CHAPTER VII. THE SOUTHERN JOURNEY BEGINS

                 Free men freely work. 
  Whoever fears God, fears to sit at ease. 
   - E. B. BROWNING.

'As we are just off on our Southern journey, with a good chance of missing the ship on our return,' Scott wrote before leaving Cape Evans on November 1, 'I send a word of greeting. We are going away with high hopes of success and for the moment everything smiles, but where risks must be taken the result must be dependent on chance to some extent.

'I am lucky in having with me the right men for the work; we have lived most happily together through the long winter, and now all are fit, ready, and eager to go forward, and, apart from the result, the work itself is extraordinarily fascinating.'

The march to Hut Point was begun in detachments, Scott leading Snippets and soon finding himself where he wished to be, at the tail of the team. After all Jehu had refuted predictions by being allowed to start, although so little confidence was still placed in him that on the previous day he had been sent at his own pace to Hut Point. Chinaman was also 'an unknown quantity,' but the chief trouble on the opening march was caused by the persistently active Christopher, who kicked and bucked the whole way.

On this march, which reminded Scott of a regatta or a somewhat disorganized fleet with ships of very unequal speed, a good knowledge was obtained of the various paces of the ponies, and the plan of advance was, after some trouble, arranged. The start was to be made from Hut Point in three parties - the very slow ponies, the medium paced, and the fliers. The motors with Day, E. R. Evans, Lashly and Hooper (who had taken Clissold's place) were already on the way, and the dogs, with Meares and Demetri, were to follow the main detachments.

Night marching was decided upon, and after supper good-bye was said to Hut Point, and Atkinson, Wright and Keohane led off with Jehu, Chinaman and Jimmy Pigg. Two hours later Scott, Wilson and Cherry-Garrard left, their ponies marching steadily and well together on the sea-ice. At Safety Camp they found Atkinson, who reported that Chinaman and Jehu were already tired. Soon after Scott's party had camped for lunch, Ponting arrived with Demetri and a small dog team, and the cinematograph was up in time to catch the flying rearguard, which came along in fine form with Snatcher, 'a wonderful little beast,' leading. Christopher had given his customary exhibition when harnessed, and although the Barrier surface had sobered him a little it was not thought advisable for him to stop, and so the party fled through in the wake of the advance guard, and were christened 'the through train.'

'After lunch,' Scott, writing from Camp 1 on November 3, says, 'we packed up and marched steadily on as before. I don't like these midnight lunches, but for man the march that follows is pleasant when, as today, the wind falls and the sun steadily increases its heat. The two parties in front of us camped five miles beyond Safety Camp, and we reached their camp some half or three-quarters of an hour later. All the ponies are tethered in good order, but most of them are tired - Chinaman and Jehu very tired.... A petrol tin is near the camp and a note stating that the motors passed at 9 P.M. 28th, going strong - they have from four to five days' lead and should surely keep it.'

On the next march they started in what for some time was to be the settled order - Atkinson's contingent at 8 P.M., Scott's at 10, Oates' an hour and a quarter later. Just after starting they picked up cheerful notices saying that all was well with both the motors, and Day wrote, 'Hope to meet in 80° 30' Lat.' But very soon afterwards a depôt of petrol was found; and worse was to follow, as some four miles out from Camp 1 they came across a tin bearing the sad announcement, 'Big end Day's motor No. 2 cylinder broken.' Half a mile beyond was the motor, its tracking sledges, &c.; and notes from E. Evans and Day to tell the tale of the mishap. The only spare big end had been used for Lashly's machine, and as it would have taken a long time to strip Day's engine so that it could run on three cylinders, they had decided to abandon it and push on with the other alone. 'So the dream of help from the machines is at an end! The track of the remaining motor goes steadily forward, but now, of course, I shall expect to see it every hour of the march.'

