June 1st was a Friday. A black Friday for me. The nightmare left me, and about 9 o'clock in the morning I awakened with a violent start, as if I had been thrown down a deep well in my sleep. I found myself staring wildly into the darkness of the shack, not knowing where I was. The weakness that filled my body when I turned in the sleeping bag and tried to throw the flashlight on my wrist watch was an eloquent reminder. I was Richard E. Byrd, United States Navy (Ret.), temporarily sojourning at Latitude 80 degrees 08 minutes South, and not worth a damn to myself or anybody else. My mouth was dry and tasted foul. God, I was thirsty. But I had hardly enough strength to move. I clung to the sleeping bag, which was the only source of comfort and warmth left to me, and mournfully debated the little that might be done.
Two facts stood clear. One was that my chances of recovering were slim. The other was that in my weakness I was incapable of taking care of myself. These were desperate conclusions, but my mood allowed no others. All that I could reasonably hope for was to prolong my existence for a few days by hoarding my remaining resources; by doing the necessary things very slowly and with great deliberation. So long as he did that and maintained the right frame of mind, even a very ill man should be able to last a time. So I reasoned, anyway. There was no alternative. My hopes of survival had to be staked on the theory.
But you must have faith -- you must have faith in the outcome, I whispered to myself. It is like a flight, a flight into another unknown. You start and you cannot turn back. You must go on and on and on, trusting your instruments, the course you have plotted on the charts, and the reasonableness of events. Whatever goes wrong will be mostly of your own making; if it is to be tragedy, then it will be commonplace tragedy of human vulnerability.
My first need was warmth and food. The fire had been out about twelve hours; I had not even eaten in nearly thirty-six. Toward providing those necessities I began to mobilize my slender resources. If there had been a movie camera to record my movements, the resulting picture could have been passed off as slow motion. Every act was performed with utmost patience. I lifted the lantern -- and waited. I edged out of the sleeping bag -- and rested on the chair beside the stove. I pulled on my pants, hiking them up a little bit at a time. Then the shirt. Then the socks. And shoes. And finally the parka. All this took a long time. I was shaking so from the cold that, when my elbow struck the wall, the sound was like a peremptory knock at the door. Too miserable to stick it out, I retreated to the sleeping bag; half an hour later the chill in my body drove me into a fresh attempt to reach the stove.
Faintness seized me as I touched foot to the floor. I barely made the chair. There I sat for some minutes, not moving, just staring at the candle. Then I turned the valve, and with the stove lids off I waited for the wick to become saturated with the cold, sluggish oil. Thirst continued to plague me. Several inches of ice were in the water bucket. I dropped it on the floor, bottom up. A sliver of ice fell out, which I sucked until my teeth rattled from the cold. A box of matches was on the table. I touched one to the burner. A red flame licked over the metal ring; it was a beautiful thing to see. I sat there ten or fifteen minutes at least, absorbing the column of warmth. The flame burned red and smoky, when it should have been blue and clear; and, studying it, I knew that this was from faulty combustion and was one source of my misfortunes. This fire was my enemy, but I could not live without it.
Thus this never-ending day began. To describe it all would be tedious. Nothing really happened; and yet, no day in my life was more momentous. I lived a thousand years and all of them were agonizing. I won a little and lost a lot. At the day's end -- if it can be said to have had an end -- all that I could say was that I was still alive. Granting the conditions, I had no right to expect more. Life seldom ends gracefully or sensibly. The protesting body succumbs like a sinking ship going down with the certificate of seaworthiness nailed fast to the wheelhouse bulkhead; but the mind, like the man on the bridge, realizes at last the weakness of the hull and ponders the irony. If the business drags out long enough, as mine did, the essence of things in time becomes pitifully clear; except that by then it is wadded into a tight little scrap ready to be thrown away, as the knowledge is of no earthly use.
My thirst was the tallest tree in a forest of pain. The Escape Tunnel was a hundred miles away, but I started out, carrying the bucket and lantern. Somewhere along the way I slipped and fell. I licked the snow until my tongue burned. The Escape Tunnel was too far. But in the food tunnel my boots had worn a rut eighteen inches wide and six inches deep, which was full of loose snow. The snow was dirty, but I scraped the bucket along until it was nearly full, then pulled it into the shack, a foot or so at a time.
