The cold ice slept below, 
  Above the cold sky shone, 
    And all around 
    With a chilling sound 
  From caves of ice and fields of snow 
  The breath of night like death did flow 
            Beneath the sinking moon. 

The sun was due to depart before the end of April, and so no time could be wasted if the outside work, which had been delayed by the tardy formation of the ice-sheet, was to be completed before the daylight vanished.

One of the most urgent operations was to get up the meteorological screen, which had been made under the superintendence of Royds. The whole of this rather elaborate erection was, placed about 100 yards astern of the ship, and consequently in a direction which, with the prevalent south-easterly winds, would be to windward of her. To obtain a complete record of meteorological observations was one of the most important scientific objects of the expedition, and it was decided that the instruments should be read and recorded every two hours. Consequently in calm or storm some member of the community had to be on the alert, and every other hour to make the rounds of the various instruments. On a fine night this was no great hardship, but in stormy weather the task was not coveted by anyone. On such occasions it was necessary to be prepared to resist the wind and snowdrift, and the round itself was often full of exasperating annoyances. In fact the trials and tribulations of the meteorological observers were numerous, and it was arranged that throughout the winter each officer should take it in turn to make the night observations from 10 P.M. to 6 A.M. Wilson nobly offered always to take the 8 A.M. observation, but the lion's share of the work fell on Royds himself, since besides taking his share of the night work he also, throughout the first winter and a great part of the second, took all the observations between 10 A.M. and 10 P.M.

The magnetic huts and all that appertained to them were Bernacchi's special business, and many times daily he was to be seen journeying to and fro in attendance upon his precious charge. The general reader may well ask why so much trouble should be taken to ascertain small differences in the earth's magnetism, and he can scarcely be answered in a few words. Broadly speaking, however, the earth is a magnet, and its magnetism is constantly changing. But why it is a magnet, or indeed what magnetism may be, is unknown, and obviously the most hopeful way of finding an explanation of a phenomenon is to study it. For many reasons the Discovery's winter station in the Antarctic was an especially suitable place in which to record the phenomenon of magnetism.

Besides establishing the routine of scientific work many preparations had to be made for the comfort and well-being of the ship during the winter, and long before the sun had disappeared the little company had settled down to a regular round of daily life.

Later in the year Scott wrote in his diary: 'The day's routine for the officers gives four clear hours before tea and three after; during these hours all without exception are busily employed except for the hour or more devoted to exercise.... It would be difficult to say who is the most diligent, but perhaps the palm would be given to Wilson, who is always at work; every rough sketch made since we started is reproduced in an enlarged and detailed form, until we now possess a splendid pictorial representation of the whole coastline of Victoria Land.... At home many no doubt will remember the horrible depression of spirit that has sometimes been pictured as a pendant to the long polar night. We cannot even claim to be martyrs in this respect; with plenty of work the days pass placidly and cheerfully.'

Nearly seven months before Scott wrote in this cheerful spirit of the winter, he had expressed himself warmly about those who were to spend it with him. 'I have,' he said in a letter dispatched from Port Chalmers on the voyage out, 'the greatest admiration for the officers and men, and feel that their allegiance to me is a thing assured. Our little society in the wardroom is governed by a spirit of good fellowship and patience which is all that the heart of man could desire; I am everlastingly glad to be one of the company and not forced to mess apart.... The absence of friction and the fine comradeship displayed throughout is beyond even my best expectation.'

This spirit of good-fellowship and give-and-take was a remarkable feature of life during the time spent in the Discovery, and the only man Scott had a word to say against was the cook. 'We shipped him at the last moment in New Zealand, when our trained cook became too big for his boots, and the exchange was greatly for the worse; I am afraid he is a thorough knave, but what is even worse, he is dirty - an unforgivable crime in a cook.'

Under such circumstances it is obvious that tempers might have been overstrained, and apart from the sins of the cook the weather was unexpectedly troublesome. Almost without exception the North Polar winter has been recorded as a period of quiescence, but in the Antarctic the wind blew with monotonous persistency, and calm days were very few and far between. Nevertheless Scott had little reason to change his original opinion about his companions, all of whom were prepared to put up with some unavoidable discomforts, and to make the best of a long job.

