-
white blossoms myriads of humblebees delight to visit
in springtime, while in autumn their boughs are so
laden with fruit that they are bent down under a weight
they can scarcely support.
Close by the garden runs the Frogner River. Here
and there in its course are deep pools, while in other
places it runs swiftly along, and is so shallow that it
can readily be forded. All around are to be seen in
winter snow-covered heights, while far away in the
background a dense pine forest extends beyond Frogner
Saeter,1 beyond which again lies Nordmarken, with its
hidden lakes, secret brooklets, and devious paths, like a
fairy-tale. And yet close by the hum of a busy city
life with all its varied sounds may be heard.
It was in this house that, on Oct. 10, 1861, a baby
boy, Fridtjof Nansen, was born.
Many years before this, on Oct. 9, 1660, two of
Denmark's most powerful men were standing on the
castle bridge at Copenhagen eyeing each other with
looks of hatred and defiance. One of these, named
Otto Krag, was glancing angrily at Blaataarn (the Blue
Tower) with its dungeons. "Know you that?" he
inquired of his companion, the chief burgomaster of the
city. Nodding assent, and directing his looks toward
the church tower of Our Lady," in which were hung
the alarm bells, the latter replied, "And know you
what hangs within yonder tower? "
Four days later the burghers of Copenhagen, with
the burgomaster at their head, overthrew the arrogant
Danish nobles, and made Frederick III absolute mon-
arch over Denmark and Norway.
It needed unyielding strength and indomitable cour-
age to carry out such an undertaking, but these were
qualifications which the burgomaster possessed, and had
at an early age learned to employ. When but sixteen
he had set out from Flensborg on an expedition to the
White Sea in a vessel belonging to his uncle, and had
then alone traversed a great portion of Russia. Four
1 FrognersTteren, a forest-covered hill about six miles from Chris-
tiania. Nordmarken, an extensive woodland stretching for miles and
miles to the north of Christiania.
*T. 74"-' 'n- W4 117 ii ..., .r. 1-W 4.,. ., --7, 1 ,1 1,.- ,i ,
4 FRIDTJOF NANSEN.
years later he commanded an expedition to the Arctic
Ocean, and subsequently entered the service of the Ice-
land Company as captain of one of their ships.
When forty years of age he was made an alderman
of Copenhagen, and in 1654 became its chief burgo-
master. During the siege of that city in the war with
Charles the Tenth (Gustavus), he was one of its most
resolute and intrepid defenders; and so when the power
of the Danish nobility was to be overthrown, it was he
who took the chief part in the movement.
This man, who was neither cowed by the inherited
tyranny of the nobles, nor daunted by the terrors of
war or the mighty forces of nature, was named Hans
Nansen; and it is from him, on his father's side, that
Fridtjof Nansen descended.
Our hero's mother is a niece of Count Wedel Jarls-
berg, the Statholder1 of Norway, the man who in
1814 risked life and fortune to provide Norway with
grain from Denmark, and who did his share toward
procuring a free and equable union with Sweden.
Fridtjof Nansen grew up at Store Fr6en, and it
was not long before the strongly marked features of his
race became apparent in the fair, shock-haired lad with
the large, dark-blue, dreamy eyes.
Whatever was worthy of note, he must thoroughly
master; whatever was impossible for others, he must do
himself. He would bathe in the Frogner River in spring
1 Statholder, vice-regent. In the early days of the union with Sweden
the king had the right of appointing a vice-regent for Norway. The last
time the king made use of this prerogative was in 1844, and the right was
abrogated in 1872.
and autumn in the coldest pools; fish bare-legged with
self-made tackle in the swiftest foss;1 contrive and
improve on everything pertaining to tools and imple-
ments, and examine and take to pieces all the mechani-
cal contrivances that came in his way; often succeeding,
frequently failing, but never giving in.
Once, when only three years old, he was nearly
burned to death. He had been meddling with the copper
fire in the brewhouse, and was standing in the court-
yard busied with a little wheelbarrow. All at once his
clothes were on fire, for a spark, it seems, had lighted
on them, and from exposure to the air, burst out into
flames. Out rushed the housekeeper to the rescue.
Meanwhile Fridtjof stood hammering away at his barrow,
utterly indifferent to the danger he was in, while the
housekeeper was extinguishing the fire. "It was quite
enough for one person to see to that sort of thing," he
On one occasion he very nearly caused the drowning
of his younger brother in the icy river. His mother
appeared on the scene as he was in the act'of dragging
him up out of the water. She scolded him severely;
but the lad tried to comfort her by saying, that "once
he himself had nearly been drowned in the same river
when he was quite alone."
Once or twice on his early fishing-excursions he
managed to get the fishhook caught in his lip, and his
mother had to cut it out with a razor, causing the lad a
great deal of pain, but he bore it all without a murmur.
The pleasures of the chase, too, were a great source
1 Foss, waterfall.
of enjoyment to him in his childish years. At first
he would go out after sparrows and squirrels with a
bow and arrow like the Indian hunters. Naturally he
did not meet with much success. It then occurred to
him that a cannon would be an excellent weapon for
shooting sparrows. Accordingly he procured one, and
after loading it up to the muzzle with gunpowder, fired
it off, with the result that the cannon burst into a hun-
dred pieces, and a large part of the charge was lodged
in his face, involving the interesting operation of having
the grains of powder picked out with a needle.
The system on which the Nansen boys were brought
.up at Store Fr6en was to inure them in both mind and
body. Little weight was attached to trivial matters.
The mistakes they made they must correct for them-
selves as far as possible; and if they brought suffering
on themselves they were taught to endure it. The
principles of self-help were thus inculcated at an early
age principles which they never forgot in later days.
As Fridtjof grew up from the child into the boy,
the two opposite sides of his character became apparent,
--inflexible determination, and a dreamy love of ad-
venture; and the older he grew, the more marked did
these become. He was, as the saying is, "a strange
boy." Strong as a young bear, he was ever foremost in
fight with street boys, whom he daily met between his
home and school. When the humor took him, espe-
cially if his younger brother was molested, he would
fight fiercely, though the odds were three or four to one
against him. But in general, he was of a quiet,
FRIDTJOF NANSEN. 7
Sometimes indeed he would sit buried in deep
thought half an hour at a time, and when dressing
would every now and then remain sitting with one
stocking on and the other in his hand so long that his
brother had to call out to him to make haste. At table,
too, he would every now and then forget to eat his food,
or else would devour anything and everything that came
in his way.
The craving to follow out his own thoughts and his
own way thus displayed itself in his early childhood,
and he had not attained a great age before his longing
to achieve exploits and to test his powers of endurance
It began with a pair of ski 1 made by himself for use
on the Frogner hills, developed in the hazardous leaps
on the Huseby 2 slopes, and culminated in his becom-
ing one of Norway's cleverest and most enduring run-
ners on ski. It began with fishing for troutlets in the
river, and ended with catching seals in the Arctic seas.
It began with shooting sparrows with cannons, and
ended with shooting the polar bear and walrus with
tiny Krag-JSrgensen conical bullets. It began with
splashing about in the cold pools of the Frogner river,
and ended in having to swim for dear life amid the ice
floes of the frozen ocean. Persevering and precise, en-
during and yet defiant, step by step he progressed.
Nothing was ever skipped over everything was
thoroughly learned and put into practice. Thus the
boy produced the man !
1 Ski, Norwegian snowshoes; pronounced she.
2 Huseby, a farm near Christiania, where the annual ski-match was
There was a certain amount of pride in Fridtjof's
nature that under different circumstances might have
proved injurious to him. He was proud of his descent,
and of his faith in his own powers. But the strict and
wise guidance of his parents directed this feeling into
one of loyalty -loyalty toward his friends, his work,
his plans. His innate pride thus became a conscientious
feeling of honor in small things as well as great -a
mighty lever, forsooth, to be employed in future ex-
Meanness was a thing unknown to Fridtjof Nansen,
nor did he ever cherish rancorous feelings in his breast.
A quarrel he was ever ready to make up, and this done
it was at once and for all forgotten.
The following instance of his school-days shows.
what his disposition was: -
Fridtjof was in the second class of the primary school..
One day a new boy, named Karl, was admitted. Now
Fridtjof was the strongest boy in the class, but the new-
comer was also a stout-built lad. It happened that
they fell out on some occasion or other. Karl was do-
ing something the other did not approve of, whereupon
Fridtjof called out, "You've no right to do that."-
"Haven't I?" was the reply, and a battle at once en-
sued. Blood began to flow freely, when the principal
appeared on the scene. Taking the two combatants, he
locked them up in the class-room. "Sit there, you
naughty boys! you ought to be ashamed of your-
selves," he said, as he left them in durance vile.
On his return to the class-room a short time after-
ward, he found the two lads sitting with their arms
around each.other's neck, reading out of the same book.
Henceforth they were bosom friends.
As a boy Nansen possessed singular powers of en-
durance and hardiness, and could put up with cold,
hunger, thirst, or pain to a far greater degree than other
boys of his age. But with all this he had a warm heart,
sympathizing in the troubles of others, and evincing sin-
cere interest in their welfare,- traits of character of
childhood's days that became so strongly developed in
Nansen the leader. Side by side with his yearning to
achieve exploits there grew up within his breast, under
the strict surveillance of his father, the desire of per-
forming good, solid work.
Here may be mentioned another instance, well wor-
thy of notice: -
Fridtjof and his brother went one day to the fair.
There were jugglers and cake-stalls and gingerbread,
sweets, toys, etc., in abundance. In fine, Christiania fair,
coming as it does on the first Tuesday in February, was
a very child's paradise, with all its varied attractions.
Peasants from the country driving around in their
quaint costumes, the townspeople loafing and enjoying
themselves, all looking pleased as they made their pur-
chases at the stalls in the marketplace, added to the
"fun of the fair."
Fridtjof and his brother Alexander went well fur-
nished with money; for their parents had given them six-
pence each, while aunt and grandmamma gave them each
two shillings. Off the lads started, their faces beam-
ing with joy. On returning home, however, instead of
bringing with them sweets and toys, it was seen that
they had spent their money in buying tools. Their
father was not a little moved at seeing this, and the
result was that more money was forthcoming for the
lads. But it all went the same way, and was spent in
the purchase of tools, with the exception of a few
pence invested in rye cakes.
More than one boy has on such an occasion remem-
bered his father's and mother's advice not to throw
money away on useless things, and has set out with the
magnanimous resolve of buying something useful. The
difference between them and the Nansen boys is this:
the latter not only made good resolutions, but carried
them out. It is the act that shows the spirit, and boys
who do such things are generally to be met with in
later days holding high and responsible positions.
Fridtjof was a diligent boy at school, especially at
first, and passed his middle school examination 1 success-
fully. He worked hard at the natural sciences, which
had a special attraction for him. But gradually, as he
rose higher in the classes, it was the case with him as
it is with others who are destined to perform something
exceptional in the world; that is, he preferred to fol-
low out his own ideas ideas that were not always in
accordance with the school plan. His burning thirst
after knowledge impelled him to devote his attention
to what lay nearest, and thoroughly to investigate what-
ever was most worthy of note, most wonderful, and most
difficult. High aspirations soon make themselves ap-
1 Middle school examination, passed on graduating from the grammar
school to the high school.
The mighty hidden forces of nature had a great
attraction for him. He and his friend Karl (who after
their fight were inseparable), when Fridtjof was about
fifteen, one day got hold of a lot of fireworks. These
they mixed up together in a mortar, adding to the com-
pound some "new kinds of fluid" they had bought for
their experiment. Nature, however, anticipated them,
for a spark happening to fall on the mixture, it burst
Our two experimentalists thereon seized hold of the
mortar and threw it out of the window. It fell on the
stones and broke into a thousand pieces, and thus they
gained the new experience, how a new chemical sub-
stance should not be compounded. The humorous whim,
however, seized them to blacken their hands and faces,
and to lie on the floor as if they were dead. And
when Alexander entered the room, they made him be-
lieve that the explosion had been the cause of it all.
Thus, though the experiment had failed, they got some
amusement out of its failure.
Although Fridtjof had so many interests outside his
actual school studies, he was very diligent in his school
work. In 1880 he took his real artium,1 with twenty-
one marks in twelve subjects. In natural science,
mathematics, and history he had the best marks, and
in the following examination in 1881 he gained the
distinction of passing laudabilis price ceteris.
1 Examen artium, the entrance examination to the university. For
real artium the chief topics of examination are sciences, mathematics,
and the English language. The best mark in any subject is 1 (excel-
lent), the poorest 6 (bad).
Though brought up at home very strictly, for his
father was extremely particular about the smallest mat-
ters, yet his life must have possessed great charm for
him, spent as it was in the peaceful quiet of his home
at Store Frien. If on the one hand his father insisted
that he should never shirk his duty, but should strictly
fulfil it, on the other he never denied him anything
that could afford him pleasure.
This is evident from a letter Fridtjof Nansen wrote
home during one of his first sojourns among strangers.
On writing to his father in 1883 he dwells on the
Christmas at home, terms it the highest ideal of hap-
piness and blessedness, dwells on the bright peaceful
reminiscences of his childhood and ends with the fol-
lowing description of a Christmas Eve: -
"At last the day dawned, Christmas Eve. Now
impatience was at its height. It was impossible to sit
still for one minute; it was absolutely necessary to be
doing something to get the time to pass, or to occupy
one's thoughts either by peeping through the keyhole
to try and catch a glimpse of the Christmas-tree with
its bags of raisins and almonds, or by rushing out-of-
doors and sliding down the hills on a hand-sleigh; or
if there were snow enough, we could go out on ski till
it was dark. Sometimes it would happen that Einar
had to go on an errand into the town, and it was so nice
to sit on the saddle at the back of the sleigh, while the
sleigh-bells tinkled so merrily, and the stars glittered
in the dark sky overhead.
