As cold waters to a thirsty soul, 
  So is good news from a far country. 

In a very short time Scott discovered that the sledding resources of the ship had been used to their fullest extent during his absence, and that parties had been going and coming and ever adding to the collection of knowledge.

On November 2 Royds had gone again to Cape Crozier to see how the Emperor penguins were faring, and in the meantime such rapid progress had been made in the preparations for the western party that November 9, being King Edward's birthday, was proclaimed a general holiday and given up to the eagerly anticipated athletic sports.

Of all the events perhaps the keenest interest was shown in the toboggan race, for which the men entered in pairs. Each couple had to provide their own toboggan, subject to the rule that no sledge, or part of a sledge, and no ski should be used. The start was high up the hillside, and as the time for it approached the queerest lot of toboggans gradually collected. The greater number were roughly made from old boxes and cask staves, but something of a sensation was caused when the canny Scottish carpenter's mate arrived with a far more pretentious article, though built from the same material. In secret he had devoted himself to making what was really a very passable sledge, and when he and his companion secured themselves to this dark horse, the result of the race was considered a foregone conclusion. But soon after the start it was seen that this couple had labored in vain; for although they shot ahead at first, their speed was so great that they could not control their machine. In a moment they were rolling head-over-heels in clouds of snow, and while the hare was thus amusing itself a tortoise slid past and won the race.

By the end of November everything was ready for the western journey, and a formidable party set out on the 29th to cross McMurdo Sound and attack the mainland. In Armitage's own party were Skelton and ten men, while the supports consisted of Koettlitz, Ferrar, Dellbridge and six men. Excellent pioneer work was done by Armitage and his party during their seven weeks' journey. Without a doubt a practicable road to the interior was discovered and traversed, and the barrier of mountains that had seemed so formidable an obstruction from the ship was conquered. It was equally certain that the party could claim to be the first to set foot on the interior of Victoria Land but they had been forced to turn back at an extremely interesting point, and in consequence were unable to supply very definite information with regard to the ice-cap. They had, however, fulfilled their main object, and in doing so had disclosed problems that caused the deepest interest to be focussed upon the direction in which they had traveled.

Perhaps the most promising circumstance of all was that among the rock specimens brought back were fragments of quartz-grits. These, with other observations, showed the strong probability of the existence of sedimentary deposits which might be reached and examined, and which alone could serve to reveal the geological history of this great southern continent. At all hazards Scott determined that the geologist of the expedition must be given a chance to explore this most interesting region.

The extensive preparations for the western journey had practically stripped the ship of sledge equipment, and those who went out on shorter journeys were obliged to make the best of the little that remained. This did not, however, balk their energies, and by resorting to all kinds of shifts and devices they made many useful expeditions.

While these efforts at exploration were being carried out the ship was left in the charge of Royds, who employed everyone on board in the most important task of freeing the boats. Drastic measures had to be taken before they could be released from their beds of ice, and with sawing and blasting going on in the unseen depths, it was not possible that the task could be accomplished without doing considerable damage. When at length all of them had been brought to the surface their condition was exceedingly dilapidated; indeed only two of them were in a condition to float; but although it was evident that the carpenter would be busy for many weeks before they would be seaworthy, their reappearance was a tremendous relief.

Long before his departure to the south, Scott had given instructions that the Discovery should be prepared for sea by the end of January. Consequently, after the boats had been freed, there was still plenty of employment for everybody, since 'preparations for sea' under such circumstances meant a most prodigious amount of labor. Tons and tons of snow had to be dug out from the deck with pick-axes and shoveled over the side; aloft, sails and ropes had to be looked to, the running-gear to be re-rove, and everything got ready for handling the ship under sail; many things that had been displaced or landed near the shore-station had to be brought on board and secured in position; thirty tons of ice had to be fetched, melted, and run into the boilers; below, steam-pipes had to be rejointed, glands re-packed, engines turned by hand, and steam raised to see that all was in working order.

Not doubting that the ice would soon break up and release the ship, this work was carried on so vigorously that when the southern travelers returned all was ready for them to put to sea again.

But eleven days before Scott and his companions struggled back to safety the great event of the season had happened in the arrival of the Morning. How the funds were raised by means of which this ship was sent is a tale in itself; briefly, however, it was due to the untiring zeal and singleness of purpose shown by Sir Clements Markham that the Morning, commanded by Lieutenant William Colbeck, R.N.R., was able to leave the London Docks on July 9, 1902.

Long before the Discovery had left New Zealand the idea of a relief ship had been discussed, and although Scott saw great difficulties in the way, he also felt quite confident that if the thing was to be done Sir Clements was the man to do it. Obviously then it was desirable to leave as much information as possible on the track, and the relief ship was to try and pick up clues at the places where Scott had said that he would attempt to leave them. These places were Cape Adare, Possession Islands, Coulman Island, Wood Bay, Franklin Island and Cape Crozier.

