"North" by Joseph Fick

Chapter 59 When Hope begins to Fade p591~593

It was June. June with a bright sun that had been
missing from their lives at the beginning of the
expedition, a light they had craved so much was now
with them, a constant reminder that too much of
anything no matter how much it is wanted, can get old
fast. Day and night were no exception.
They had been gone for thirteen weeks. It seemed like
they had been in this place for an eternity. The polar
party trudged on, one foot, then another. One foot and
again… another foot. Stop. One foot and… then the
other… again. Stop. Thirteen weeks, one foot… 13 weeks.
Second foot… 13 weeks. They had walked and walked.
They were down to six dogs. They were bearded and
dirty and staggered on. Sometimes an article would fall
off the sled. Sometimes they would notice it but didn’t
care enough to stop, it wasn’t worth it. Who cared.
The party stopped. It was time to take some dog meat
and something to drink. Each man took a swig of water
when the container was passed around and a chew of
frozen raw dog meat, which they found difficult to eat
with their loose teeth and bleeding gums. The sound of
cracking ice filled the air. Hollister, a dirty linen bandage
around his eyes, moved his head about trying to identify
the direction of the noise. His bone snow goggles had
fallen off the sled, sometime past. He had lost sight in his
one good eye. He was snow blind.
Dunn looked at his friend and gave him a sympathetic
smile. “Its behind us Jack.”
“Are you sure?” asked Hollister.
Dunn nodded, “Yeah, Jack, its behind us.”
Mason yawned and scratched his arm. He was
beginning to doubt that they would make it. He knew
that the others were beginning to feel the same way.
“I wonder if Nancy is back in Chicago?” said Hollister
to no one in particular.
“I imagine she is by now Jack,” said Mason.
“Yeah,” said Dunn “didn’t you say that play she was in
was only for a couple of weeks?”
Hollister shrugged his shoulders, “Sometimes they get
held over.”
They were all quiet, each of the three men thinking the
same thing though having no wish to say it out loud.
How many detours would they have to make today? How
much further out of the way would they have to go to
avoid the ice breaking up all around them and the cold
black water that they floated on.
“How’s Peter?” Asked Dunn.
Mason looked over his shoulder at the quiet figure
bundled on the sled, his breath coming out in quiet puffs.
“He’s sleeping.” The Captain didn’t bother to elaborate.
They were all beginning to show the effects of scurvy,
with their old wounds opening up and their teeth loose.
The outlook was grim to say the least.
“Ellesmere Island Captain?” asked Dunn.
Mason nodded, “I think that’s our best bet, what with
the ice breaking up, I don’t think we’ll be able to make it
to the SHY LADY.”
“Yes, but with all these changes in direction,” said
Hollister, “when will we get there, if we get there?”
Mason shrugged his shoulders. “Hard to say, we just
have to keep going.” Hollister nodded in a resigned way,
they had little choice. “Come on, let’s get going,” said
Mason. Dunn steered Hollister to the sled. More walking.

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