A Man's Woman HTML version

Chapter IV.
On the day that Lloyd returned to the house on Calumet Square (Hattie's
recovery being long since assured), and while she was unpacking her valise and
settling herself again in her room, a messenger boy brought her a note.
Have just arrived in the City. When may I see you?
News of Ward Bennett and of Richard Ferriss had not been wanting during the
past fortnight or so. Their names and that of the ship herself, even the names of
Adler, Hansen, Clarke, and Dennison, even Muck Tu, even that of Kamiska, the
one surviving dog, filled the mouths and minds of men to the exclusion of
everything else.
The return of the expedition after its long imprisonment in the ice and at a time
when all hope of its safety had been abandoned was one of the great events of
that year. The fact that the expedition had failed to reach the Pole, or to attain
any unusual high latitude, was forgotten or ignored. Nothing was remembered
but the masterly retreat toward Kolyuchin Bay, the wonderful march over the ice,
the indomitable courage, unshaken by hardship, perils, obstacles, and privations
almost beyond imagination. All this, together with a multitude of details, some of
them palpably fictitious, the press of the City where Bennett and Ferriss both had
their homes published and republished and published again and again. News of
the men, their whereabouts and intentions, invaded the sick-room—where Lloyd
watched over the convalescence of her little patient—by the very chinks of the
Lloyd learned how the ship had been "nipped;" how, after inconceivable toil, the
members of the expedition had gained the land; how they had marched
southward toward the Chuckch settlements; how, at the eleventh hour, the
survivors, exhausted and starving, had been rescued by the steam whalers; how
these whalers themselves had been caught in the ice, and how the survivors of
the Freja had been obliged to spend another winter in the Arctic. She learned the
details of their final return. In the quiet, darkened room where Hattie lay she
heard from without the echo of the thunder of the nations; she saw how the figure
of Bennett towered suddenly magnificent in the world; how that the people were
brusquely made aware of a new hero. She learned that honours came thronging
about him unsought; that the King of the Belgians had conferred a decoration
upon him; that the geographical societies of continental Europe had elected him
to honourary membership; that the President and the Secretary of War had sent
telegrams of congratulations.