"North" by Joseph Fick

Chapter 26 New York City…1884 P316~320

Hollister had never met Francis Roland in the flesh,
only knowing him by reputation but he could say he was
impressed with the man’s home or what he saw of it, a
two story brownstone, as he waited in the library. The
books on the shelves covered a variety of subjects from
classical history to geography to business, all very
interesting and he wondered if Roland was as well. The
sound of the door opening caused Hollister to turn and
see the man who had summoned him.
“Captain Hollister,” said Roland extending his hand,
“I’m glad you came. I’m Francis Roland.”

They shook hands Hollister noticed the man had a firm
handshake, a good sign, he thought. “I’m honored Mr.
Roland.”
The older man waved him off, “The honor is mine
Captain. Your writings from the west, as well as your
dispatches from the Zulu and Franco-Prussian Wars
were, I must say, most illuminating.”
“Thank you sir, but I’m no longer a captain that was a
long time ago, just plain Mister is fine.”
“Nonsense sir, a military rank is nothing to be
ashamed of, you’ve earned it. No reason why you
shouldn’t use it.”
“Yes sir,” said Hollister.
“Now you’re probably wondering why you’re here, am I
correct?”
“The thought had crossed my mind,” said Hollister.
Roland pointed to a large stuffed chair, “Have a seat
Captain and let me fill you in on what were planning.
Would you like a drink?”
“No thank you sir,” said Hollister sitting down.
Roland clapped his hands and rubbed them together.
“Well, as I mentioned in the telegram, we plan on
sending a ship to the arctic. I want a record of it and I
want you to write it.”
“I’m flattered Mr. Roland, but why me? Surely there
are other writers in the New York area who are just as
capable, you needn’t have sent to Chicago for me.”
Roland cocked his head to one side, “That’s true
Captain but as I said, I was impressed with what you
wrote before. You’re an army veteran and a seasoned
journalist. You’re a man who is used to hardship and
difficult tasks and believe me Captain, this is going to be
a difficult one.”
“I’ve no doubt of that Mr. Roland.”
“If you wish to back out, nothing will be said, sir,” said
the older man.
Hollister smiled, “Not on your life, Mr. Roland, I’m
going on this one.”
Roland grinned back and slapped his leg, “Good man, I
knew I could count on you Hollister! Now, do you have
any questions?”
“Well, sir…what exactly is the ship going to do in the
arctic? I mean you surely don’t want just another story
on the whaling industry?’
“Ahh, very good Captain, as I’m sure you know, my
partners and I have whaling interests, that is no secret
and in the interests of business, we want to explore some
new hunting grounds, so to speak. We think there is a
fresh, untapped area.”
“In the arctic?” said Hollister, shrugging his shoulders,
“It’s a hell of a big place Mr. Roland, where exactly is the
ship going?”
Roland held up an index finger, “Now you understand
Captain Hollister, this is completely confidential, and I’m
placing my placing my trust in your discretion.”
“You need not worry sir, anything you choose to tell me
is strictly between you and I, you have my word.”
Roland nodded, “That is good enough for me sir, good
enough for me. Now as to the destination of the
expedition, the plan is to go to the Geographical North
Pole.”
Hollister looked at Roland with some amazement, the
arctic, yes, but the North Pole?”Mr. Roland, I’m not an
expert on such things, but I do know that every
expedition sent that way has failed, some with deadly
consequences. You’d think me a fool, if I didn’t say I was
a bit concerned.”
“That is understandable sir. Believe me when I say
you’re going up with what we think is the best group of
men for this job. Captain Mason, the ship’s master is a
very capable man, as are his officers. The second mate is
Isaac Dunn, ever heard of ‘im?”
Hollister shook his head, “No Mr. Roland, I’m afraid I
haven’t.”
“Few people outside the whaling community have.
When the whaling ship SPIDER was caught in the ice in
the ‘70’ s, he was one of two survivors, he and the cook
boy, who’s now the first mate aboard the SHY LADY, the
ship you’re going up there on, which reminds me, the
mate, MacDonald is a negro, will that be a problem for
you Captain Hollister?”
Hollister shook his head again, “No Mr. Roland, it’s not
a problem as far as I’m concerned.”
“That’s good to hear sir, good to hear. Now you have the
freedom to write what you wish, as far as your paper is
concerned, this is just a short whaling voyage, is that
correct?”
“Just as you instructed Mr. Roland,” answered
Hollister.
“Good, now when it comes to the Pole Expedition, I
reserve the right to decide what and what will not be
published. As a legal formality, I must ask you to sign an
agreement to that effect.
We are paying you well Captain Hollister and you will
have enough material to satisfy your paper. As of right
now, my partners and I really haven’t decided how we’re
going to market this expedition, very few people know
about it at this moment. Everything really has been
quite hush, hush so to speak.”
“If you believe it necessary, sir”
“I do sir, I do and perhaps in due time, I will share
them with you, now if you could just sign this agreement
I spoke of earlier.’
“As you wish, Mr. Roland,” said Hollister.
“Now, unless you have any further questions, I shan’t
detain you any longer. Your transportation has been
arranged, you’ll be meeting the ship in New Bedford.”
The two men stood up and shook hands, “I’ll meet with
you when I return Mr. Roland,” said Hollister.
“God speed, Captain Hollister and good luck,” said the
older man.
Roland watched the newspaper man enter the carriage
and followed its departure with his eyes. He wondered if
he would ever see the man called Hollister again.

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