During the winter a very regular weekly routine was kept up, each day having its special food and its special tasks. The week's work ended on Friday, and Saturday was devoted to 'clean ship,' the officers doing their share of the scrubbing. In the forenoon the living-spaces were thoroughly cleaned, holes and corners were searched, and while the tub and scrubber held sway the deck became a 'snipe marsh.' At this time the holds also were cleared up, the bilges pumped out, the upper deck was 'squared up,' and a fresh layer of clean snow was sprinkled over that which had been soiled by the traffic of the week. Then a free afternoon for all hands followed, and after dinner in the wardroom the toast was the time-honored one of 'Sweethearts and Wives.'

On Sunday a different garment was put on, not necessarily a newer or a cleaner one, the essential point being that it should be different from that which had been worn during the week. By 9.30 the decks had been cleared up, the tables and shelves tidied, and the first lieutenant reported 'All ready for rounds.' A humble imitation of the usual man-of-war walk-round Sunday inspection followed, and Scott had the greatest faith in this system of routine, not only because it had a most excellent effect on the general discipline and cleanliness of the ship, but also because it gave an opportunity to raise and discuss each new arrangement that was made to increase the comfort of all on board.

After this inspection of both ship and men, the mess-deck was prepared for church; harmonium, reading-desk and chairs were all placed according to routine, and the bell was tolled. Scott read the service, Koettlitz the lessons, and Royds played the harmonium.

Service over, all stood off for the day and looked forward to the feast of mutton which was limited to Sunday. 'By using it thus sparingly the handsome gift of the New Zealand farmers should last us till the early spring. But it is little use to think of the sad day when it will fail; for the present I must confess that we always take an extra walk to make quite sure of our appetites on Sunday.'

On June 23 the festival of mid-winter was celebrated, and the mess-deck was decorated with designs in colored papers and festooned with chains and ropes of the same materials. Among the messes there was a great contest to have the best decorations, and some astonishing results were achieved with little more than brightly colored papers, a pair of scissors and a pot of paste. On each table stood a grotesque figure or fanciful erection of ice, which was cunningly lighted up by candles from within and sent out shafts of sparkling light. 'If,' Scott wrote in his diary, 'the light-hearted scenes of to-day can end the first period of our captivity, what room for doubt is there that we shall triumphantly weather the whole term with the same general happiness and contentment?'

During the winter months the South Polar Times, edited by Shackleton, appeared regularly, and was read with interest and amusement by everyone. At first it had been decided that each number should contain, besides the editorial, a summary of the events and meteorological conditions of the past month, some scientifically instructive articles dealing with the work and surroundings, and others written in a lighter vein; but, as the scheme developed, it was found that such features as caricatures and acrostics could be added. One of the pleasantest points in connection with the Times was that the men contributed as well as the officers; in fact some of the best, and quite the most amusing, articles were written by the occupants of the mess-deck. But beyond all else the journal owed its excellence to Wilson, who produced drawings that deserved - and ultimately obtained - a far wider appreciation than could be given to them in the Antarctic. So great was the desire to contribute to the first number of the S. P. T. that the editor's box was crammed with manuscripts by the time the date for sending in contributions had arrived. From these there was no difficulty in making a selection, but as there was also some danger of hurting the feelings of those whose contributions had been rejected, a supplementary journal named The Blizzard was produced. This publication, however, had but a brief career, for in spite of some good caricatures and a very humorous frontispiece by Barne, it was so inferior to the S. P. T. that even its contributors realized that their mission in life did not lie in the paths of literary composition. The Blizzard, in short, served its purpose, and then ceased to exist.

