Beyond The North Wind
I tried to forget my thirst by busying myself with bringing up some food and an empty vessel from the hold. Reaching over the side-rail, I filled the vessel with water for the purpose of laving my hands and face. To my astonishment, when the water came in contact with my lips, I could taste no salt. I was startled by the discovery. "Father!" I fairly gasped, "the water, the water; it is fresh!" "What, Olaf?" exclaimed my father, glancing hastily around. "Surely you are mistaken. There is no land. You are going mad." "But taste it!" I cried.
And thus we made the discovery that the water was indeed fresh, absolutely so, without the least briny taste or even the suspicion of a salty flavor.
We forthwith filled our two remaining water-casks, and my father declared it was a heavenly dispensation of mercy from the gods Odin and Thor.
We were almost beside ourselves with joy, but hunger bade us end our enforced fast. Now that we had found fresh water in the open sea, what might we not expect in this strange latitude where ship had never before sailed and the splash of an oar had never been heard?11
11In vol. I, page 196, Nansen writes: "It is a peculiar phenomenon, - this dead water. We had at present a better opportunity of studying it than we desired. It occurs where a surface layer of fresh water rests upon the salt water of the sea, and this fresh water is carried along with the ship gliding on the heavier sea beneath it as if on a fixed foundation. The difference between two strata was in this case so great that while we had drinking water on the surface, the water we got from the bottom cock of the engine-room was far too salt to be used for the boiler."
We had scarcely appeased our hunger when a breeze began filling the idle sails, and, glancing at the compass, we found the northern point pressing hard against the glass.
In response to my surprise, my father said: "I have heard of this before; it is what they call the dipping of the needle."
We loosened the compass and turned it at right angles with the surface of the sea before its point would free itself from the glass and point according to unmolested attraction. It shifted uneasily, and seemed as unsteady as a drunken man, but finally pointed a course.
Before this we thought the wind was carrying us north by northwest, but, with the needle free, we discovered, if it could be relied upon, that we were sailing slightly north by northeast. Our course, however, was ever tending northward.12
12In volume II, pages 18 and 19, Nansen writes about the inclination of the needle. Speaking of Johnson, his aide: "One day -- it was November 24th -- he came in to supper a little after six o'clock, quite alarmed, and said: 'There has just been a singular inclination of the needle in twenty four degrees. And remarkably enough, its northern extremity pointed to the east.'"
We again find in Peary's first voyage - page 67, - the following: "It had been observed that from the moment they had entered Lancaster Sound, the motion of the compass needle was very sluggish, and both this and its deviation increased as they progressed to the westward, and continued to do so in descending this inlet. Having reached latitude 73 degrees, they witnessed for the first time the curious phenomenon of the directive power of the needle becoming so weak as to be completely overcome by the attraction of the ship, so that the needle might now be said to point to the north pole of the ship."
The sea was serenely smooth, with hardly a choppy wave, and the wind brisk and exhilarating. The sun's rays, while striking us aslant, furnished tranquil warmth. And thus time wore on day after day, and we found from the record in our log-book, we had been sailing eleven days since the storm in the open sea.
By strictest economy, our food was holding out fairly well, but beginning to run low. In the meantime, one of our casks of water had been exhausted, and my father said: "We will fill it again." But, to our dismay, we found the water was now as salt as in the region of the Lofoden Islands off the coast of Norway. This necessitated our being extremely careful of the remaining cask.
I found myself wanting to sleep much of the time; whether it was the effect of the exciting experience of sailing in unknown waters, or the relaxation from the awful excitement incident to our adventure in a storm at sea, or due to want of food, I could not say.
I frequently lay down on the bunker of our little sloop, and looked far up into blue dome of the sky; and, notwithstanding the sun was shining far away in the east, I always saw a single star overhead. For several days, when I looked for this star, it was always there directly above us.
It was now, according to our reckoning, about the first of August. The sun was high in the heavens, and was so bright that I could no longer see the one lone star that attracted my attention a few days earlier.
One day about this time, my father startled me by calling my attention to a novel sight far in front of us, almost at the horizon. "It is a mock sun," exclaimed my father. "I have read of them; it is called a reflection or mirage. It will soon pass away."
