January 4, 2011

Wednesday, 4 January 1911


Blocked by ice from landing at McMurdo Sound, Scott chose instead a small promontory about six miles south of Cape Royds, which had in the Discovery days been called The Skuary; he renamed it Cape Evans "in honour of our excellent second in command".

After making fast with ice anchors, Scott, Wilson, and Lt. Evans walked across to the Cape. "A glance at the land showed, as we expected, ideal spots for our wintering station," he wrote. "We chose a spot for the hut on a beach facing N.W. and well protected by numerous small hills behind. This spot seems to have all the local advantages ... for a winter station, and we realised that at length our luck had turned." [1]

The dogs were still a source of great interest, both, one imagines, for their value to the expedition and simply as entertainment.

"Poor brutes," Scott went on, "how they must have enjoyed their first roll, and how glad they must be to have freedom to scratch themselves! It is evident all have suffered from skin irritation -- one can imagine the horror of suffering from such an ill for weeks without being able to get at the part that itched. I note that now they are picketed together they administer kindly offices to each other; one sees them gnawing away at each other's flanks in most amicable and obliging manner.

"Meares and the dogs were out early, and have been running to and fro most of the day with light loads. The great trouble with them has been due to the fatuous conduct of the penguins. Groups of these have been constantly leaping on to our floe. From the moment of landing on their feet their whole attitude expressed devouring curiosity and a pig-headed disregard for their own safety. They waddle forward, poking their heads to and fro in their usually absurd way, in spite of a string of howling dogs straining to get at them. 'Hulloa,' they seem to say, 'here's a game -- what do all you ridiculous things want?' And they come a few steps nearer. The dogs make a rush as far as their leashes or harness allow. The penguins are not daunted in the least, but their ruffs go up and they squawk with semblance of anger, for all the world as though they were rebuking a rude stranger -- their attitude might be imagined to convey 'Oh, that's the sort of animal you are; well, you've come to the wrong place -- we aren't going to be bluffed and bounced by you,' and then the final fatal steps forward are taken and they come within reach. There is a spring, a squawk, a horrid red patch on the snow, and the incident is closed."


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 4 January, 1911, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.

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