On January 8 a landing was effected at Cape Adare, and there Colbeck heard of the Discovery's safe arrival in the south. The Possession Islands were drawn blank, because Scott had not been able to land there, and south of this the whole coast was so thickly packed that the Morning could not approach either Coulman Island or Wood Bay.

Franklin Island was visited on January 14, but without result; and owing to the quantities of pack ice it was not until four days later that a landing was made at Cape Crozier. Colbeck himself joined the landing party, and after spending several hours in fruitless search, he was just giving up the hunt and beginning despondently to wonder what he had better do next, when suddenly a small post was seen on the horizon. A rush was made for it, and in a few minutes Colbeck knew that he had only to steer into the mysterious depths of McMurdo Sound to find the Discovery, and practically to accomplish the work he had set out to do.

On board the Discovery the idea had steadily grown that a relief ship would come. For no very clear reason the men had begun to look upon it as a certainty, and during the latter part of January it was not uncommon for wild rumors to be spread that smoke had been seen to the north. Such reports, therefore, were generally received without much excitement, but when a messenger ran down the hill on the night of the 23rd to say that there was actually a ship in sight the enthusiasm was intense. Only the most imperturbable of those on board could sleep much during that night, and early on the 24th a large party set out over the floe. The Morning was lying some ten miles north of the Discovery, but it was far easier to see her than to reach her. At last, however, the party, after various little adventures, stood safely on deck and received the warmest of welcomes.

During the last week of January the weather was in its most glorious mood, and with some of the treacherous thin ice breaking away the Morning was able to get a mile nearer. Parties constantly passed to and fro between the two ships, and everyone - with unshaken confidence that the Discovery would soon be free - gave themselves up to the delight of fresh companionship, and the joy of good news from the home country. To this scene of festivity and cheeriness Scott, Wilson and Shackleton returned on February 3, and though the last to open their letters they had the satisfaction of knowing that the Morning had brought nothing but good news.

By a curious coincidence Colbeck chose the night of the Southern party's return to make his first visit to the Discovery, and soon after Scott had come out of his delicious bath and was reveling in the delight of clean clothes, he had the pleasure of welcoming him on board. 'In those last weary marches over the barrier,' Scott says, 'I had little expected that the first feast in our home quarters would be taken with strange faces gathered round our festive table, but so it was, and I can well remember the look of astonishment that dawned on those faces when we gradually displayed our power of absorbing food.'

But however difficult the appetites of the party were to appease, for a fortnight after they had reached the ship their condition was very wretched. Shackleton at once went to bed, and although he soon tried to be out and about again, the least exertion caused a return of his breathlessness, and he still suffered from the violent fits of coughing that had troubled him so much on the journey. With Wilson, who at one time had shown the least signs of scurvy, the disease had increased so rapidly at the end that on his return he wisely decided to go to bed, where he remained quietly for ten days. 'Wilson,' Scott wrote on February 16, 'is a very fine fellow, his pluck and go were everything on our southern journey; one felt he wouldn't give in till he dropped.' And this collapse when he got back to the ship was in itself a proof of the determination which must have upheld him during the last marches.

Scott, though the least affected of the three, was also by no means fit and well. Both his legs were swollen and his gums were very uncomfortable, but in addition to these troubles he was attacked by an overwhelming feeling of both physical and mental weariness. 'Many days passed,' he says, 'before I could rouse myself from this slothful humour, and it was many weeks before I had returned to a normally vigorous condition. It was probably this exceptionally relaxed state of health that made me so slow to realize that the ice conditions were very different from what they had been in the previous season.... The prospect of the ice about us remaining fast throughout the season never once entered my head.' His diary, however, for the month shows how he gradually awakened to the true state of affairs, and on February 13 he decided to begin the transport of stores from the Morning to the Discovery, so that the former ship 'should run no risk of being detained.' And on the 18th when he paid his first visit to the Morning and found the journey 'an awful grind,' he had begun to wonder whether the floe was ever going to break up.

A week later he was clearly alive to the situation. 'The Morning must go in less than a week, and it seems now impossible that we shall be free by that time, though I still hope the break-up may come after she has departed.' Some time previously he had decided that if they had to remain the ship's company should be reduced, and on the 24th he had a talk with the men and told them that he wished nobody to stop on board who was not willing. On the following day a list was sent round for the names of those who wanted to go, and the result was curiously satisfactory - for Scott had determined that eight men should go, and not only were there eight names on the list, but they were also precisely those which Scott would have put there had he made the selection. Shackleton also had to be told that he must go, as in his state of health Scott did not think that any further hardships ought to be risked; but in his place Scott requisitioned Mulock who by an extraordinary chance is just the very man we wanted. We have now an immense amount of details for charts... and Mulock is excellent at this work and as keen as possible. It is rather amusing, as he is the only person who is obviously longing for the ice to stop in, though of course he doesn't say so. The other sporting characters are still giving ten to one that it will go out, but I am bound to confess that I am not sanguine.'

