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.'