Lest originality of title and theme be denied, it is but justice to myself to state that both were assumed in November, 1887. My thanks are due to Lieutenant D. L. Brainard, Second Cavalry, for the true copy of the record of the Greely party left in the cairn at the farthest point on the globe ever reached by man—83 degrees 24 minutes North Latitude, 40 degrees 46 minutes West Longitude.
“All is well!” came the response from the sentry at the guard-house, while the sharp click of his piece as he brought it to his shoulder and the heavy tread of his retreating footsteps were all that was heard to break the stillness that reigned supreme throughout the garrison.
It was a dark, dreary, foggy night. The heavy atmosphere seemed laden with great masses of fleeting vapor, and the walks of the post and the ground surrounding them were as wet as if a heavy shower had just spent its force.
Such was the Presidio of San Francisco, California, a military post of the United States government, on the night of November 17th, 1887. The lights of the garrison made little effect upon that thick and saturated atmosphere; yet the little that they did make only seemed to add more to the depth of the surrounding gloom.
In the officers’ club-room, near the main parade, was gathered a jolly party of old and young officers. The rooms were handsomely, even superbly, furnished. The billiard-tables were in full blast; the card-tables were occupied; while many sat and chatted upon the various military topics which are ever a part of the soldier’s life.
In a set of officers’ quarters, some distance away from the main parade, were assembled three subalterns of the line. The room was bright and cheerful, and the decanters upon the table showed that they knew of the good cheer of the world. The furniture upon which the officers sat and reclined, as also about the room, gave evidence of refinement and education; while the cases stacked with books, near the entrance, bespoke a tendency and desire on the part of the occupant of the quarters for the improvement of his mind. A grate fire in the angle threw its cheerful rays upon those present, while the luxuriousness and warmth of the whole room was in direct contrast with the gloominess and cold without.