"Haul in the gang-plank;" "Let go the tow-line," shouted the captain of the 'Fletcher'. Then he signalled the engineer to go ahead, and the little schooner 'Eothen' was abandoned to her own resources and the mercy of the mighty ocean. The last frantic handshaking was over, and only wind-blown kisses and parting injunctions passed back and forth as the distance between the voyagers and their escort kept continually increasing, until nothing could be heard but the hearty cheers that wished for us a pleasant journey and unbounded success. There was no time now for regrets, for if we would be comfortable we must direct our thoughts seaward and get our bunks ready for sleeping. So we were paired off and went immediately to work. As Lieutenant Schwatka was not only the senior officer of the expedition, but at the same time taller than I by several inches, I willingly yielded him the top bunk of our state-room, and waited patiently outside until he had prepared his lair, for it would be impossible for two to work at the same time in such very narrow space. He at last arranged his two buffalo robes to his perfect satisfaction, and I soon spread my humbler blankets to the best advantage. So much accomplished we retired to our first sleep on shipboard.

We had left New York on the 19th June, 1878, a party of five, none of us unaccustomed to hardship and adventure. Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka, of the Third United States Cavalry, Polish by descent, American by birth, had been distinguished in the war; and I, who was second in command, had seen a good deal of active service. Henry Klutschak, a Bohemian by birth, a civil engineer by profession, brought us the advantage of his previous experiences in the Arctic; Frank E. Melms was an experienced whaleman; and Joseph Ebierbing, well known as "Esquimau Joe," had been with Captain Hall and Captain Hayes in their journeys, and with the 'Pandora' expedition from England. The 'Eothen', that carried us, was commanded by Captain Thomas F. Barry. Her crew included a first, second, and third mate, a carpenter, blacksmith, cooper, steward and cook, three boat-steerers, and twelve men before the mast. To prepare her for encounters with the ice, the hull had been overlaid to the chain-plates with oak planking an inch and a half thick, and the stem had been covered with oak about two feet thick, over which was iron plating to the depth of three-quarters of an inch. She was a stout vessel of one hundred and two tons. The stock of provisions laid in on board of her for the use of the party included hard bread, Indian-meal, flour, molasses, pemmican, canned meats, preserved vegetables, preserved fruits, coffee, tea, and chocolate. Horseradish was taken as a preventive against scurvy, and tobacco was stored in abundance for the use of such Esquimaux as might have stories to tell or assistance to offer. Arms and ammunition had been generously presented to us by several manufacturers, and to individual bounty we also owed many of our books, night-signals, instruments, and the timber for our sledges.

The commander of the 'Eothen' was, indirectly, the originator of the expedition. Everybody knows that for more than twenty years explorers had been sailing from English and American ports in search of the bodies or the papers of Sir John Franklin and his party. The partial success which attended the investigations of Sir Leopold McClintock had served to whet the public appetite. A story which Captain Barry brought home from the Arctic made the curiosity still greater. He said that in 1871-73, while on a whaling expedition, he was frozen in with the 'Glacier' in Repulse Bay, and was there visited by several Esquimaux who brought their families on board his vessel. They had lost their way while hunting, and were anxious to see the ships of white men. While on board the 'Glacier' they spoke of a stranger in uniform who had visited them some years before, and who was accompanied by many other white men. All of the party had afterward died, but the chief had meanwhile collected a great quantity of papers. He had left these papers behind him in a cairn, where, among other things, some silver spoons had since been found. In the winter of 1876, while the captain was with the bark 'A. Houghton' before Marble Island, another set of Esquimaux visited him, and while looking at his logbook said that the great white man who had been among them many years before had kept a similar book, and having told him this one of them gave him a spoon engraved with the word "Franklin."

