Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit 
  To its full height...

                     ...Shew us here 
  That you are worth your breeding, which I doubt not. 
  For there is none so mean or base 
  That have not noble lustre in your eyes. 
  I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, 
  Straining upon the start. 

During the later months of the dark season all thoughts had been turned to the prospects of the spring journeys, and many times the advantages and disadvantages of dogs for sledding were discussed. This question of the sacrifice of animal life was one on which Scott felt strongly from the time he became an explorer to the end of his life. Argue with himself as he might, the idea was always repugnant to his nature.

'To say,' he wrote after his first expedition, that dogs do not greatly increase the radius of action is absurd; to pretend that they can be worked to this end without pain, suffering, and death, is equally futile. The question is whether the latter can be justified by the gain, and I think that logically it may be; but the introduction of such sordid necessity must and does rob sledge-traveling of much of its glory. In my mind no journey ever made with dogs can approach the height of that fine conception which is realized when a party of men go forth to face hardships, dangers, and difficulties with their own unaided efforts, and by days and weeks of hard physical labor succeed in solving some problem of the great unknown. Surely in this case the conquest is more nobly and splendidly won.'

When the spring campaign opened in 1902 the original team of dogs had been sadly diminished. Of the nineteen that remained for the southern journey, all but one - and he was killed at an earlier period - left their bones on the great southern plains. This briefly is the history of the dogs, but the circumstances under which they met their deaths will be mentioned later on.

Before Scott started on the southern journey he decided to make a short trip to the north with the dogs and a party of six officers and men, his main purposes being to test the various forms of harness, and to find out whether the dogs pulled best in large or small teams. During part of this journey, which only lasted from September 2 to 5, the four sledges were taken independently with four dogs harnessed to each, and it was discovered that if the first team got away all right, the others were often keen to play the game of 'follow my leader.' Sometimes, indeed, there was a positive spirit of rivalry, and on one occasion two competing teams got closer and closer to each other, with the natural result that when they were near enough to see what was happening, they decided that the easiest way to settle the matter was by a free fight. So they turned inwards with one accord and met with a mighty shock. In a moment there was a writhing mass of fur and teeth, and an almost hopeless confusion of dog traces. But even in this short trip some experience had been gained; for results showed how unwise it was to divide the dogs into small parties, and also there was no mistaking which were the strong and which the weak dogs, and, what was of more importance, which the willing and which the lazy ones.

On September 10, Royds and Koettlitz started off to the south-west with Evans, Quartley, Lashly and Wild. And of this party Scott wrote: 'They looked very workmanlike, and one could see at a glance the vast improvement that has been made since last year. The sledges were uniformly packed.... One shudders now to think of the slovenly manner in which we conducted things last autumn; at any rate here is a first result of the care and attention of the winter.'

Armitage and Ferrar with four men left for the west on the following day, but owing to the necessity of making fresh harness for the dogs and to an exasperating blizzard, Scott was not able to start on his southern reconnaissance journey until September 17.

On the morning of that day he and his two companions, Barne and Shackleton, with thirteen dogs divided into two teams, left the ship in bright sunshine; but by 1.15 P.M., when they camped for lunch, the wind was blowing from the east and the thermometer was down to - 43°.

The sledges carried a fortnight's food for all concerned, together with a quantity of stores to form a depôt, the whole giving a load of about 90 lbs. per dog; but this journey was destined to be only a short and bitter experience.

The reason was that on the night of the 17th the travelers were so exhausted that they did not heap enough snow on the skirting of the tent, and when Scott woke up on the following morning he found himself in the open. 'At first, as I lifted the flap of my sleeping-bag, I could not think what had happened. I gazed forth on a white sheet of drifting snow, with no sign of the tent or my companions. For a moment I wondered what in the world it could mean, but the lashing of the snow in my face very quickly awoke me to full consciousness, and I sat up to find that in some extraordinary way I had rolled out of the tent.'

At the time a violent gale was raging, and through the blinding snow Scott could only just see the tent, though it was flapping across the foot of his bag; but when he had wriggled back to the tent the snow was whirling as freely inside as without, and the tent itself was straining so madly at what remained of its securing, that something had to be done at once to prevent it from blowing away altogether.