But this dull-red, false sun, as we supposed it to be, did not pass away for several hours; and while we were unconscious of its emitting any rays of light, still there was no time thereafter when we could not sweep the horizon in front and locate the illumination of the so-called false sun, during a period of at least twelve hours out of every twenty-four.
Clouds and mists would at times almost, but never entirely, hide its location. Gradually it seemed to climb higher in the horizon of the uncertain purply sky as we advanced. It could hardly be said to resemble the sun, except in its circular shape, and when not obscured by clouds or the ocean mists, it had a hazy-red, bronzed appearance, which would change to a white like a luminous cloud, as if reflecting some greater light beyond.
We finally agreed in our discussion of this smoky furnace-colored sun, that, whatever the cause of the phenomenon, it was not a reflection of our sun, but a planet of some sort -- a reality.13
13Nansen, on page 394, says: "Today another noteworthy thing happened, which was that about midday we saw the sun, or to be more correct, an image of the sun, for it was only a mirage. A peculiar impression was produced by the sight of that glowing fire lit just above the outermost edge of the ice. According to the enthusiastic descriptions given by many Arctic travelers of the first appearance of this god of life after the long winter night, the impression ought to be one of jubilant excitement; but it was not so in my case. We had not expected to see it for some days yet, so that my feeling was rather one of pain, of disappointment, that we must have drifted farther south than we thought. So it was with pleasure I soon discovered that it could not be the sun itself. The mirage was at first a flattened-out, glowing red streak of fire on the horizon; later there were two streaks, the one above the other, with a dark space between; and from the main top I could see four, or even five, such horizontal lines directly over one another, all of equal length, as if one could only imagine a square, dull-red sun, with horizontal dark streaks across it."
One day soon after this, I felt exceedingly drowsy, and fell into a sound sleep. But it seemed that I was almost immediately aroused by my father's vigorous shaking of me by the shoulder and saying: "Olaf, awaken; there is land in sight!"
I sprang to my feet, and oh! joy unspeakable! There, far in the distance, yet directly in our path, were lands jutting boldly into the sea. The shore-line stretched far away to the right of us, as far as the eye could see, and all along the sandy beach were waves breaking into choppy foam, receding, then going forward again, ever chanting in monotonous thunder tones the song of the deep. The banks were covered with trees and vegetation. I cannot express my feeling of exultation at this discovery. My father stood motionless, with his hand on the tiller, looking straight ahead, pouring out his heart in thankful prayer and thanksgiving to the gods Odin and Thor.
In the meantime, a net which we found in the stowage had been cast, and we caught a few fish that materially added to our dwindling stock of provisions.
The compass, which we had fastened back in its place, in fear of another storm, was still pointing due north, and moving on its pivot, just as it had in Stockholm. The dipping of the needle had ceased. What could this mean? Then, too, our many days of sailing had certainly carried us far past the North Pole. And yet the needle continued to point north. We were sorely perplexed, for surely our direction was now south.14
14Peary's first voyage, pages 69 and 70, says: "On reaching Sir Byam Martin's Island, the nearest to Melville Island, the latitude of the place of observation was 75 degrees-09'-23'', and the longitude 103 degrees-44'-37''; the dip of the magnetic needle of 88 degrees-25'-58'' west in the longitude of 91 degrees-48', where the last observations on the shore had been made, to 165 degrees-50'-09'', east, at their present station, so that we had," says Peary, "in sailing over the space included between this two meridians, crossed immediately northward of the magnetic pole, and had undoubtedly passed over one of those spots upon the globe where the needle would have been found to vary 180 degrees, or in other words, where the North Pole would have pointed to the south."
We sailed for three days along the shoreline, then came to the mouth of a fjord or river of immense size. It seemed more like a great bay, and into this we turned our fishing-craft, the direction being slightly northeast of south. By the assistance of a fretful wind that came to our aid about twelve hours out of every twenty-four, we continued to make our way inland, into what afterward proved to be a mighty river, and which we learned was called by the inhabitants Hiddekel.
We continued our journey for ten days thereafter, and found we had fortunately attained a distance inland where ocean tides no longer affected the water, which had become fresh.
The discovery came none to soon, for our remaining cask of water was well-nigh exhausted. We lost no time in replenishing our casks, and continued to sail farther up the river when the wind was favorable.