This was enough to arrest the attention and stir the adventurous spirit of Lieutenant Schwatka. He became eager to organize a search party and find the cairn where the papers were supposed to be still buried. He obtained leave of absence, went to New York, and proposed to Judge Daly, of the Geographical Society, to take charge of an expedition. After listening to the lieutenant's offer, Judge Daly gave him all the information in his possession concerning the whereabouts of the supposed cairn, so far as its site could be ascertained from the history of the relics already said to be found, and commended him to General Sherman, indorsing his application to be detailed to command the exploring party. The lieutenant also conferred with Messrs. Morrison &Brown, the shipping merchants of South Street, New York, who owned the whaling vessel on which the supposed clew was brought home, and they readily accepted his offer, and with the help of private subscriptions fitted out the 'Eothen'. Their instructions to Lieutenant Schwatka were as follows: "Upon your arrival at Repulse Bay you will prepare for your inland journey by building your sledges and taking such provisions as are necessary. As soon as sufficient snow is on the ground you will start for King William Land and the Gulf of Boothia. Take daily observations, and whenever you discover any error in any of the charts you will correct the same. Whenever you shall make any new discoveries you will mark the same on the charts; and important discoveries I desire to be named after the Hon. Charles P. Daly and his estimable wife, Mrs. Maria Daly. Any records you may think necessary for you to leave on the trip, at such places as you think best, you will mark ''Eothen' Franklin Arctic Search Party, Frederick Schwatka in command;' date, longitude, and latitude; to be directed to the President of the American Geographical Society, New York, United States of America. Should you be fortunate in finding the records, remains, or relics of Sir John Franklin or his unfortunate party, as I have hopes you will, you will keep them in your or Joe's control, and the contents thereof shall be kept secret, and no part thereof destroyed, tampered with, or lost. Should you find the remains of Sir John Franklin or any of his party, you will take the same, have them properly taken care of, and bring them with you. The carpenter of the 'Eothen' will, before you start on your sledge journey, prepare boxes necessary for the care of relics, remains, or records, should you discover the same. Whatever you may discover or obtain you will deliver to Captain Thomas F Barry, or whoever shall be in command of the schooner 'Eothen', or such vessel as may be despatched for you. You are now provisioned for eighteen months for twelve men. I shall next spring send more provisions to you, so that in the event of your trip being prolonged you shall not want for any of the necessaries of life. You will be careful and economical with your provisions, and will not allow anything to be wasted or destroyed. Should the expedition for which it is intended prove a failure, make it a geographical success, as you will be compelled to travel over a great deal of unexplored country."

Thus manned, equipped, and instructed, we sailed from New York. It was nearly a month before we saw our first iceberg. During the night of July 11th I heard the order given to wear ship, and was called on deck to see an iceberg dead ahead; but so great was the distance and so foggy the weather that it was some time before I could make it out, and then it appeared only as a thin, faintly bluish line. The eagle eyes of the second mate had discovered it in time to avoid any danger of collision; but the captain thought it more prudent to heave to and wait until dawn before continuing on our course. The following morning a regular old veteran berg could be seen from the deck, about twenty miles away. It was apparently about a mile long, and could have supplied the city of New York with ice for many years, were there any way to preserve it for that purpose. During the 13th we saw four large icebergs, which passed close by the ship. While writing in the cabin, about eleven o'clock of the 15th, the mate on watch called me on deck to see a magnificent aurora, the first we had seen. It was truly a grand spectacle. At the same time the moon was shining brightly and the sea was as smooth as glass. Near by an immense iceberg looked black against the red twilight along the horizon, while in the distance another berg was white in the light of the full moon. The air was filled with the voices of wild-ducks, who could be heard, but not seen. On Friday, the 19th, in latitude 59 deg. 54 min. north, and longitude 60 deg. 45 min. west., thirteen icebergs were to be seen during the morning, and were of the most varied and picturesque description. One appeared like a huge circus tent, with an adjoining side-show booth; while near by another was a most perfect representation of a cottage by the sea, with gables toward the observer, and chimneys rising at proper intervals along the roofs. On the other side of the vessel a huge monster presented a vast amphitheatre, with innumerable columns sparkling in the sunlight and dazzling the spectator with their intense brilliancy. I made a few sketches of the most remarkable in view; but as twenty-three could be seen from the deck at three o'clock I gave up in despair. At six o'clock thirty-three were in sight, and the sun set beautifully, eight minutes past nine, surrounded by fourteen of these monsters of the deep. On the night of the 19th I went on deck to see an iceberg, which was a perfect counterpart of Newstead Abbey. One could almost fancy he saw the ivy creeping over its sides, so deceptive were the shadows that fell upon it from pinnacles and horizontal projections innumerable.

At half-past seven o'clock in the evening we sighted a brigantine off the weather beam, while thirty-one icebergs were around us. The vessel was going the same way that we were bound, and was about fifteen miles away. Sunday night, the 21st, was a splendid night. One could read distinctly on deck throughout the entire night. There were plenty of icebergs around. Those in front and on both sides of the ship were black against the sky, the moon being on the other side of them, while those we passed shone in all their virgin beauty in the bright moonlight. The red twilight still lingered along the horizon, graduating through a pale yellow tint to orange, and then deepening into intense blue that was almost black. The picture was fierce in color and startling in the contrasts it presented.

