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THE GREAT WHITE WAY.

I.

ANSWER TO AN OLD SUMMONS.

For more than ten generations my maternal ancestors have been farers of the sea, and I was born within call of high tide. At the distance of a thousand miles inland it still called me, and often in childhood I woke at night from dreams of a blue harbor with white sails.

It is not strange, therefore, that I should return to the coast. When, at the age of thirty, I found myself happily rid of a commercial venture-conducted for ten years half-heartedly and with insignificant results—it was only natural that I should set my face seaward. My custom, of which there was never any great amount, and my goodwill, of which there was ever an abundance, I had disposed of to one who was likely to reverse these conditions—his methods in the matter of trade being rather less eccentric than my own. He had been able to pay me in cash the modest sum agreed upon,

and this amount I now hoped to increase through some marine investment or adventure-something that would bring me at once into active sea lifethough I do not now see what this could have been, and I confess that my ideas at the time were some

what vague.

II.

I RENEW AN OLD DREAM.

PERHAPS first of all I wished to visit the South Pole—not an unreasonable ambition it would seem for one backed by ten generations of sea captains and ocean faring—but one that I found not altogether easy to gratify. For one thing, there was no Antarctic expedition forming at the time; and then, my notions in the matter were not popular.

From boyhood it had been my dream that about the earth's southern axis, shut in by a precipitous wall of ice, there lay a great undiscovered world. Not a bleak desolation of storm-swept peaks and glaciers, but a fair, fruitful land, warmed and nourished from beneath by the great central heat brought nearer to the surface there through terrestrial oblation, or, as my geography had put it, the flattening of the poles.”

I had held to this fancy for a long time on the basis of theory only, and, perhaps, the added premise that nature would not allow so vast a tract as the Antarctic Continent to lie desolate. But, curi

ously enough, about the time I arrived in New York I met with what seemed to me undoubted bits of evidence in the reports of some recent polar observations.

Borchgrevink, a Norwegian explorer, returning with a poorly fitted Antarctic expedition, reported, among other things, a warm current off Victoria Land, at a point below the 71st parallel, and flowing approximately from the direction of the pole!

Nansen, another Norwegian, in the Arctic Polar Sea, had been astonished to find that the water at a great depth, instead of being colder than at the surface as he had expected, was warmer! He had also found that as he progressed northward from 80° the thermometer had been inclined to rise rather than to fall. To be sure, when he arrived at a point within a little more than two hundred miles of the earth's axis, he had found only a continuance of icea frozen sea which undoubtedly extended to

"* It seems to me," he says, in an article printed in the Century Magazine (January, 1896), “that an investigation of the origin and consequences of the warm current running northeast, which we experienced in Victoria Bay, is of the greatest importance."

True, Borchgrevink believed the Antarctic Continent to be an exceptionally cold one, but for this he was not to blame. No man can help what he does or does not believe in these maters regardless of sound logic and able reasoning to the con. rary.-N. C.

the pole itself; but this frigidity I attributed to the fact that it was a sea into which, from the zone of fierce cold below, were constantly forced huge icefloes. These, as I conceived, would maintain the condition of cold in the Arctics by shutting out the under warmth, through which, however, they would be gradually melted-to be discharged in those great Arctic currents which Nansen and other explorers had observed. The lack of thickness in the ice forming about the pole had also been noted with some surprise. This too, I claimed, was due to the warm earth beneath it which, while it could not much affect the general climate, when some three miles of very chilly water and several feet of substantial ice lay between, did serve as a provision of nature to prevent the northern sea from becoming one mighty solidified mass.

Now, ice-floes could not be forced inland, as would have to be the case in the Antarctics where there was admittedly a continent instead of a sea. Around this continent, it was said, there lay a precipitous frozen wall which no man had ever scaled. What lay beyond, no man of our world had ever

But in my fancy I saw those ramparts of eternal ice receding inward to a pleasant land, as the snow-capped Sierras slope to the verdant plains of California. A pleasant land—a fair circular world-temperate in its outer zone, becoming even

seen.

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