Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Excerpt #19 from Adrift on an Ice Pan by Sir Wilfred Grenfell

Excerpt #19 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.)


So, slowly but steadily, we forged through to the shore, now jumping
out on to larger pans and forcing them apart with the oars, now
hauling the boat out and dragging her over, when the jam of ice packed
tightly in by the rising wind was impossible to get through otherwise.

My first question, when at last we found our tongues, was, "How ever
did you happen to be out in the boat in this ice?" To my astonishment
they told me that the previous night four men had been away on a long
headland cutting out some dead harp seals that they had killed in the
fall and left to freeze up in a rough wooden store they had built
there, and that as they were leaving for home, my pan of ice had
drifted out clear of Hare Island, and one of them, with his keen
fisherman's eyes, had seen something unusual. They at once returned to
their village, saying there was something alive drifting out to sea on
the floe ice. But their report had been discredited, for the people
thought that it could be only the top of some tree.

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.