Along the banks great forests miles in extent could be seen stretching away on the shore-line. The trees were of enormous size. We landed after anchoring near a sandy beach, and waded ashore, and were rewarded by finding a quantity of nuts that were very palatable and satisfying to hunger, and a welcome change from the monotony of our stock of provisions.
It was about the first of September, over five months, we calculated, since our leave-taking from Stockholm. Suddenly we were frightened almost out of our wits by hearing in the far distance the singing of people. Very soon thereafter we discovered a huge ship gliding down the river directly toward us. Those aboard were singing in one mighty chorus that, echoing from bank to bank, sounded like a thousand voices, filling the whole universe with quivering melody. The accompaniment was played on stringed instruments not unlike our harps.
It was a larger ship than any we had ever seen, and was differently constructed.15
15Asiatic Mythology, -- page 240, "Paradise Found" -- from translation by Sayce, in a book called "Records of the Past", we were told of a "dwelling" which "the gods created for" the first human beings, -- a dwelling in which they "become great" and "increased in numbers," and the location of which is described in words exactly corresponding to those of Iranian, Indian, Chinese, Eddaic and Aztecan literature; namely, "in the center of the earth." -- Warren.
At this particular time our sloop was becalmed, and not far from the shore. The bank of the river, covered with mammoth trees, rose up several hundred feet in beautiful fashion. We seemed to be on the edge of some primeval forest that doubtless stretched far inland.
The immense craft paused, and almost immediately a boat was lowered and six men of gigantic stature rowed to our little fishing-sloop. They spoke to us in a strange language. We knew from their manner, however, that they were not unfriendly. They talked a great deal among themselves, and one of them laughed immoderately, as though in finding us a queer discovery had been made. One of them spied our compass, and it seemed to interest them more than any other part of our sloop.
Finally, the leader motioned as if to ask whether we were willing to leave our craft to go on board their ship. "What say you, my son?" asked my father. "They cannot do any more than kill us."
"They seem to be kindly disposed," I replied, "although what terrible giants! They must be the select six of the kingdom's crack regiment. Just look at their great size."
"We may as well go willingly as be taken by force," said my father, smiling, "for they are certainly able to capture us." Thereupon he made known, by signs, that we were ready to accompany them.
Within a few minutes we were on board the ship, and half an hour later our little fishing-craft had been lifted bodily out of the water by a strange sort of hook and tackle, and set on board as a curiosity.
There were several hundred people on board this, to us, mammoth ship, which we discovered was called "The Naz," meaning, as we afterward learned, "Pleasure," or to give a more proper interpretation, "Pleasure Excursion" ship.
If my father and I were curiously observed by the ship's occupants, this strange race of giants offered us an equal amount of wonderment.
There was not a single man aboard who would not have measured fully twelve feet in height. They all wore full beards, not particularly long, but seemingly short-cropped. They had mild and beautiful faces, exceedingly fair, with ruddy complexions. The hair and beard of some were black, others sandy, and still others yellow. The captain, as we designated the dignitary in command of the great vessel, was fully a head taller than any of his companions. The women averaged from ten to eleven feet in height. Their features were especially regular and refined, while their complexion was of a most delicate tint heightened by a healthful glow.16
16"According to all procurable data, that spot at the era of man's appearance upon the stage was in the now lost 'Miocene continent,' which then surrounded the Arctic Pole. That in that true, original Eden some of the early generations of men attained to a stature and longevity unequaled in any countries known to postdiluvian history is by no means scientifically incredible." - Wm. F. Warren, "Paradise Found," p. 284.
Both men and women seemed to possess that particular ease of manner which we deem a sign of good breeding, and, notwithstanding their huge statures, there was nothing about them suggesting awkwardness. As I was a lad in only my nineteenth year, I was doubtless looked upon as a true Tom Thumb. My father's six feet three did not lift the top of his head above the waist line of these people.
Each one seemed to vie with the others in extending courtesies and showing kindness to us, but all laughed heartily, I remember, when they had to improvise chairs for my father and myself to sit at table. They were richly attired in a costume peculiar to themselves, and very attractive. The men were clothed in handsomely embroidered tunics of silk and satin and belted at the waist. They wore knee-breeches and stockings of a fine texture, while their feet were encased in sandals adorned with gold buckles. We early discovered that gold was one of the most common metals known, and that it was used extensively in decoration.