At a quarter before nine o'clock the next night we sighted Resolution Island in the dim distance. Spy-glasses were at once brought into requisition, and we could see that the mirage had fooled us, though there seemed little doubt of the land's being visible. The next morning the land was in plain sight, about thirty or thirty-five miles off the weather beam, and the water filled with small and dangerous pieces of ice. The land was covered with fog, and looked desolate enough, but nevertheless seemed acceptable after a tedious journey against head winds and calms. The wind was still directly out of the straits, and we had to beat backward and forward from Resolution to Button Island, and it seemed as if the straits were unapproachable. Toward night the wind blew a perfect gale, and added to the usual dangers was the risk of running upon the innumerable pieces of loose ice which appeared on every side, many of them having sharp points projecting below the surface of the water, and heavy enough to pierce the sides of any vessel going at the speed we were compelled to make in order to keep sufficient headway to steer clear of such obstacles as could be seen. The captain and first mate, who were on deck most of the night, said that disaster was imminent; that the danger was constant, and that the night was withal one of the most terrible ordeals they had ever experienced. I was tired and slept soundly, and consequently knew nothing about it until morning, which dawned brightly and with a light breeze, under which we passed up to the first ice-pack I had ever seen. While engaged in conversation an inexperienced hand at the wheel brought us so close to a small cake of ice, about the size of a schooner, that collision was inevitable. A long projection beneath the water had a most dangerous look, but fortunately was so deep that the keel of the 'Eothen' ran up on it and somewhat deadened her headway. Long poles were got out at once, and, all hands pushing, succeeded after a while in getting her clear without damage; but it was a perilous moment.

We worked over toward the south side of the straits, and found a channel through which we could make but slow progress. The wind increased and blew terrifically all night, forcing the vessels to beat back and forth in the mouth of the straits, and we had a similar experience on the night of the 22d, running the gauntlet under reefed mainsail and jib through loose ice and in imminent danger of shipwreck. Next day the ice appeared somewhat open, and Captain Barry concluded to venture into the pack. When we got into clear water we worked up to the bulkhead of ice and passed Resolution Island. We were almost as glad to get rid of it as we had been to see it, nearly a week before. All the icebergs we saw were aground, and several of them had arches cut into their sides, which looked as if our vessel might safely sail inside and secure a harbor. We worked up beyond the Lower Savage Islands, and in sight of the Middle Savage and Saddleback Rock.

When we went to bed the weather was a dead calm, and the water of glassy smoothness. Not a sound was to be heard save the distant thunder of bursting icebergs and the water swashing up against the field-ice that now and then passed with the current. It sounded for all the world like waves upon a rock-bound coast, or like the distant rumbling of a train of cars. About midnight Joe called me to announce that the natives were coming off to the ship in boats. I hastened to put on my clothes; but before I got dressed I could hear the captain's voice shouting "Kimo" (Welcome), from the quarter-deck, and when I joined him I could see two dark objects that seemed to be approaching rapidly, and could hear the confused sounds of voices in conversation coming up from the water. Presently it could be seen that one was a kyack and the other an omien, or women's boat, filled with women and children and a few men. By this time Joe had come on deck, and at Captain Barry's request invited them to come aboard. When they heard their native tongue from the stranger ship their surprise was unfeigned. The men bought a number of corlitangs and kummings (native boots), as well as other articles of apparel, and gave in exchange small pieces of tobacco, a few cases of matches, and articles of clothing that were not worth keeping. Captain Barry got a quantity of whalebone, reindeer and fox skins, walrus ivory, a bear-skin, and about a hundred and fifty pounds of fresh reindeer meat. We also bought three dogs for about a pound of powder, and a kyack for Joe, for which the captain gave an old broken double-barrelled gun and a handful of powder and shot. The owner was in ecstasy over the bargain and Joe was more than happy.