The long-expected moment arrived at last, father
went in to light up. How my heart thumped and
throbbed! Ida was sitting in an armchair in a corner,
guessing what would fall to her share; others of the
party might be seen to smile in anticipation of some sur-
prise or other of which they had got an inkling when
all at once the doors were thrown wide open, and the
dazzling brilliancy of the lights on the Christmas-tree
well nigh blinded us. Oh, what a sight it was For
the first few minutes we were literally dumb from joy,
could scarcely draw our breath only a moment after-
ward to give free vent to our pent-up feelings, like
wild things. .Yes yes never shall I forget
them- never will those Christmas Eves fade from my
memory as long as I live."
Reminiscences of a good home, of a good and happy
childhood, are the very best things a man can take with
him amid the storms and struggles of life; and we may-
be sure of this, that on many a day that has been
beset with almost insurmountable difficulties, when his
powers were almost exhausted, and his heart feeling
faint within, the recollection of those early years at
Store Fr6en has more than once recurred to Nansen's
The peace and comfort of the old home, with all its
dear associations, the beloved faces of its inmates -
these have passed before his mind's eye, cheering him
on in the accomplishment of his last tremendous under-
YOUTHFUL EXCURSIONS.-STUDIES. -GOES ON A SEALING EXPEDITION
TO THE ARCTIC SEA.- HUNTS ICE-BEAR.
THERE is hardly a boy in Christiania or its neighbor-
hood who is fond of sport that does not know Nord-
marken, and you may hear many and many a one speak
of its lakes, the deafening roar of its cascades, of the
mysterious silence of its endless forest tracts, and the
refreshing odor of the pine-trees. You may hear, too,
how the speckled trout have been lured out of some
deep pool, the hare been hunted among the purple
mountain ridges, or the capercailzie approached with
noiseless footsteps when in early spring the cock bird
is wooing his mate; or again, of expeditions on ski
over the boundless tracts of snow in the crisp winter
air beneath the feathery snowladen trees of the forest.
In the days of Nansen's boyhood it was very differ-
ent from what it is now. Then the spell of enchant-
ment that ever lies over an unknown and unexplored
region brooded over it a feeling engendered by As-
bjbrnsen's1 well-known tales.
It was as if old Asbj6rnsen himself, the fairy-tale
king, was trudging along rod in hand by the side of
some hidden stream he who alone knew how to find
1 P. C. AsbjUrnsen (pron. Asbyurnsen) together with JSrgen (pron.
Yurgen) Moe collected the popular and fairy tales of Norway.
his way through the pathless forest to the dark waters
of some remote lake. And it was but once in a while
that the most venturesome lads, enticed by the tales he
had devoured in that favorite story-book, dared pry into
the secrets of that enchanted land. Only a few of the
rising generation then had the courage and the hardi-
hood to penetrate into those wilds whence they returned
with faces' beaming with joy, and with reinvigorated
health and strength. But now the whole Norwegian
youth do the same thing.
Among the few who in those days ventured there
were the Nansen boys. They had the pluck, the hardi-
ness, and yearning after adventure that Nordmarken
demanded. They were not afraid of lying out in the
forest during a pouring wet summer night, neither were
they particular as to whether they had to fast for a day
Fridtjof Nansen was about eleven years old when,
in company with his brother Alexander, he paid his
first, independent visit to it. Two of their friends
were living in Sirkedal,1 so they determined to go and
see them -for the forest looked so attractive that they
could not resist the temptation. For once they started
off without asking leave. They knew their way as far
as Bogstad,2 but after that had to ask the road to
S6rkedal. Arriving at their destination, they passed
the day in playing games, and in fishing in the river.
But it was not altogether an enjoyable visit, for con-
science pricked, and as they set out for home late in
1 S6rkedal, a valley about eight miles to the north of Christiania.
2 Bogstad, a baronial manor about five miles north of Christiania.
the evening, their hearts sank. Their father was a
strict disciplinarian, and a thrashing rose up before
them, and what was even worse than that, mother might
be grieved, and that was something they could not
endure to think of.
On reaching home they found its inmates had not
gone to bed, though it was late in the night. Of course
they had been searching for the truants, and their hearts,
which a moment before had been very low down, now
jumped up into their throats, for they could see mother
coming toward them.
"Is that you, boys ? she asked.
"Now for it," they thought.
Where have you been? asked their mother.
Yes, they had been to Sbrkedal, and they looked up
at her half afraid of what would happen next. Then
they saw that her eyes were filled with tears.
"You are strange boys! she murmured; and that
was all she said. But those words made the hearts of
the young culprits turn cold and hot by turns, and they
there and then registered a vow that they would never do
anything again to cause mother pain, but would always
try to please her a resolution they kept, as far as was
possible, their whole lives through.
Subsequently they had leave given them to go to
Sirkedal, and wherever else they wanted. But they
had to go on their own responsibility, and look out for
themselves as best they could. But Fridtjof never for-
got the lesson he had learned on that first expedition
to Nordmarken. Who can tell whether his mother's
tearful face, and her gentle words, You are strange
boys! have not appeared to him in wakeful hours, and
been the means of preventing many a venturesome deed
being rashly undertaken, many a headstrong idea from
This at all events is certain, Nansen when a man
always knew how to turn aside in a spirit of self-denial
when the boundary line between prudence and rashness
had been reached. And for this it may be safely said
he had to thank his father and mother.
Those who are in the habit of going about in forests
are pretty sure to meet with some wonderful old fellow
who knows where the best fish lie in the river, and the
favorite haunts of game in the woods. Such a one
was an old man named Ola Knub, whose acquaintance
Nansen made in the Nordmarken forest. His wife used
to come to Store Fr6en with baskets of huckleberries,
strawberries, cranberries, etc., and it was through her
Fridtjof got to know him. Often they would set off
on an expedition, rod in hand, and coffee kettle on
their back, and be away for days together. They would
fish for trout from early morning till late at night, sleep-
ing on a plank bed in some wood-cutter's hut, after par-
taking of a supper of trout broiled in the ashes, and
Toward the end of May, when the birch and the oak
began to bud, and the timber floats had gone down the
river, they would start on such an expedition, taking
with them a goodly supply of bread and butter, and
perhaps the stump of a sausage.
It took them generally quite five hours to reach their
destination, but once arrived there they would imme-
diately set to work with rod and line, and fish up to
midnight, when they would crawl into some charcoal-
burner's hut for a few hours' sleep, or as was often the
case, sleep out in the open, resting their backs against
a tree, and then at daybreak would be off again, to the
river. For time was precious, and they had to make the
best use they could of the hours between Saturday even-
ing and Monday morning, when they must be in school.
When autumn set in, and hare-hunting began, they
would often be on foot for twenty-four hours together
without any food at all. As the boys grew older, they
would follow the chase in winter on ski, often, indeed,
almost to the detriment of their health. Once when
they had been hare-hunting for a whole fortnight, they
found their provision-bag was empty, and as they would
not touch the hares they had killed, they had to sub-
sist as best they could on potatoes only.
In this way Fridtjof grew up to be exceptionally
hardy. When, as it often happened, his companions got
worn out, he would suggest their going to some spot
a long distance off. It seemed to be a special point
of honor with him to bid defiance to fatigue. On
one occasion, after one of these winter excursions to
Nordmarken, he set off alone without any provisions in
his knapsack to a place twenty-five kilometres (fifteen
and a half miles) distant, for none of his companions
dared accompany him. On arriving at the place where
he was bound, he almost ate its inmates out of house
On another occasion, on a long expedition on ski
with some of his comrades, all of whom had brought a
plentiful supply of food with them in their knapsacks,
Fridtjof had nothing. When they halted to take some
necessary refreshment, he unbuttoned his jacket and
pulled out some pancakes from his pocket, quite warm
from the heat of his body. "Here, you fellows," he
said, won't you have some pancakes ? But pancakes,
his friends thought, might be nice things in general, yet
pancakes kept hot in that way were not appetizing, and
so they refused his proffered hospitality.
You are a lot of geese there's jam on them too,"
he said, as he eagerly devoured the lot.
Even as a boy Fridtjof was impressed with the idea
that hardiness and powers of endurance were qualifica-
tions absolutely essential for the life he was bent on
leading; so he made it his great aim to be able to bear
everything, and to require as little as was possible.
If there were things others found impracticable, he
would at once set to work and attempt them. And
when once he had taken a matter in hand, he would
never rest till he had gone through with it, even
though his life might be at stake. For instance, he and
his brother once set out to climb the Svartdal's peak in
Jotunheim.1 People usually made the ascent from the
rear side of the mountain; but this was not difficult
enough for him. He would climb it from the front, a
route no one had ever attempted; and he did it.
Up under Svartdal's peak there was a glacier that
1 Jotunhein, the giant's world, a group of mountains in the centre
of southern Norway.
they must cross, bounded on its farther side by a pre-
cipice extending perpendicularly down into the valley
below. His brother relates, "I had turned giddy, so
Fridtjof let me have his staff. Then he set off over the
ice; but instead of going with the utmost caution, ad-
vancing foot by foot at a time, as he now would do, off
went my brother as hard as he could his foot slipped,
and he commenced to slide down the glacier. I saw that
he turned pale, for in a few seconds more he would be
hurled over the abyss, and be crushed to pieces on the
rocks below. He saw his danger, however, just in the
nick of time, and managed to arrest his progress by
digging his heels into the snow. Never shall I forget
that moment; neither shall I forget when we arrived at
the tourist's cabin how he borrowed a pair of trousers
belonging to the club's corpulent secretary -for they
completely swallowed him up. His own garment, be it
stated, had lost an essential part by the excessive friction
caused by his slide down the glacier."
Such were the foolhardy exploits Fridtjof would in-
dulge in as a boy; but when he arrived at manhood he
would never risk his life in any undertaking that was
not worth a life's venture.
When nineteen he entered the university, and in
the following year passed his second examination; 1 and
now arose the question what was he to be? As yet the
idea of the future career which has rendered his name
famous had not occurred to his mind, so we see him
1 Second examination, graduating as a bachelor of arts.
hesitating over which of the many roads that lay be-
fore him to adopt. He applied to have his name put
down for admission as cadet in the military school, but
quickly withdrew the application. Next he began the
study of medicine, after which all his time was devoted
to a special study of zoblogy. In 1882 he sought the
advice of Professor
Collet as to the
best method of
following up this
branch of science,
and the professor's
reply was that he
had better go on a .
to the Arctic seas.
Nansen took a
week to reflect on
this advice before ;II
finally deciding; I
and on March 11
we see him onboard .
the sealer Viking,
steering out of l,'::
Arendal harbour to
the Arctic ocean-- NANSEN AT NINETEEN.
the ocean that subsequently was to mark an epoch in
his life, and become the scene of his memorable ex-
It was with wondrously mixed feelings that he
turned his gaze toward the north as he stood on the
deck that March morning. Behind him lay the beloved
home of his childhood and youth. The first rays of
the rising sun were shining over the silent forests
whither the woodcock and other birds of passage would
soon be journeying from southern climes, and the caper-
cailzie beginning his amorous manceuvres on the sombre
pine tops, while the whole woodland would speedily be
flooded with the songs of its feathered denizens.
And there before him was the sea, the wondrous
sea, where he would behold wrecked vessels drifting
along in the raging tempest, with flocks of stormy
petrels in attendance and beyond, the Polar sea, that
fairy region, was pictured in his dreams. Yes, he could
see it in his spirit could see the mighty icebergs, with
their crests sparkling in the sunlight in thousands of
varied forms and hues, and between these the boundless
tracts of ice extending as far as the eye could reach in
one level unbroken plain. When this dream became
reality, how did he meet it?
Flat, drifting floes of ice, rocked up and down in
the blue-green sea, alike in sunshine and in fog, in
storm and calm. One monotonous infinity of ice to
struggle through, floe after floe rising up like white-
clad ghosts from the murky sea, gliding by with a
soughing, rippling murmur to vanish from sight, or to
dash against the ship's sides till masts and hull quiv-
ered; and then when morning broke, a faint, mysterious
light, a hollow murmur in the air, like the roar of dis-
tant surge, far away to the north.
This was the Arctic sea! this the drift ice They
were soon in the midst of it. The sea-gulls circled
about, and the snow-bunting whirled around the floes
of ice on which the new-fallen snow lay and glittered.
A gale set in; then it blew a hurricane; and the
Viking groaned like a wounded whale, quivering as
if in the agonies of death from the fierce blows on her
sides. At last they approached the scene of their ex-
ertions, and the excitement of the impending chase for
seals drove out every other feeling from the mind, and
every one was wondering were there many seals this
year? would the weather be propitious?"
One forenoon "a sail to leeward" was reported by
the man in the crow's-nest, and all hands were called
up on deck, every stitch of canvas spread, and all the
available steam-power used to overtake the stranger.
There were two ships; one of them being Norden-
skjild's famous Vega, now converted into a sealer. Nan-
sen took his hat off to her; and it may well be that this
strange encounter imbued his mind with a yearning to
accomplish some exploit of a similar perilous nature and
world-wide renown as that of the famed Vega expedi-
tion. It is a significant fact that the Vega was the
first ship Nansen met with in the Arctic sea a fact
that forces itself upon the mind with all the might
of a historic moment, with all the fateful force of des-
tiny. It addresses us like one of those many acciden-
tal occurrences that seem as if they had a purpose--
occurrences that every man who is on the alert and
mindful of his future career will meet once at least if
not oftener on his journey through life. Such things
are beyond our finite comprehension. Some people may
term them "the finger of God," others the new, higher,
unknown laws of nature; it may be these names sig-
nify but one and the same thing.
That year the Viking did not meet with great
success among the seals, for the season was rather too
advanced by the time she reached the sealing-grounds.
But all the more did Nansen get to learn about the
Arctic sea; and of the immense waste of waters of that
free, lonely ocean, his inmost being drank in refreshing
On May 2, Spitzbergen was sighted, and on the
25th they were off the coast of Iceland, where Nansen
for a while planted his foot once more on firm land.
But their stay there was short, and soon they were off
to sea again, and in among the seals. And now the
continual report of guns sounded all around; the crew
singing and shouting; flaying seals and boiling the
blubber--a life forsooth of busy activity.