Snow took a long time to melt in the bucket, and I could not wait. I poured a little into a pan and heated it with alcohol tablets. It was still a soggy mass of snow when I raised it to my lips. My hands were shaking, and the water spilled down the front of my parka; then I vomited, and all that I had drunk came up. In a little while I tried again, taking sips too small to be thrown up. Then I crawled on top of the sleeping bag, drawing a heavy blanket over my shoulders, hoping I should somehow regain strength.
Nevertheless, I was able to do a number of small things, in a
series of stealthy, deliberate sorties from the bunk. I attended
to the inside thermograph and register, changing the sheets,
winding the clocks, and inking the pens. The outer ventilator was
two-thirds filled with ice; I could just reach it from the bunk
with a stick which had a big nail in the end. After every exertion
I rested; the pain in my arms and back and head was almost
crucifying. I filled a thermos jug with warm water, added powdered
milk and sugar, and carried the jug into the sleeping bag. My
stomach crawled with nauseous sensations; but, by taking a
teaspoonful at a time, I finally managed to get a cupful down.
After a while the weakness left me, and I felt strong enough to
start for the instrument shelter. I reached the hatch and pushed
it open, but could go no farther. The night was a gray fog, full
of shadows, like my mood. In the shack I lost the milk I had
drunk. On the verge of fainting, I made for the bunk.
I won't even attempt to recall all the melancholy thoughts that drifted through my mind that long afternoon. But I can say truthfully that at no time did I have any feeling of resignation. My whole being rebelled against my low estate. As the afternoon wore on, I felt myself sinking. Now I became alarmed. This was not the first time I had ever faced death. It had confronted me many times in the air. But then it had seemed altogether different. In flying things happen fast: you make a decision, the verdict crowds you instantly; and, when the invisible and neglected passenger comes lunging into the cockpit, he is but one of countless distractions. But now death was a stranger sitting in a darkened room, secure in the knowledge that he would be there when I was gone.
Great waves of fear, a fear I had never known before, swept through me and settled deep within. But it wasn't the fear of suffering or even of death itself. It was a terrible anxiety over the consequences to those at home if I failed to return. I had done a damnable thing in going to Advance Base, I told myself. Also, during those hours of bitterness, I saw my whole life pass in review. I realized how wrong my sense of values had been and how I had failed to see that the simple, homely, unpretentious things of life are the most important.
Much as I should have liked to, I couldn't consider myself a martyr to science; nor could I blame the circumstances that had prevented staffing the base with three men, according to the original plan. I had gone there looking for peace and enlightenment, thinking that they might in some way enrich my life and make me a more useful man. I had also gone armed with the justification of a scientific mission. Now I saw both for what they really were: the first as a delusion, the second as a dead-end street. My thoughts turned to gall and wormwood. I was bitter toward the whole world except my family and friends. The clocks ticked on in the gloom, and a subdued whir came from the register at my feet. The confidence implicit in these unhurried sounds emphasized my own debasement. What right had they to be confident and unhurried? Without me they could not last a day.
The one aspiration I still had was to be vindicated by the tiny heap of data collected on the shelf in the Escape Tunnel. But, even as I seized upon this, I recognized its flimsiness; a romanticized rationalization, as are most of the things which men are anxious to be judged by. We men of action who serve science serve only a reflection in a mirror. The tasks are difficult, the objectives remote; but scholars sitting in bookish surroundings tell us where to go, what to look for, and even what we are apt to find. Likewise, they pass dispassionate judgment on whatever we bring back. We are nothing more than glamorous middlemen between theory and fact, materialists jobbing in the substance of universal truths.
Beyond the fact that I had suffered to secure them, what did I know about the theoretical significance of the records in the Escape Tunnel, of the implications which might differentiate them from a similar heap of records gathered at Keokuk? I really didn't know. I was a fool, lost on a fool's errand, and that was how I should be judged.
At the end only two things really matter to a man, regardless of
who he is; and they are the affection and understanding of his
family. Anything and everything else he creates are insubstantial;
they are ships given over to the mercy of the winds and tides of
prejudice. But the family is an everlasting anchorage a quiet
harbor where a man's ships can be left to swing to the moorings of
pride and loyalty.
