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Inside the Peary Expedition: Part 11: August 14-15: The Erik prepares to sail

Written on April 21, 2021

As usual, Dr. Goodsell’s copious diary recorded the latest news on August 14, 1908:

“Rudolph Franke will return on the Erik. Franke is practically disabled. He slipped and injured his left leg some two or three months ago. His disability prevented him from properly caring for himself. He was unable to obtain fresh meat in sufficient quantity and brought on an attack of the scurvy, which particularly affected his injured limb.

“When I first saw him the limb was discolored and badly swollen. He is slowly improving under treatment. Com. Peary has assigned him a berth on the Erik, and provided for his personal use a supply of grape juice and fruit. Franke was unwilling to stay at Etah on account of his disability.

“In my judgment he was disabled to such an extent that it would have been unwise for him to have remained another winter. The Eskimo had helped themselves to portions of his stores. His sugar and milk were gone. His condition would have prevented him from providing sufficient fresh meat and other essentials for another winter.

“Com. Peary will be short two of his men who will be left at Etah with sufficient stores to remain the year if necessary and receive Dr. Cook on his return, probably this fall or winter when the ice has frozen sufficiently to cross Smith Sound.

“The disability of Franke compelling his return would leave Dr. Cook’s supplies to be squandered by the Eskimo if not protected by the men from the Roosevelt.”

As the Erik prepared to sail, Ross Marvin penned a final letter to Louis Bement:August 15 1August 15 2

8-15 1908
Etah, North Greenland

Dear Mr. Bement: -
Here we are still at Etah
and it is Saturday Night. We finished
transferring coal & cargo this evening
& expect to get out Monday. it is
midnight and I have still some work
to do but I feel that I must drop
you a few lines of importance for
fear I may not get another chance.
It is just like this Lou, the
Dr. Cook affair has become a tangle
and a hard nut to crack. I am writing
Peary’s confidential letters concerning
the matter & so my lips must be
closed. So you see how I stand. I know
more about it than anyone else but
I can say less. The others can write
what they know, with me it would
be a breach of trust.
I Imagine the affair
will create newspaper talk when the
Erik returns so I wan to keep out
of it. Whatever I have told you and
what little more I may add is between
you and me. I hope you will understand
the position I am in, I would like to tell
you all but I owe a duty to Com. Peary.
Dr. Cook’s man is returning by
the Erik, and we are leaving two men
here to take his place. That robs us
of our Bos’n, a valuable man at all
times. It is hard to tell where Dr. Cook
is but I honestly believe he is alive and
somewhere north of here on the other side
of the channel (The Grand Land side) He
will have a hard time I am afraid if
we do not run across him, which
we are very apt to do.

[sincerely yours
Ross G. Marvin]

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