The Worst Journey in the World

The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard Page A

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Authors: Apsley Cherry-Garrard
forest are everywhere and their
    existence unexplained, though Lillie had many ingenious theories.
    The island has been in our hands, the Germans', and is now
    Brazilian. Nobody has been able to settle there permanently,
    owing to the land-crabs. These also exclude mammal life. Captain
    Kidd made a treasure depôt there, and some five years ago a chap
    named Knight lived on the island for six months with a party of
    Newcastle miners—trying to get at it. He had the place all
    right, but a huge landslide has covered up three-quarters of a
    million of the pirate's gold. The land-crabs are little short of
    a nightmare. They peep out at you from every nook and boulder.
    Their dead staring eyes follow your every step as if to say, 'If
    only you will drop down we will do the rest.' To lie down and
    sleep on any part of the island would be suicidal. Of course,
    Knight had a specially cleared place with all sorts of
    precautions, otherwise he would never have survived these beasts,
    which even tried to nibble your boots as you stood—staring hard
    at you the whole time. One feature that would soon send a lonely
    man off his chump is that no matter how many are in sight they
    are all looking at you, and they follow step by step with a
    sickly deliberation. They are all yellow and pink, and next to
    spiders seem the most loathsome creatures on God's earth. Talking
    about spiders
(Bowers always had the greatest horror of
    spiders)
—I have to collect them as well as insects. Needless to
    say I caught them with a butterfly net, and never touched one.
    Only five species were known before, and I found fifteen or
    more—at any rate I have fifteen for certain. Others helped me to
    catch them, of course. Another interesting item to science is the
    fact that I caught a moth hitherto unknown to exist on the
    island, also various flies, ants, etc. Altogether it was a most
    successful day. Wilson got dozens of birds, and Lillie plants,
    etc. On our return to the landing-place we found to our horror
    that a southerly swell was rolling in, and great breakers were
    bursting on the beach. About five P.M. we all collected and
    looked at the whaler and pram on one side of the rollers and
    ourselves on the other. First it was impossible to take off the
    guns and specimens, so we made them all up to leave for the
    morrow. Second, a sick man had come ashore for exercise, and he
    could not be got off: finally, Atkinson stayed ashore with him.
    The breakers made the most awe-inspiring cauldron in our little
    nook, and it meant a tough swim for all of us. Three of us swam
    out first and took a line to the pram, and finally we got a good
    rope from the whaler, which had anchored well out, to the shore.
    I then manoeuvred the pram, and everybody plunged into the surf
    and hauled himself out with the rope. All well, but minus our
    belongings, and got back to the ship; very wet and ravenous was a
    mild way to put it. During my 12 to 4 watch that night the surf
    roared like thunder, and the ship herself was rolling like
    anything, and looked horribly close to the shore. Of course she
    was quite safe really. It transpired that Atkinson and the seaman
    had a horrible night with salt water soaked food, and the crabs
    and white terns which sat and watched them all night, squawking
    in chorus whenever they moved. It must have been horrible, though
    I would like to have stayed, and had I known anybody was staying
    would have volunteered. This with the noise of the surf and the
    cold made it pretty rotten for them. In the morning, Evans,
    Rennick, Oates and I, with two seamen and Gran, took the whaler
    and pram in to rescue the maroons. At first we thought we would
    do it by a rocket line to the end of the sheer cliff. The
    impossibility of such an idea was at once evident, so Gran and I
    went in close in the pram, and hove them lines to get off the
    gear first. I found the spoon-shaped pram a wonderful boat to
    handle. You could go in to the very edge of the

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