So with freezing fingers they gripped the skirting and gradually pulled it inwards, and half sitting upon it, half grasping it, they tried to hold it against the wild blasts of the storm, while they discussed the situation. Discussion, however, was useless. An attempt to secure the tent properly in such weather was impossible, while they felt that if once they loosed their grip, the tent would hasten to leave them at once and for ever. Every now and then they were forced to get a fresh hold, and lever themselves once more over the skirt. And as they remained hour after hour grimly hanging on and warning each other of frostbitten features, their sleeping-bags became fuller and fuller of snow, until they were lying in masses of chilly slush. Not until 6 P.M. had they by ceaseless exertions so far become masters of the situation, that there was no further need for the tent to be held with anything except the weight of their sleeping-bags. Then an inspection of hands showed a number of frostbites, but Barne, whose fingers had not recovered from the previous year, had suffered the most. 'To have hung on to the tent through all those hours must have been positive agony to him, yet he never uttered a word of complaint.'

By 10 P.M. the worst of the storm had passed, and after a few hours' sleep and a hot meal, they soon decided that to push on after this most miserable experience was very unwise, since by returning to the ship they would only lose one day's march and everything could be dried for a fresh start.

Apart from 'Brownie,' who spent his time inside the tent, the rest of the dogs never uttered a sound during the storm, and were found quite happily sleeping in their nests of snow. On the journey back the thermometer recorded - 53°, and the effect of such a temperature upon wet clothing may be imagined. 'I shall remember the condition of my trousers for a long while; they might have been cut out of sheet iron. It was some time before I could walk with any sort of ease, and even when we reached the ship I was conscious of carrying an armor plate behind me.... It will certainly be a very long time before I go to sleep again in a tent which is not properly secured.'

On September 24 Scott was ready to start again, but Barne's fingers had suffered so severely that his place was taken by the boatswain, Feather, who had taken a keen interest in every detail of sledding. Owing to the dogs refusing to do what was expected of them, and to gales, slow progress was made, but the wind had dropped by the morning of September 29, and Scott was so anxious to push on that he took no notice of a fresh bank of cloud coming up from the south, with more wind and drift. Taking the lead himself, he gave orders to the two teams to follow rigidly in his wake, whatever turns and twists he might make. Notwithstanding the bad light he could see the bridged crevasses, where they ran across the bare ice surface, by slight differences in shade, and though he could not see them where they dived into the valleys, he found that the bridges were strong enough to bear. In his desire to use the snowy patches as far as possible, the course he took was very irregular, and the dogs invariably tried to cut corners. In this manner they proceeded for some time, until Scott suddenly heard a shout, and looking back saw to his horror that Feather had vanished. The dog team and sledges were there all right, but their leader was lost to sight. Hurrying back he found that the trace had disappeared down a formidable crevasse, but to his great relief Feather was at the end of the trace, and was soon hauled up. One strand of Feather's harness was cut clean through where it fell across the ice-edge, and although, being a man of few words, he was more inclined to swear at 'Nigger' for trying to cut a corner than to marvel at his own escape, there is no doubt that he had a very close call.

After this accident the dog teams were joined, and reluctant to give up they advanced again; but very soon the last of the four sledges disappeared, and was found hanging vertically up and down in an ugly-looking chasm. To the credit of the packing not a single thing had come off, in spite of the jerk with which it had fallen. It was, however, too heavy to haul up as it was, but, after some consultation, the indefatigable Feather proposed that he should be let down and undertake the very cold job of unpacking it. So he was slung with one end of the Alpine rope, while the other was used for hauling up the various packages; and at last the load was got up, and the lightened sledge soon followed. After this incident they thought it prudent to treat these numerous crevasses with more respect, and on proceeding they roped themselves together; but although no more mishaps occurred, Scott afterwards was more inclined to attribute this to good luck than to good judgment. 'Looking back on this day, I cannot but think our procedure was extremely rash. I have not the least doubt now that this region was a very dangerous one, and the fact that we essayed to cross it in this light-hearted fashion can only be ascribed to our ignorance. With us, I am afraid, there were not a few occasions when one might have applied the proverb that "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."'