In considering the arrangements to make the ship comfortable during the dark months, the question of artificial light was as difficult as it was important. Paraffin had from the first been suggested as the most suitable illuminant, its main disadvantage being that it is not a desirable oil to carry in quantities in a ship. 'Our luckiest find,' Scott says, 'was perhaps the right sort of lamp in which to burn this oil. Fortunately an old Arctic explorer, Captain Egerton, presented me with a patent lamp in which the draught is produced by a fan worked by clockwork mechanism, and no chimney is needed. One can imagine the great mortality there would be in chimneys if we were obliged to employ them, so that when, on trial, this lamp was found to give an excellent light, others of the same sort were purchased, and we now use them exclusively in all parts of the ship with extremely satisfactory results.'

There was, however, a still brighter illuminant within their reach in the shape of acetylene, but not until it became certain that they would have to spend a second winter in the Antarctic, did their thoughts fly to the calcium carbide which had been provided for the hut, and which they had not previously thought of using. 'In this manner the darkness of our second winter was relieved by a light of such brilliancy that all could pursue their occupations by the single burner placed in each compartment. I lay great stress on this, because I am confident that this is in every way the best illuminant that can be taken for a Polar winter, and no future expedition should fail to supply themselves with it.'

As has already been said, the meteorological observations had to be read and recorded every two hours, and on July 21 Scott gave in his diary a full and graphic account of the way he occupied himself during his 'night on.' 'Each of us has his own way of passing the long, silent hours. My own custom is to devote some of it to laundry-work, and I must confess I make a very poor fist of it. However, with a bath full of hot water, I commence pretty regularly after the ten o'clock observation, and labor away until my back aches. There is little difficulty with the handkerchiefs, socks and such-like articles, but when it comes to thick woolen vests and pajamas, I feel ready to own my incapacity; one always seems to be soaping and rubbing at the same place, and one is forced to wonder at the area of stuff which it takes to cover a comparatively small body. My work is never finished by midnight, but I generally pretend that it is, and after taking the observations for that hour, return to wring everything out. I am astonished to find that even this is no light task; as one wrings out one end the water seems to fly to the other; then I hang some heavy garment on a hook and wring until I can wring no more; but even so, after it has been hung for a few minutes on the wardroom clothes-line, it will begin to drip merrily on the floor, and I have to tackle it afresh. I shall always have a high respect for laundry-work in future, but I do not think it can often have to cope with such thick garments as we wear.

'Washing over, one can devote oneself to pleasanter occupations. The night-watchman is always allowed a box of sardines, which are scarce enough to be a great luxury, and is provided with tea or cocoa and a spirit-lamp. Everyone has his own ideas as to how sardines should be prepared... and I scarcely like to record that there is a small company of gourmets, who actually wake one another up in order that the night-watchman may present his fellow epicures with a small finger of buttered toast, on which are poised two sardines "done to a turn." The awakened sleeper devours the dainty morsel, grunts his satisfaction, and goes placidly off into dreamland again.

'I find that after my labors at the wash-tub and the pleasing supper that follows, I can safely stretch myself out in a chair without fear of being overcome by sleep, and so, with the ever-soothing pipe and one's latest demand on the library book-shelves, one settles down in great peace and contentment whilst keeping an eye on the flying hours, ready to sally forth into the outer darkness at the appointed time.

'The pleasure or pain of that periodic journey is of course entirely dependent on the weather. On a fine night it may be quite a pleasure, but when, as is more common, the wind is sweeping past the ship, the observer is often subjected to exasperating difficulties, and to conditions when his conscience must be at variance with his inclination.

'Sometimes the lantern will go out at the screen, and he is forced to return on board to light it; sometimes it will refuse to shine on the thin threads of mercury of the thermometer until it is obvious that his proximity has affected the reading, and he is forced to stand off until it has again fallen to the air temperature.... These and many other difficulties in taking observations which may be in themselves valueless are met in the right spirit. I think we all appreciate that they are part of a greater whole whose value must stand or fall by attention to detail.'