On the second and third marches the ponies did fairly well on a bad surface, but as yet they had only light loads to pull; and not until they were tested was Scott prepared to express much confidence in them. At Camp 3 he found a troubled note from E. Evans saying that their maximum speed was about 7 miles a day. 'They have taken on nine bags of forage, but there are three black dots to the south which we can only imagine are the deserted motor with its loaded sledges. The men have gone on as a supporting party, as directed. It is a disappointment. I had hoped better of the machines once they got away on the Barrier Surface.'

From this camp they started in the usual order, having arranged that full loads should be carried if the black dots proved to be the motors, and very soon they found their fears confirmed. Another note from E. Evans stated a recurrence of the old trouble. The big end of No. 1 cylinder had cracked, otherwise the machine was in good order. 'Evidently,' Scott wrote in reference to this misfortune, 'the engines are not fitted for working in this climate, a fact that should be certainly capable of correction. One thing is proved: the system of propulsion is altogether satisfactory. The motor party has proceeded as a man-hauling party as arranged.'

As they came to Camp 4 a blizzard threatened, and snow walls were at once built for the ponies. The last march, however, was more than a compensation for bad weather. Jehu and Chinaman with loads of over 450 lbs. had stepped out well and had finished as fit as they had started, while the better ponies had made nothing of their loads, Scott's Snippets having pulled over 700 lbs., sledge included. 'We are all much cheered by this performance. It shows a hardening up of ponies which have been well trained; even Oates is pleased!'

The blizzard only just gave them time to get everything done in the camp before it arrived. The ponies, however, in their new rugs and with sheltering walls as high as themselves could scarcely feel the wind, and as this protection was a direct result of experience gained in the previous year, Scott was glad to feel that some good had been obtained from that disastrous journey. But when the snow began to fall the ponies as usual suffered, because it was impossible to devise any means of keeping them comfortable in thick and driving snow. 'We men are snug and comfortable enough, but it is very evil to lie here and know that the weather is steadily sapping the strength of the beasts on which so much depends. It requires much philosophy to be cheerful on such occasions.' In the midst of the drift during the forenoon of the 7th Meares and Demetri with the dogs arrived, and camped about a quarter of a mile away. In catching the main party up so soon Scott considered that Meares had played too much for safety, but at the same time it was encouraging to know that the dogs would pull the loads assigned to them, and that they could face such terrific winds.

The threatening weather continued until late on Tuesday night, and the question of starting was left open for a long time, several of the party thinking it unwise to march. At last, however, the decision was made to go, and the advance guard got away soon after midnight. Then, to Scott's surprise and delight, he discovered that his fears about the ponies were needless. Both Jehu and Chinaman took skittish little runs when their rugs were removed, and Chinaman even betrayed a not altogether irresistible desire to buck. In fact the only pony that gave any trouble was Christopher, and this not from any fatigue but from excessive spirit. Most of the ponies halted now and again to get a mouthful of snow, but Christopher had still to be sent through with a non-stop run, for his tricks and devices were as innumerable as ever. Oates had to cling like grim death to his bridle until the first freshness had worn off, and this was a long rather than a light task, as even after ten miles he was prepared to misbehave himself if he got the smallest chance.

A few hundred yards from Camp 5 Bowers picked up a bale of forage and loaded it on his sledge, bringing the weight to nearly 800 lbs. Victor, however, went on as though nothing had happened, and although the surface was for the time wonderfully good, and it still remained a question how the ponies would get on under harder conditions, Scott admitted that so far the outlook was very encouraging. The cairns built in the previous year showed up very distinctly and were being picked up with the greatest ease, and this also was an additional cause for satisfaction because with pony walls, camp sites and cairns, the track on the homeward march seemed as if it must be easy to follow. Writing at Camp 5, Scott says, 'Everyone is as fit as can be. It was wonderfully warm as we camped this morning at 11 o'clock; the wind has dropped completely and the sun shines gloriously. Men and ponies revel in such weather. One devoutly hopes for a good spell of it as we recede from the windy Northern region. The dogs came up soon after we had camped, traveling easily.'

