CHAPTER VII. RELICS.
From this point onward our march was attended with the most profitable results. On the evening of the 4th of June we met a young man, named Adlekok, who, during the previous summer, had found a new cairn erected by white men near Pfeffer River, which had never been seen by any other Inuits. Near by were three graves and a tent place in which he found a pair of wire-gauze snow-goggles, which we bought from him. This information seemed of sufficient importance to be followed up immediately before any other natives should find and rob the cairn. Consequently the next day Lieutenant Schwatka and I took a light sled, with Toolooah to drive and Adlekok as guide, and visited the spot. We took a day's rations with us, to use in case we did not get back that night, and started with a head wind and storm that confined our view to the immediate vicinity of the sledge. Our guide, however, took us through this trackless waste of smooth ice, a distance of over twenty-five miles, without deviation from the direct line, with no landmarks or sun to steer by; but on he went with the unerring instinct of a dog, until we struck the land at the western banks of Pfeffer River. Arrived at the cairn we found it as he said, "a white man's cairn" unmistakably, but before proceeding to take it down we examined it carefully and found scratched on a clay stone with the point of a sharp instrument,
and on the opposite side,
ETERNAL HONOR TO THE DISCOVER-
ERS OF THE NORTH WE-
and knew it to be the cairn erected by our countryman, Captain Hall, over the bones of two of Franklin's men which he speaks of having found here. A portion of the inscription was lost by the breaking off of a piece of the stone on which it was written. We did not take down the monument, but after making a hasty sketch, returned to camp, having travelled over fifty miles in ten hours.
At this camp we found another interesting relic, in a pine board that seems to have been part of the head of a bunk or other permanent fixture, and has the initials "L. F." in brass tacks upon it. This was picked up on the west coast of Adelaide Peninsula, near where the ship went down that drifted through Victoria Strait, and may serve to identify that vessel, thus proving a most interesting and valuable historic relic. At the next camp, which was our last stopping-place on the main-land, we met an old woman named Tooktoocheer, widow of Pooyetah, who was among the first to visit the boat place we saw a few days ago. We were somewhat disappointed in her as a witness, for she was so old that her memory was at fault, and she would wander about to different places and relate circumstances without explanation. Her son, who was present at the interview, was a lad of about twelve years when he visited the boat place with his parents, and retained a vivid recollection of the place. His testimony, therefore, proved to be what we had hoped of his mother's. All the time he was talking the old woman sat nodding approval as the circumstances he was relating were recalled to her memory. His name is Ogzeuckjeuwock, and he is an aruketko, or medicine-man, in his tribe. The recollection of the boat place was somewhat impressed upon his mind by the explosion of a can of powder with which he and another lad were playing after the articles were found there. The effects of the explosion came near proving fatal at the time, and when I met him during the fall on King William Land, he told me he had never entirely recovered from the shock.
I give the interview with Tooktoocheer and her son as I recorded it in my note-book at the time, so that each reader may draw his own conclusions. Some of the statements will undoubtedly appear strange, but in the main they are perfectly intelligible and exceedingly interesting. Tooktoocheer said she was from Okbillegeok (Pelly Bay of the charts), a portion of the Netchillik country. She is the widow of Pooyetah, spoken of by Sir John Ross and Captain Hall. She appeared to be about seventy years old, and was an object of high esteem by her people, as was evinced in the care that was bestowed upon her comfort. She said she had never seen any of Franklin's men alive, but saw six skeletons on the main-land and an adjacent island - four on the main-land and two on the island. This she pointed out on the southern coast near ninety-five degrees west longitude. There were no graves at either place. Her husband was with her at the time, and seven other Inuits. This was when she was at the boat place west of Richardson Point. In fact, she seemed to have the two places somewhat mixed up in her mind, and Ogzeuckjeuwock took up the thread of the narrative here. In answer to a question which we asked his mother, he said he saw books at the boat place in a tin case, about two feet long and a foot square, which was fastened, and they broke it open. The case was full. Written and printed books were shown him, and he said they were like the printed ones. Among the books he found what was probably the needle of a compass or other magnetic instrument, because he said when it touched any iron it stuck fast. The boat was right side up, and the tin case in the boat. Outside the boat he saw a number of skulls. He forgot how many, but said there were more than four. He also saw bones from legs and arms that appeared to have been sawed off. Inside the boat was a box filled with bones; the box was about the same size as the one with the books in it.