The depôt, leaving six weeks' provision for three men and 150 lbs. of dog-food, was made on the morning of October 1, and besides marking it with a large black flag, Scott was also careful to take angles with a prismatic compass to all the points he could see. Then they started home, and the dogs knowing at once what was meant no longer required any driving. On the homeward march the travelers went for all they were worth, and in spite of perpetual fog covered eighty-five statute miles in less than three days.

On returning to the ship Scott admits that he found it a most delightful place. The sense of having done what he wanted to do had something to do with this feeling of satisfaction, but it was the actual physical comfort after days of privation that chiefly affected him. The joy of possessing the sledding appetite was sheer delight, and for many days after the travelers returned from their sledding-trips, they retained a hunger which it seemed impossible to satisfy.

In short Scott, on the night of his return, was very pleased with himself and the world in general, but before he went to bed all his sense of comfort and peace had gone. For he had discovered what Armitage, wishing to give him some hours of unmixed enjoyment, had not meant to mention until the following morning, and this was that there had been an outbreak of scurvy - the disease that has played a particularly important, and often a tragic, part in the adventures of Polar travelers, and the seriousness of which everyone who has read the history of Polar explorations cannot fail to realize.

This outbreak had occurred during Armitage's journey, and when he, after much anxiety, had got his men back to the ship, Wilson's medical examination proved that Ferrar, Heald and Cross were all attacked, while the remainder of the party were not above suspicion.

Very soon, however, symptoms of the disease began to abate, but the danger lurking around them was continually in Scott's thoughts, and he was determined not to give the dreaded enemy another chance to break out.

Everything possible was done to make the ship and everything in her sweet and clean, and after a large seal-killing party, sent out at Wilson's suggestion, had returned, the order was given that no tinned meat of any description should be issued. By October 20 this grave disease had to all intents and purposes passed away, but although evidence showed that it was caused by tinned meats which were to all appearances of the best quality, and by apparently fresh mutton taken in small quantities, there was no positive proof that these were the causes of the trouble.

This attack of scurvy came as a great surprise to everyone, for when the long winter was over and all of them were in good health and high spirits, they had naturally congratulated themselves on the effectiveness of their precautions. The awakening from this pleasant frame of mind was rude, and though the disease vanished with astonishing rapidity, it was - quite apart from the benefit lost to medical science - very annoying not to be able to say definitely from what the evil had sprung.

But although the seriousness of this outbreak was not underrated, and every precaution was taken to prevent its recurrence, preparations for the various journeys were pushed on with no less vigor and enthusiasm. The game to play was that there was nothing really to be alarmed about, and everyone played it with the greatest success.

Scott's journey to the south had indicated that the main party would have to travel directly over the snow-plain at a long distance from, and perhaps out of sight of, land; and as in all probability no further depôts could be established, it was desirable that this party should be supported as far as possible on their route. To meet these requirements it was decided that Barne, with a party of twelve men, should accompany the dog-team, until the weights were reduced to an amount which the dogs could drag without assistance. Then Barne was to return to the ship, and after a short rest start again with six men, to follow the coast-line west of the Bluff. As soon as this was in train, Armitage was to have at his disposal all the men and material left in the ship for his attack on the western region.

On Friday, October 24, Royds, who had left the ship three weeks before with Skelton, Lashly, Evans, Quartley and Wild, returned with the good news that he had been able to communicate with the 'Record' post at Cape Crozier. If a relief ship was going to be sent out, Scott now had the satisfaction of knowing that she had a good prospect of being guided to the winter quarters of the expedition. It was also a great source of satisfaction to find that although Royds and his party had left almost immediately after the outbreak of scurvy, they had all returned safe and with no symptom of the disease.