The letter from which the last extract is taken was begun on February 16, and before the end of the month all hope of the Discovery being able to leave with the Morning had been abandoned. On March 2 nearly the whole of the Discovery's company were entertained on board the Morning, and on the following day the relief ship slowly backed away from the ice-edge, and in a few minutes she was turning to the north, with every rope and spar outlined against the black northern sky. Cheer after cheer was raised as she gathered way, and long after she had passed out of earshot the little band stood gazing at her receding hull, and wondering when they too would be able to take the northern track.

In the Morning went a letter from Scott which shows that although in a sense disappointed by the prospect of having to remain for another winter, both he and his companions were not by any means dismayed. 'It is poor luck,' he wrote, 'as I was dead keen on getting a look round C. North before making for home. However we all take it philosophically, and are perfectly happy and contented on board, and shall have lots to do in winter, spring and summer. We will have a jolly good try to free the ship next year, though I fear manual labor doesn't go far with such terribly heavy ice as we have here; but this year we were of course unprepared, and when we realized the situation it was too late to begin anything like extensive operations. I can rely on every single man that remains in the ship and I gave them all the option of leaving... the ship's company is now practically naval-officers and men - it is rather queer when one looks back to the original gift of two officers.'

Referring to the Southern journey he says, 'We cut our food and fuel too fine.... I never knew before what it was to be hungry; at times we were famished and had to tighten our belts nightly before going to sleep. The others dreamt of food snatched away at the last moment, but this didn't bother me so much.'

But characteristically the greater part of this long letter refers not to his own doings, but to the admirable qualities of those who were with him. Wilson, Royds, Skelton, Hodgson, Barne and Bernacchi are all referred to in terms of the warmest praise, and for the manner in which Colbeck managed the relief expedition the greatest admiration is expressed. But in some way or other Scott discovered good points in all the officers he mentioned, and if they were not satisfactory in every way his object seemed to be rather to excuse than to blame them. He was, however, unaffectedly glad to see the last of the cook, for the latter had shown himself far more capable at talking than at cooking, and had related so many of his wonderful adventures that one of the sailors reckoned that the sum total of these thrilling experiences must have extended over a period of five hundred and ninety years - which, as the sailor said, was a fair age even for a cook.

By March 14 even the most optimistic of the company were compelled to admit the certainty of a second winter, and orders were given to prepare the ship for it. Compared with the previous year the weather had been a great deal worse, for there had been more wind and much lower temperatures, and under such conditions it was hopeless to go on expecting the ice to break up. But it was not to be wondered at that they found themselves wondering what their imprisonment meant. Was it the present summer or the last that was the exception? For them this was the gravest question, since on the answer to it their chance of getting away next year, or at all, depended.

While, however, the situation as regards the future was not altogether without anxiety, they sturdily determined to make the best of the present. To ward off any chance of scurvy, it was determined to keep rigidly to a fresh-meat routine throughout the winter, and consequently a great number of seals and skuas had to be killed. At first the skua had been regarded as unfit for human food, but Skelton on a sledding trip had caught one in a noose and promptly put it into the pot. And the result was so satisfactory that the skua at once began to figure prominently on the menu. They had, however, to deplore the absence of penguins from their winter diet, because none had been seen near the ship for a long time.

On Wednesday, April 24, the sun departed, but Scott remarks upon this rather dismal fact with the greatest cheerfulness: 'It would be agreeable to know what is going to happen next year, but otherwise we have no wants. Our routine goes like clock-work; we eat, sleep, work and play at regular hours, and are never in lack of employment. Hockey, I fear, must soon cease for lack of light, but it has been a great diversion, although not unattended with risks, for yesterday I captured a black eye from a ball furiously driven by Royds.'

Of the months that followed little need be said, except that Scott's anticipations were fully realized. In fact the winter passed by without a hitch, and their second mid-winter day found them even more cheerful than their first. Hodgson continued to work away with his fish-traps, tow-nets and dredging; Mulock, who had been trained as a surveyor and had great natural abilities for the work, was most useful, first in collecting and re-marking all the observations, and later on in constructing temporary charts; while Barne generally vanished after breakfast and spent many a day at his distant sounding holes.

Throughout the season the routine of scientific observations was carried out in the same manner as in the previous year, while many new details were added; and so engaged was everyone in serviceable work that when the second long Polar night ended, Scott was able to write: 'I do not think there is a soul on board the Discovery who would say that it has been a hardship.... All thoughts are turned towards the work that lies before us, and it would be difficult to be blind to the possible extent of its usefulness. Each day has brought it more home to us how little we know and how much there is to be learned, and we realize fully that this second year's work may more than double the value of our observations. Life in these regions has lost any terror it ever possessed for us, for we know that, come what may, we can live, and live well, for any reasonable number of years to come.'