The chill went out of the shack; and the heat from the stove, accumulating in a layer under the ceiling, wrapped the bunk as in a blanket. A little after 6 o'clock, as nearly as I could remember afterwards, I sipped the last of the milk in the thermos jug. My body needed stronger nourishment, but I possessed nothing like the strength to cook a meal. I nibbled an Eskimo biscuit and a piece of chocolate, but my stomach was turning somersaults. So I got up and refilled the thermos jug with hot water and powdered milk, a really desperate task, as I had to cling to the table to keep from falling. The next several hours are a blank. Later, when I was able to make notes of what had happened to me, I could not remember anything at all. Perhaps I slept. When I looked at my watch again, the time was about 9:30. I was dazed and exhausted. The idea came to me that I ought to put out the stove to give myself a needed rest from the fumes; besides, there was no telling when I should have the strength to fill the tank again. As I twisted the valve, the room went black. The next thing I knew I was on the floor. I pulled myself up by the stove. It was still warm; so I could not have been out very long.
I dropped into the chair, convinced that the end was near. Up till now I had been sustained by a conviction that the only way I could nullify my mistake and make reparation to my family was by transcending myself and surviving. But I had lost. I flung my arms across the table, and put my head down, spilling a cup of water I had in my hand. My bitterness evaporated, and the only resentment I felt was concentrated on myself. I lay there a long time, sobbing, "What a pity, what an infinite pity!" So my pride was gone as well. A Virginian, I was brought up to believe that a gentleman never gives way to his feelings. I felt no shame then, although I do now. Fear was gone, also. When hope goes, uncertainty goes, too; and men don't fear certainties.
The only conscious resolve left was to write a message to my wife -- a last groping touch of the hand. Beyond the very personal things, I wanted her to understand why I had not tried to inform Little America of my plight (forgetting that it needed no explanation) and my reasons for going to Advance Base. There had to be that. Pencil and paper were on a shelf nearby. When I went to reach out, my arm would not come free; my sleeve had frozen in the spilled water. I wrenched it loose. The frenzy to write supplied its own strength. After the first few paragraphs my mind calmed. But I was too weak to write sitting up. My head kept jerking forward; and, now that the fire was out, the shack was unbearably cold.
The bunk was a continent's breadth away, and I had to cross an interminable plateau to reach it. Safe at last in the sleeping bag, I lay still many minutes shivering and gasping for breath. Then I finished the letter; and, as I did so, I thought of the last entry in Scott's diary: "For God's sake, look after our people." I had often pondered that simple phrase, but only intellectually. That night I understood what Scott meant. It seemed a pity that men must undergo a cataclysmic experience to perceive this simplest of truths.
The lantern flickered and grew dim. I managed to light two candles which stood on a ledge over the bunks. Just as the second one flamed, the lantern went out. Then, after a while, I wrote a letter to my mother, and another to my children, a few messages, very brief, of instruction to Dr. Poulter and Charlie Murphy concerning the welfare of the expedition, and a final letter to the men at Little America. On the shelf was the green metal box which held my personal papers. I have had it for years. In this I stowed the letters to my family. The ensuing periods are not very clear. I may have lapsed into a coma. A sensation of freezing came; my next recollection is of hoisting myself into a sitting position and composing a message to Murphy regarding the disposal of my papers. This, with the other messages, I secured with a string to the nail from which the lantern usually hung.
Something approaching gratitude flowed into me. Over my head the two candles still burned. Both were red. One stood in a cracked china holder. The other was planted in its own tallow. I looked up at them, thinking vaguely that, when they went out, I should never again see anything so friendly. After a little while I doused the wicks against the wall. Presently another reaction set in. My mind wandered off into a vision of the past, in which I seemed to be wrestling again for the welterweight championship of the Naval Academy. An agonizing pain was in my body; I had given up all hope of winning; there remained only an insane determination not to bring shame to my mother in the gallery. It was vivid, and the reason it was vivid was that I was again in almost the same situation, except that the stakes were infinitely greater and the chances of winning even less. Then the same determination that had kept me fighting that day again came surging back. I saw that, although I seemed absolutely washed up, there was a chance I was mistaken. Anyway, I would have another try.
About 3 o'clock on the morning of June 2nd, I had another lucid phase. I tried without success to force my body into sleep. The sleeping pills were on the shelf. The flashlight fingered the bottle. I took it down and dumped the pellets into my cupped palm. There were more than two dozen, white and round; they bespoke a lovely promise. I reached for the bottle. But then I stopped. It was impossible to go on like this. I should become a madman, shrinking from every shadow and touch of pain. I found a match and lighted a candle. An unused sheet of paper lay on the bunk, on top of the diary. I wrote:
The universe is not dead. Therefore, there is an Intelligence there, and it is all pervading. At least one purpose, possible the major purpose, of that Intelligence is the achievement of universal harmony. Striving in the right direction for Peace (Harmony), therefore, as well as the achievement of it, is the result of accord with that Intelligence. It is desirable to effect that accord. The human race, then is not alone in the universe. Though I am cut off from human beings, I am not alone. For untold ages man has felt an awareness of that Intelligence. Belief in it is the one point where all religions agree. It has been called by many names. Many call it God.