At the end of July a most unpleasant fact had to be faced in a mishap to the boats. Early in the winter they had been hoisted out to give more room for the awning, and had been placed in a line about a hundred yards from the ice-foot on the sea-ice. The earliest gale drifted them up nearly gunwale high, and thus for the next two months they remained in sight. But then another gale brought more snow, and was so especially generous with it in the neighborhood of the boats, that they were afterwards found to be buried three or four feet beneath the surface. With no feelings of anxiety, but rather to provide occupation, Scott ordered the snow on the top of them to be removed, and not until the first boat had been reached was the true state of affairs revealed. She was found lying in a mass of slushy ice with which she was nearly filled, and though for a moment there was a wild hope that she could be pulled up, this soon vanished; for the air temperature promptly converted the slush into hardened ice, and so she was stuck fast.

Nothing more could be done at that time to recover the boats, because as fast as the sodden ice could be dug out, more sea-water would have come in and frozen. But to try and prevent bad going to worse before the summer brought hope with it, parties were engaged day after day in digging away at the snow covering, and in the course of months many tons must have been removed. The danger was that fresh gales bringing more snow might have sunk the boats so far below the surface that they could never be recovered, and after each gale the diggers were naturally despondent, as to all appearances they had to begin all over again. The prospect, however, of having to leave the Antarctic without a single boat in the ship, and also the feeling that so much labor must tell in the end, spurred on the diggers to renewed vigor, but it was not until December that the boats were finally liberated.

Early in August another gale with blinding drift was responsible for an experience to Bernacchi and Skelton that once again emphasized the bewildering effect of a blizzard. They were in the smaller compartment of the main hut completing a set of pendulum observations, while Royds was in the larger compartment - the hut was used for many and various purposes - rehearsing his nigger minstrel troupe. Either because nigger minstrelsy and scientific work did not go hand in hand, or because their work was finished, Bernacchi and Skelton, soon after the rehearsal began, left the hut to return to the ship. Fully an hour and a half afterwards Royds and his troupe, numbering more than a dozen, started back, and found that the gale had increased and that the whirling snow prevented them from seeing anything. Being, however, in such numbers, they were able to join hands and sweep along until they caught the guide-rope leading to the gangway; and then as they traveled along it they heard feeble shouts, and again extending their line suddenly fell upon Bernacchi and Skelton, who, having entirely lost their bearings, had been reduced to shouting on the chance of being heard and rescued.

The hut was scarcely 200 yards from the ship, and the latter was not only a comparatively big object but was surrounded by guide-ropes and other means of direction, which if encountered would have informed the wanderers of their position. Additionally Bernacchi and Skelton could be trusted to take the most practical course in any difficulty, and so it seems the more incredible that they could actually have been lost for two hours. Both of them were severely frostbitten about the face and legs, but bitter as their experience was it served as yet another warning to those who were to go sledding in the spring that no risks could be taken in such a capricious climate. Had not Royds been rehearsing his troupe on this occasion the results to Bernacchi and Skelton must have been more disastrous than they were; consequently the idea of using the large hut as a place of entertainment was fortunate in more ways than one.

During the first week of May a concert had been given in the hut, but this was more or less in the nature of an experiment; for Royds, who took infinite pains over these entertainments, had arranged a long program with the object of bringing to light any possible talent. The result of this was that even the uncritical had to confess that most of the performers would have been less out of place among the audience. So much dramatic ability, however, was shown that Barne was entrusted with the work of producing a play, which, after many rehearsals conducted with due secrecy, was produced on June 25.

This play was entitled 'The Ticket of Leave,' 'a screaming comedy in one act,' and was produced with unqualified success. 'I for one,' Scott says, 'have to acknowledge that I have rarely been so gorgeously entertained.'

Later on Royds began to organize his nigger minstrel troupe, and when the doors of the Royal Terror Theatre opened at 7.30 on August 6, the temperature outside them was - 40°, while inside it was well below zero. Under these conditions it is small wonder that the audience was glad when the curtain went up. 'There is no doubt,' Scott says in reference to this performance, 'that sailors dearly love to make up; on this occasion they had taken an infinity of trouble to prepare themselves.... "Bones" and "Skins" had even gone so far as to provide themselves with movable top-knots which could be worked at effective moments by pulling a string below.... To-night the choruses and plantation-songs led by Royds were really well sung, and they repay him for the very great pains he has taken in the rehearsals.'