From the 13th to the 18th this party had been kept in their tents by a most persistent blizzard, and before the blizzard ceased they were practically buried in the heart of a snowdrift; in fact one tent had literally to be dug out before its occupants could be got into the open, while the sledges and everything left outside were completely buried. As the snow gradually accumulated round the tents it became heavier and heavier on every fold of canvas, and reduced the interior space to such an extent that those inside were obliged to lie with their knees bent double. Royds, whose reports were invariably very brief and to the point, dismissed the tale of these five days in half a page, but no great effort of imagination is needed to grasp the horrible discomforts everyone must have endured. And yet when this party recounted their adventures on board the ship, the hardships were scarcely mentioned, and all that the men seemed to remember were the amusing incidents that had happened.

On this journey a colony of Emperor penguins was discovered, and among them were several which were nursing chicks. 'I will only testify,' Scott says, 'to the joy which greeted this discovery on board the ship. We had felt that this penguin was the truest type of our region. All other birds fled north when the severity of winter descended upon us: the Emperor alone was prepared to face the extremest rigors of our climate; and we gathered no small satisfaction from being the first to throw light on the habits of a creature, which so far surpasses in hardihood all others of the feathered tribe.'

Before the end of October everything was prepared for the southern journey; every eventuality seemed to be provided for, and as it was expected that the dogs would travel faster than the men Barne and his party started off on October 30, while the dog team left a few days later. 'The supporting party started this morning, amidst a scene of much enthusiasm; all hands had a day off, and employed it in helping to drag the sledges for several miles... Barne's banner floated on the first, the next bore a Union Jack, and another carried a flag with a large device stating "No dogs needs apply"; the reference was obvious. It was an inspiriting sight to see nearly the whole of our small company step out on the march with ringing cheers, and to think that all work of this kind promised to be done as heartily.'

And then the day that Scott had been so eagerly looking forward to arrived, and at ten o'clock on the morning of November 2, he, Shackleton and Wilson, amidst the wild cheers of their comrades, started on the southern journey. 'Every soul was gathered on the floe to bid us farewell, and many were prepared to accompany us for the first few miles.' The dogs, as if knowing that a great effort was expected of them, had never been in such form, and in spite of the heavy load and the fact that at first two men had to sit on the sledges to check them, it was as much as the rest of the party could do to keep up. By noon the volunteers had all tailed off, and the three travelers were alone with the dogs, and still breathlessly trying to keep pace with them. Soon afterwards they caught sight of a dark spot ahead and later on made this out to be the supporting party, who, when they were overtaken on the same evening, reported that they had been kept in their tents by bad weather. Having relieved them of some of their loads, Scott camped, while they pushed on to get the advantage of a night march.

During the next few days the two parties constantly passed and re-passed each other, since it was impossible for Scott to push on ahead of Barne's party, and the latter's progress was very slow, as they could get no hold with their fur boots, and they found their ski leather boots dreadfully cold for their feet. To add to the slowness of the journey the weather was very unfavorable, and the greater parts of the 8th and 9th were entirely wasted by a blizzard. On the 10th Depôt A, that had previously been laid, was reached and Scott wrote: 'Already it seems to me that the dogs feel the monotony of a long march over the snow more than we do; they seem easily to get dispirited, and that it is not due to fatigue is shown when they catch a glimpse of anything novel.... To-day, for instance, they required some driving until they caught sight of the depôt flag, when they gave tongue loudly and dashed off as though they barely felt the load behind them.'

The names of the dogs were:

  Nigger Birdie Wolf 
  Jim Nell Vic 
  Spud Blanco Bismarck 
  Snatcher Grannie Kid 
  Fitzclarence Lewis Boss 
  Stripes Gus Brownie 

Each of them had his peculiar characteristics, and what the Southern party did not already know concerning their individualities, they had ample opportunities of finding out in the course of the next few weeks.