Strange as it may seem, neither my father nor myself felt the least bit of solicitude for our safety. "We have come into our own," my father said to me. "This is the fulfillment of the tradition told me by my father and my father's father, and still back for many generations of our race. This is, assuredly, the land beyond the North Wind."
We seemed to make such an impression on the party that we were given specially into the charge of one of the men, Jules Galdea, and his wife, for the purpose of being educated in their language; and we, on our part, were just as eager to learn as they were to instruct.
At the captain's command, the vessel was swung cleverly about, and began retracing its course up the river. The machinery, while noiseless, was very powerful.
The banks and trees on either side seemed to rush by. The ship's speed, at times, surpassed that of any railroad train on which I have ever ridden, even here in America. It was wonderful.
In the meantime we had lost sight of the sun's rays, but we found a radiance "within" emanating from the dull-red sun which had already attracted our attention, now giving out a white light seemingly from a cloud-bank far away in front of us. It dispensed a greater light, I should say, than two full moons on the clearest night.
In twelve hours this cloud of whiteness would pass out of sight as if eclipsed, and the twelve hours following corresponded with our night. We early learned that these strange people were worshipers of this great cloud of night. It was "The Smoky God" of the "Inner World."
The ship was equipped with a mode of illumination which I now presume was electricity, but neither my father nor myself were sufficiently skilled in mechanics to understand whence came the power to operate the ship, or to maintain the soft beautiful lights that answered the same purpose of our present methods of lighting the streets of our cities, our houses and places of business.
It must be remembered, the time of which I write was the autumn of 1829, and we of the "outside" surface of the earth knew nothing then, so to speak, of electricity.
The electrically surcharged condition of the air was a constant vitalizer. I never felt better in my life than during the two years my father and I sojourned on the inside of the earth.
To resume my narrative of events: The ship on which we were sailing came to a stop two days after we had been taken on board. My father said as nearly as he could judge, we were directly under Stockholm or London. The city we had reached was called "Jehu," signifying a seaport town. The houses were large and beautifully constructed, and quite uniform in appearance, yet without sameness. The principal occupation of the people appeared to be agriculture; the hillsides were covered with vineyards, while the valleys were devoted to the growing of grain.
I never saw such a display of gold. It was everywhere. The door-casings were inlaid and the tables were veneered with sheetings of gold. Domes of the public buildings were of gold. It was used most generously in the finishings of the great temples of music.
Vegetation grew in lavish exuberance, and fruit of all kinds possessed the most delicate flavor. Clusters of grapes four and five feet in length, each grape as large as an orange, and apples larger than a man's head typified the wonderful growth of all things on the "inside" of the earth.
The great redwood trees of California would be considered mere underbrush compared with the giant forest trees extending for miles and miles in all directions. In many directions along the foothills of the mountains vast herds of cattle were seen during the last day of our travel on the river.
We heard much of a city called "Eden," but were kept at "Jehu" for an entire year. By the end of that time we had learned to speak fairly well the language of this strange race of people. Our instructors, Jules Galdea and his wife, exhibited a patience that was truly commendable.
One day an envoy from the Ruler at "Eden" came to see us, and for two whole days my father and myself were put through a series of surprising questions. They wished to know from whence we came, what sort of people dwelt "without," what God we worshiped, our religious beliefs, the mode of living in our strange land, and a thousand other things.
The compass which we had brought with us attracted especial attention. My father and I commented between ourselves on the fact that the compass still pointed north, although we now knew that we had sailed over the curve or edge of the earth's aperture, and were far along southward on the "inside" surface of the earth's crust, which, according to my father's estimate and my own, is about three hundred miles in thickness from the "inside" to the "outside" surface. Relatively speaking, it is no thicker than an egg-shell, so that there is almost as much surface on the "inside" as on the "outside" of the earth.
The great luminous cloud or ball of dull-red fire -- fiery-red in the mornings and evenings, and during the day giving off a beautiful white light, "The Smoky God," -- is seemingly suspended in the center of the great vacuum "within" the earth, and held to its place by the immutable law of gravitation, or a repellant atmospheric force, as the case may be. I refer to the known power that draws or repels with equal force in all directions.
