Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Excerpt #23 from Adrift on an Ice Pan by Sir Wilfred Grenfell

Excerpt #23 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.)



One of Dr. Grenfell's volunteer helpers, Miss Luther of Providence,
R.I., contributes the following account of the rescue as recited in
the Newfoundland vernacular by one of the rescuing party.

"One day, about a week after Dr. Grenfell's return," says Miss Luther,
"two men came in from Griquet, fifteen miles away. They had walked all
that distance, though the trail was heavy with soft snow and they
often sank to their waists and waded through brooks and ponds. 'We
just felt we must see the doctor and tell him what 't would 'a' meant
to us, if he'd been lost.' Perhaps nothing but the doctor's own tale
could be more graphic than what was told by George Andrews, one of the
crew who rescued him."


"It was wonderfu' bad weather that Monday mornin'. Th' doctor was to
Lock's Cove. None o' we thought o' 'is startin' out. I don't think th'
doctor hisself thought o' goin' at first an' then 'e sent th' two men
on ahead for to meet us at th' tilt an' said like 's 'e was goin'
after all.

"'Twas even' when us knew 'e was on th' ice. George Davis seen un
first. 'E went to th' cliff to look for seal. It was after sunset an'
half dark, but 'e thought 'e saw somethin' on th' ice an' 'e ran for
George Read an' 'e got 'is spy-glass an' made out a man an' dogs on a
pan an' knowed it war th' doctor.

"It was too dark fur we t' go t' un, but us never slept at all, all
night. I couldn' sleep. Us watched th' wind an' knew if it didn' blow
too hard us could get un,--though 'e was then three mile off a'ready.
So us waited for th' daylight. No one said who was goin' out in th'
boat. Un 'ud say, 'Is you goin'?' An' another, 'Is you?' I didn' say,
but I knowed what I'd do.

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.