So with entertainments to beguile the time, and with blizzards to endure, and with preparations to make for sledding, the days passed by until on August 21 the sun was once more due to return. But on that day a few hours of calm in the morning were succeeded by whirling snow-squalls from the south, and each lull was followed by a wild burst of wind. Scott was glad enough to have everyone on board in such weather, and at noon when he had hoped to be far over the hills only vast sheets of gleaming snow could be seen. The following day, however, was an ideal one for the first view of the long-absent sun, and Scott went to the top of Crater Hill to watch and welcome. 'Over all the magnificent view the sunlight spreads with gorgeous effect after its long absence; a soft pink envelops the western ranges, a brilliant red gold covers the northern sky; to the north also each crystal of snow sparkles with reflected light. The sky shows every gradation of light and shade; little flakes of golden sunlit cloud float against the pale blue heaven, and seem to hover in the middle heights, whilst far above them a feathery white cirrus shades to grey on its unlit sides.'

But when the men were told that the sun could be seen from Hut Point, to Scott's astonishment they displayed little or no enthusiasm. Everyone seemed glad to think that it had been punctual in keeping its appointment, but after all they had seen the sun a good many times before, and in the next few months they would in all probability see it a good many times again, and there was no sense in getting excited about it. Some of them did set off at a run for the point, while others, since it seemed the right thing to do, followed at a walk, but a good number remained on board and had their dinner. On August 25 the Feast of the Sun was duly celebrated, and the days that followed were fuller than ever with preparations for the spring journeys. The only sewing-machine clattered away all day long, and the whole company plied their needles as if they were being sweated by iron-handed taskmasters. The long winter was at an end, and everyone, in the best of spirits, was looking forward eagerly to the spring sledge journeys, and making garments in which to bid defiance to the wind and the weather. As regards the actual sledge equipment which was taken to the south, Scott had depended on the experience of others, and especially on that of Armitage, but owing to a variety of reasons the difficulty of providing an efficient sledding outfit had been immense.

In England twenty-five years had passed since any important sledding expedition had been accomplished, and during that time not a single sledge, and very few portions of a sledge equipment, had been made in the country. The popular accounts of former expeditions were not written to supply the minute details required, and no memory could be expected to retain these details after such a lapse of time. In fact the art of sledge-making was lost in England, but fortunately the genius of Nansen had transferred it to Norway. In the autumn of 1900 Scott had visited Christiania, and there received much advice and assistance from Nansen himself. It was not, however, until Armitage agreed to serve as second in command of the expedition that Scott had anyone on whom he could rely to provide the sledding outfit.

In making these preparations for long journeys in the south, there was no previous experience to go upon except that which had been gained in the north; indeed it was necessary to assume that southern conditions would be more or less similar to those of the north, and in so far as they proved different the sledding outfit ran the risk of failure. Experience taught Scott that in many respects the sledding conditions of the south were different from those of the north, and so it is only fair to consider the sledge journeys taken by the Discovery expedition as pioneer efforts. These differences are both climatic and geographical. For instance, the conditions in the south are more severe than those in the north, both in the lowness of the temperatures and in the distressing frequency of blizzards and strong winds. And the geographical difference between the work of the northern and the southern sledge-traveler is as great as the climatic, if not greater, for the main part of northern traveling has been and will be done on sea-ice, while the larger part of southern traveling has been and will be done over land surfaces, or what in this respect are their equivalents.

So impressed was Scott by the impossibility of dragging a sledge over the surfaces of the Great Barrier to the South at the rate maintained by the old English travelers on the northern sea-ice, that he began seriously to think that the British race of explorers must have deteriorated rapidly and completely in stamina. But later on, in carrying out exploration to the west, he had to travel over the sea-ice of the strait, and then he discovered that - given the surface there was nothing wrong with the pace at which his sledge parties could travel. Probably, however, the distances recorded by the northern travelers will never be exceeded in the south, for the Antarctic explorer has to meet severer climatic conditions, and while pulling his sledge over heavier surfaces he is not likely to meet with fewer obstacles in his path. To make marching records is not, of course, the main purpose of sledge-travelers, but all the same, where conditions are equal, speed and the distance traveled are a direct test of the efficiency of sledding preparations, and of the spirit of those who undertake this arduous service.