This was the gist of the philosophy which had come to me out of
April's hush. Dousing the candle, I slipped into the bag, and
repeated the sentiments, over and over again. Sleep came after a
while. It was intruded upon by another nightmare in which I seemed
to be struggling desperately to awaken and take charge of my
faculties. The struggle went on interminably in a half-lighted
borderland divided by a great white wall. Several times I was
nearly across the wall into a field flooded with a golden light,
but each time I slipped back into a spinning darkness. Instinct
plucked at my sleeve: You must wake up. You must wake up. I
pinched the flesh over my ribs. I pulled my long hair. Then the
tension eased; I fell across the wall; and, instead of warm
sunlight, I found myself in darkness, shivering from cold and
thirsting for water.
June 2nd was a Saturday and a prolongation of the melancholy events of the day before. I was as weak as ever, and just as certain that I was at the end of my tether. The anemometer cups rattled most of the day; drift sifted down the ventilator in a fine haze, and dripped in hot, pinging pellets from the stovepipe to the deck. From the register I learned that the wind was in the northeast and blowing about twenty miles an hour. I prayed for it to stay in that quarter, since it would mean a continuation of the warm weather. Although the temperature did drop to -19 degrees in the evening, it was above zero part of the day. If the cold held off, I could do without the stove for long periods and give my system a chance to throw off the effects of the fumes. Altogether, I could not have been out of the bunk more than two or three hours during the day.
As before, I did what had to be done piecemeal, doling out my strength in miserly driblets, creeping rather than walking, and resting long intervals after each small effort. Toward the middle of the day I made several sorties into the tunnels, once after snow and three times after fuel. I relayed the fuel in a tin pitcher, which held about a gallon, since the stove tank was too heavy for me. Later, when the snow had melted, I mixed more milk in the thermos jug. My stomach would not hold anything more solid, although I did manage to down a cup of tea.
I have a vague memory of climbing the ladder to see what the day was like. This was the period of the moon; but if it showed, I have no recollection of it; my mind remembered a depressing darkness and drift burning against the cheek. In the late afternoon, when the shack had warmed up, I shut down the stove. The thermograph trace shows a minimum temperature of -22 degrees for the day -- a really moderate reading. But the water which I had spewed up was frozen on the floor; a film of ice was creeping of the shack walls; and the slop pail was a solid, messy chunk of ice.
That night, as well as I could estimate, I slept seven or eight hours. Sunday morning brought another anguished struggle to awaken. Sunday meant a radio schedule with Little America and a lie about my condition which every pain-ridden fiber entreated me not to make. God knows where the strength came from to slide the thirty-five pound engine into the shack, get it up on the stove, and push it back into the tunnel again, a distance of some forty feet, all told. It was my good fortune to find the tank nearly half full of gasoline. The last thing I did was to pick the rime out of the surface ventilator pipe with a spiked stick. The pipe was almost solidly clogged. No wonder the tunnel had filled with fumes during the last schedule.
By the Little America radio log, I was about twenty minutes late reporting. Dyer's voice was saying "KFZ calling KFY," in the same crisp, matter-of-fact way; but the sound was a surpassing miracle.
It only took the pressure of a finger to work the key; I knew that code would not betray me. Some days before, Charlie Murphy had asked me to give him certain weather information. The data had been lying on my desk for nearly a week. I sent that. Then some of the camp officers took up certain aspects of the proposed spring operations. I am not sure that I wholly understood everything that was said, for the sickness was coming on again. My answers were a simple yes or no or, "Will think over." Finally Dyer's stately "Thank you sir. We shall meet you again Thursday," came through the confusion. I shut off the engine, utterly spent.
I have often been asked why I did not tell Little America what had happened. My answer is that it was too dangerous for the men to come to me. This conviction was so strong that I took it for granted. But I was no automaton. When contact was made and Dyer remarked at the outset, as he always did, "We hope that everything is well with you," it was hard to say "OK." But it would have been harder to say anything else. The intervening darkness, the cold, the rolling vacancies of the Barrier, and the crevasses were all immutable facts. Advance Base was my responsibility. It was unthinkable that willing men at Little America should be made to suffer.