Toward the end of June the Viking got frozen in
off the East Greenland coast, where she lay imprisoned
a whole month, unfortunately during the best of the
sealing season; a loss, indeed, to the owners, but a gain
for Nansen, who now for the first time in his life got
his full enjoyment in the chase of the polar bear.
During all these days of their imprisonment in the
ice there was one incessant chase after bears, looking
out for bears from the crow's-nest, racing after bears
over the ice, resulting in loss of life to a goodly number
of those huge denizens of the Polar regions.
Bear on the weather bow! "Bear to leeward!
all hands turn out! were the cries from morning till
night; and many a time did Nansen jump up from his
berth but half dressed, and away over the ice to get a
Toward evening one day in July Nansen was sitting
up in the crow's-nest, making a sketch of the Greenland
coast. On deck one of the crew, nicknamed Balloon,
was keeping watch, and just as our artist was engrossed
with his pencil, he heard Balloon shouting at the top
of his voice, "Bear ahead! In an instant Nansen
sprang up, threw his painting-materials down on the
deck below, quickly following the same himself down
the rigging. But alas by the time he had reached the
deck and seized his rifle, the bear had disappeared.
A pretty sort of fellow to sit up in the crow's-nest
and not see a bear squatting just in front of the bows! "
said the captain tauntingly.
But a day or two afterward Nansen fully retrieved
his reputation. It was his last bear-hunt on the expe-
dition, and this is what occurred: -
He and the captain and one of the sailors set out
after a monstrous bear. The beast, however, was shy,
and beat a speedy retreat. All three sprang after it.
But as Nansen was jumping over an open place in the
ice, he fell plump into the sea. His first thought on
finding himself in the water was his rifle, which he
flung upon the ice. But it slipped off again into the
water, so Nansen had to dive after it. Next time he
managed to throw it some distance across the ice, and
then clambered up himself, of course wet through to
the skin. But his cartridges, which were water-tight
ones, were all right, and soon he rejoined his compan-
ions in pursuit, and outstripped them. In a little while
he saw the bear making for a hummock, and made
straight for him; on coming up to closer quarters the
beast turned sharp round and dropped into the water,
but not before Nansen was able to put a bullet into him.
On reaching the edge of the ice, he could see no trace
of the animal. Yes there was something white yon-
der, a little below the surface, for the bear had dived.
Presently he saw the animal pop its head up just in
front of him, and a moment after its paws were on the
edge of the floe, on which, with a fierce and angry growl,
the huge beast managed to drag himself up. Nansen
now fired again, and had the satisfaction of seeing the
bear drop back dead into the water, where he had to
hold it by the ears to prevent it sinking, till his com-
panions came up, when they were able to haul it up on
The captain now bade Nansen return to the ship as
quickly as he could to change his clothes; but on his
road thither he met with some others of the crew in
pursuit of a couple of bears. The temptation was too
strong for him, so he joined them. He was fortunate
enough to shoot one of the bears that they had wounded,
and then started after bear number two, which was lei-
surely devouring the carcass of a seal some little dis-
tance off. On coming up with it he fired. The bear
reeled and fell backwards into the water, but speedily
coming up again, made off for a large hummock, under
cover of which it hoped to be able to sneak off.
But Nansen was not far behind. It was an exciting
chase. First over a wide space of open water, then
across some firm ice; the bear dashed along for dear
life, and now the iron muscles, hardened by his exploits
on the Huseby hills and his Nordmarken experiences,
stood his pursuer in good stead. Following on the
blood-stained track, he ran as fast as his legs could
carry him. Now the bear, now Nansen, seemed to be
getting the advantage. Whenever a broad opening in
the ice or a pool of clear water came in their way, they
swam across it; bear first, Nansen 'a good second -
and so it went on mile after mile. Presently, however,
Nansen thought his competitor in the race began to
slacken speed, and to turn and twist in his course, as,
if seeking for some friendly shelter; and coming up
within a reasonable distance he gave him two bullets,
one lodging in the chest, the other behind the ear, when
to his great joy the bear lay dead at his feet. Nansen
at once set to work to skin the brute with a penknife
-rather a tedious operation with such an instrument.
Presently one of the sailors came up, and off they started
for the ship with the skin, on their road meeting a man
whom the captain had thoughtfully despatched with a
supply of bread and meat, without which, indeed, as is
well known, a hero, especially when ravenously hungry,
is a nobody.
In all, nineteen bears were bagged during this time.
Soon after this bear-hunt the Viking set out for
home, and great was the joy of all on board when the
coast of old Norway," with its lofty mountain ridges,
was seen towering up over the sea. This expedition
of the Viking was termed by the sailors, "Nansen's
cruise," an exceptional reminiscence, a monolith in
the midst of the ice!
Ay, he was a chap after bears! said one of the
sailors afterward; "just as much under the water as
over it, when he was after bears. I told him that he
was going to injure his health that way; but he only
laughed, and pointing to his woollen jersey said, I
do not feel cold.' "
To Fridtjof Nansen this Arctic expedition became
the turning-point of his life. The dream of the mighty
ocean never left him; it was ever before his eyes with
all its inexplicable riddles.
Here was something to do something that people
called impossible. He would test it. Some years,
however, must elapse before that dream should become
reality. Nansen must first be a man. Everything that
tended to retard his progress must be removed or shat-
tered to pieces all that would promote it, improved
upon and set in order.
FRIDTJOF NANSEN ACCEPTS A POSITION IN THE BERGEN MUSEUM.-
CROSSES THE MOUNTAINS IN THE WINTER.-PREPARES HIMSELF
FOR THE DOCTOR'S DEGREE.
THE very same day that Nansen set foot on land
after his return from this expedition he was offered the
Conservatorship of the Bergen' Museum by Professor
Collett. Old Danielsen, the chief physician, a man of
iron capacity for work, and who had attained great re-
nown in his profession, wanted to place a new man in
charge. Nansen promptly accepted the offer, but asked
first to be allowed to visit a sister in Denmark. But a
telegram from Danielsen, Nansen must come at once,"
compelled him, though with no little regret, to give up
his projected visit.
The meeting of these two men was as if two clouds
heavily laden with electricity had come in contact, pro-
ducing a spark that blazed over the northern sky. That
spark resulted in the famous Greenland expedition.
Danielsen was one of those who held that a youth
possessed of health, strength, and good abilities should
be able to unravel almost anything and everything in
this world, and in Fridtjof Nansen he found such an
one. So these two worked together assiduously; for
1 Bergen, the metropolis of western Norway, the second largest city
both were alike enthusiastic in the cause of science,
both possessed the same strong faith in its advance-
ment. And Danielsen, the clear-headed scientist, after
being associated with his colleague for some few years,
entertained such firm confidence in his powers and ca-
pabilities, that a short time before the expedition to the
North Pole set out, he wrote in a letter: -
Fridtjof Nansen will as surely return crowned with
success from the North Pole as it is I who am writing
these lines such is an old man's prophecy! "
The old scientist, who felt his end was drawing near,
sent him before his death an anticipatory letter of greet-
ing when the expedition should happily be over.
Nansen devoted himself to the study of science with
the same indomitable energy that characterized all of
Hour by hour he would sit over his microscope,
month after month devote himself to the pursuit of
knowledge. Yet every now and then, when he felt he
must go out to get some fresh air, he would buckle on
his ski, and dash along over the mountain or through
the forest till the snow spurted up in clouds behind
him. Thus he spent several years in Bergen.
But one fine day, chancing to read in the papers that
Nordenskj6ld had returned from his expedition to Green-
land, and had said that the interior of the country was
a boundless plain of ice and snow, it flashed on his mind
that here was a field of work for him. Yes he would
cross Greenland on ski! and he at once set to work to
prepare a plan for the expedition. But such an adven-
turous task, in which life would be at stake, must not
be undertaken till he himself had become a proficient
in that branch of science which he had selected as his
special study. So lie remains yet some more years in
Bergen, after which he spends twelve months in Naples,
working hard at the subjects in which he subsequently
took his doctor's degree in 1888.
Those years of expectation in Bergen were busy
years. Every now and then he would become home-
sick. In winter time lie would go by the railway from
Bergen to Voss,' thence on ski over the mountains to
Christiania, down the Stalheim road,i with its sinuous
twists and bends, on through Neridal, noted for its
earth slips, on by the swift Lerdals river fretting and
fuming on one side, and a perpendicular mountain wall
on the other. And here he would sit to rest in that
narrow gorge where avalanches are of constant occur-
rence. Let them come he must rest awhile and eat.
A solitary wayfarer hurries by on his sleigh as fast as
his horse will go. Take care r shouts the traveller as
he passes by; and Nansen looks up, gathers his things
together, and proceeds on his journey through the
valley. It was Sauekilen, the most dangerous spot in
Lerdals, where he was resting. Then the night falls,
the moon shines brightly overhead, and the creaking
sound of his footsteps follows him over the desert
waste, and his dark-blue shadow stays close beside him.
And he, the man possessed of ineffable pride and indom-
1 Voss, a country district of western Norway, connected with Bergen
by railway. Stalheim road, a piece of road winding in a slow decline
down a steep hill, famous for the beauty of its scenery and the engineer-
ing skill with which it has been built. NserUdal and Lerdals river must
be passed on the way from Bergen to Christiania.
itable resolution, feels how utterly insignificant he is in
that lonely wilderness of snow -naught but an insect
under the powerful microscope of the starlit sky, for
the far-seeing eye of the Almighty is piercing through
his inmost soul. Here it avails not to seek to hide
aught from that gaze. So he pours out his thoughts to
Him who alone has the right to search them. That mid-
night pilgrimage over the snowy waste was like a divine
service on ski; and it was as an invigorated man, weary
though he was in body, that he knocked at the door
of a peasant's cabin, while its astonished inmates looked
out in amazement, and the old housewife cried out,
" Nay! in Jesus' name, are there folk on the fjeld 1 so
late in the night? Nay! is it you? Suppose you are
always so late on the road "
Even still more arduous was the return journey that
same winter. The people in the last house on the east-
ern side of the mountain, in bidding him God speed,"
entreat him to go cautiously, for the road over the fjeld
is well nigh impassable in winter, they say. Not a man
in the whole district would follow him, they add. Nan-
sen promises them to be very careful, as he sets off in
the moonlight at three o'clock in the morning. Soon he
reaches the wild desert, and the glittering snow blushes
like a golden sea in the beams of the rising sun. Pres-
ently he reaches Myrstilen.2 The houseman is away
from home, and the women-folk moan and weep on
learning the road he means to take. On resuming his
1 Fjeld (pron. fyell), mountain.
2 Myrstolen, the last house on the eastern side of the mountain
inhabited the whole year through.
journey he shortly comes to a cross-road. Shall it be
Aurland or Vosse skavlen ? 1 He chooses the latter
route across the snow plateau, for it is the path the wild
reindeer follow. On he skims over the crisp surface
enveloped in the cloud of snow-dust his ski stir up, for
the wind is behind him. But now he loses his way,
falls down among the clefts and fissures, toils along step
by step, and at last has to turn back and retrace his
steps. There ought to be a sater2 somewhere about
there, but it seems as if it had been spirited away. A
pitchy darkness sets in; for the stars have disappeared
-one by one, and the night is of a coal-black hue, and
Fridtjof has to make his bed on the snow-covered pla-
teau, under the protecting shelter of a bowlder, his faith-
ful dog by his side, his knapsack for a pillow, while the
night wind howls over the waste.
Again, at three in the morning, he resumes his jour-
ney, only again to lose his way, and burying himself
in the snow, determines to wait for daybreak. Dawn
came over the mountain-tops in a sea of rosy light,
while the dark shadows of night fled to their hiding-
places in the deep valleys below-a proclamation of
eternity, where nature was the preacher and nature the
listener, the voice of God speaking to himself.
At broad daylight he sees Vosse skavlen close at hand,
and thither he drags his weary, stiffened limbs; but
on reaching the summit he drinks "skaal3 to the fjeld,"
1 Aurland and Vosse skavlen, alternative routes across the mountains
from Christiania to Bergen.
2 Seter, mountain hut, used by graziers during the summer months.
3 Skaal, your health.
a frozen orange, the last he has, being his beverage.
Before the sun sets again, Fridtjof has crossed that
mountain height, as King Sverre1 did of yore an
achievement performed by those two alone!
Fridtjof Nansen's father died in 1885, and it was
largely consideration for his aged parent's failing health
during the last few years that delayed Nansen's set-
ting out on his Greenland expedition. The letters that
passed between father and son during this period strik-
ingly evince the tender relationship existing between
them. On receipt of the tidings of his father's last ill-
ness he hurried off at a moment's notice, never resting
on his long homeward journey, inexpressibly grieved at
arriving too late to see him alive.
Then, after a year's sojourn in Naples, where he met
the genial and energetic Professor Dohrn, the founder of
the biological station 2 in that city, having no further
ties to hinder him, he enters heart and soul into the
tasks he has set himself to accomplish, -to take his de-
gree as doctor of philosophy, and to make preparation
for his expedition to Greenland, both of which tasks he
accomplished in the same year with credit. For he not
only made himself a name as a profound researcher in
the realms of science, but at the same time equipped
an expedition that was soon destined to excite univer-
sal attention, not in the north alone, but throughout the
length and breadth of Europe.
1 King Sverre, King of Norway 1177 to 1202.
2 An institution where animal life is studied.
NANSEN MEETS NORDENSKJULD.1 PREPARATIONS FOR THE GREEN-
LAND EXPEDITION. NANSEN'S FOLLOWERS ON THE EXPEDITION.
STARTING ON THE EXPEDITION. DRIFTING ON AN ICE-FLOE.
LANDING ON EAST COAST OF GREENLAND.
NANSEN had an arduous task before him in the
spring of 1888, one that demanded all his strength and
energy; for he would take his doctor's degree, and make
preparations for his expedition to Greenland.