On the next march they remained faithful to their program of advancing a little over ten geographical miles nightly. But during the last two miles of this stage all of the ponies were together. 'It looked like a meet of the hounds, and Jehu ran away!!' was Cherry-Garrard's account of this scene in his diary. But in Scott's opinion it was clearly not advantageous to march in one detachment, because the slow advance-guard ponies were forced out of their pace by joining with the others, while the fast rearguard had their speed reduced. This, however, was a great day for Jehu, whose attempt to bolt, though scarcely amounting to more than a sprawling canter, was freely acknowledged to be a creditable performance for a pony who at the start had been thought incapable of doing a single march.

The weather now began to change rapidly for the worse, and in consequence the pleasure of marching as rapidly vanished. In arriving at Camp 7 they had to struggle at first against a strong head wind, and afterwards in a snowstorm. Wright, who was leading, found it so impossible to see where he was going that he decided to camp some two miles short of the usual ten, but the ponies continued to do well and this was a compensation for the curtailed distance.

A worse surface was in store for them when they started from Camp 7, in fact Scott and Wilson described it as one of the worst they had ever seen. The snow that had fallen in the day remained soft, and added to this they had entered upon an area of soft crust between a few scattered hard sastrugi. In pits between these the snow lay in sandy heaps, making altogether the most difficult conditions for the ponies. Nevertheless the stronger ponies continued to pull excellently, and even the poor old crocks succeeded in covering 9-1/2 miles. 'Such a surface makes one anxious in spite of the rapidity with which changes take place. I expected these marches to be a little difficult, but not near so bad as to-day's.... In spite of the surface, the dogs ran up from the camp before last, over 20 miles, in the night. They are working splendidly.'

The surface was still bad and the weather horrid on the following day, but 5 miles out the advance party came straight and true upon the last year's Bluff depôt. Here Scott found a note, from which he learned the cheering news that E. Evans and his party must be the best part of five days ahead. On the other hand, Atkinson had a very gloomy report to make of Chinaman, who could, he thought, only last a few more miles. Oates, however, much more optimistic than usual, considered that Chinaman would last for several days; and during another horrid march to Camp 10 all the ponies did well, Jehu especially distinguishing himself.

'We shall be,' Scott wrote from this camp on Monday, November 13, 'in a better position to know how we stand when we get to One Ton Camp, now only 17 or 18 miles, but I am anxious about these beasts - very anxious, they are not the ponies they ought to have been, and if they pull through well, all the thanks will be due to Oates. I trust the weather and surface conditions will improve; both are rank bad at present.' The next stage took them within 7 or 8 miles of One Ton Camp, and with a slightly improved surface and some sun the spirits of the party revived. But, although the ponies were working splendidly, it was painful work for them to struggle on through the snow, and Christopher's antics when harnessed were already a thing of the past - a fact which would have been totally unregretted had it not been evidence that his strength was also beginning to diminish.

One Ton Camp was found without any difficulty, and having pushed on to Camp 12 it was decided to give the animals a day's rest there, and afterwards to go forward at the rate of 13 geographical miles (15 statute miles) a day. 'Oates thinks the ponies will get through, but that they have lost condition quicker than he expected. Considering his usually pessimistic attitude this must be thought a hopeful view. Personally I am much more hopeful. I think that a good many of the beasts are actually in better form than when they started, and that there is no need to be alarmed about the remainder, always excepting the weak ones which we have always regarded with doubt. Well, we must wait and see how things go.'

Another note from E. Evans was found at One Ton Camp, stating that his party had taken on four boxes of biscuits, and would wait for the main detachment at Lat. 80° 30'. The minimum thermometer left there in the previous year showed - 73°, which was rather less than Scott had expected.

