Delightful book about an HBC agent who at 20 was assigned alone to Pangnirtung and Frobisher Bay where he successfully assimilated to Inuit culture.
p. 86-7, in Pangnirtung: After our repast, we relapsed into inactivity for a while, then Alan went off to develop some photographs (using the storeroom as a darkroom) and, as Geordie spread himself very inelegantly over two chairs and fell asleep. I had a look at the books in our bookcase. The selection ranged from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nationsto a lurid thriller entitled Blood Ran Down the Bishop’s Face. Heaven knew where the books had come from, probably some good-hearted soul had packed all the unwanted volumes from their library into a box and sent them off to us. In the end I settled for a year-old copy of the New York Times that carried a report of the great stock market collapse which heralded the terrible 1930s depression.
p. 93, studying the language in Pangnirtung.
p. 134-35: The Hudson’s Bay Company were aware of the tendency of the northern traders to withdraw from the outside world and did their best to counteract it. One long, rather coffin-like box which came ashore contained one whole year’s editions of the New York Herald Tribune, which I first dismissed as being of no interest. Picking up a copy to idly scan the advertisements, however, I soon found myself getting down to reading the whole paper from front to back, finally even sorting the issues into chronological order to make for continuity of reading.
p. 174: Beevee went off with the men when they departed, so, once more alone, I got into my sleeping bag, propped myself up comfortably with some deerskin rolls and picked up the fine-paper edition of Tristram Shandy that I had brought with me.
p. 203: …it suddenly came to me that my bible and prayer book, given by my godmother to accompany me on my travels, were still up in Pangnirtung. Fortunately, after a rather frantic search, I found a very tatty book of mission hymns and verses. Mostly they were inappropriate [for a child’s funeral], but on the last page there was a child’s prayer, ‘Now I lay me down to sleep’.
pp. 209: Rigid with apprehension, convinced that some major disaster was in the making, I lay unable to take my eyes off the ceiling, which in the darkness seemed to be billowing like the waves of the sea, until quite suddenly the plasterboard holding things in place above the bed gave way and a shower of books of all shapes and sizes cascaded around me.
For my bombardment by books I had no one to thank but myself, as it had been my bright idea to gather all the volumes scattered about the house together and to store them up in the roof space.
A small pile of heavier books fortunately landed on the bed head, so I managed to extricate myself from the debris of lighter works, having suffered nothing worse than a couple of bruises on my head. The sudden removal of the protective layer of books and boards between the room and the roof exposed me to the storm, because right overhead a little of about four tiles had now been blown away, with the result that a steady stream of rainwater was splashing into the bedroom….
p. 274: After a half an hour or so…Nikoo asked me about my book. He seemed to think it was the Bible, but as it was actually a Thomas Hardy novel this was pretty wide of the mark.