He had already, in the autumn of 1887, made up his
mind to accomplish both these things. In November of
that year, accordingly, he went to Stockholm to confer
with Nordenskjild. Professor Brigger, who introduced
him to that gentleman, gives the following account of
the interview: -
On Thursday, Nov. 3, as I was sitting in my study
in the Mineralogical Institute, my messenger came in
and said a Norwegian had been inquiring for me. He
had left no card, neither had he given his name. Doubt-
less, I thought, it was some one who wanted help out of
"' What was he like?' I inquired.
"'Tall and fair,' replied the messenger.
"' Was he dressed decently?' I asked.
1 NordenskjOld (pron. Nordenshuld), famous Swedish explorer, dis-
coverer of the North-east Passage.
"' He hadn't an overcoat on.' This with a signifi-
cant smile, as he added, Looked for all the world like
a seafaring man -or a tramp.'
"' Humph I muttered to myself; sailor with no
overcoat! Very likely thinks I'm going to give him
one- yes, I think I understand.'
"Later on in the afternoon Wille came in. Have
you seen Nansen? he said.
'Nansen? I replied. 'Was that sailor fellow
without an overcoat Nansen?'
"'Without an overcoat! Why, he means to cross
over the inland ice of Greenland;' and out went Wille
- he was in a hurry.
"Presently entered Professor Lecke with the same
question, Have you seen Nansen? Isn't he a fine
fellow? such a lot of interesting discoveries he told me
of, and then his researches into the nervous'system a
grand fellow! and off went Lecke.
"But before long the man himself entered the room.
Tall, upright, broad-shouldered, strongly built, though
slim and very youthful looking, with his shock of hair
brushed off his well-developed forehead. Coming to-
ward me and holding out his hand, he introduced
himself by name, while a pleasing smile played over
"'And you mean to cross over Greenland?' I asked.
"'Yes; I've been thinking of it,' was the reply.
"I looked him in the face, as he stood before me with
an air of conscious self-reliance about him. With every
SWille, another Norwegian, who at that time was professor at the
High School in Stockholm.
word he spoke he seemed to grow on me; and this plan
of his to cross over Greenland on ski from the east
coast, which but a moment ago I had looked on as a
madman's idea, during our conversation gradually grew
on me, till it seemed to be the most natural thing in
the world; and all at once it flashed on my mind, And
he'll do it, too, as sure as ever we are sitting here talk-
ing about it.'
"He, whose name but two hours ago I had not
known, became in those few minutes (and it all came
about so naturally) as if he were an old acquaintance,
and I felt I should be proud and fortunate indeed to
have him for my friend my whole life through.
"'We will go and see Nordenskjild at once,' I said,
rising up. And we went.
"With his strange attire,- he was dressed in a
tight-fitting, dark-blue blouse or coatee, a kind of
knitted jacket, -he was, as may be supposed, stared
at in Drottning-gatan. Some people, indeed, took him
for an acrobat or tight-rope dancer."
Nordenskj6ld, "old Nor" as he was often termed,
was in his laboratory, and looked up sharply as his
two visitors entered the room, for he was, as ever,
The professor saluted, and introduced his compan-
ion, "Conservator Nansen from Bergen, who purposes
to cross over the inland ice of Greenland."
The deuce he does !" muttered "old Nor," staring
with all his eyes at the fair-haired young viking.
"And would like to confer with you about it," con-
tinued the professor.
Quite welcome; and so Herr Nansen thinks of
crossing over Greenland?"
"Yes; such was his intention." Thereon, without
further ado, he sketched out his projected plan, to which
"old Nor" listened with great attention, shaking his
head every now and then, as if rather sceptical about
it, but evidently getting more and more interested as he
As Nansen and Professor Br6gger were sitting in the
latter's house that evening, a knock was heard at the
door, and who should come in but "old Nor" himself-
a convincing proof to BrBgger that the old man enter-
tained a favorable idea of the proposed plan. And
many a valuable hint did the young ice-bear get from
the old one, as they sat opposite each other the man
of the past and the coming man of the present quietly
conversing together that evening.
Now Nansen sets off for home in order to prepare
for the arduous task of the ensuing spring. In Decem-
ber, 1887, he is in Bergen again, and at the end of Jan-
uary he travels on ski from Hardanger to Kongsberg,
thence by rail to Christiania.
In March we see him once more in Bergen, giving
lectures in order to awaken public interest in Green-
land; now sleeping out on the top of Blaamand,' a
mountain near Bergen, in a sleeping-bag, to test its
efficiency; now standing on the cathedra in the uni-
versity auditorium to claim his right to the degree of
doctor of philosophy, which on April 28 was honor-
ably awarded him; and on May 2 he sets out for Copen-
1 Blaamand (pron. Blohmann).
hagen, en route for Greenland. For unhappily it was
the case in Norway in 1888 that Norwegian exploits
must be carried out with Danish help. In vain had he
sought for assistance from the regents of the university.
They recommended the matter to the government, but
the government had no 5,000 kroner1 (nearly 278) to
throw away on such an enterprise, the enterprise of a
madman, as most people termed it.
Yet when that enterprise had been carried to a suc-
cessful issue, and that same lunatic had become a great
man and asked the government and the storthing2 for a
grant of 200,000 kroner (nearly 11,112) for his second
mad expedition, his request was promptly granted. A
new Norway had grown up meanwhile, a new national
spirit had forced its way into existence, a living testi-
mony to the power of the Nansen expedition.
As stated above, Nansen had to go to Denmark for
the 5,000 kroner; and it was the wealthy merchant,
Augustin Gamel, who placed that amount at his dis-
posal. Still, certain is it, had not that sum of money
been forthcoming as it was, Fridtjof Nansen would have
plucked himself bare to the last feather in order to
carry out his undertaking.
But what was there to be gained from an expedition
to Greenland worth the risking of human life,- for a
life-risk it unquestionably would be, -to say nothing
of the cost thereof ? What was there to be learned from
the ice ?
The question is soon answered.
1 One krone (crown) equals Is. ld..
2 Storthing, the legislative assembly (congress) of Norway.
The island of Greenland, -for it is now well ascer-
tained that it is an island, and that the largest in the
world, this Sahara of the North, contains within its
ice-plains the key to the history of the human race.
For it is the largest homogeneous relic we possess of
the glacial age. Such as Greenland now is, so large
tracts of the world have been; and, what is of more in-
terest to us, so has the whole of the north been. It is
this mighty ice-realm that has caused a large proportion
of the earth's surface to assume its present appearance.
The lowlands of Mid-Germany and Denmark have been
scoured and transported thither from the rocks of Nor-
way and Sweden. The Swedish rock at Liitzen in Sax-
ony is Swedish granite that the ice has carried with it.
And the small glaciers still left in Norway, such as
the Folgefond, Jostedalsbra, Svartis,1 etc., are merely
"calves" of that ancient, stupendous mass of ice that
time and heat have transported, even though it once
lay more than a thousand metres in thickness over
widely extended plains.
To investigate, therefore, the inland ice of Greenland
is, in a word, to investigate the great glacial age; and
one may learn from such a study many a lesson ex-
planatory of our earth's appearance at the present day,
and ascertain what could exist, and what could not,
under such conditions.
We know now that, during the glacial age, human
beings lived on this earth, even close up to this gigantic
glacier, that subsequently destroyed all life on its course.
It may be safely asserted that the struggle with the
1 Folgefond, ,ostedalsbrx, Svartisen, glaciers in Norway.
ice, and with the variations of climate, have been im-
portant factors in making the human race what it will
eventually be, the lords of nature.
The Esquimaux in their deerskin dress, the abo-
rigines of Australia, the pigmy tribes of Africa's pri-
meval forests, are a living testimony of the tenacious
powers of the soul and body of mankind, civilization's
trusty outposts. An Esquimau living on blubber under
fifty degrees of cold is just as much a man of achieve-
ment in this work-a-day world as an Edison, who, with
every comfort at his disposal, forces nature to disclose
her hidden marvels. But he who, born in the midst
of civilization, and who forces his way to an outpost
farther advanced than any mankind has yet attained,
is greater, perhaps, than either, especially when in his
struggle for existence he wrests from nature her inmost
This was the kernel of Nansen's exploits -his first
and his last.
Nansen was fully alive to the fact that his enterprise
would involve human life; and he formed his plans in
such wise that he would either attain his object or
perish in the attempt. He would make the dangerous,
uninhabited coast of East Greenland his starting-point
as one which presented no enticement for retracing his
steps. He would force his way onward. The instinct
of self-preservation should impel him toward the west
-the greater his advance in that direction the greater
his hopes. Behind him naught but death; before him,
But he must have followers! Where were men to
be found to risk their lives on such a venture ? to form
one of a madman's retinue? And not only that, he
must have men with him who, like himself, were well
versed in all manly sports, especially in running on ski;
men hard as iron, as he was; men who, like himself,
were unencumbered with family ties. Where were such
to be found? He sought long and diligently, and he
There was a man named Sverdrup Otto Sverdrup.
Yes, we all of us know him now! But then he was
an unknown Nordland youth, inured to hardship on sea
and land, an excellent sailor, a skilful ski-runner, firm
of purpose; one to whom fatigue was a stranger, physi-
cally strong and able in emergency, unyielding as a
rod of iron, firm as a rock. A man chary of words in
fine weather, but eloquent in storm; possessed, too, of
a courage that lay so deep that it needed almost a
peril involving life to arouse it. Yet, when the pinch
came Sverdrup was in his element. Then would his
light blue eyes assume a darker hue, and a smile creep
over his hard-set features; then he would resemble a
hawk that sits on a perch with ruffled feathers, bidding
defiance to every one who approaches it, but which,
when danger draws nigh, flaps its pinions, and soars
aloft in ever widening circles, increasing with the force
of the tempest, borne along by the storm.
This man accompanied him.
Number two was Lieutenant, now Captain, Olaf Die-
trichson. He, too, hailed from the north. A man who
loved a life in the open air, a master in all manly ex-
ploits, elastic as a steel spring, a proficient on ski, and
a sportsman in heart and soul. And added to this, a
man possessed of great knowledge in those matters
especially that were needed in an expedition like the
present. He, too, was enrolled among the number.
Number three was also from Nordland, from Sver-
drup's neighborhood, who recommended him. His name
was Kristian Kristiansen Trana -a handy and reliable
These three were all Nordlanders. But Nansen had
a great desire to have a couple of Fjeld-Finns with him,
for he considered that, inured as they were to ice and
snow, their presence would be of great service to him.
They came from Karasjok.1 The one a fine young fel-
low, more Qvaen 2 than Lapp; the other a little squalid-
looking, dark-haired, pink-eyed Fjeld-Finn. The name
of the first was Balto; of the other, Ravna. These
two children of the mountains came to Christiania look-
ing dreadfully perplexed, with little of the heroic about
them. For they had agreed to accompany the expe-
dition principally for the sake of the good pay, and now
learned for the first time that their lives might be en-
dangered. Nansen, however, managed to instil a little
confidence into them, and as was subsequently proved,
they turned out to be useful and reliable members of
1 Karasiok (pron. Karashok), one of the northernmost districts of
Norway, chiefly inhabited by Lapps.
2 Qvan, the Norwegian name for a man of the race inhabiting the
grand duchy of Finland. The Lapps are in Norway called Finns.
the expedition. Old Ravna, who was forty-five, was
a married man,-a fact Nansen did not know when
he engaged him, and was possessed of great physical
strength and powers of endurance.
Nansen now had the lives of five persons beside his
own on his conscience. He would, therefore, make his
equipment in such manner that he should have nothing
to reproach himself with in case anything went wrong,
a work that he conscientiously and carefully carried
put. There was not a single article or implement that
was not scientifically and practically discussed and
tested, measured and weighed, before they set out.
Hand-sleighs and ski, boats and tent, cooking-utensils,
sleeping-bags, shoes and clothes, food and drink, all
were of the best kind; plenty of everything, but noth-
ing superfluous light, yet strong, nourishing and
strengthening. Everything, in fact, was well thought
over, and as was subsequently proved, the mistakes
that did occur were few and trifling.
Nansen made most of the implements with his own
hands, and nothing came to pieces during the whole
expedition saving a boat plank that was crushed by the
But one thing Nansen omitted to take with him, and
that was a supply of spirituous liquor. It did not exist
in his dictionary of sport. For he had long entertained
the opinion an opinion very generally held by the
youth of Norway at the present day -that strong drink
is a foe to manly exploit, sapping and undermining
man's physical and mental powers. In former days,
indeed, in Norway, as elsewhere, it was considered
manly to drink, but now the drinker is looked down on
with a pity akin to contempt.
Thus equipped, these six venturesome men set out
on their way; first by steamer to Iceland, thence by the
Jason, a sealer, Captain Jacobsen its commander, who,
as opportunity should offer, was to set them ashore on
the east coast of Greenland. And here, after struggling
for a month with the ice, they finally arrived, on July
19, so near to the Sermilik Fjord that Nansen deter-
mined to leave the Jason and make his way across the
ice to land. The whole ship's crew were on deck to
bid them farewell. Nansen was in command of one of
the two boats, and when he gave the word "set off,"
they shot off from the ship's side, while the Jason's two
guns and a spontaneous hurrah from sixty-four stalwart
sailors' throats resounded far and wide over the sea.
As the boats worked their way into the ice, the Jason
changed her course, and ere long our six travellers
watched the Norwegian flag, waving like a distant
tongue of fire, gradually fade from sight and disappear
among the mist and fog.
These six men set out on their arduous journey
with all the indomitable fearlessness and disregard of
danger that youth inspires, qualifications that would
speedily be called into requisition.
Before many hours of toiling in the ice, the rain
came down in torrents, and the current drove them
with irresistible force away from the land, while ice-
floes kept striking against their boats' sides, threatening
to crush or capsize them. A plank, indeed, in Nan-
sen's boat was broken by the concussion, and had to
be instantly repaired, the rain meanwhile pouring down
a perfect deluge. They determined, therefore, to drag
the boats upon an ice-floe, and to pitch their tent on it;
and having done this they got into their sleeping-bags,
the deafening war of the raging storm in their ears.