The main differences between the sledges used by the Discovery expedition and those used by other explorers were a decrease in breadth and an increase in runner surface. Measured across from the center of one runner to the center of the other Scott's sledges were all, with one exception, 1 foot 5 inches. The runners themselves were 3-3/4 inches across, so that the sledge track from side to side measured about 1 foot 8-3/4 inches. The lengths varied from 12 feet to 7 feet, but the 11-foot sledges proved to be by far the most convenient - a length of 12 feet seeming to pass just beyond the limit of handiness.

Taking then 11 feet as about the best length for this type of sledge, it will be seen that it differed considerably from the old Arctic type, which was 10 feet long and 3 feet broad. The weight of such all 11-foot sledge was anything between 40 and 47 lbs., and this was none too light when the full strength of the structure was required. Generally speaking, the full load that could be put upon them was about 600 lbs. The most important part of the sledge is the runner, in which the grain must be perfectly straight and even, or it will splinter very easily; but it surprised Scott to find what a lot of wear a good wood runner would stand, provided that it was only taken over snow. 'Some of our 9-foot sledges must,' he says, 'have traveled 1,000 miles, and there was still plenty of wear left in the runners.'

In point of numbers the Discovery's crew was far behind the old Northern expeditions; and it was this fact that made Scott decide, in arranging a sledge equipment where men and not dogs would do most of the haulage, to divide his parties into the smallest workable units. The old Northern plan had allowed for parties of at least eight, who, having a common tent and cooking arrangements, could not be subdivided. Scott's plan was not necessarily to limit the number of men in his parties, but to divide them into units of three, which should be self-contained, so that whenever it was advisable a unit could be detached from the main party. Under such a system it is obvious that each unit must have its own tent, sleeping-bag, cooker, and so on; and therein lay a disadvantage, as economy of material and weight can be better carried out with a large unit than with a small one.

The weights of a party naturally divide themselves under two headings: the permanent, which will not diminish throughout the trip, and the consumable, including food, oil, &c. The following is a list of the permanent weights carried on Scott's journey to the west, and it will give some idea of the variety of articles, exclusive of provisions. The party numbered six.

  2 Sledges with fittings complete 130 
    Trace 5 
  2 Cookers, pannikins and spoons 30 
  2 Primus lamps, filled 10 
  2 Tents complete 60 
  2 Spades 9 
  2 Sleeping-bags with night-gear 100 
    Sleeping jackets, crampons, spare finnesko 50 
    [Footnote: Reindeer-fur boots.] 
    Medical bag 6 
  3 Ice-axes 8 
    Bamboos and marks 11.5 
    Instruments and camera 50 
    Alpine rope 9 
    Repair and tool bags, sounding-line, tape, 
      sledge brakes 15 
    Ski boots for party 15 
    Ski for party 60

    Total 568.5

Roughly speaking, a man can drag from 200 to 240 lbs., but his load was rarely above 200 lbs. This for six men gave a total carrying capacity of 1,200 lbs. and hence about 630 lbs. could be devoted to provisions.

Again, speaking very roughly, this amount is about six weeks' food for a party of six, but as such a short period is often not long enough to satisfy sledge-travelers, they are compelled to organize means by which their journey can be prolonged. This can be done in two ways; they may either go out earlier in the season and lay a depôt at a considerable distance towards their goal, or they may arrange to receive assistance from a supporting party, which accompanies them for a certain distance on the road and helps their advance party to drag a heavier load than they can accomplish alone.

Both of these plans were adopted by Scott on the more important journeys, and his parties were able to be absent from the ship for long periods and to travel long distances.