South! by Ernest Shackleton

South! by Ernest Shackleton

Author:Ernest Shackleton
Language: eng
Format: azw3, epub
Tags: Sir, Antarctica -- Discovery and exploration, 1874-1922 -- Travel, Shackleton, Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917), Ernest Henry
Publisher: Standard Ebooks
Published: 2019-01-16T02:44:26+00:00

Our cove lay a little in­side the south­ern head­land of King Haakon Bay. A nar­row break in the cliffs, which were about a hun­dred feet high at this point, formed the en­trance to the cove. The cliffs con­tin­ued in­side the cove on each side and merged into a hill which des­cen­ded at a steep slope to the boulder beach. The slope, which car­ried tus­sock-grass, was not con­tinu­ous. It eased at two points into little peaty swamp ter­races dot­ted with frozen pools and drained by two small streams. Our cave was a re­cess in the cliff on the left-hand end of the beach. The rocky face of the cliff was un­der­cut at this point, and the shingle thrown up by the waves formed a steep slope, which we re­duced to about one in six by scrap­ing the stones away from the in­side. Later we strewed the rough floor with the dead, nearly dry un­der­leaves of the tus­sock-grass, so as to form a slightly soft bed for our sleep­ing-bags. Water had trickled down the face of the cliff and formed long icicles, which hung down in front of the cave to the length of about fif­teen feet. These icicles provided shel­ter, and when we had spread our sails be­low them, with the as­sist­ance of oars, we had quar­ters that, in the cir­cum­stances, had to be re­garded as reas­on­ably com­fort­able. The camp at least was dry, and we moved our gear there with con­fid­ence. We built a fire­place and ar­ranged our sleep­ing-bags and blankets around it. The cave was about 8 ft. deep and 12 ft. wide at the en­trance.

While the camp was be­ing ar­ranged Crean and I climbed the tus­sock slope be­hind the beach and reached the top of a head­land over­look­ing the sound. There we found the nests of al­batrosses, and, much to our de­light, the nests con­tained young birds. The fledgelings were fat and lusty, and we had no hes­it­a­tion about de­cid­ing that they were destined to die at an early age. Our most press­ing anxi­ety at this stage was a short­age of fuel for the cooker. We had ra­tions for ten more days, and we knew now that we could get birds for food; but if we were to have hot meals we must se­cure fuel. The store of pet­ro­leum car­ried in the boat was run­ning very low, and it seemed ne­ces­sary to keep some quant­ity for use on the over­land jour­ney that lay ahead of us. A sea-ele­phant or a seal would have provided fuel as well as food, but we could see none in the neigh­bour­hood. Dur­ing the morn­ing we star­ted a fire in the cave with wood from the top­sides of the boat, and though the dense smoke from the damp sticks in­flamed our tired eyes, the warmth and the pro­spect of hot food were ample com­pens­a­tion. Crean was cook that day, and I sug­ges­ted to him that he should wear his goggles, which he happened to have brought with him. The goggles helped him a great deal as he bent over the fire and ten­ded the stew.


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