After the day's rest the loads were re-organized, the stronger ponies taking on about 580 lbs., while the others had rather over 400 lbs. as their burden; and refreshed by their holiday all of them marched into the next camp without any signs of exhaustion. By this time frost-bites were frequent, both Oates and P.O. Evans being victims, while Meares, when told that his nose was 'gone,' remarked that he was tired of it and that it would thaw out by and by!

Hopes and fears concerning the ponies naturally alternated on such a journey, and the latter predominated when Scott wrote on November 18 from Camp 14. 'The ponies are not pulling well. The surface is, if anything, a little worse than yesterday, but I should think about the sort of thing we shall have to expect henceforward.... It's touch and go whether we scrape up to the Glacier; meanwhile we get along somehow.'

During the next two marches, however, the ponies, in spite of rather bad surfaces, did wonderfully well, and both Jehu and Chinaman began to be regarded with real admiration, Jehu being re-christened 'The Barrier Wonder' and Chinaman 'The Thunderbolt.' Again Scott began to take a hopeful view of getting through, unless the surfaces became infinitely worse.

While on the way to Camp 17 Scott's detachment found E. Evans and his party in Lat. 80° 32', and heard that they had been waiting for six days, which they had spent in building a tremendous cairn. All of them looked very fit, but they were also very hungry - an informing fact, as it proved conclusively that a ration which was ample for the needs of men leading ponies, was nothing like enough for those who were doing hard pulling work. Thus the provision that Scott had made for summit work received a full justification, though even with the rations that were to be taken he had no doubt that hunger would attack the party.

After some discussion it was decided to take Evans' motor party on in advance for three days, and then that Day and Hooper should return.

Good, steady progress was made on the next two marches, and at Camp 19 they were within 150 geographical miles of the Glacier. 'But it is still rather touch and go. If one or more ponies were to go rapidly down hill we might be in queer street.'

Then at Camp 20 came the end of the gallant Jehu. 'We did the usual march very easily over a fairly good surface, the ponies now quite steady and regular. Since the junction with the Motor Party the procedure has been for the man-hauling people to go forward just ahead of the crocks, the other party following two or three hours later. To-day we closed less than usual, so the crocks must have been going very well. However, the fiat had already gone forth, and this morning (November 24) after the march poor old Jehu was led back on the track and shot. After our doubts as to his reaching Hut Point, it is wonderful to think that he has actually got eight marches beyond our last year limit, and could have gone more. However, towards the end he was pulling very little, and on the whole it is merciful to have ended his life. Chinaman seems to improve and will certainly last a good many days yet. I feel we ought to get through now. Day and Hooper leave us to-night.'

Referring to Jehu in his diary Cherry-Garrard re-marked how much Scott felt 'this kind of thing,' and how cut up Atkinson was at the loss of his pony.

After Day and Hooper had turned back the party was re-arranged and started together. The man-haulers, Atkinson, E. Evans and Lashly, went ahead with their gear on the 10-foot sledge, then came Wright with Chinaman and Keohane with James Pigg, the rest following close behind them. But although the two crocks had not been given their usual start, they stuck to their work so gallantly that at the finish they were less than a quarter of a mile behind.

At Camp 22, in Lat. 81° 35' the Middle Barrier Depôt was made, and as they did not leave until 3 A.M. they were gradually getting back to day-marching. The next stage, however, of their journey was struggled through under the greatest difficulties. At the start the surface was bad, and the man-haulers in front made such heavy weather of it that they were repeatedly overtaken. This threw the ponies out and prolonged the march so much that six hours were spent in reaching the lunch camp. But bad as the first part of the march had been, the latter part was even worse. The advance party started on ski, but had the greatest difficulty in keeping a course; and presently snow began to fall heavily with a rise of temperature, and the ski became hopelessly clogged. At this time the surface was terribly hard for pulling, and the man-haulers also found it impossible to steer. The march of 13 miles was eventually completed, but under the most harassing circumstances and with very tired animals.