Nigger was the leader of the team; a place he chose naturally for himself, and if he was put into any other position he behaved so unpleasantly to his neighbors, and so generally upset things, that he was quickly shifted. A more perfect sledge-dog could scarcely be imagined. He seemed to know the meaning of every move, and in camp would be still as a graven image until he saw the snow being shoveled from the skirting of the tent, when he would spring up and pace to and fro at his picket, and give a low throaty bark of welcome if anyone approached him. A few minutes later, when the leading man came to uproot his picket, he would watch every movement, and a slow wagging of the tail quite obviously showed his approval: then, as the word came to start, he would push affectionately against the leader, as much as to say, 'Now come along!' and brace his powerful chest to the harness. At the evening halt after a long day he would drop straight in his tracks and remain perfectly still, with his magnificent black head resting on his paws. Other dogs might clamor for food, but Nigger knew perfectly well that the tent had first to be put up. Afterwards, however, when the dog-food was approached his deep bell-like note could always be distinguished amid the howling chorus, and if disturbance was to be avoided it was well to attend to him first of all.

Of the other dogs Lewis was noisily affectionate and hopelessly clumsy; Jim could pull splendidly when he chose, but he was up to all the tricks of the trade and was extraordinarily cunning at pretending to pull; Spud was generally considered to be daft; Birdie evidently had been treated badly in his youth and remained distrustful and suspicious to the end; Kid was the most indefatigable worker in the team; Wolf's character possessed no redeeming point of any kind, while Brownie though a little too genteel for very hard work was charming as a pet, and it may also be said of him that he never lost an opportunity of using his pleasant appearance and delightful ways to lighten his afflictions. The load for this dog team after Depôt A had been passed was 1,850 lbs., which, considering that some of the dogs were of little use, was heavy. But it must not be forgotten that the men also expected to pull, and that each night the weight would be reduced by thirty or forty pounds. By the 13th the travelers were nearly up to the 79th parallel, and therefore farther south than anyone had yet been. 'The announcement of the fact caused great jubilation, and I am extremely glad that there are no fewer than fifteen of us to enjoy this privilege of having broken the record.' A photograph of the record-breakers was taken, and then half of the supporting party started to return, and the other half stepped out once more on a due south line, with the dogs following.

By the 15th, however, when the rest of the supporting party turned back, Scott had begun to be anxious about the dogs. 'The day's work has cast a shadow on our high aspirations, and already it is evident that if we are to achieve much it will be only by extreme toil, for the dogs have not pulled well to-day.... We have decided that if things have not improved in the morning we will take on half a load at a time; after a few days of this sort of thing the loads will be sufficiently lightened for us to continue in the old way again.'

On the following day an attempt to start with the heavy loads promptly and completely failed, and the only thing to do was to divide the load into two portions and take half on at a time. This meant, of course, that each mile had to be traveled three times, but there was no alternative to this tedious form of advance. Even, however, with the half-loads the dogs seemed to have lost all their spirit, and at the end of the march on the 18th they were practically 'done.' Only five geographical miles [Footnote: 7 geographical miles = a little more than 8 statute miles.] were gained on that day, but to do it they had to cover fifteen.

On the night of the 19th matters had gone from bad to worse, and it had to be acknowledged that the fish diet the dogs were eating permanently disagreed with them. Originally Scott had intended to take ordinary dog-biscuits for the animals, but in an unlucky moment he was persuaded by an expert in dog-driving to take fish. The fish taken was the Norwegian stock-fish, such as is split, dried and exported from that country in great quantities for human food. But one important point was overlooked, namely the probability of the fish being affected on passing through the tropics. The lesson, Scott said, was obvious, that in future travelers in the south should safeguard their dogs as carefully as they do their men, for in this case it was the dogs that called the halts; and so the party had to spend hours in their tent which might have been devoted to marching.

Day after day relay work continued, the only relief from the monotony of their toil being that land was sighted on the 21st, and as the prospects of reaching a high latitude were steadily disappearing, it was decided to alter their course to S. S. W. and edge towards it. Then the surface over which they were traveling showed signs of improvement, but the travelers themselves were beginning to suffer from blistered noses and cracked lips, and their eyes were also troubling them. Appetites, however, were increasing by leaps and bounds. 'The only thing to be looked to on our long marches is the prospect of the next meal.'

On November 24 a new routine was started which made a little variation in the dull toil of relay work. After pushing on the first half-load one of the three stopped with it, and got up the tent and prepared the meal while the other two brought up the second half-load. And then on the following day came one of those rewards which was all the sweeter because it had been gained by ceaseless and very monotonous toil.