The two Fjeld-Lapps, however, thinking their end was
CAMP ON THE DRIFT-ICE.
drawing near, sat with a dejected air gazing in silence
out over the sea.
Far away in the distance the roar of the surge dash-
ing against the edge of the ice could be heard, while
the steadily increasing swell portended an approaching
Next morning, July 20, Nansen was awakened by a
violent concussion. The ice-floe on which they were
was rent asunder, and the current was rapidly drifting
them out toward the open sea. The roar of the surge
increased; the waves broke over the ice-floe on all
sides. Balto and Ravna lay crouching beneath a tar-
paulin reading the New Testament in Lappish, while
the tears trickled down their cheeks; but out on the
floe Dietrichson and Kristiansen were making jokes as
every fresh wave dashed over them. Sverdrup was
standing with hands folded behind his back, chewing
his quid, his eyes directed towards the sea, as if in
They are but a few hundred metres distant from the
open sea, and soon will have to take to the boats, or
be washed off the floe. The swell is so heavy that the
floe ducks up and down like a boat in the trough of the
sea. So the order is given, "All hands turn in," for all
their strength will be needed in the fierce struggle they
will shortly have to encounter. So they sleep on the
very brink of death, the roar of the storm their lullaby
- Ravna and Balto in one of the boats, Nansen and
the others in the tent, where the water pours in and out.
But there is one outside, on the floe. It is his
watch. Hour by hour he walks up and down, his
hands behind his back. It is Sverdrup. Every now
and then he stands still, turns his sharp, thin face with
the sea-blue eyes towards the breakers, and then once
more resumes his walk.
The storm is raging outside, and the surge is dash-
ing over the ice. He goes to the boat where Ravna
and Balto lie sleeping, and lays hold of it, lest it should
be swept away by the backwash. Then he goes to the
tent, undoes a hook, and again stands gazing over
the sea; then turns round, and resumes his walk as
Their floe is now at the extreme edge of the ice,
close to the open sea. A huge crag of ice rises up like
some white-clad threatening monster, and the surf dashes
furiously over the floe. Again the man on the watch
arrests his steps; he undoes another hook in the tent.
Matters are at their worst! He must arouse his com-
rades He is about to do so when he turns once more
and gazes seaward. He becomes aware of a new and
strange motion in the floe beneath him. Its course is
suddenly changed; it is speeding swiftly away from
the open sea inward, ever inward toward calm water,
toward life, toward safety. And as that bronze-faced
man stands there, a strange and serious look passes
over his features. For that has occurred, that won-
drous thing that he and many another sailor has often
experienced, salvation from death without the media-
tion of human agency. That moment was for him what
the stormy night on the Hardanger waste was to Nan-
sen. It was like divine service! It was as if some in-
visible hand had steered the floe, he said afterwards to
Nansen. So he rolled his quid round into the other
cheek, stuck his hands in his pockets; and hour after
hour, till late in the morning, the steps of that iron-
hearted man on the watch might be heard pacing to
When Nansen awoke, the floe was in safe shelter.
Still for another week they kept drifting south-
ward, the glaciers and mountain ridges one after another
disappearing from view a weary, comfortless time.
Then, toward midnight on July 28, when it was Sver-
drup's watch again, he thought he could hear the sound
of breakers in the west. What it was he could not
rightly make out; he thought, perhaps, his senses de-
ceived him; for, at other times, the sound had always
come from the east where the sea was. But next morn-
ing, when it was Ravna's watch, Nansen was awakened
by seeing the Finn's grimy face peering at him through
an opening in the tent.
Now, Ravna, what is it? can you see land? he
asked at a venture.
Yes yes land too close !" croaked Ravna, as he
drew his head back.
Nansen sprang out of the tent. Yes, there was the
land, but a short distance off; and the ice was loose so
that a way could easily be forced through it. In a
twinkling all hands were busy; and a few hours later
Nansen planted his foot on the firm land of Greenland.
JOURNEY ACROSS GREENLAND.--MEETING ESQUIMAUX.-REACHING
THE WEST COAST.-RETURN TO CIVILIZATION AND HOME.
WHEN Nansen and his companions, after their per-
ilous adventures in the drift-ice, landed with flags flying
on their boats on the east waste of Greenland, the first
thing they did was to give vent to their feelings in a
ringing hurrah-a sound which those wild and barren
crags had never re-echoed before. Their joy, indeed, on
feeling firm ground beneath their feet once more baffles
description. In a word, they conducted themselves like
a pack of schoolboys, singing, laughing, and playing all
manner of pranks. The Lapps, however, did not par-
take in the general merriment, but took themselves off
up the mountain-side, where they remained several
But when their first ebullition of joy had somewhat
subsided, Nansen himself followed the example of the
Lapps, and clambered up the slope in order to get a
good view over the landscape, leaving the others to pre-
pare the banquet they determined to indulge in that
evening on the sea-beach. And here he remained some
little while, entranced with the wondrous beauty of the
scene. The sea and the ice stretched far away to the
east, shining like a belt of silver beneath him, while on
the west the mountain-tops were bathed in a flood of
hazy sunshine, and the inland ice, the "Sahara of the
North," extended in a level unbroken plain for miles
and miles into the interior.
A snow bunting perched on a stone close by him,
and chirped a welcome; a mosquito came humming
through the air to greet the stranger, and settled on his
hand. He would not disturb it; it was a welcome
from home. It wanted his blood, and he let it take its
fill. To the south the grand outline of Cape Torden-
skjold rose up in the horizon, its name and form re-
calling his country to his mind; and there arose in his
breast an earnest desire, a deep longing, to sacrifice
anything and everything for his beloved "Old Nor-
On rejoining his comrades, the feast was ready. It
consisted of oatmeal biscuits, Gruybre cheese, whortle-
berry jam, and chocolate; and there is little doubt that
these six adventurers "ate as one eats in the spring-
time of youth." For it had been unanimously resolved
that, for this one day at least, they would enjoy them-
selves to the full; on the morrow their daily fare would
be, to eat little, sleep little, and work as hard as possible.
To-day, then, should be the first and the last of such in-
dulgence. Time was precious!
On the next day, therefore, they resumed their
northward journey, along the east coast, fighting their
way day and night, inch by inch, foot by foot, through
the drift-ice; at times in peril, at others in safety;
past Cape Adelaer, past Cape Garde, ever forward in
one incessant, monotonous struggle. And now they
approached the ill-omened Puisortok, of which Esqui-
maux and European seafarers had many an evil tale to
tell. There, it was said, masses of ice would either shoot
up suddenly from beneath the surface of the water, and.
crush any vessel that ventured near, or would fall down
from the overhanging height, and overwhelm it. Ther-
not a word must be spoken! there must be no laughing,
no eating, no smoking, if one would pass it in safety!
Above all, the fatal name of Puisortok must not pass
the lips, else the glacier would be angry, and certain
Nansen, however, it may be said, did not observe
these regulations, and yet managed to pass it in safety.
In his opinion there was nothing very remarkable or
terrible about it.
But something else took place at Puisortok that sur-
prised him and his companions.
On July 30, as they were preparing their midday
meal, Nansen heard, amid the shrill cries of the sea-
birds, a strange weird sound. What it could be he
could not conceive. It resembled the cry of a loon
more than anything else, and kept coming nearer and
nearer. Through his telescope, however, he discerned
two dark specks among the ice-floes, now close to-
gether, now a little apart, making straight for them.
They were human beings evidently human beings in
the midst of that desert region of ice, which they had
thought to be a barren, uninhabited waste. Balto, too,
watched their approach attentively, with a half aston-
ished, half uneasy look, for he believed them to be
On came the strangers, one of them bending forward
in his kayak 1 as if bowing in salutation; and, on com-
ing alongside the rock, they crawled out of their ka-
yaks and stood before Nansen and his companions with
bare heads, dressed in jackets and trousers of seal-skin,
smiling, and making all manner of friendly gestures.
They were Esquimaux, and had glass beads in their
jet-black hair. Their skin was of a chestnut hue,
and their movements, if not altogether graceful, were
On coming up to our travellers they began to ask
questions in a strange language, which, needless to say,
was perfectly unintelligible. Nansen, indeed, tried to
talk to them in Esquimau from a conversation book
in that tongue he had with him, but it was perfectly
useless. And it was not till both parties had recourse
to the language of signs that Nansen was able to ascer-
tain that they belonged to an Esquimau encampment
to the north of Puisortok.
These two Esquimaux were good-natured looking
little beings; and now they began to examine the equip-
ments of the travellers, and taste their food, with which
they seemed beyond measure pleased, expressing their
admiration at all they saw by a long-drawn kind of
bovine bellow. Finally they took leave, and set off
northward in their kayaks which they managed with
wonderful dexterity, and soon disappeared from sight.
At six the same evening our travellers followed in
the same direction, and in a short time reached the Es-
luimau encampment at Cape Bille. Long, however,
1 Kayak, small and light boat, chiefly made of sealskin, used by
the natives of Greenland.
before their eyes could detect any signs of tents or of
human beings, their sense of smell became aware of a
rank odor of train-oil, accompanied by a sound of voices;
and they presently saw numbers of Esquimaux stand-
ing on the sea-beach, and on the rocks, earnestly watch-
ing the approach of the strangers.
It was a picturesque sight that presented itself to
the eyes of our travellers.
All about the ledges of the rocks," writes Nansen,
"stood long rows of strangely wild, shaggy looking crea-
tures, men, women and children all dressed in much
the same scanty attire, staring and pointing at us, and
uttering the same cowlike sound we had heard in the
forenoon. It was just as if a whole herd of cows were
lowing one against another, as when the cowhouse door
is opened in the morning to admit the expected fod-
They were all smiling, a smile indeed, is the only
welcoming salute of the Esquimaux, -all eager to help
Nansen and his companions ashore, chattering away in-
cessantly in their own tongue, like a saucepan boiling
and bubbling over with words, not one of which, alas,
could Nansen or his companions understand.
Presently Nansen was invited to enter one of their
tents, in which was an odor of such a remarkable na-
ture, such a blending of several ingredients, that a de-
scription thereof is impossible. It was the smell, as it
were, of a mixture of train-oil, human exhalations, and
the effluvium of fetid liquids all intimately mixed up to-
gether; while men and women, lying on the floor round
the fire, children rolling about everywhere, dogs sniff-
ing all around, helped to make up a scene that was de-
All of the occupants were of a brownish-greyish hue,
due mostly to the non-application of soap and water,
and were swarming with vermin. All of them were
EAST GREENLAND ESQUIMAUX.
shiny with train-oil, plump, laughing, chattering crea-
tures-in a word, presenting a picture of primitive
social life, in all its original blessedness.
Nansen does not consider the Esquimaux, crosseyed
and flat-featured though they be, as by any means re-
pulsive looking. The nose he describes, in the case of
children, "as a depression in the middle of the face,"
the reverse ideal, indeed, of a European nose.
On the whole he considers their plump, rounded
forms to have a genial appearance about them, and
that the seal is the Esquimau prototype.
The hospitality of these children of nature was
boundless. They would give away all they possessed,
even to the shirt on their backs, had they possessed such
an article; and certainly showed extreme gratitude
when their liberality was reciprocated, evidently pla-
cing a high value on empty biscuit-tins, for each time
any of them got one presented to him he would at once
bellow forth his joy at the gift.
But what especially seemed to attract their interest
was when Nansen and his companions began to undress,
before turning in for the night into their sleeping-bags;
while to watch them creep out of the same the next
morning afforded them no less interest. They enter-
tained, however, a great dread of the camera, for every
time Nansen turned its dark glass eye upon them, a
regular stampede would take place.
Next day Nansen and the Esquimaux parted com-
pany, some of the latter proceeding on their way to the
south, others accompanying him on his journey north-
ward. The leavetaking between the Esquimaux was
peculiar, 'being celebrated by cramming their nostrils
full of snuff from each other's snuff-horns. Snuff in-
deed is the only benefit, or the reverse, it seems the
Esquimaux have derived from European civilization up
to date; and is such a favourite, one might say neces-
sary, article with them that they will go on a shopping
expedition to the south to procure it, a journey that
often takes them four years to accomplish!
The journey northward was an extremely fatiguing
one, for they encountered such stormy weather that
their boats more than once narrowly escaped being
nipped in the ice. As a set-off, however, to this, the
scenery proved to be magnificent, the floating moun-
tains of ice resembling enchanted castles, and all nature
was on a stupendous scale. Finally they reached a har-
bour on Griffenfeldt's Island, where they enjoyed the
first hot meal they had had on their coasting expedition,
consisting of caraway soup. This meal of soup was
a great comfort to the weary and worn-out travellers.
Here a striking but silent testimony of that severe
and pitiless climate presented itself in the form of a
number of skulls and human bones lying blanched and
scattered among the rocks, evidently the remains of
Esquimaux who in times long gone by had perished
After an incredible amount of toil, Nansen arrived at
a small island in the entrance of the Inugsuazmuit Fjord,
and thence proceeded to Skjoldungen where the water
was more open. Here they encamped, and were almost
eaten up by mosquitoes.
On Aug. 6 they again set out on their way north-
ward, meeting with another encampment of Esquimaux,
who were, however, so terrified at the approach of the
strangers, that they one and all bolted off to the moun-
tain, and it was not till Nansen presented them with an
empty tin box and some needles that they became re-
assured, after which they accompanied the expedition
for some little distance, and on parting gave Nansen a
quantity of dried seal's flesh.
The farther our travellers proceeded on their journey,
the more dissatisfied and uneasy did Balto and Ravna
become. Accordingly one day Nansen took the oppor-
tunity of giving Balto a good scolding, who with tears
and sobs gave vent to his complaints, They had not
had food enough coffee only three times during the
whole journey; and they had to work harder than any
beast the whole livelong day, and he would gladly give
many thousands of kroner to be safe at home once
There was indeed something in what Balto said.
