They were kept in a paddock about fifty yards from the house, and entrusted to the care of Mac-Nabs wife, an Indian woman, well qualified to take charge of them.

The care of the household fell to Mrs Paulina Barnett, and this good woman, with Madgeís help, was invaluable in providing for all the small wants, which would inevitably have escaped the notice of the men.

After scouring the country within a radius of several miles, the Lieutenant notified, as the result of his observations, that the territory on which they had established themselves, and to which he gave the name of Victoria Land, was a large peninsula about one hundred and fifty square miles in extent, with very clearly-defined boundaries, connected with the American continent by an isthmus, extending from the lower end of Washburn Bay on the east, as fair as the corresponding slope on the opposite coast. The Lieutenant next proceeded to ascertain what were the resources of the lake and river, and found great reason to be satisfied with the result of his examination. The shallow waters of the lake teemed with trout, pike, and other available fresh-water fish; and the little river was a favourite resort of salmon and shoals of white bait and smelts. The supply of sea-fish was not so good; and though many a grampus and whale passed by in the offing, the latter probably flying from the harpoons of the Behring Strait fishermen there were no means of capturing them unless one by chance happened to get stranded on the coast; nor would Hobson allow any of the seals which abounded on the western shore to be taken until a satisfactory conclusion should be arrived at as to how to use them to the best advantage.

The colonists now considered themselves fairly installed stalled in their new abode, and after due deliberation unanimously agreed to bestow upon the settlement the name of Fort Good Hope.

Alas! the auspicious title was never to be inscribed upon a map. The undertaking, begun so bravely and with such prospects of success, was destined never to be carried out, and another disaster would have to be added to the long list of failures in Arctic enterprise.

CHAPTER XIV.

SOME EXCURSIONS.

It did not take long to furnish the new abode. A camp-bed was set up in the hall, and the carpenter Mac-Nab constructed a most substantial table, around which were ranged fixed benches. A few movable seats and two enormous presses completed the furniture of this apartment. The inner room, which was also ready, was divided by solid partitions into six dormitories, the two end ones alone being lighted by windows looking to the front and back. The only furniture was a bed and a table. Mrs Paulina Barnett and Madge were installed in one which looked immediately out upon the lake. Hobson offered the other with the window in it to Thomas Black, and the astronomer took immediate possession of it. The Lieutenantís own room was a dark cell adjoining the hall, with no window but a bullís eye pierced through the partition. Mrs Joliffe, Mrs Mac-Nab, and Mrs Rae, with their husbands, occupied the other dormitories. These good people agreed so well together that it would have been a pity to separate them. Moreover, an addition was expected shortly to the little colony; and Mac-Nab had already gone so far as to secure the services of Mrs Barnett as god-mother, an honour which gave the good woman much satisfaction. The sledges had been entirely unloaded, and the bedding carried into the different rooms. All utensils, stores, and provisions which were not required for immediate use were stowed away in a garret, to which a ladder gave access. The winter clothing-such as boots, overcoats, furs, and skins-were also taken there, and protected from the damp in large chests. As soon as these arrangements were completed, the Lieutenant began to provide for the heating of the house.

Knowing that the most energetic measures were necessary to combat the severity of the Arctic winter, and that during the weeks of intensest cold there would be no possibility of leaving the house to forage for supplies, he ordered a quantity of fuel to be brought from the wooded hills in the neighbourhood, and took care to obtain a plentiful store of oil from the seals which abounded on the shore.

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The Fur Country Part 01 Page 49

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Jules Verne

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