'Before starting to-day I took a meridian altitude,' Scott wrote, 'and to my delight found the latitude to be 80° 1'. All our charts of the Antarctic region show a plain white circle beyond the eightieth parallel... It has always been our ambition to get inside that white space, and now we are there the space can no longer be a blank; this compensates for a lot of trouble.'

A blizzard followed upon this success, but the dogs were so exhausted that a day's rest had been thought of even if the weather had not compelled it. Wilson, to his great discomfort, was always able to foretell these storms, for when they were coming on he invariably suffered from rheumatism; so, however reluctant, he could not help being a very effective barometer.

After the storm had passed an attempt was made on the morning of the 27th to start with the full load, but it took next to no time to discover that the dogs had not benefited by their rest, and there was nothing to do except to go on with the old routine of relay work. As the days passed with no signs of improvement in the dogs, it became more and more necessary to reach the land in hopes of making a depôt; so the course was laid to the westward of S. W., which brought the high black headland, for which they were making, on their port bow. 'I imagine it to be about fifty miles off, but hope it is not so much; nine hours' work to-day has only given us a bare four miles.'

Then for some days the only change in the toil of relay work and the sickening task of driving tired dogs on and on was that they marched by night, and rested by day. The breakfast hour was between 4 and 5 P.M., the start at 6 P.M., and they came to camp somewhere between three and four in the morning. Thus they rested while the sun was at its greatest height; but although there were certainly advantages in this, Scott could not get rid of a curious feeling that something was amiss with such a topsy-turvy method of procedure.

By December 3 they were close enough to the land to make out some of its details. On their right was a magnificent range of mountains, which by rough calculations Scott made out to be at least fifty miles away. By far the nearest point of land was an isolated snow-cape, an immense, and almost dome-shaped, snow-covered mass. At first no rock at all could be seen on it, but as they got nearer a few patches began to appear. For one of these patches they decided to make so that they might establish a depôt, but at the rate at which they were traveling there was little hope of reaching it for several days.

By this time the appetites of the party were so ravenous that when the pemmican bag was slung alongside a tin of paraffin, and both smelt and tasted of oil, they did not really mind. But what saddened them more than this taste of paraffin was the discovery, on December 5, that their oil was going too fast. A gallon was to have lasted twelve days, but on investigation it was found on an average to have lasted only ten, which meant that in the future each gallon would have to last a fortnight. 'This is a distinct blow, as we shall have to sacrifice our hot luncheon meal and to economize greatly at both the others. We started the new routine to-night, and for lunch ate some frozen seal-meat and our allowance of sugar and biscuit.'

It was perhaps fortunate that their discovery about the oil was not delayed any longer, but nevertheless it came at a time when the outlook was dreary and dispiriting enough without additional discomforts. On the 6th Spud gnawed through his trace, and when Scott went outside before breakfast, one glance at the dog's balloon-like appearance was enough to show how he had spent his hours of freedom. He had, in fact, eaten quite a week's allowance of the precious seal-meat, and though rather somnolent after his gorge, he did not seem to be suffering any particular discomfort from the enormous increase of his waist. On the next day there was a blizzard, duly predicted by Wilson's twinges of rheumatism, and on the 8th Scott reluctantly records that the dogs were steadily going downhill. 'The lightening of the load is more than counter-balanced by the weakening of the animals, and I can see no time in which we can hope to get the sledges along without pulling ourselves.'

By the 10th they were within ten or twelve miles of the coast, but so exhausted that they felt no certainty of reaching it; and even supposing they did get there and make a depôt, they doubted very much if they would be in any condition to go on. One dog, Snatcher, was already dead, and some of the others had only been got to move with the second load by the ignominious device of carrying food in front of them. To see the dogs suffering was agony to those who had to drive and coax them on, and though Scott refers often in these days to the hunger that was nipping him, no one can read his diary without seeing how infinitely more he was concerned over the suffering of the dogs than about his own troubles. 'It is terrible,' he says, 'to see them.'