The fare had unquestionably been somewhat scanty, and
the work severe; and it was evident that these children
of nature, hardy though they were, could not vie with
civilized people when it became a question of endurance
for any length of time, and of risking life and taxing
one's ability to the utmost.
Finally, on Aug. 10, the expedition reached Umivik
in a dense fog, after a very difficult journey through the
ice, and encamped for the last time on the east coast
of Greenland. Here they boiled coffee, shot a kind of
snipe, and lived like gentlemen, so that even Balto and
Ravna were quite satisfied. The former, indeed, began
intoning some prayers, as he had heard the priest in
Finmarken do, in a very masterly manner, a pastime,
by the way, he never indulged in except he felt his life
to be quite safe.
The next day, Aug. 11, rose gloriously bright. Far
away among the distant glaciers a rumbling sound as
of cannon could be heard, while snow-covered mountains
towered high overhead, on the other side of which lay
boundless tracts of inland ice. Nansen and Sverdrup
now made a reconnoitring expedition, and did not re-
turn till five o'clock the next morning. It still required
some days to overhaul and get everything in complete
order for their journey inland; and it was not till nine
o'clock in the evening of Aug. 16, after first dragging
up on land the boats, in which a few necessary articles
of food were stored, together with a brief account of
the progress of the expedition carefully packed in a tin
box, that they commenced their journey across the in-
Nansen and Sverdrup led the way with the large
sleigh, while the others,-each dragging a smaller one,
followed in their wake. Thus these six men, confident
of solving the problem before them, with the firm earth
beneath their feet, commenced the ascent of the moun-
tain-slope which Nansen christened "Nordenskjhld's
Their work had now begun in real earnest a work
so severe and arduous that it would require all the
strength and powers of endurance they possessed to ac-
complish it. The ice was full of fissures, and these
had either to be circumvented or crossed, a very diffi-
cult matter with heavily laden sleighs. A covering of
1 Peaks of rock projecting above the surface of the ice.
ice often lay over these fissures, so that great caution
was required. Hence their progress was often very
slow, each man being roped to his fellow; so that if one
of them should happen to disappear into one of these
fathomless abysses, his companion could haul him up.
Such an occurrence happened more than once; for Nan-
sen as well as the others would every now and then fall
plump in up to the arms, dangling with his legs over
empty space. But it always turned out well; for pow-
erful hands took hold of the rope, and the practised
gymnasts knew how to extricate themselves.
At first the ascent was very hard work, and it will
readily be understood that the six tired men were not
sorry on the first night of their journey to crawl into
their sleeping-bags, after first refreshing the inner man
with cup after cup of hot tea.
Yet, notwithstanding all the fatigue they had under-
gone, there was so much strength left in them that
Dietrichson volunteered to go back and fetch a piece
of GruyBre cheese they had left behind when halting
for their midday meal. It would be a nice little morn-
ing walk," he said, "before turning in! And he ac-
tually went all for the sake of a precious bit of
Next day there was a pouring rain that wet them
through. The work of hauling the sleighs, however,
kept them warm. But later in the evening, it came
down in such torrents that Nansen deemed it advisable
to pitch the tent, and here they remained, weather-
bound, for three whole days. And long days they
were! But our travellers followed the example of
bruin in winter; that is, they lay under shelter the
greater part of the time, Nansen taking care that they
should also imitate bruin in another respect, who
sleeps sucking his paw, by giving them rations once
a day only. "He who does no work shall have little
food," was his motto.
On the forenoon of the twentieth, however, the
weather improved; and our travellers again set out on
their journey, having fiist indulged in a good warm
meal by way of recompense for their three days' fasting.
The ice at first was very difficult, so much so that they
had to retrace their steps, and, sitting on their sleighs,
slide down the mountain slope. But the going im-
proved, as also did the weather. "If it would only
freeze a little," sighed Nansen. But he was to get
enough of frost before long.
On they tramped, under a broiling sun, over the
slushy snow. As there was no drinking-water to be
had, they filled their flasks with snow, carrying them
in their breast-pockets for the heat of their bodies to
On Aug. 22 there was a night frost; the snow was
hard and in good condition, but the surface so rough and
full of lumps and frozen waves of slush, that the ropes
with which they dragged the sleighs cut and chafed
their shoulders. "It was just as if our shoulders were
being burnt," Balto said.
They now travelled mostly by night, for it was
better going then, and there was no sun to broil them;
while the aurora borealis, bathing as it were the whole
of the frozen plain in a flood of silvery light, inspired
them with fresh courage. The surface of the ice over
which they travelled was as smooth and even as a lake
newly frozen over. Even Balto on such occasions would
indulge in a few oaths, a thing he never allowed him-
self except when he felt "master of the situation." He
was a Finn, you see, and perhaps had no other way of
giving expression to his feelings!
As they got into higher altitudes the cold at night
became more intense. Occasionally they were over-
taken by a snowstorm, when they had to encamp in
order to avoid being frozen to death; while at times,
again, the going would become so heavy in the fine
drifting snow that they had to drag their sleighs one
by one, three or four men at a time to each sleigh, an
operation involving such tremendous exertion that Kris-
tiansen, a man of few words, on one such occasion said
to Nansen, "What fools people must be to let them-
selves in for work like this "
To give some idea of the intense cold they had to
encounter it may be stated that, at the highest altitude
they reached, 9,272 feet above the sea, the temper-
ature fell to below 49" Fahrenheit, and this, too, in
the tent at night, the thermometer being under Nansen's
pillow. And all this toil and labour, be it remembered,
went on from Aug. 16 to the end of September, with
sleighs weighing on an average about two hundred and
twenty pounds each, in drifting snow-dust, worse than
even the sandstorms of Sahara.
In order to lighten their labour, Nansen resolved to
use sails on the sleighs -a proceeding which Balto
highly disapproved of: "Such mad people he had
64 FRIDTJOF YNANSEN. .
never seen before, to want to sail over the snow! He
was a Lapp, he was, and there was nothing they could
teach him on land. It was the greatest nonsense he
had ever heard of! "
Sails, however, were forthcoming, notwithstanding
Balto's objections; and they sat and stitched them with
frozen fingers in the midst of the snow. But it was
S . --
-. --= :_ _
SLEDGING ACROSS GREENLAND.
astonishing what a help they proved to be; and so they
proceeded on their way, after slightly altering their
course in the direction of Godthaab.'
Thus, then, we see these solitary beings, looking like
dark spots moving on an infinite expanse of snow,
1 Godthaab (pron. Gott-h6b), the only city, and seat of the Danish
governor, on the west coast of Greenland.
.FRIDTJOF NANSEN. 65
wending their way ever onward,-Nansen and Sver-
drup side by side, ski-staff and ice-axe in hand, in
front, earnestly gazing ahead as they dragged the heavy
sleigh, while close behind followed Dietrichson and
Kristiansen, Balto and Ravna bringing up the rear,
each dragging a smaller sleigh. So it went on for
weeks; and though it tried their strength, and put
their powers of endurance to a most severe test, yet, if
ever the thought of giving it up arose in their minds,
it was at. once scouted by all the party, the two Lapps
excepted. One day Balto complained loudly to Nan-
sen.. "When you asked us," he said, "in Christiania,
what weight we could drag, we told you we could
manage one hundredweight each, but now we have
double that weight, and all I can say is, that, if we can
drag these loads over to the west coast, we are stronger
Onward, however, they went, in spite of the cold,
which at times was so intense that their beards froze
fast to their jerseys, facing blinding snowstorms that
well-nigh made old Ravna desperate. The only bright
moments they enjoyed were when sleeping or at their
meals. The sleeping-bags, indeed, were a paradise;
their meals, ideals of perfect bliss.
Unfortunately, Nansen had not taken a sufficient
supply of fatty food with him, and to such an extent
did the craving for fat go, that Sverdrup one day seri-
ously suggested that they should eat boot-grease a
compound of boiled grease and old linseed oil! Their
great luxury was to eat raw butter, and smoke a pipe
after it. First they would smoke the fragrant weed
pure and simple; when that was done, the tobacco ash,
followed by the oil as long as it would burn; and when
this was all exhausted, they would smoke tarred yarn,
or anything else that was a bit tasty! Nansen, who
neither smoked nor chewed, would content himself with
a chip of wood, or a sliver off one of the "truger"
(snowshoes). It tasted good," he said, and kept his
Finally, on Sept. 14, they had reached their highest
altitude, and now began to descend toward the coast,
keeping a sharp lookout for "land ahead." But none
was yet to be seen, and one day Ravna's patience com-
pletely gave way. With sobs and moans he said to
I'm an old Fjeld-Lapp, and a silly old fool! I'm
sure we shall never get to the coast! "
"Yes," was the curt answer, "it's quite true! Ravna
is a silly old fool! "
One day, however, shortly afterward, while they were
at dinner, they heard the twittering of a bird close by.
It was a snow-bunting, bringing them a greeting from
the west coast, and their hearts grew warm within them
at the welcome sound.
On the next day, with sails set, they proceeded on-
ward down the sloping ground, but with only partial
success. Nansen was standing behind the large sleigh
to steady it, while Sverdrup steered from the front.
Merrily 'flew the bark; but, unfortunately, Nansen
stumbled and fell, and had hard work to regain his
legs, and harder work still to gather up sundry articles
that had fallen off the sleigh, such as boxes of pem-
mican, fur jackets, and ice-axes. Meanwhile Sverdrup
and the ship had almost disappeared from view, and all
that Nansen could see of it was a dark, square speck,
far ahead across the ice. Sverdrup had been sitting all
the while in front, thinking what an admirable passage
they were making, and was not a little astonished, on
looking behind, to find that he was the only passenger
on board. Matters, however, went on better after this;
and in the afternoon, as they were sailing their best and
fastest, the joyful cry of Land ahead! rang through
the air. The west coast was in sight! After several
days' hard work across fissures and over uneven ice,
the coast itself was finally reached. But Godthaab was
a long, long way off still, and to reach it by land was
The joy of our travellers on once more feeling firm
ground beneath their feet, and of getting real water to
drink, was indescribable. They swallowed quart after
quart, till they could drink no more. The Lapps, as
usual took themselves off to the fjeld to testify their joy.
That evening was the most delightful one they had
experienced for weeks, one never to be forgotten in
after years, when, with their tent pitched, and a blazing
fire of wood, they sat beside it, Sverdrup smoking a pipe
of moss in lieu of tobacco, and Nansen lying on his back
on the grass, which shed a strange and delightful per-
fume all around.
But how was Godthaab to be reached ? By land it
was impossible! Therefore the journey must be made
by sea! But there was no boat! A boat, then, must
be built. And Sverdrup and Nansen were the men to
solve the problem. They set to work, and by evening
the boat was finished. Its dimensions were eight feet
five inches in length, four feet eight inches in breadth,
and it was made of willows and sail-cloth. The oars
were of bamboo and willow branches, across the blades
of which canvas was stretched. The thwarts were made
from bamboo, and the foot of one of their scientific in-
ON THE WAY TO GODTHAAB.
struments, which, by the way, chafed them terribly, and
were very uncomfortable seats.
All preparations being now made, Nansen and Sver-
drup set off on their adventurous journey. The first day
it was terribly hard work, for the water was too shallow
to admit of, rowing. On the second day, however, they
put out to sea. Here they had at times to encounter
severe weather, fearing every moment lest their frail
bark should be swamped or capsized. At night they
would sleep on the naked shore beneath the open sky.
From morning till night struggling away with their
oars, living on hot soup and the sea-birds they shot,
which were ravenously devoured without much labour
being devoted to cooking the same. Finally they
reached their destination, meeting with a hearty wel-
come, accompanied by a salute from cannon fired off in
their honor, when once it was ascertained who the new
Nansen's first inquiry was about a ship for Denmark,
and he learned, to his great disappointment, that the
last vessel for the season had sailed from Godthaab two
months before, and that the nearest ship, the Fox, was
lying at Ivitgut, three hundred miles off.
It was a terrible blow in the midst of their joy.
Home had, as it were, at one stroke receded many
hundreds of miles away; and here they would have
to pass a whole winter and spring, while dear ones
at home would think they had perished, and would
be mourning for their supposed loss all those weary
But this must never be! The Fox must be got at,
and friends at home must at all events get letters by her.
After a great deal of trouble Nansen at length found
an Esquimau who agreed to set off in his kayak bear-
ing two letters. One was from Nansen to Gamel, who
had equipped the expedition; the other from Sverdrup
to his father.
This having been arranged, and boats having been
sent off to fetch their comrades from Ameralikfjord,
Nansen and Sverdrup plunged into all the joys and de-
lights of civilized life to which they had so long been
strangers. Now they were able to indulge in the lux-
ury of soap and water for the first time since the com-
mencement of their journey across the ice. To change
their clothes, to sleep in proper beds, to eat civilized
food with knives and forks on earthenware plates, to
smoke, to converse with educated beings, was to them
the summum bonum of enjoyment, and they felt them-
selves to be in clover.
Notwithstanding all these, Nansen did not seem alto-
gether himself. He was in a dreamy state, 'thinking
perhaps of nights spent in sleeping-bags up on the
inland ice, or dreaming of that memorable evening in
the Ameralikfjord, of the hard struggles they had under-
gone on the boundless plains of snow. These things
flashed across him, excluding from his mind the convic-
tion that he had rendered his name famous.
At last, on Oct. 12, the other members of the ex-
pedition joined them, and these six men, who had risked
their lives in that perilous adventure, were once more
His object had been attained, and the name of Fridtjof
Nansen would soon be known the whole world over!
That same autumn the Fox brought to Norway
tidings of the success of the expedition, and a few hours
after her arrival the telegraph announced throughout
the length and breadth of the civilized world, in few
but significant words, Fridtjof Nansen has crossed dyer
the inland ice of Greenland."
And the Norwegian nation, which had refused to
grant the venturesome young man 5,000 kroner (nearly
278), now raised her head, and called Fridtjof Nansen
one of her best sons. And when one day in April, after
having spent a long winter in Greenland, he went on
board the Hvidbjbrn 1 on his homeward journey, prepa-
rations were being made in the capital for a festival
such as a king receives when he visits his subjects.
