The date, Peary thought for a moment, the date was May 16. It was Monday. It was the first time in all his expeditions to the arctic that he had spent any length of time in any of his base camps. In the past, they were always busy, sledging, observations, experiments and what not. There was always something to be done. But now that he had made his claim on the Pole, he needed to arrange his tale and figure the marketing value of the expedition. In his mind he reviewed some of the items he had listed before in March and April that he intended to have made, give away or keep for his own use and satisfaction. Ivory mounted snowshoes, a sextant for the Navy museum, bearskin fringes for the ladies, North Pole coats and tents, gold mounted eyeglasses, a personal flag with a diagonal white bar, Harvard watches… the list went on, as it should. After all, he was a hero. Who would dispute that? He craved fame and now he would be famous. People would not forget Robert Peary of the United States Navy he would make sure of that.
Walking slowly and lost in thought, Peary was somewhat surprised when he met Robert Bartlett, Master of the ROOSEVELT, on deck.
“Good morning to ya, Commander,” said Bartlett in a jovial manner, using Peary’s honorary rank. To Peary these things were important.
“Good morning Captain Bartlett, how are you this morning? “
Bartlett taped his pipe, “Quite fine Commander, quite fine. How is your toothache sir?”
Peary touched the side of his face. It was his only physical complaint since returning and he thought it somewhat silly that in such a wild and inhospitable place that he should suffer of all things…a toothache. There was no danger or romance in a toothache. Heroes didn’t have toothaches.
” It…it is better Captain, thank you for asking,” said Peary, wishing no more to be said about it.
Bartlett nodded his head and continued, “I’m glad to hear it sir. The Eskimos have been running sledges to the supply depots and Cape Columbia, bringing the unused items and equipment back to the ship as you requested.”
Peary returned his nod, “Very good, Captain Bartlett, I’m glad we’ve got things moving along, very glad indeed.”
They had begun cleaning the ship some six days before. The cabins were cleaned and whatever was damp was dried before mold set in with a change in the weather. A number of various articles were strewn about the quarterdeck, some to be kept, others to be discarded. What they threw away, the natives would without a doubt take and use as they saw fit, they were quite ingenious that way. It’s what they did, it was expected and no one would argue about it.
Peary looked around and noticed that the canvas coverings had been removed from the stack and ventilators. Bartlett went on to explain what the Commander saw.
“You’ll be glad to know sir that Mr. Wardwell has started preparations on the engines and he and Mr. Scott will start on the boilers tomorrow.”
“That’s good to hear Captain Bartlett, you of course understand the necessity of our leaving as soon as possible,” said Peary.
“Yes sir. As things look, it shouldn’t be long. We’ll be back in the states in no time, you can count on that.”
“To announce my triumph!” said Peary. Bartlett couldn’t help but notice the singular possessive in Peary’s speech.
There were Eskimo all around, on and off the ship and though the weather was uncomfortable that day, Peary decided to let his presence be known to them and take a turn off the ship. dort Wouldn’t hurt, besides the exercise was good for him, might even do him some good.