Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans - Edward Eggleston

Doctor Kane in the Frozen Sea

[Illustration] from Great Americans by Edward Eggleston

Kane was a doctor in one of the war ships of the United States. He had sailed about the world a great deal.

When he heard that ships were to be sent into the icy seas of the north, he asked to be sent along. He went the first time as a doctor. Then he wanted to find out more about the frozen ocean. So he went again as captain of a ship. His ship was called the "Advance."

Kane sailed into the icy seas. His ship was driven far into the ice by a furious storm. She was crowded by icebergs. At one time she was lifted clear out of the water. The ship seemed ready to fall over on her side. But the ice let her down again. Then she was squeezed till the men thought that she would be crushed like an egg shell.

At last the storm stopped. Then came the awful cold. The ship was frozen into the ice. The ice never let go of her. She was farther north than any ship had ever been before. But she was so fast in the ice that she never could get away.

In that part of the world it is night nearly all winter. For months there was no sun at all. Daylight came again. It was now summer, but it did not get warm. Doctor Kane took sleds, and went about on the ice to see what he could see. The sleds were drawn by large dogs. But nearly all of the dogs died in the long winter night.

[Illustration] from Great Americans by Edward Eggleston

A Dog Sled

Doctor Kane thought that the ice would melt. He wanted to get the ship out. But the ice did not melt at all.

At last the summer passed away. Another awful winter came. The sun did not rise any more. It was dark for months and months. The men were ill. Some of them died. They were much discouraged. But Kane kept up his heart, and did the best he could.

At last the least little streak of light could be seen. It got a little lighter each day. But the sick men down in the cabin of the ship could not see the light.

Doctor Kane said to himself, "If my poor men could see this sunlight, it would cheer them up. It might save their lives." But they were too ill to get out where they could see the sun. It would be many days before the sun would shine into the cabin of the ship. The men might die before that time.

So Doctor Kane took some looking glasses up to the deck or top of the ship. He fixed one of these so it would catch the light of the sun. Then he fixed another so that the first one would throw the light on this one. The last one would throw the sunlight down into the cabin where the sick men were.

One day the poor fellows were ready to give up. Then the sun fell on the looking glasses, and flashed down into the cabin. It was the first daylight the sick men had seen for months. The long winter night was over. Think how happy they were!