Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Excerpt #14 from Adrift on an Ice Pan by Sir Wilfred Grenfell

Excerpt #14 from Adrift on an Ice Pan by Wilfred Thomasen Grenfell

(N.B. It was in 1908 that Grenfell, a medical missionary in northern Newfoundland was traveling by dog team to treat a patient, became stranded on an ice pan and came close to perishing. The following excerpt is from Grenfell's account of this adventure.)

Each time I sat down to rest, my big dog "Doc" came and kissed my face and then walked to the edge of the ice-pan, returning again to where I was huddled up, as if to say, "Why don't you come along? Surely it is time to start." The other dogs also were now moving about very restlessly, occasionally trying to satisfy their hunger by gnawing at the dead bodies of their brothers.

I determined, at mid-day, to kill a big Eskimo dog and drink his blood, as I had read only a few days before in "Farthest North" of Dr.Nansen's doing,--that is, if I survived the battle with him. I could not help feeling, even then, my ludicrous position, and I thought, if ever I got ashore again, I should have to laugh at myself standing hour after hour waving my shirt at those lofty cliffs, which seemed to assume a kind of sardonic grin, so that I could almost imagine they were laughing at me. At times I could not help thinking of the good breakfast that my colleagues were enjoying at the back of those same cliffs, and of the snug fire and the comfortable room which we call our study.

I can honestly say that from first to last not a single sensation of fear entered my mind, even when I was struggling in the slob ice. Somehow it did not seem unnatural; I had been through the ice half a dozen times before. For the most part I felt very sleepy, and the idea was then very strong in my mind that I should soon reach the solutionof the mysteries that I had been preaching about for so many years.

To be continued.


The above 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 Rattling Books.