Lost in the Arctic, Being the Story of the ‘Alabama’ Expedition, 1909-1912.

p. 171: When I got back to camp Iversen has prepared a little feast. He has opened a new case of provisions in which we find two cigars, that Laub had packed away as a surprise for us. They are pretty badly damaged, but we fix them up somehow, and are soon enjoying the rare treat of a good smoke, together with the further delight of looking at the pictures in an old number of an illustrated paper that had been used to pack them in. The sheets are greasy and torn, but we put the pieces carefully together—here is reading matter for many days, even though we take a little foretaste of it now by glancing at the text here and there. There are bits of several stories, with neither beginning nor end, but that doesn’t matter—we make up the rest ourselves—a splendid way of passing the time, and an excellent subject for conversation on lying-up days.

p. 229: one reads so often in books of the joy of a condemned man suddenly reprieved, and I have often tried to imagine what it was really like, but all my attempts have been far short of the mark; not until now have I ever realised what it means. Now I think I understand. For I have been so sure, all this while, that I was to die—and how could I think otherwise. [Goes on to force himself to walk and get a new lease on his life.]

p. 328-29, April 24 [1911?]: The journey is a succession of monotonous days, one just like another. We turn out, have our meal, haul like a couple of horses for ten hours, camp, eat again, and sleep—that is the regular order of the day, and beyond it nothing, pleasant or the reverse, happens until we reach the little rocky island where our diaries were left.

The first thing I catch sight of sends a cold shiver down my back—it is a piece of the canvas in which the books had been packed. Our fears of the last months have been justified—a bear has been at the depot and torn the whole thing to pieces. Two years’ work destroyed, our whole summer of starvation valueless—and worse, an ignominious return with the report—expedition carried out as per instruction—results eaten by a bear.

We pitch our tent in silence, and silently we begin digging about the snow…. Suddenly something glistens in the snow. It is our old tea tin—nothing in itself, but it gives us hopes, for where one thing is others may be. We dig away with renewed energy, casting the snow to right and left, and now we begin to find things in earnest. A diary, a note-book full of observations, a roll of films and some cartridges. One of the last named has been bitten flat by a bear—it would have served him right if it had exploded in his inside. Soon everything is found, with the exception of one of my diaries, of which only a few pages remain, torn and pierced by the teeth of a bear. Lucky if was no worse—for as Iverson has his diary, the loss is not so serious, but it is annoying to lose notes made under such difficult conditions.

p.352-53: I lie in my sleeping bag, poring over Adam Bede—one of the few books I have with me. I have read it half-a-score of times, and I know it almost by heart, but that doesn’t matter. Mechanically my eyes follow the words, growing drowsier by degrees, and the book hangs heavier in my hands; I rouse myself sufficiently to blow out the light, and fall asleep.