It was May 30: the spring sun was shining with
all its brilliancy over Norway. The Christiania fjord
was teeming with yachts and small sailing-boats. A
light breeze played over the ruffled surface of the water,
while the perfume of the budding trees on its banks
shed a sweet fragrance all around. As for the town,
it literally swarmed with human beings. The quays,
the fortress, the very roofs of the houses, were densely
packed with eager crowds, all of them intently gazing
seaward. Presently a shout of welcome heard faintly
in the distance announced his approach, gradually in-
creasing in volume as he came nearer, till it merged
into one continuous roar, while thousands of flags were
Eagerly the crowds4pressed forward to catch the first
glimpse of his form, and when they did recognize him,
their hurrahs burst forth like a storm, and were caught
up in the streets, answered from the windows, from the
tops of houses; and when they ceased for a moment
from the sheer exhaustion of those who uttered them,
tley were soon renewed with redoubled vigor. And
when finally Nansen had disembarked and had entered
1 IIvitbj6rn (pron. Vid-byurn), The White Bear, a trading-vessel.
a carriage, the police could no longer keep the people
under control. As if with one accord they dashed for-
ward, and taking out the horses, harnessed themselves
in their place, and dragged him through the streets of
the city in triumph.
Yes, the Norwegian people had taken possession of
But up at a window there stood the old housekeeper
from Store Froen, waving her white apron, while tears of
joy trickled down her face. She it was who had bound
up his bleeding head when years ago he had fallen and
cut it on the ice; she it was to whom he had often gone
when in some childish scrape. He remembered her in
his hour of triumph. And as she was laughing and
crying by turns, and waving her apron, he dashed up
the steps and gave her a loving embrace.
For was she not part and parcel of his home ?
ENGAGEMENT AND MARRIAGE. HOME-LIFE. -PLANNING THE POLAR
Two months after Nansen had returned home from
his Greenland expedition he became engaged to Eva
Sars, daughter.of the late Professor Sars, and was mar-
ried to her the same autumn. Her mother was the
sister of the poet Welhaven.
The following story of his engagement is related:-
On the night of Aug. 12 a shower of gravel and
small pebbles rattled against the panes of a window in
the house where Fridtjof Nansen's half-sister lived. He
was very fond of her, and of her husband also, who had
indeed initiated himi in the use of gun and rod, and who
had taken him with him, when a mere lad, on many a
sporting excursion to Nordmarken.
On hearing this unusual noise at the dead of night,
his brother-in-law jumped out of bed in no very amiable
frame of mind, and opening the window, called out,
' What is it ? '
"' I want to come in!' said a tall figure dressed in
gray, from the street below.
"A volley of expletives greeted the nocturnal visitor,
who kept on saying, I want to come in.'
"Before long Fridtjof Nansen was standing in his
sister's bedroom at two o'clock in the morning.
Raising herself up in the bed, she said, 'But,
Fridtjof, whatever is it?'
I'm engaged to be married that's all! was the
"'Engaged! But with whom?'
"' Why, with Eva, of course '
Then he said he felt very hungry, and his brother-
in-law had to take a journey into the larder and fetch out
some cold meat, and then down into the cellar after
a bottle of champagne. Iis sister's bed served for a
table, and a new chapter in Fridtjof's saga' was inau-
gurated at this nocturnal banquet."
The story goes, Nansen first met his future wife
in a snowdrift. One day, it appears, when up in the
Frogner woods, he espied two little boots sticking up
out of the snow. Curiosity prompted him to go and
see to whom the said boots belonged, and as he ap-
proached for that purpose, a little snow be-sprinkled
head peered up at him. It was Eva Sars!
What gives this anecdote interest is that it was out
of the snow and the cold to which he was to dedicate
his life, she, who became dearer to him than life itself,
Another circumstance connected therewith worthy
of note is that Eva Sars was a person of rather a cold
and repellent nature, and gave one the impression that
there was a good deal of snow in her disposition.
Hence the reason perhaps why she kept aloof rather
than attracted those who would know her. Fridtjof
Nansen, however, was not the man to be deterred by
coldness. He was determined to win her, even if he
should have to cross the inland ice of Greenland for
But when she became his wife all the reserve and
coldness of her nature disappeared. She took the warm-
est interest in his plans, participated in his work, mak-
ing every sacrifice a woman can make to promote his
purpose. In all his excursions in the open air she ac-
companied him; and when she knew that he was
making preparations for another expedition, one involv-
ing life itself, not a murmur escaped her lips. And
when the hour of parting came at last, and a long,
lonely time of waiting lay before her, she broke out into
song. For in those dreary years of hope deferred she
developed into an accomplished songstress; and when
the fame of Nansen's exploit resounded throughout
the whole north, the echo of her song answered in joy-
ful acclaim. The maidens of Norway listening to her
spirited strains, and beholding this brave little woman
with her proudly uplifted head, learnt from Eva Nansen
that such was the way in which a woman should meet
a sorrow--such the way in which she should undergo
a time of trial.
The following story, in Nansen's own words, will
serve to give an idea of the sort of woman she was:
"It was New Year's Eve, 1890. Eva and I had
gone on a little trip to KrIderen,1 and we determined to
get to the top of Norefjeld. We slept at Olberg, and,
feeling rather lazy next morning, did not set out till
,1 _rUderen, a lake about forty miles to the northwest of Christiania.
Norefjeld, a mountain on the west side of the lake. Olberg, a farmhouse
at the foot of the mountain.
nearly noon. We took it very easily, moreover! Even
in summer-time it is a stiff day's work to clamber up
Norefjeld; but in winter, when the days are short, one
has to look pretty sharp to reach the top while it is
light. Moreover, the route we chose, though perhaps
the most direct, was not by any means the shortest.
The snow lay very deep; and soon it became impossible
to go on ski, the ascent being so steep, that we had to
take them off and carry them. However, we had made
up our minds to reach the top; for it would never do to
turn back after having gone half-way, difficult though
the ascent might be. The last part of our journey was
the most trying of all; I had to cut out steps with my
ski-staff to get a foothold in the frozen snow. I went
in front, and Eva followed close behind me. It really
seemed that we slipped two steps backward for every
one we took forward. At last we reached the top; it
was pitch dark, and we had been going from ten A.M. to
five P.M., without food. But, thank goodness, we had
some cheese and pemmican with us, so we sat down on
the snow, and ate it.
"Yes! there were we two alone on the top of Nore-
fjeld, five thousand feet above the sea, with a biting
wind blowing that made our cheeks tingle, and the
darkness growing thicker and thicker every moment.
Far away in the west there was a faint glimmer of day-
light, of the last day of the old year, -just enough
to guide us by. The next thing to be done was to get
down to Eggedal. From where we were it was a dis-
tance of about six and one-half miles, a matter of little
consequence in broad daylight, but in the present in-
stance no joke, I can assure you! However, it had to
be done. So off we started, I leading the way, Eva
"We went like the wind down the slope, but had
to be very careful. When one has been out in the dark
some little time, it is just as if the snow gives out
a faint light though light it cannot really be termed,
but a feeble kind of shimmer. Goodness only knows
how we managed to get down, but get down we did!
As it was too steep to go on ski, there was nothing for
it but to squat and slide down -a kind of locomotion
detrimental, perhaps, to one's breeches, but under the
circumstances unquestionably the safest mode of pro-
ceeding in the dark!
When we had got half-way down my hat blew off.
So I had to 'put the brake on,' and get up on my legs,
and go after it. Far away above me I got a glimpse of
a dark object on the snow, crawled after it, got up to
it, and grasped it, to find it was only a stone! My hat,
then, must be further up. Surely that was it-again I
got hold of a stone! The snow seemed to be alive
with stones. Hat after hat, hat after hat, but when-
ever I tried to put it on my head, it turned out to be a
stone. A stone for bread is bad enough, and stones for
hats are not a bit better! So I had to give it up, and
Eva had been sitting waiting for me all this while.
'Eva,' I shouted, and a faint answer came back from
"Those miles seemed to be uncommonly long ones.
Every now and then we could use our ski, and then it
would become so steep again that we had to carry them.
At last we came to a standstill. There was a chasm
right in front of us,-how deep it was it was too dark
to ascertain. However, we bundled over it somehow or
other, and happily the snow was very deep. It is quite
incredible how one can manage to get over a difficulty!
"As regards our direction, we had lost it completely;
all we knew was that we must get down into the valley.
Again we came to a standstill, and Eva had to wait
while I went on, groping in the dark, trying to find a
way. I was absent on this errand some little time.
Presently it occurred to me, What if she should have
"'Eva!' I shouted, 'Eva!' Yes, she answered;
but she must be a long way above where I was. If she
had been asleep it would have been a difficult matter to
have found her. But I groped my way up-hill to her,
with the consolation that I had found the bed of a
stream. Now the bed of a stream is not very well
adapted for ski, especially when it is pitch dark, and
the stomach is empty, and conscience pricks you, for
really I ought not to have ventured on such an expedi-
tion with her. However, 'all's well that ends well,'
and we got through all right.
We had now got down to the birch scrub, and at
last found our road.
After some little time we passed a cabin. I thought
it wouldn't be a bad place to take refuge in, but Eva
said it was so horribly dirty! She was full of spirits
now, and voted for going on. So on we went, and in
due time reached the parish clerk's house in Eggedal.
Of course the inmates were in bed, so we had to arouse
them. The clerk was horrified when I told him we
had just come from the top of Norefjeld. This time
Eva was not so nice about lodgings, for no sooner
had she sat down on a chair, than she fell asleep. It
was midnight, mind you, and she had been in harness
'He 's a bit tired, poor lad!' said the clerk. For
Eva had on a ski-dress with a very small skirt, trousers,
and a Lapp fur cloak.
That's my wife,' I replied, whereupon he burst out
into a laugh. Nay, nay! to drag his wife with him
over the top of Norefjeld on New Year's Eve! he said.
"Presently he brought in something to eat, for we
were famished; and when Eva smelt it wasn't cheese
and pemmican, she woke up.
We rested here three days. Yes, it had been a New
Year's Eve trip. A very agreeable one in my opinion,
but I'm not so sure Eva altogether agreed with me !
"Two days later I and the 'poor little lad' drove
through Numedal to Kongsberg in nine degrees below
zero (Fahrenheit), which nearly froze the little fellow.
But it is not a bad thing occasionally to have to put up
with some inconveniences -you appreciate comforts
afterward so much the more. He who has never ex-
perienced what cold is, does not really know the mean-
ing of warmth! "
The day after the wedding the newly married pair
set out for Newcastle, where there was to be a meeting
of the Geographical Society, travelling via Gothenburg,
Hamburg, and London. After this they went to Stock-
holm, and here Nansen was presented with the "Vega"
medal by His Majesty. This was a distinguished honour,
the more so as it had hitherto only been awarded to five
persons, among whom were Stanley and Nordenskjild.
Nansen subsequently was presented with several medals
in foreign countries, and was made a Knight of the
Order of St. Olaf and Danebrog.
On their return from Stockholm to Norway, Nansen
and his wife took apartments at Marte Larsen's, the
old housekeeper at Store Frien, and stayed there two
months, after which they took a house on the Drammen
road. But they did not enjoy themselves there, and
Nansen determined to build a house, for which purpose
he bought a site at Svartebugta, near Lysaker.' It was
here that, as a boy, he had often watched for wild
ducks. It was a charming spot, moreover, and within
easy distance of the town. The house was finished in
the spring of 1890. During the whole of the winter,
while building operations were going on, they lived in
an icy cold pavillion near Lysaker railway station.
"It was here he weaned me from freezing," says
In this wretched habitation, where the water froze
in the bedroom at night, Nansen would sit and work at
his book on Greenland, and when he had time would
superintend the building of the new house. It was
called Godthaab a name given it by Bjdrnstjerne
1 Lysaker, a railroad station about four miles west of Christiania.
FRIDTJOF NANSEN. 81
In the autumn of this year Nansen set out on a
lengthened lecturing tour, accompanied by his wife.
He lectured in Copenhagen, London, Berlin, and Dres-
den, about his Greenland experiences, and also about
the projected expedition to the North Pole. Every-
where people were attracted by his captivating indi-
viduality; but most thought this new expedition too
venturesome. Even the most experienced Arctic ex-
plorers shook their heads, for they thought that, from
such a daring enterprise, not a single member of the
expedition would ever return alive.
But Nansen adhered to his own opinions, and we see
him in the intervening years occupied with the equip-
ment required for an expedition to the polar regions
- a work so stupendous that the preparations for the
Greenland expedition were but child's play in compari-
PREPARATIONS FOR THE POLAR EXPEDITION.-STARTING FROM NOE--
WAY. -JOURNEY ALONG THE SIBERIAN COAST.
NANSEN'S theory as regards the expedition to the
North Pole was as simple as it was daring. He believed
that he had discovered the existence of a current pass-
ing over the pole, and of this he would avail himself.
His idea, in fact, was to work his way into the ice
among the New Siberian Islands, let his vessel be fast.
frozen into the drift-ice, and be carried by the current
over the Pole to the east coast of Greenland. There
articles had been found on ice-floes that had unquestion-
ably belonged to former Arctic expeditions, a fact that
convinced him of the existence of such a current.
It might take some years for a vessel to drift all that,
way; he must, therefore, make his preparations accord-
ingly. Such at all events was Nansen's theory- a
theory which, it must be said, few shared with him. For
none of the world's noted explorers of those regions be-
lieved in the existence of such a current, and people-
generally termed the scheme, a madman's idea "
Nansen, therefore, stood almost alone in this, and
yet not altogether alone, either. For the Norwegian
people who would not sacrifice 278 for the Greenland
expedition gave him now in a lump sum 280,000 kroner
(nearly 11,386). They were convinced of his gigantic.
powers, and when the Norwegians are fully convinced
of a thing, they are willing to make any sacrifice to
carry it out. They believed in him now!
