Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Excerpt: Adrift on an Ice-Pan by Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, installment #8

The following excerpt is from Adrift on an Ice-Pan by Wilfred Thomason Grenfell. A true account of Grenfell's near death experience, the story was first published in 1909 by Houghton Mifflin Company. The unabridged audio edition narrated by Chris Brookes, Jay Roberts and Janis Spence is available from rattlingbooks.com

Excerpt


Meanwhile I had frayed out a small piece of rope into oakum, and mixed it with fat from the intestines of my dogs. Alas, my match-box, which was always chained to me, had leaked, and my matches were in pulp. Had I been able to make a light, it would have looked so unearthly out there on the sea that I felt sure they would see me. But that chance was now cut off. However, I kept the matches, hoping that I might dry them if I lived through the night. While working at the dogs, about every five minutes I would stand up and wave my hands toward the land. I had no flag, and I could not spare my shirt, for, wet as it was, it was better than nothing in that freezing wind, and, anyhow, it was already nearly dark.

Unfortunately, the coves in among the cliffs are so placed that only for a very narrow space can the people in any house see the sea. Indeed, most of them cannot see it at all, so that I could not in the least expect any one to see me, even supposing it had been daylight.

Not daring to take any snow from the surface of my pan to break the wind with, I piled up the carcasses of my dogs. With my skin rug I could now sit down without getting soaked. During these hours I had continually taken off all my clothes, wrung them out, swung them one by one in the wind, and put on first one and then the other inside, hoping that what heat there was in my body would thus serve to dry them. In this I had been fairly successful.

To be continued.