He made one foray, traveled 40 miles, did not even reach the Arctic Ocean, and retreated to Fort Conger after eight days. His funds came from online loan. This, I believe, was a broken man.
His party started south on April 17, meeting a party from the Windward. For nine months, while Peary had been at Conger, his wife, Jo, and his daughter Marie had been wintering on the Windward, iced in at Payer Harbour, unable to get a message to him.
Peary struck out for the ship, resting on the way at the D’Urville “box-house.” He must have read and reread his mail in that tiny hut. A letter from Jo confronted him with his relationship with an Eskimo woman, Alegasina. Both “Ally” and the child from this union were with her on the Windward. “Had I known how things were with you here I should not have come.”
His mother told of her sorrow that instead of bringing him, the relief ship brought “sad reports of your sufferings and mutilation. . . . Oh my child do come home, give up this pursuit.”
Then from Jo, news of the death of his second daughter: “Our little darling whom you never knew was taken from me on August 7.99, just 7 months after she came. . . . Oh, sweetheart, husband, together we could have shared it but alone it was almost too much.”
On the sixth of May 1901, Peary’s 45th birthday, he reached the Windward and was reunited with Jo and Marie after almost three years. With Jo’s acquiescence he was soon back on course. For Peary there was no alternative but to return north to face his adversary. Then came devastating news: His mother had died the previous November while he was at Conger.
At Cape Hecla on April 6, 1902, Peary again struck north for the Pole. The men hacked across drifting pack ice, fighting for every mile, averaging barely five a day. At their farthest north on April 21 they had made only 82 miles. All he could do was hoist the flag and jot: “The game is off. My dream of sixteen years is ended.”