That afternoon I may have been close to going out of my mind; the strain of preparing for the schedule had raised Cain with me. I know that I was in torment, and the notion that I was dying would not leave me. Some time during the evening I came out of the delirium, thirst and hungry. Along with some milk, I managed to down half a dozen salt crackers, the first solid food since Thursday morning. That night I slept a little longer, though my slumber was lighted by unspeakable nightmares. Monday I scarcely left the sleeping bag. The rest did me good; as did, perhaps, my keeping the fire out most of the afternoon. At night I got up and supped on malted milk, salted crackers, almonds, and dried apples soaked in warm water. A queer mixture, which I myself cannot explain otherwise than by a dim notion that of all the edibles in the shack, these were the only ones that my stomach would tolerate.
I still had no endurance. The pain came and went in my eyes and head and back. And I was always cold.
That night, as before, I ranged the whole broad reaches of hell
before finding sleep. Next morning I had much less difficulty
waking up, which heartened me. Indeed, matters went somewhat
easier. I even managed to empty the slop pail in the food tunnel.
In the afternoon I had strength enough to crank the phonograph.
The song "In the Gypsy's Life" from Bohemian Girl was on the disk.
I played that, then the drinking song in Heidelberg. And "Adeste
Fidelis." It was magnificent to hear the sound of many voices
throbbing in every corner of the shack. You are on the mend, an
inner voice said; you really have a chance. One in a hundred,
perhaps, but still a chance.
Afterwards, lying in the sleeping bag, I tried to analyze the possibilities. By then I had been through five days of it -- five everlasting, interminable days. I had been lost on a great plateau of pain where all the passes were barred. I had suffered and struggled; I had hoped and stopped hoping. Still, it is not in a man to stop, anyhow; something animal and automatic keeps him propped on his feet long after the light has gone from his heart. And as I lay there thinking, I finally asked myself: What are your assets? What might be done that has not already been done?
To begin with, there were two certainties. One was that no help was to be had from the outside -- the Barrier was a wall between. The other was that little could be done about improving the ventilation in the shack. Even if materials had been available to make a drastic change, I was palpably too weak to undertake anything of that order. Here the warmish weather had been an unexpected ally. I had been able to do without the stove for long intervals during the day; and the relief from the fumes had given my body respite. This was sheer luck, however. The greatest cold was yet to come, and might come any day.
These were facts. To the degree that a man is superior to his destiny, I should be able to rise above them. Few men during their lifetime come anywhere near exhausting the resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used. Could I find a way to tap those physical potentialities locked up within myself? Well, suppose I were able to. It still wouldn't mean a great deal. Clearly, my remaining material resources couldn't be very much. Therefore I must find other sources of replenishment. In such times, when the tricks and expediencies of cornered men fall to pieces in their hands, they turn to God -- as I did, after my fashion.
The articles of my faith were in part set forth in the paragraphs I wrote after Friday's despair. They represented no new convictions. I had always had them in a dim way. The difference was that the peacefulness of April and May had crystallized my old beliefs as it was adding new ones; and the time had come to test them.
And yet, being a practical man, I recognized a big difference between the mere affirmation of faith and its effective implementation. To desire harmony, or peace, or whatever word you care to give to the sense of identification with the orderly processes of life, would be a step in the right direction; but this by itself was not enough. I had to work for it. Above everything else, what I sought must be logical; it must be brought about by following the laws of nature. It didn't occur to me to formulate a prayer. I would express whatever urge to pray I had in action -- besides, the sheer hunger to live was prayer enough.
As I saw the situation, the necessities were these: To survive I must continue to husband my strength, doing whatever had to be done in the simplest manner possible and without strain. I must sleep and eat and build up strength. To avoid further poisoning from the fumes, I must use the stove sparingly and the gasoline pressure lantern not at all. Giving up the lantern meant surrendering its bright light, which was one of my few luxuries; but I could do without luxuries for a while. As to the stove, the choice there lay between freezing and inevitable poisoning. Cold I could feel, but carbon monoxide was invisible and tasteless. So I chose the cold, knowing that the sleeping bag provided a retreat. From now on, I decided I would make a strict rule of doing without the fire for two or three hours every afternoon.
So much for the practical procedure. If I depended on this alone, I should go mad from the hourly reminders of my own futility. Something more -- the will and desire to endure these hardships -- was necessary. They must come from deep inside me. But how? By taking control of my thought. By extirpating all lugubrious ideas the instant they appeared and dwelling only on those conceptions which would make for peace. A discordant mind, black with confusion and despair, would finish me off as thoroughly as the cold. Discipline of this sort is not easy. Even in April's and May's serenity I had failed to master it entirely.