At last, on December 14, they arrived, when they were almost spent, at a place where dog-food could be left. In their march they had only managed to do two miles after the most strenuous exertions, for the snow became softer as they approached the land, and the sledge-runners sank from three to four inches. On any particularly soft patch they could do little more than mark time, and even to advance a yard was an achievement.

No wonder that Scott, after they had left three weeks' provisions and a quantity of dog-food in Depôt B and had resumed their march, sounded a note of thankfulness: 'As I write I scarcely know how to describe the blessed relief it is to be free from our relay work. For one-and-thirty awful days we have been at it, and whilst I doubt if our human endurance could have stood it much more, I am quite sure the dogs could not. It seems now like a nightmare, which grew more terrible towards its end.' The sense of relief was, however, not destined to last, for on December 21 the dogs were in such a hopeless condition that they might at any moment have completely collapsed. This was a fact that had to be faced, and the question whether under such circumstances it was wise to push on had to be asked and answered. The unanimous answer was that the risk of going on should be taken, but on that same night Wilson, in view of future plans, reported to Scott that his medical examinations revealed that Shackleton had decidedly angry-looking gums, and that for some time they had been slowly but surely getting worse. It was decided not to tell Shackleton of these symptoms of scurvy, and as the bacon they were using seemed likely to be the cause of them, it was discarded and an increased allowance of seal given in its place. This was a loss in weight which was serious, for already they were reduced almost to starvation rations of about a pound and a half a day.

Supper was the best meal, for then they had a hoosh which ran from between three-quarters to a whole pannikin apiece, but even this they could not afford to make thick. While it was being heated in the central cooker, cocoa was made in the outer, but the lamp was turned out directly the hoosh boiled, and by that time the chill was barely off the contents of the outer cooker. Of course the cocoa was not properly dissolved, but they were long past criticizing the quality of their food. All they wanted was something to 'fill up,' but needless to say they never got it. Half an hour after supper was over they were as hungry as ever.

When they had started from the ship, there had been a vague idea that they could go as they pleased with the food, but experience showed that this would not do, and that there must be a rigid system of shares. Consequently they used to take it in turn to divide things into three equal portions, and as the man who made the division felt called upon to take the smallest share, the game of 'shut-eye' was invented to stop all arguments and remonstrances. The shares were divided as equally as possible by someone, then one of the other two turned his head away and the divider pointed to a portion and said, 'Whose is this?' He of the averted head named the owner, and thus this simple but useful game was played.

Wilson's examination of Shackleton on December 24 was not encouraging, but they had reached a much harder surface and under those conditions Scott and Wilson agreed that it was not yet time to say 'Turn.' Besides, Christmas Day was in front of them, and for a week they had all agreed that it would be a crime to go to bed hungry on that night. In fact they meant it to be a wonderful day, and everything conspired to make it so.

The sun shone gloriously from a clear sky, and not a breath of wind disturbed the calmness of the morning, but entrancing as the scene was they did not stay to contemplate it, because for once they were going to have a really substantial breakfast, and this was an irresistible counter-attraction.

And afterwards, when they felt more internally comfortable than they had for weeks, the surface continued to be so much better that the sledges could be pulled without any help from the dogs. On that day they had the satisfaction of covering nearly eleven miles, the longest march they had made for a long time. So when camp was pitched they were thoroughly pleased with the day, and ready to finish it off with a supper to be remembered. A double 'whack' of everything was poured into the cooking-pot, and in the hoosh that followed a spoon would stand without any support, and the cocoa was also brought to boiling-point.

'I am writing,' Scott says, 'over my second pipe. The sun is still circling our small tent in a cloudless sky, the air is warm and quiet. All is pleasant without, and within we have a sense of comfort we have not known for many a day; we shall sleep well tonight - no dreams, no tightening of the belt.

'We have been chattering away gaily, and not once has the conversation turned to food. We have been wondering what Christmas is like in England... and how our friends picture us. They will guess that we are away on our sledge journey, and will perhaps think of us on plains of snow; but few, I think, will imagine the truth, that for us this has been the reddest of all red-letter days.'