'Our forage supply necessitates that we should plug on the 13 (geographical) miles daily under all conditions, so that we can only hope for better things. It is several days since we had a glimpse of land, which makes conditions especially gloomy. A tired animal makes a tired man, I find, and none of us are very bright now after the day's march.'

No improvement in the weather was in store for them on the following day (November 28), for snowstorms swept over them, the driving snow not only preventing them from seeing anything, but also hitting them stingingly in their faces. Chinaman was shot on this night, but in struggling on until he was within go miles of the Glacier he had done more than was ever expected of him; and with only four bags of forage left the end of all the ponies was very near at hand.

During the march to Camp 25, Lat. 82° 21', 'the most unexpected and trying summer blizzard yet experienced in this region' ceased, and prospects improved in every respect. While they were marching the land showed up hazily, and at times looked remarkably close to them. 'Land shows up almost ahead now,' Scott wrote on the 29th, 'and our pony goal is less than 70 miles away. The ponies are tired, but I believe all have five days' work left in them, and some a great deal more.... It follows that the dogs can be employed, rested and fed well on the homeward track. We could really get through now with their help and without much delay, yet every consideration makes it desirable to save the men from heavy hauling as long as possible. So I devoutly hope the 70 miles will come in the present order of things.'

Snippets and Nobby by this time walked by themselves, but both of them kept a continually cunning eye upon their driver, and if he stopped they at once followed his example. It was, Scott admitted, a relief no longer to have to lead his animal, for fond of Snippets as he was, the vagaries of the animal were annoying when on the march. Thursday, November 30, brought most pleasant weather with it, but the surface was so bad that all of the ponies, with the exception of Nobby, began to show obvious signs of failure. A recurrence of 'sinking crusts' (areas which gave way with a report) was encountered, and the ponies very often sank nearly to their knees.

At Camp 27 Nobby was the only pony who did not show signs of extreme exhaustion, but forage was beginning to get so scarce that even Nobby had nearly reached the end of his life. On this night (December 1) Christopher was shot, and by no possibility could he be much regretted, for he had given nothing but trouble at the outset, and as soon as his spirits began to fail his strength had also disappeared. 'He has been a great disappointment,' Cherry-Garrard wrote, 'even James Pigg has survived him.'

A depôt, called the Southern Barrier Depôt, was left at Camp 27, so that no extra weight was added to the loads of the other ponies. 'Three more marches ought to carry us through. With the seven crocks and the dog teams we must get through, I think. The men alone ought not to have heavy loads on the surface, which is extremely trying.'

On the morning of the 1st Nobby had been tried in snow-shoes, and for about four miles had traveled splendidly upon them, but then the shoes racked and had to be taken off; nevertheless, in Scott's opinion, there was no doubt that snow-shoes were the thing for ponies, and that if his ponies had been able to use them from the beginning their condition would have been very different from what it was.

From Camp 28, Lat. 83°, Scott wrote, 'Started under very bad weather conditions. The stratus spreading over from the S.E. last night meant mischief, and all day we marched in falling snow with a horrible light.... The ponies were sinking deep in a wretched surface. I suggested to Oates that he should have a roving commission to watch the animals, but he much preferred to lead one, so I handed over Snippets very willingly and went on ski myself.' This he found such easy work, that he had time to take several photographs of the ponies as they plunged through the snow. But in the afternoon they found a better surface, and Scott, who was leading, had to travel at a very steady pace to keep the lead.

When this march had finished they had reached the 83rd parallel, and were 'practically safe to get through.' But with forage becoming scarcer and scarcer poor Bictor - to the great sorrow of Bowers, who was very fond of him - had to be shot. Six ponies remained, and as the dogs were doing splendidly, the chances of the party reaching the Glacier were excellent if only they could see their way to it. Wild in his diary of Shackleton's journey remarked on December 15 that it was the first day for a month on which he could not record splendid weather. With Scott's party, however, a fine day had been the exception rather than the rule, and the journey had been one almost perpetual fight against bad weather and bad surfaces.