I could not help, however, feeling mortified that such advantage should be taken of their childish ignorance of values. I was not surprised, then, when Joe, who has been long enough in civilized lands to know what values are, came to me and said he thought it was wrong to rob these people. They were his own people, and from the same tribe, in fact, so that his interest was naturally with them. His own uncle was one of the chief men of this tribe, but at the time we arrived had gone inland with most of the men on a hunting expedition. Joe sent him his pocket-knife as a present, and also was liberal with needles among the women, who were very grateful for his generosity. The whalers seriously object to giving things away to the natives, as it renders their system of barter more difficult. It would be a greater benefit to all these tribes to send one or two of their most intelligent young men to the United States or to England for a few years, so that they could protect them against the rapacity of the masters and owners of whaling ships. They could then get something like a fair equivalent for the goods they have to dispose of. The natives are better whalemen than any of the seamen who come to this country, and they should certainly receive more than a handful of powder and a few bullets for hundreds of pounds of bone, worth about $2.50 a pound. Shortly after daylight the natives departed, and a breeze springing up we set sail upon our journey.

Most of the day we were in full sight of the land, which I regarded with keen interest. It certainly seemed the most desolate-looking region I ever saw - a succession of hills of bald rock, with occasional patches of snow and moss; not a house, nor a tree, nor, in fact, any sign of animal or vegetable life - and yet I longed to put my foot upon that barren soil and commence the work we had before us.

One of the principal annoyances of all sailing-masters in the Arctic regions is the sluggish action of the magnetic needle as they approach the magnetic pole, and it was a difficulty from which we were not exempt. The land all looks so much alike that even when running in plain sight of it it requires the greatest familiarity with the principal points to be able to steer by them. During the night of Friday, August 2, we, by some mysterious operation, got in between Nottingham and Salisbury Islands, when we thought we were beyond the Digges. We found a bad reef, just on a level with the water's edge, about eight miles north-west of the north-west point of Nottingham Island, which is not down upon the charts, and is situated just where a vessel running along at night, "handy to the land," as sailors say, would inevitably run upon it. We put it down upon our charts and called it Trainor's Reef, as it was discovered by the third mate from the mast-head. During a previous voyage Captain Barry discovered a similar reef, about the same distance off the easterly point of Salisbury Island, which we also noted and put down as Barry's Rock.

We reached Whale Point, at the entrance of Rowe's Welcome, during the morning of Wednesday, August 7, just seven weeks from New York, and about six o'clock a whale-boat reached the vessel's side, after having chased us all night. It was loaded with natives of the Iwillie tribe, two or three families of whom still remained at the Point, while the others had gone down to the vicinity of Depot Island, which is half-way between Cape Fullerton and Chesterfield Inlet. The visitors comprised two men, a woman, two boys, a little orphan girl, and a baby. The woman was a daughter of "Prince Albert," a man of considerable influence in his tribe, and I understood that his power was due to superior intelligence and sagacity. In fact, all those whom we met at this time seemed much superior in intelligence to those who came aboard at the Lower Savage Islands. They were cleaner, but by a mere trifle, and showed improvement from contact with civilization. They usually preferred to array themselves in some part of the costume of white people, though not by any means particular in wearing it as white people do. One of the men was a young fellow known as "Jim," who, the captain thought, would be a desirable acquisition to our party to go to King William Land, and Joe made the proposition to him. He regarded the matter favorably, and was particularly interested when he saw some of our fine rifles. His father was an old man, called "The Doctor," who was dependent upon his son. After giving our guests breakfast and a few presents we bade them good-by, and set sail for Depot Island, where we arrived about four o'clock in the afternoon.

The lookout from the mast-head saw some boats coming from the main-land, and presently three kyacks, an omien, and two whale-boats came alongside, bringing about fifty people, including men, women, and children. Among them were Armow and his two half-brothers, Ik-omer (Fire) and Too-goo-lan. "Papa" was there also, and he, too, is one of the few savages that are thoroughly reliable in every respect. He was one of Captain Hall's party when he visited King William Land in 1868. All these people seemed very friendly toward us, and upon a consultation over the charts we decided to go on to the main-land, near Depot Island, to spend the winter. We learned with deep regret that one of the Natchillis, who was said to have spoken to Captain Barry about the existence of books among the Franklin relics, had since died, and that nobody knew what had become of the other. We determined to make every effort to find the latter, for should he know where the books were hidden, and be willing to conduct us there, our labor would have been materially lessened. But in any case, whether we found him or not, we had great faith that, by staying at least one season on King William Land, when the snow was off the ground, we should be able to find the records, and complete the history of Sir John Franklin's last expedition.