|Peffer River, photo by Doug Stenton, courtesy the Government of Nunavut|
It was early in the season, and snow covered the ground. Hall's guides In-nook-poo-zhee-jook and Zuk dug about for some time, and at last were able to locate one of these graves, the skeleton nearly complete:
At length Zuck and In-nook-pou-zhe-jook (the former had been seeking too, having the snow shovel) cried to me + motioned with upraised arms. I knew by this sign [that he] had something there so I hastend to the spot which is the one on which I was writing these notes + they had discovered the grave of one – that is they had taken off the pure unspotted mantles of the heavens + laid bare the skeleton remains of one those gallant sons of Franklin Expedition that so triumphiantly + gloriously accomplished the North West Passage.
As was his practice, Hall ordered a volley shot over the grave, and raised "the Stars and Stripes" over the bones. And then -- though he made no immediate note of it -- he pondered a decision: should he bring the bones with him, back to America, eventually perhaps to England? Or should he let them rest where they lay? At last, he decided to bring them with him. We don't have any record of his inner deliberations, although J.E. Nourse, who edited Hall's narrative, said that Hall had had "much hesitancy as though he might have done wrong."
|Hall papers, Smithsonian Museum|
NB: Before going any further, I want to express my gratitude to Lelia Garcia, who -- at short notice -- spent two afternoons with the Hall papers at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and who managed to locate the letter shown above. My thanks also to Russ Taichman for sending along his images from Hall's field notebooks. It's through efforts such as these that the Franklin story is advanced, inch by inch, and the larger understanding of it enhanced, mile by mile.