The tent parties at this date were made up of (1) Scott, Wilson, Oates and Keohane; (2) Bowers, P.O. Evans, Cherry-Garrard and Crean; (3) man-haulers, E. R. Evans, Atkinson, Wright and Lashly. 'We have all taken to horse meat and are so well fed that hunger isn't thought of.'

At 2.30 A.M. on Sunday, December 3, Scott, intending to get away at 5, roused all hands, but their bad luck in the way of weather once more delayed the start. At first there seemed to be just a chance that they might be able to march, but while they were having breakfast a full gale blew up from the south; 'the strongest wind I have known here in summer.' In a very short time the pony wall was blown down, the sledges were buried, and huge drifts had collected. In heavy drift everyone turned out to make up the pony walls, but the flanking wall was blown down three times before the job was completed. About mid-day the weather improved and soon afterwards the clouds broke and the land appeared; and when they got away at 2 P.M., the sun was shining brightly. But this pleasant state of affairs was only destined to last for one short hour; after that snow again began to fall, and marching conditions became supremely horrible. The wind increased from the S.E., changed to S. W., where for a time it remained, and then suddenly shifted to W.N.W., and afterwards to N.N.W., from which direction it continued to blow with falling and drifting snow. But in spite of these rapid and absolutely bewildering changes of conditions they managed to get 11-1/2 miles south and to Camp 29 at 7 P.M. The man-haulers, however, camped after six miles, for they found it impossible to steer a course. 'We (Scott and Bowers) steered with compass, the drifting snow across our ski, and occasional glimpses of southeasterly sastrugi under them, till the sun showed dimly for the last hour or so. The whole weather conditions seem thoroughly disturbed, and if they continue so when we are on the Glacier, we shall be very awkwardly placed. It is really time the luck turned in our favor - we have had all too little of it. Every mile seems to have been hardly won under such conditions. The ponies did splendidly and the forage is lasting a little better than expected... we should have no difficulty whatever as regards transport if only the weather was kind.' On the following day the weather was still in a bad mood, for no sooner had they got on their gear for the start than a thick blizzard from the S.S.E. arrived. Quickly everyone started to build fresh walls for the ponies, an uninviting task enough in a regular white flowing blizzard, but one which added greatly to the comfort of the animals, who looked sleepy and bored, but not at all cold. Just as the walls were finished the man-haulers came into camp, having been assisted in their course by the tracks that the other parties had made.

Fortunately the wind moderated in the forenoon and by 2 P.M. they were off and in six hours had placed 13 more miles to their credit. During this march the land was quite clearly in view, and several uncharted glaciers of large dimensions were seen. The mountains were rounded in outline, very massive, with excrescent peaks, one or two of the peaks on the foothills standing bare and almost perpendicular. Ahead of them was the ice-rounded, boulder-strewn Mount Hope and the gateway to the Glacier. 'We should reach it easily enough on to-morrow's march if we can compass 12 miles.... We have only lost 5 or 6 miles on these two wretched days, but the disturbed condition of the weather makes me anxious with regard to the Glacier, where more than anywhere we shall need fine days. One has a horrid feeling that this is a real bad season. However, sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. We are practically through with the first stage of our journey. Looking from the last Camp (29) towards the S.S.E., where the farthest land can be seen, it seemed more than probable that a very high latitude could be reached on the Barrier, and if Amundsen journeying that way has a stroke of luck, he may well find his summit journey reduced to 100 miles or so. In any case it is a fascinating direction for next year's work, if only fresh transport arrives.'

On this day, December 4, the ponies marched splendidly, crossing the deep snow in the undulations without any difficulty, and had food been plentiful enough there was no doubt that they could have gone on for many more miles. As it was 'gallant little Michael' had to be sacrificed when the march was over. 'He walked away,' Cherry-Garrard wrote, 'and rolled on the way down, not having done so when we got in. He died quite instantaneously. He was just like a naughty child all the way and pulled all out; he has been a good friend and has a good record, 83° 22' S. He was a bit done to-day, the blizzard had knocked him.'