The base of this electrical cloud or central luminary, the seat of the gods, is dark and non-transparent, save for innumerable small openings, seemingly in the bottom of the great support or altar of the Deity, upon which "The Smoky God" rests; and, the lights shining through these many openings twinkle at night in all their splendor, and seem to be stars, as natural as the stars we saw shining when in our home at Stockholm, excepting that they appear larger. "The Smoky God," therefore, with each daily revolution of the earth, appears to come up in the east and go down in the west the same as does our sun on the external surface. In reality, the people "within" believe that "The Smoky God" is the throne of their Jehovah, and is stationary. The effect of night and day is, therefore, produced by the earth's daily rotation.
I have since discovered that the language of the people of the Inner World is much like the Sanskrit.
After we had given an account of ourselves to the emissaries from the central seat of government of the inner continent, and my father had, in his crude way, drawn maps, at their request, of the "outside" surface of the earth, showing the divisions of land and water, and giving the name of each of the continents, large islands and the oceans, we were taken overland to the city of "Eden," in a conveyance different from anything we have in Europe or America. This vehicle was doubtless some electrical contrivance. It was noiseless, and ran on a single iron rail in perfect balance. The trip was made at a very high rate of speed. We were carried up hills and down dales, across valleys and again along the sides of steep mountains, without any apparent attempt having been made to level the earth as we do for railroad tracks. The car seats were huge yet comfortable affairs, and very high above the floor of the car. On the top of each car were high geared fly wheels lying on their sides, which were so automatically adjusted that, as the speed of the car increased, the high speed of these fly wheels geometrically increased. Jules Galdea explained to us that these revolving fan-like wheels on top of the cars destroyed atmospheric pressure, or what is generally understood by the term gravitation, and with this force thus destroyed or rendered nugatory the car is as safe from falling to one side or to other from the single rail track as if it were in a vacuum; the fly wheels in their rapid revolutions destroying effectually the so-called power of gravitation, or the force of atmospheric pressure or whatever potent influence it may be that causes all unsupported things to fall downward to the earth's surface or to the nearest point of resistance.
The surprise of my father and myself was indescribable when, amid the regal magnificence of a spacious hall, we were finally brought before the Great High Priest, ruler over all the land. He was richly robed, and much taller than those about him, and could not have been less than fourteen or fifteen feet in height. The immense room in which we were received seemed finished in solid slabs of gold thickly studded with jewels of amazing brilliancy.
The city of "Eden" is located in what seems to be a beautiful valley, yet, in fact, it is on the loftiest mountain plateau of the Inner Continent, several thousand feet higher than any portion of the surrounding country. It is the most beautiful place I have ever beheld in all my travels. In this elevated garden all manner of fruits, vines, shrubs, trees, and flowers grow in riotous profusion.
In this garden four rivers have their source in a mighty artesian fountain. They divide and flow in four directions. This place is called by inhabitants the "navel of the earth," or the beginning, "the cradle of the human race." The names of the rivers are the Euphrates, the Pison, the Gihon, and the Hiddekel.17
17"And the Lord God planted a garden, and out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food." - The Book of Genesis.
The unexpected awaited us in this palace of beauty, in the finding of our little fishing-craft. It had been brought before the High Priest in perfect shape, just as it had been taken from the waters that day when it was loaded on board the ship by the people who discovered us on the river more than a year before.
We were given an audience of over two hours with this great dignitary, who seemed kindly disposed and considerate. He showed himself eagerly interested, asking us numerous questions, and invariably regarding things about which his emissaries had failed to inquire.
At the conclusion of the interview he inquired our pleasure, asking us whether we wished to remain in his country or if we preferred to return to the "outer" world, providing it were possible to make a successful return trip, across the frozen belt barriers that encircle both the northern and southern openings of the earth.
My father replied: "It would please me and my son to visit your country and see your people, your colleges and palaces of music and art, your great fields, your wonderful forests of timber; and after we have had this pleasurable privilege, we should like to try to return to our home on the 'outside' surface of the earth. This son is my only child, and my good wife will be weary awaiting our return."
"I fear you can never return," replied the Chief High Priest, "because the way is a most hazardous one. However, you shall visit the different countries with Jules Galdea as your escort, and be accorded every courtesy and kindness. Whenever you are ready to attempt a return voyage, I assure you that your boat which is here on exhibition shall be put in the waters of the river Hiddekel at its mouth, and we will bid you Jehovah-speed."
Thus terminated our only interview with the High Priest or Ruler of the continent.