Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Excerpt #21 from Adrift on an Ice Pan by Sir Wilfred Grenfell

Excerpt #21 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.)


Every soul in the village was on the beach as we neared the shore.
Every soul was waiting to shake hands when I landed. Even with the
grip that one after another gave me, some no longer trying to keep
back the tears, I did not find out my hands were frost-burnt,--a fact
I have not been slow to appreciate since, however. I must have been a
weird sight as I stepped ashore, tied up in rags, stuffed out with
oakum, wrapped in the bloody skins of dogs, with no hat, coat, or
gloves besides, and only a pair of short knickers. It must have seemed
to some as if it were the old man of the sea coming ashore.

But no time was wasted before a pot of tea was exactly where I wanted
it to be, and some hot stew was locating itself where I had intended
an hour before the blood of one of my remaining dogs should have gone.

Rigged out in the warm garments that fishermen wear, I started with a
large team as hard as I could race for the hospital, for I had learnt
that the news had gone over that I was lost. It was soon painfully
impressed upon me that I could not much enjoy the ride, for I had to
be hauled like a log up the hills, my feet being frost-burnt so that I
could not walk. Had I guessed this before going into the house, I
might have avoided much trouble.

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.