Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Excerpt #17 from Adrift on an Ice Pan by Sir Wilfred Grenfell

Excerpt #17 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.)


I waved my flag as high as I could raise it, broadside on. At last,
beside the glint of the white oar, I made out the black streak of the
hull. I knew that, if the pan held on for another hour, I should be
all right.

With that strange perversity of the human intellect, the first thing I
thought of was what trophies I could carry with my luggage from the
pan, and I pictured the dog-bone flagstaff adorning my study. (The
dogs actually ate it afterwards.) I thought of preserving my ragged
puttees with our collection of curiosities. I lost no time now at the
burning-glass. My whole mind was devoted to making sure I should be
seen, and I moved about as much as I dared on the raft, waving my
sorry token aloft.

At last there could be no doubt about it: the boat was getting nearer
and nearer. I could see that my rescuers were frantically waving,
and, when they came within shouting distance, I heard some one cry
out, "Don't get excited. Keep on the pan where you are." They were
infinitely more excited than I. Already to me it seemed just as
natural now to be saved as, half an hour before, it had seemed
inevitable I should be lost, and had my rescuers only known, as I did,
the sensation of a bath in that ice when you could not dry yourself
afterwards, they need not have expected me to follow the example of
the apostle Peter and throw myself into the water.

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.