"North" by Joseph Fick

Chapter 58 The Passing p588~590

Tim sat next to Ed and waited until the old man
stopped coughing before trying to spoon feed him some
warm soup. “There you go Ed, here take some of this.”
The older man slowly swallowed a spoonful given to
him. “That ain’t bad Tim,” said the cook with
appreciation. He didn’t ask where the bits of meat in the
broth had come from. He knew that some of the dogs
were missing.
“One of the Eskimo women makes it,” said his young
assistant.”It’s good, yeah?”
“Real good, Tim,” he said in a quiet voice.
Ed started coughing again and spit out a large glob of
phlegm. Tim not knowing what to do exactly, set the soup
down and began patting the old cook on the back. “There,
there Ed. Don’t worry, you’re gonna be alright,” he said,
though his tone suggested otherwise.
Ed gave the boy a kind smile. “I don’t think so Tim. I
think that time has run out for the old ship’s cook.”
Tim’s eyes began to tear up. “No, Ed, you’re gonna be
ok, really. You’re just tired, that’s all.”
The cook shook his head, “Not this time lad. I’m afraid
I won’t be going much further on this trip.”
“No, Ed, you’ll get better, you’ll see.”
“Listen Tim, you have to listen,” Ed coughed. “You’ve
grown up fast on this voyage, you’ve had to.” Tim lowered
his head. “Mr. MacDonald,” continued Ed, “Mr.
MacDonald, he’s gonna need all the help he can get, you
gotta help him as best ya can boy.”
“I will Ed,” said the boy wiping his tears away, “I’ll help
‘im.”
Ed patted the young man’s hand, “Now be a good lad
and fetch me Mr. MacDonald.”
Allawah shivered under the furs that covered her,
while Ahnah wiped her sister’s brow. Sedna held little
Tah and tried to sooth him while his poor mother
suffered. The rough shelter that contained those that
were ill was just that. The smell of feces, urine and vomit
was overwhelming. It was a place that that did not invite
company. It was so unfair.
“I’m sorry sister,” said Allawah, “all of this…”
“Shhh…” said Ahnah, “this is not your fault.”
“I’m worried about Peter, about our son…”
“There is no need to worry, Allawah. Peter will soon be
here and you and he and little Tah will soon be together.”
Allawah smiled, “Your words are kind sister but the
wicked truth is clear.” Ahnah bowed her head, she
couldn’t deceive her brother’s wife. “Take care of them,
Ahnah. Take care of my loving husband and son.” Ahnah
could only nod her head.
They buried Ed and Allawah as well as the two
wounded men and two Eskimos who had had been sick,
six hours later. The service as well as the others before,
was a simple affair. It gave MacDonald a feeling of dread
to leave these people in such a lonely place. Would any of
them get out of this place or were they all destined to
rest here one by one? MacDonald opened the worn bible
he had brought from the ship and read from Corinthians,
chapter 15, verse 3. “For what I received I passed onto
you as of the first importance: that Christ died for our
sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried. That
he was raised on the third day according to the
scriptures and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the
twelve.” MacDonald closed the book. The Eskimos didn’t
understand it. MacDonald found no solace in the written
words and he doubted whether the others did as well.
What little faith the men had was fading away and fast.
“We’ve lost some good people, far too many… too many,
and that can’t be changed. We have to keep moving, we
have to live. We will get out of this, we will survive.”
The small group broke up and went to their small fires.
How many more before it was all over?

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