Nansen then set to work in earnest at his gigantic
First of all a vessel must be designed, one that
would be able to defy the ice. Availing himself, there-
fore, of the services of the famous shipbuilder, Colin
Archer, he had the Fram 1 built-a name suggestive of
noble achievements to the youth of Norway.
On Oct. 26, 1892, she was launched at Laurvig.
During the previous night the temperature had been
fourteen degrees above zero, and a slight sprinkling of
snow had covered valley and height with a thin veil of
white. The morning sun peered through the mist with
that peculiar hazy light that foretells a bright winter
At the station at Laurvig, Nansen waited to receive
his guests. A whaler, with a crow's-nest on her fore-
top, was lying in the harbor to convey the visitors to
the spot where the Fram was lying on the stocks.
In the bay at Reykjavik the huge hull of a vessel may
be seen raised up on the beach, with her stern toward
the sea. It is Fridtjof Nansen's new ship that is now
to be launched. She is a high vessel, of great beam,
painted black below and white above. Three stout
masts of American pitch-pine are lying by her side on
the quay, while three flagstaffs, two of them only with
flags flying, rear themselves up aloft on her deck. The
flag which is to be run up the bare staff is to bear the
1 Fram means onward.
vessel's name unknown as yet. Everybody is' won-
dering what that name will be, and conjectures whether
it will be Eva, Leif, Norway, Northpole, are rife.
Crowds of spectators are assembled at the wharf,
while as many have clambered upon the adjacent rocks.
But around the huge ship, which lies on the slips firmly
secured with iron chains, are standing groups of stal-
wart, weather-beaten men in working attire. They are
whalers, who for years have frequented the polar seas
and braved its dangers, and are now attentively exam-
ining and criticising the new ship's construction. A
goodly number, too, of workmen are there, the men
who built the ship; and they are looking at their work
with feelings of pride. And yonder is the vessel's
architect, that stately, earnest-looking man with the
long, flowing white beard, Colin Archer.
And now, accompanied by his wife, Nansen ascends
the platform that has been erected in the ship's bow.
Mrs. Nansen steps forward, breaks a bottle of cham-
pagne on the prow, and iii clear, ringing tones declares,
I"ram is her name." At the same moment a flag on
which the vessel's name can be read in white letters on
a red ground, is run up to the top of the bare flagstaff.
The last bands and chains are quickly removed, and
the ponderous mass glides, stern first, slowly down the
incline, but with ever-increasing velocity, toward the
water. For a moment some anxiety is felt lest she
should sink or get wedged; but as soon as her bows
touch the water the stern rises up, and the Fram floats
proudly on the sea, and is then at once moored fast
with warps to the quay.
Dy "r'r'...... ',- :. .\r.:r..,l;l i.:-, l r
CREW OF THE FRAM.
Meanwhile Nansen stood beside his wife, and all eyes
turned toward them. But not a trace of anxiety or
doubt could be discerned on his frank and open counte-
nance; for he possessed that faith in his project that is
able to remove mountains.
The next matter of importance was to select the crew.
There was ample material to choose from, for hundreds
of volunteers from abroad offered themselves, besides
Norwegians. But it was a Norwegian expedition--her
crew, then, must be exclusively a national crew! And
so Otto Sverdrup, who had earned his laurels in the
Greenland expedition; Sigurd Scott-Hansen, first lieu-
tenant in the royal navy; Henrik Greve Blessing, sur-
geon; Theodor Claudius Jacobsen and Adolf Juell of
the mercantile marine; Anton Amundsen and Lars
Petterson, engineers; Frederik Hjalmar Johansen, lieu-
tenant of the royal army reserve, Peter Leonard Hen-
riksen, harpooner; Bernt Nordahl, electrician; Ivar
Otto Irgens Mogstad, head keeper at the lunatic asylum;
and Bernt Berntsen, common sailor, -were selected.
Most of them were married and had children.
Sverdrup was to be the Fram's commander, for Nan-
sen knew that the ship would be safer in his hands
than in his own.
Finally, after an incredible deal of hard work in get-
ting everything in order, the day of their departure
It was midsummer a dull, gloomy day. The
Fram, heavily laden, is lying at Pipperviken Quay,
waiting for Nansen. The appointed hour is past, and
yet there are no signs of him. Members of the stor-
thing, who had assembled there to bid him farewell,
can wait no longer, and the crowds of people that line
the quay are one and all anxiously gazing over the
But presently a quick-sailing little petroleum boat
heaves in sight. It swings round Dyna,1 and quickly
lies alongside the Fram; and Nansen goes on board
his ship at once, and gives the order to go ahead."
Every eye is fixed on him. He is as calm as ever, firm
as a rock, but his face is pale.
The anchor is weighed; and after making the tour
of the little creek, the Fram steams down the fjord.
" Full speed" is the command issued from the bridge;
and as she proceeds on her way, Nansen turns round to
take a farewell look over Svartebugta where Godthaab
lies. He discerns a glimpse of a woman's form dressed
in white by the bench under the fir-tree, and then turns
his face away; it was there he had bidden her farewell.
Little Liv, his only child, had been carried by her
mother, crowing and smiling, to bid father good-by, and
he had taken her in his arms.
"Yes, you smile, little one I he said; "but I" -
and he sobbed.
This had taken place but an hour before. And now
he was standing on the bridge alone, leaving all he
held dear behind.
The twelve men who accompanied him, they, too,
had made sacrifices, each had his own sorrow to meet
at this hour; but at the word of command, one and all
went about their duty as if nothing was amiss.
1 Dyna, an islet with a lighthouse in Christiania harbor.
For the first few days it was fine weather, but on
getting out as far as Lindesnmes1 it became very stormy.
The ship rolled like a log, and seas broke over the rails
on both sides. Great fear was entertained lest the deck
cargo should be carried overboard, a contingency, in-
deed, that soon occurred; for twenty-five empty paraffin
casks broke loose from their lashings, and a quantity of
reserve timber balks followed.
It was an anxious time," says Nansen. Seasick I
stood on the bridge, alternately offering libations to the
gods of the sea, and trembling for the safety of the boats
and of the men who were trying to make snug what they
could on deck. Now a green sea poured over us, and
knocked one fellow off his legs so that he was deluged;
now the lads were jumping over hurtling spars to avoid
getting their feet crushed. There was not a dry thread
on them. Juell was lying asleep in the Grand Hotel,'
as we called one of the long boats, and awoke to find
the sea roaring under him. I met him at the cabin door
as he came running down. Once the Fram buried her
bows and shipped a sea over the forecastle. One fellow
was clinging to the anchor davits over the foaming
water; it was poor Juell again."
Then all the casks, besides a quantity of timber, had
to be thrown overboard. It was, indeed, an anxious time.
But fine weather came at last, and Bergen turned
out to meet them in brilliant sunshine. Then on again,
along the wonderful coast of Norway, while the people
on shore stood gazing after them, marvelling as they
1 Cape Lindesnies, the southernmost point of Norway.
At Beian 1 Sverdrup joined the ship, and Berntsen,
the thirteenth member of the crew, at Troms6.2
Still onward toward the north, till finally the last
glimpse of their native country faded from their sight
in the hazy horizon, and a dense fog coming on envel-
oped them in its shroud. They were to have met the
Urania, laden with coal, in Jugor straits; but as that
vessel had not arrived, and time was precious, the Fram
proceeded on her course, after having shipped a num-
ber of Esquimau dogs which a Russian, named Tron-
theim, had been commissioned to procure for the
expedition. It was here that Nansen took leave of his
secretary, Cristophersen, who was to return by the
Urania; and the last tie that united them with Norway
The Fram now heads out from the Jugor straits
into the dreaded Kara sea, which many had prophesied
would be her destruction. But they worked their way
through storm and ice, at times satisfactorily, at others
encountering slight mishaps; but the Fram proved her-
self to be a reliable iceworthy vessel, and Nansen felt
more and more convinced that, when the ice-pressure
began in real earnest, she would acquit herself well.
"It was a royal pleasure," he writes, to take her
into difficult ice. She twists and turns like a ball on a
plate and so strong! If she runs into a floe at full
speed, she scarcely utters a sound, only quivers a little,
1 Beian (pron. By-an), a village and stopping-place for the coast-
wise steamers in northern Norway, near Trondhjem.
2 Troms6, the chief city and bishop's see of the bishopric of same
name, the northernmost diocese in Norway.
When, as was often the case, they had to anchor on
account of bad weather, Nansen and his companions
would go ashore, either for the purpose of taking obser-
vations or for sport. One day they shot two bears and
sundry reindeer; but, when they started to row back to
the Fram in the evening, they had a severe task before
them. For a strong breeze was blowing, and the cur-
rent was dead against them. "We rowed as if our
finger-tips would burst," says Nansen, "but could hardly
make any headway. So we had to go in under land
again to get out of the current. But no sooner did
we set out for the Fram again than we got into it
once more, and then the whole manceuvre had to be re-
peated, with the same result. Presently a buoy was
lowered from the ship; if we could only reach it, all
would be right. But no such luck was in store for
-us yet. We would make one more desperate effort,
and we rowed with a will, every muscle of our bodies
strained to the utmost. But to our vexation we now
saw the buoy being hauled up. We rowed a little to
the windward of the Fram, and then tried again to
sheer over. This time we got nearer her than we had
been before, but still no buoy was thrown over- not
even a man was to be seen on deck. We roared like
madmen," writes Nansen, "for a buoy--we had no
strength left for another attempt. It was not a pleas-
ing prospect to have to drift back, and go ashore again
in our wet clothes,- we would get on board! Once
more we yelled like wild Indians, and now they came
rushing aft, and threw out the buoy in our direction.
We put our last strength into our oars. There were
only a few boat-lengths to cover, and the lads bent
flat over the thwarts. Now only three boat-lengths.
Another desperate spurt! Now only two and a half
boat-lengths presently two then only one A few
more frantic pulls, and there was a little less. Now,
my lads, one or two more hard pulls keep to it! -
Now another don't give in one more there we
have it!' And a joyful sigh of relief passed round the
boat. Keep her going, or the rope will break row,
my lads!' And row we did, and soon they had hauled
us alongside the Fram. Not till we were lying there,
getting our bearskins and flesh hauled on board, did we
realize what we had had to fight against. The current
was running along the side of the ship like a millstream.
At last we were on board. It was evening by this time,
and it was a comfort to get some hot food, and then
stretch one's limbs in a comfortable, dry berth."
The Fram proceeded on her course the next day,
passing a number of unknown islands, to which Nansen
gave names. Among these were Scott-Hansen's Is-
lands, Ringnes, Mohns, etc.
On Sept. 6, the anniversary of Nansen's wedding,
they passed Taimar Island, and after a prosperous pas-
sage through open water reached Cape Tscheljuskin on
Nansen was sitting in the crow's nest that evening.
The weather was perfectly still, and the sky lay in a
dream of gold and yellow. A solitary star was visible;
it stood directly over Cape Tscheljuskin, twinkling
brightly, though sadly, in the pale sky overhead. As
the vessel proceeded on her course it seemed to follow
them. There was something about that star that at-
tracted Nansen's attention, and brought him peace. It
was as it were his star, and he felt that she who was at
home was sending him a message by it. Meanwhile the
Fram toiled on through the gloomy melancholy of the
night out into the unknown.
In the morning, when the sun rose up, a salute was
fired, and high festival held on board.
A few days later a herd of walrus was sighted. It
was a lovely morning, and perfectly calm, so that they
could distinctly hear their bellowings over the clear
surface of the water, as they lay in a heap on an ice-
floe, the blue mountains -glittering in the sunlight in
"My goodness, what a lot of meat!" ejaculated
Juell, the cook. And at once Nansen, Juell, and Hen-
riksen set out after them, Juell rowing, Nansen armed
with a gun, and Henriksen with a harpoon. On getting
to close quarters Henriksen threw the harpoon at the
nearest walrus, but it struck too high, and glanced off
the tough hide, and went skipping over the rounded
backs of the others. Now all was stir and life. Ten
or a dozen of the bulky animals waddled with up-
raised heads to the extreme edge of the floe, whereupon
Nansen took aim at the largest, and fired. The brute
staggered, and fell headlong into the water. Another
bullet into a second walrus was attended with the same
result, and the rest of the herd plunged into the water,
so that it boiled and seethed. Soon, however, they were
up again, all around the boat, standing upright in the
water, bellowing and roaring till the air shook. Every
now and then they would make a dash toward the boat,
then dive, and come up again. The sea boiled like a
cauldron, and every moment they seemed about to dash
their tusks through the side of the boat, and capsize it.
Fortunately, however, this did not occur. Walrus after
walrus was shot by Nansen, while Henriksen was busy
with his harpoon to prevent them sinking.
At last, after a favorable journey through open water,
the Fram finally reached firm ice on Sept. 25, and
allowed herself to be frozen in; for winter was fast
approaching, and it was no longer possible to drive her
through the ice.
DRIFTING THROUGH THE ICE. CHRISTMAS. -DAILY LIFE ON THE
FRAM.-BEAR-HUNT AND ICE-PRESSURE.
FROM Sept. 26 the Fram lay frozen in in the drift-
ice, and many a long day would pass ere she would be
loose again. Nansen's theory of a current over the
North Pole would now be proved to be correct or the
It was a monotonous time that was approaching for
the men on board. At first they drifted but very little
northward, each succeeding day bringing but little al-
teration; but they kept a good heart, for they had not
to suffer from lack of anything that could conduce
to their comfort. They had a good ship, excellently
equipped, and so passed the days as best they could, -
now occupying themselves with seeing to the dogs or
taking observations, etc.; while reading, playing cards,
chess, halma, and making all kinds of implements, filled
up the remainder of their time. Every now and then the
monotony of their existence would undergo variation,
when the ice-pressure set in. Then there was plenty
of life and stir on board, and all hands would turn out
to do battle with the foe.
It was on Monday, Oct. 9, that the Fram underwent
her first experience of a regular ice-pressure. Nansen
and the others were sitting after dinner, as usual, chat-
THE FRAM IN AN ICE PRESSURE.