November 23, 2010

Wednesday, 23 November 1910


"What do you think about Amundsen's expedition?" Oates wrote home from Quail Island. "If he gets to the Pole first we shall come home with our tails between our legs and no mistake. I must say we have made far too much noise about ourselves all that photographing, cheering, steaming through the fleet etc. etc. is rot and if we fail it will only make us look more foolish. They say Amundsen has been underhand in the way he has gone about it but I personally don't see it is underhand to keep your mouth shut -- I myself think these Norskies are a very tough lot they have 200 dogs and Yohandsen [sic] is with them and he is not exactly a child, also they are very good ski-runners while we can only walk, if Scott does anything silly such as underfeeding his ponies he will be beaten as sure as death." [1]

Still worried about the ponies, Oates smuggled in another five tons of feed at his own expense. "I have dodged in a little more forage, I have now ordered just a little more which I shall try to get in on the quiet this afternoon, and my ambitions will be attained, ie to go south with 50 good tons." [2]

"Mrs Scott and Mrs Evans had a magnificent battle," he added drily, "they tell me it was a draw after 15 rounds. Mrs Wilson flung herself into the fight after the 10th round and there was more blood and hair flying about the hotel than you see in a Chicargo [sic] slaughter-house in a month." [3]


[1] L.E.G. Oates, letter to Caroline Oates, 23 November, 1910, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.323.
[2] L.E.G. Oates, [letter to Caroline Oates?], 23 November, 1910, quoted by Sue Limb and Patrick Cordingley in Captain Oates : Soldier and Explorer (London : Batsford, c1982), p.109.
[3] L.E.G. Oates, letter to Caroline Oates, 23 November, 1910, quoted by Diana Preston in A First Rate Tragedy (Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1998, c1997), p.131.

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