That evening I made a desperate effort to make these conclusions work for me. Although my stomach was rebellious, I forced down a big bowl of thin soup, plus some vegetables and milk. Then I put the fire out; afterwards, propped up in the sleeping bag, I tried to play Canfield. But the games, I remember, went against me; and this made me profoundly irritable. I tried to read Ben Ames Williams' All the Brothers Were Valiant; but, after a page or two, the letters became indistinct; and my eyes ached -- in fact, they had never stopped aching. I cursed inwardly, telling myself that the way the cards fell and the state of my eyes were typical of my wretched luck. The truth is that the dim light from the lantern was beginning to get on my nerves. In spite of my earlier resolve to dispense with it, I would have lighted the pressure lantern, except that I wasn't able to pump up the pressure. Only when you've been through something like that do you begin to appreciate how utterly precious light is.
Something persuaded me to take down the shaving mirror from its nail near the shelf. The face that looked back at me was that of an old and feeble man. The cheeks were sunken and scabrous from frostbite, and the bloodshot eyes were those of a man who has been on a prolonged debauch. Something broke inside me then. What was to be gained by struggling? No matter what happened, if I survived at all, I should always be a physical wreck, a burden upon my family. It was a dreadful business. All the fine conceptions of the afternoon dissolved in black despair.
The dark side of a man's mind seems to be a sort of antenna tuned to catch gloomy thoughts from all directions. I found it so with mine. That was an evil night. It was as if all the world's vindictiveness were concentrated upon me as upon a personal enemy. I sank to depths of disillusionment which I had not believed possible. It would be tedious to discuss them. Misery, after all, is the tritest of emotions. All that need be said is that eventually my faith began to make itself felt; and by concentrating on it and reaffirming the truth about the universe as I saw it, I was able again to fill my mind with the fine and comforting things of the world that had seemed irretrievably lost. I surrounded myself with my family and my friends; I projected myself into the sunlight, into the midst of green, growing things. I thought of all the things I would do when I got home; and a thousand matters which had never been more than casual now became surpassingly attractive and important. But time after time I slipped back into despond. Concentration was difficult, and only by the utmost persistence could I bring myself out of it. But ultimately the disorder left my mind; and, when I blew out the candles and the lantern, I was living in the world of the imagination -- a simple, uncomplicated world made up of people who wished each other well, who were peaceful and easy-going and kindly.
The aches and pains had not subsided; and it took me several hours
to fall asleep; but that night I slept better than on any night
since May 31st; and in the morning was better in mind and body
The melancholy began to left, and I was able to do a little more for myself. Wednesday the 6th I succeeded in getting topside for the 8 a.m. weather "ob." Although the morning was clear, drift still blurred the horizon and peppered my face. I sank to my knees in soft snow at every step. It was good to possess the spaciousness of the Barrier after the narrowness of the shack. I threw the beam of my flashlight at the wind vane, and saw that the wind was in the southeast. That means cold, I muttered. Rime covered everything. The breathing slats in the sides of the instrument shelter were thick with drift, but I did not feel up to brushing it off. I was satisfied to read the thermometer, reset the pin, and retreat below.
Later, I crept to the far end of the fuel tunnel and secured a small piece of asbestos, which I cut to fit over the top of the stove. My idea was that it would help to shut off the initial fumes that poured through the chinks while the burner was still cold and smoky. I cut the piece to fit snugly around the stovepipe and fold over the edges of the stove.
In the afternoon I eavesdropped on Little America's weekly
broadcast to the United States. [2 o'clock Little America time; 9
o'clock Eastern Standard time.] One reason was that prudence
suggested testing my handiness with the battery-powered emergency
set. But the moving reason was a hunger for familiar voices. I
missed much of what was said, but I did catch the solemn to-do
over the three cows at Little America; how one stood up all the
time and refused to lie down; and how another, which was
accustomed to lying down every night, lay down with the coming of
the winter night and refused to stand up; and how the third, poor
thing, couldn't make up her mind just what to do, except roll her
eyes at Cox, the carpenter, who haunted the cowbarn. I really
chuckled over that and over "Ike" Schlossbach's baritone solo
called "Love, You Funny Thing." Other people in Antarctica, I
realized, had their problems too.