Bickel notes the absence of “heroics” in Home of the Blizzard, betrayed by his journals, however modest. An earlier version of Mawson’s Will, with some additional reading passages.
p. 70, in the ice cave known as Aladdin’s Cave: Ninnis and Mertz were in their sleeping bags, both reading. Ninnis had a much-loved miniature edition of Thackeray’s novels, given to him by his mother when they had said farewell at their home in the London suburb of Streatham. Mertz pored over a Sherlock Holmes book—part of the English curriculum which he had struggled through so often during the winter he could recite whole phrases.
p. 88, Mertz reciting Sherlock Holmes.
p. 99, after Ninnis died in a crevasse: At the rim of the crevasse Mawson read the burial service from his battered prayerbook: ‘The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.,..’
p. 110, apropos their Vitamin A toxic poisoning: They had not read the writings of the great explorer, Nansen, on men who were reported to have died from eating such livers. They had no reason to link the peril with their dogs.
p. 134, Mawson, after Mertz died: Somewhere deep in the well of his being the primitive, powerful urge to survive, to exist at all costs, exerted pressure on his subconscious and raked his tiring memory for words of comfort, for motivation: and there came lines written by another man in a different world—to gird his resolve, to aid his fight—words from Robert Service:
‘Buck up! Do your damndest and fight;
It’s the plugging away that will win you the day.’”
p. 149: ‘I believe that Providence walks with me,’ he exclaimed, after several escapes from danger.
p. 153: when Mawson was caught in a crevasse: Providence still had him at the end of the rope that was a way back to the surface.
p. 166: he built a shield in his mind against time, against pain and peril; he called up the poetry he’d memorized and the Psalms— ‘I lift up mine eyes to the hills….’ Hour after hour plodding through the snow, dredging out words to shut out fear, to keep back the spectre of starvation that walked with him.