By night the weather looked very uninviting, and they woke to find a raging, howling blizzard. Previously the winds that had so constantly bothered them had lacked that very fine powdery snow which is usually an especial feature of a blizzard, but on this occasion they got enough and to spare of it. Anyone who went into the open for a minute or two was covered from head to foot, and as the temperature was high the snow stuck where it fell. The heads, tails and legs of the ponies were covered with ice, and they had to stand deep in snow. The sledges were almost covered, and there were huge drifts about the tent. It was a scene on which no one wanted to look longer than he could help, and after they had rebuilt the pony walls they retreated sadly and soppingly into their bags. Even the small satisfaction of being able to see from one tent to another was denied them, and Scott, while asking what on earth such weather could mean at this time of year, stated emphatically that no party could possibly travel against such a wind.

'Is there,' he asked, 'some widespread atmospheric disturbance which will be felt everywhere in this region as a bad season, or are we merely the victims of exceptional local conditions? If the latter, there is food for thought in picturing our small party struggling against adversity in one place whilst others go smilingly forward in sunshine. How great may be the element of luck! No foresight - no procedure - could have prepared us for this state of affairs. Had we been ten times as experienced or certain of our aim we should not have expected such rebuffs.'

The snowfall on this day (December 5) was quite the greatest that Scott remembered, the drifts about the tents being colossal. And to add to their misery and misfortune the temperature remained so high that the snow melted if it fell on anything except snow, with the result that tents, wind clothes, night boots, &c., were all wet through; while water, dripping from the tent poles and door, lay on the floor, soaked the sleeping-bags, and made the situation inconceivably miserable. In the midst of this slough, however, Keohane had the spirit to make up a rhyme, which is worth quoting mainly, if not solely, because of the conditions under which it was produced:

  The snow is all melting and everything's afloat, 
  If this goes on much longer we shall have to turn the tent 
    upside down and use it as a boat.

The next day Scott described as 'miserable, utterly miserable. We have camped in the "Slough of Despond."' When within twelve miles of the Glacier it was indeed the most cruel fortune to be held up by such a raging tempest. The temperature at noon had risen to 33°, and everything was more soakingly wet than ever, if that was possible. The ponies, too, looked utterly desolate, and the snow climbed higher and higher about the walls, tents and sledges. At night signs of a break came, but hopes of marching again were dashed on the following morning, when the storm continued and the situation became most serious; after this day only one small feed remained for the ponies, so that they had either to march or to sacrifice all the animals. That, however, was not the most serious part, for with the help of the dogs they could without doubt have got on. But what troubled Scott most intensely was that they had on this morning (December 7) started on their summit rations, or, in other words, the food calculated to take them on from the Glacier depôt had been begun.

In the meantime the storm showed no signs of abatement, and its character was as unpleasant as ever. 'I can find no sign of an end, and all of us agree that it is utterly impossible to move. Resignation to this misfortune is the only attitude, but not an easy one to adopt. It seems undeserved where plans were well laid, and so nearly crowned with a first success.... The margin for bad weather was ample according to all experience, and this stormy December - our finest month - is a thing that the most cautious organizer might not have been prepared to encounter.... There cannot be good cheer in the camp in such weather, but it is ready to break out again. In the brief spell of hope last night one heard laughter.'

Hour after hour passed with little or no improvement, and as every hour of inactivity was a real menace to the success of their plans, no one can wonder that they chafed over this most exasperating delay. Under ordinary circumstances it would have been melancholy enough to watch the mottled, wet, green walls of their tents and to hear the everlasting patter of the falling snow and the ceaseless rattle of the fluttering canvas, but when the prospect of failure of their cherished plan was added to the acute discomforts of the situation, it is scarcely possible to imagine how totally miserable they must have been both in body and mind. Nevertheless in the midst of these distressing conditions Scott managed to write, 'But yet, after all, one can go on striving, endeavoring to find a stimulation in the difficulties that arise.'

