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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/290

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

were others, as well as books and papers. When the expedition arrived at its destination at a northern point of Hudson Bay, this story was found to be without foundation. Lieutenant Schwatka, however, determined to make the trip to King William Land, in the hope of obtaining new information of value. The journey was in every way a formidable undertaking, having to be made on sledges, many hundred miles across a totally unknown country, which had to be depended upon for food. The party consisted of four white men and thirteen Esquimaux, provided with but one month's provisions, but also amply supplied with the best and most accurate American guns, to whose perfection, as it proved, they were indebted for being able to successfully accomplish the task. The party left their camp upon Hudson Bay, which they had named Camp Daly, on the 1st of April, 1879, and reached it again in March, after eleven months' absence, having traveled more than three thousand miles, and experienced a degree of cold that seems incredible. The lowest temperature was –71°, or 103° below the freezing-point, while the mean temperatures for the months of November and December, 1879, and January, 1880, were –49°, –50° and –53·2°. In such temperatures as these any object sears the skin as a red-hot iron, the slightest wind burns the face, and meat, hot from a boiling pot, freezes before it can be eaten. The story of the wanderings of the Franklin explorers, as learned by this party from the natives, and as confirmed by their personal search, is terrible in the extreme. These men were but a few hundred miles from waters frequented by whalers, and yet they all perished, and perished seas to leave hardly any evidence of their journey. So far as it could be traced, it was by Lieutenant Schwatka's party, and the bones that were found at different points along the desolate shore of King William Land were buried. Only one skeleton could be identified—that of Lieutenant Irving, and this was brought away by them. It was known by means of a medal found near by, which the natives, in their desecration of his grave, had forgotten to take. It was learned from the natives that one of the ships was sunk at a point about five miles west of Grant Point, near the Adelaide Peninsula. As the Esquimaux did not know how to get in by the deck, they cut a hole in the side on a level with the ice, through which they carried off what provisions and other things they could find, and in the spring, when the ice broke up, the ship sank. Across this Adelaide Peninsula, at a point named Starvation Cove, evidences were found that it was here that the last remnant of the party perished, and with them the records, Lieutenant Schwatka believing that they are irrecoverably lost. All the relics found here by the natives, as well as at other points, were destroyed, having been given to the children to play with, and in time were broken up and lost. Besides the knowledge gained of the Franklin party, the searchers obtained geographical results of value, and found a considerable error in the Admiralty chart, in the mapping of Back's River, which they found to extend a good deal east of south, instead of west of it.

 

The Marshall-Islanders.—A work recently published by Franz Hemshein, a resident German merchant and consul, on the language of the Marshall Islands, affords some interesting facts concerning this little Polynesian group and its people. The islands are of coral, and are called atolls, having for their foundation a ring-shaped coral reef on which a land surface has been formed of varying length, but only a few hundred yards in breadth, and rising but a few feet above the water-line. Channels through these banks connect the inclosed lagoons, which are seldom more than thirty or thirty-five fathoms deep, with the outer water. The channels are entirely wanting or are too shallow for ships in some of the islands. The thin soil supports a scanty vegetation, which is limited to only a few of the species peculiar to the South-Sea regions; but many useful plants have been imported from other islands and do well. The fauna is likewise insignificant, but has been increased by importations from abroad, along with which the universal rat has been introduced. The inhabitants are a small, slightly built people, who age early; the women have rounder faces than the men, with thin, fleshless hands, and begin to fade before they reach maturity. Four ranks are recognized among them. The