Friday morning, however, did not bring any cause for hope. The snow was still falling heavily, and they found themselves lying in pools of water that squelched whenever they moved. Under such circumstances it was a relief to get outside, shift the tents and dig out the sledges. All of the tents had been reduced to the smallest space by the gradual pressure of snow, the old sites being deep pits with hollowed, icy, wet centers. The re-setting of them at least made things more comfortable, and as the wind dropped about mid-day and a few hours later the sky showed signs of breaking, hope once more revived; but soon afterwards snow was falling again. and the position was rapidly becoming absolutely desperate.

To test the surface the man-haulers tried to pull a load during the afternoon, and although it proved a tough job they managed to do it by pulling in ski. On foot the men sank to their knees, and an attempt to see what Nobby could do under such circumstances was anything but encouraging.

Writing in the evening Scott said, 'Wilson thinks the ponies finished, but Oates thinks they will get another march in spite of the surface, if it comes to-morrow. If it should not, we must kill the ponies to-morrow and get on as best we can with the men on ski and the dogs. But one wonders what the dogs can do on such a surface. I much fear they also will prove inadequate. Oh! for fine weather, if only to the Glacier.'

By 11 P.M. the wind had gone to the north, and the sky at last began really to break. The temperature also helped matters by falling to +26°, and in consequence the water nuisance began to abate; and at the prospect of action on the following morning cheerful sounds were once more heard in the camp. 'The poor ponies look wistfully for the food of which so very little remains, yet they are not hungry, as recent savings have resulted from food left in their nose-bags. They look wonderfully fit, all things considered. Everything looks more hopeful to-night, but nothing can recall four lost days.' During the night Scott turned out two or three times to find the weather slowly improving, and at 8 o'clock on December 9 they started upon a most terrible march to Camp 31.

The tremendous snowfall had made the surface intolerably soft, and the half-fed animals sank deeper and deeper. None of them could be led for more than a few minutes, but if they were allowed to follow the poor beasts did fairly well. Soon, however, it began to seem as if no real headway could be made, and so the man-haulers were pressed into the service to try and improve matters.

Bowers and Cherry-Garrard went ahead with one 10-foot sledge and made a track - thus most painfully a mile or so was gained. Then when it seemed as if the limit had been reached P.O. Evans saved the situation by putting the last pair of snow-shoes upon Snatcher, who at once began to go on without much pressure, and was followed by the other ponies.

No halt was made for lunch, but after three or four laborious miles they found themselves engulfed in pressures which added to the difficulties of their march. Still, however, they struggled on, and by 8 P.M. they were within a mile of the slope ascending to the gap, which Shackleton called the Gateway. This gateway was a neck or saddle of drifted snow lying in a gap of the mountain rampart which flanked the last curve of the Glacier, and Scott had hoped to be through it at a much earlier date, as indeed he would have been had not the prolonged storm delayed him.

By this time the ponies, one and all, were quite exhausted. 'They came on painfully slowly a few hundred yards at a time.... I was hauling ahead, a ridiculously light load, and yet finding the pulling heavy enough. We camped, and the ponies have been shot. Poor beasts! they have done wonderfully well considering the terrible circumstances under which they worked.'

On December 8 Wilson wrote in his journal, 'I have kept Nobby all my biscuits to-night as he has to try to do a march to-morrow, and then happily he will be shot and all of them, as their food is quite done.' And on the following day he added: 'Nobby had all my biscuits last night and this morning, and by the time we camped I was just ravenously hungry.... Thank God the horses are now all done with and we begin the heavy work ourselves.'

This Camp 31 received the name of Shambles Camp, and although the ponies had not, owing to the storm, reached the distance Scott had expected, yet he, and all who had taken part in that distressing march, were relieved to know that the sufferings of their plucky animals had at last come to an end.