Adrift on an Ice-Pan/Appendix

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search





One of Dr. Grenfell’s volunteer helpers, Miss Luther of Providence, R. I., contributes the following account of the rescue as recited in the Newfoundland vernacular by one of the rescuing party.

“One day, about a week after Dr. Grenfell’s return,” says Miss Luther, ‘‘two men came in from Griquet, fifteen miles away. They had walked all that distance, though the trail was heavy with soft snow and they often sank to their waists and waded through brooks and ponds. ‘We just felt we must see the doctor and tell him what ’t would ’a’ meant to us, if he’d been lost.” Perhaps nothing but the doctor’s own tale could be more graphic than what was told by George Andrews, one of the crew who rescued him.”


‘‘It was wonderfu’ bad weather that Monday mornin’. Th’ doctor was to Lock’s Cove. None o’ we thought o’ ’is startin’ out. I don’t think th’ doctor hisself thought o’ goin’ at first an’ then’e sent th’ two men on ahead for to meet us at th’ tilt an’ said like ’s ’e was goin’ after all.

“’T was even’ when us knew ’e was on th’ ice. George Davis seen un first. ’E went to th’ cliff to look for seal. It was after sunset an’ half dark, but ’e thought ’e saw somethin’ on th’ ice an’ ’e ran for George Read an’ ’e got ’is spy-glass an’ made out a man an’ dogs on a pan an’ knowed it war th’ doctor.

“It was too dark fur we t’ go t’ un, but us never slept at all, all night. I couldn’ sleep. Us watched th’ wind an’ knew if it did n’ blow too hard us could get un,—though ’e was then three mile off a’ready. So us waited for th’ daylight. No one said who was goin’ out in th’ boat. Un ’ud say, ‘Is you goin’?’ An’ another, ‘Is you?’ I didn’ say, but I knowed what I’d do.

‘‘As soon as’t was light us went to th’ cliff wi’ th’ spy-glass to see if us could see un, but thar war n’t nothin’ in sight. Us know by the wind whar t’ look fur un, an’ us launched th’ boat. George Read an’ ’is two sons, an’ George Davis, what seen un first, an’ me, was th’ crew. George Read was skipper-man an’ th’ rest was just youngsters. The sun was warm,—you mind’t was a fine mornin’, —an’ us started in our shirt an’ braces fur us knowed thar’d be hard ‘work to do. I knowed thar was a chance o’ not comin’ back at all, but it didn’ make no difference. I knowed I’d as good a chance asany, an’ ’t wa’ for th’ doctor, an’ ’is life’s worth many, an’ somehow I couldn’ let a man go out like dat wi’out tryin’ fur un, an’ I think us all felt th’ same.

‘‘Us ’ad a good strong boat an’ four oars, an’ took a hot kettle o’ tea an’ food for a week, for us thought u’d ’ave t’ go far an’ p’rhaps lose th’ boat an’ ’ave t’ walk ashore un th’ ice. I din’ ’ope to find the doctor alive an’ kept lookin’ for a sign of un on th’ pans. ’T wa’ no’ easy gettin’ to th’ pans wi’ a big sea runnin’! Th’ big pans ’ud sometimes heave together an’ near crush th’ boat, an’ sometimes us ’ad t’ git out an’ haul her over th’ ice t’ th’ water again. Then us come t’ th’ slob ice where th’ pan ’ad ground together, an’ ’t was all thick, an’ that was worse’n any. Us saw th’ doctor about twenty minutes afore us got t’ un. ’E was wavin’ ’is flag an’ I seen ’im. ’E was on a pan no bigger’n this flor, an’ I dunno what ever kep’ un fro’ goin’ abroad, for ’t was n’t ice, ’t was packed snow. Th’ pan was away from even th’ slob, floatin’ by hisself, an’ th’ open water all roun’, an’ ’t was just across fro’ Goose Cove, an’ outside o’ that there’d been no hope. I think th’ way th’ pan held together was on account o’ th’ dogs’ bodies meltin’ it an’ ’t froze hard durin’ th’ night. ‘E was level with th’ water an’ th’ sea washin’ over us all th’ time.

“When us got near un, it didn’ seem like ’t was th’ doctor. ’E looked so old an’ ’is face such a queer color. ’E was very solemn-like when us took un an’ th’ dogs on th’ boat. No un felt like sayin’ much, an’ ’e ’ardly said nothin’ till us gave un some tea an’ loaf an’ then ’e talked. I s’pose ’e was sort o’ faint-like. Th’ first thing ’e said was, how wonderfu’ sorry ’e was o’ gettin’ into such a mess an’ givin’ we th’ trouble o’ comin’ out for un. Us tol’ un not to think o’ that; us was glad to do it for un, an’ ’e’d done it for any one o’ we, many times over if ’e ’ad th’ chance;—an’ so’e would. An’ then’e fretted about th’ b’y ’e was goin’ to see, it bein’ too late to reach un, an’ us tol’ un ’is life was worth so much more ’n th’ b’y, fur ’e could save others an’ th’ b’y couldn’. But ’e still fretted.

“’E ’ad ripped th’ dog-harnesses an’ stuffed th’ oakum in th’ legs o’ ’is pants to keep un warm. ’E showed it to we. An’ ’e cut off th’ tops o’ ’is boots to keep th’ draught from ’is back. ’E must’a’ worked ’ard all night. ’E said ’e droled off once or twice, but th’ night seemed wonderfu’ long.

“Us took un off th’ pan at about half-past seven, an’ ’ad a ’ard fight gettin’ in, th’ sea still runnin’ ’igh. ’E said ’e was proud to see us comin’ for un, and so ’e might, for it grew wonderfu’ cold in th’ day and th’ sea so ’igh the pan couldn’ ’a’ lived outside. ’E wouldn’ stop when us got ashore, but must go right on, an’ when ’e ’ad dry clothes an’ was a bit warm, us sent un to St. Anthony with a team.

‘‘Th’ next night, an’ for nights after, I could n’ sleep. I’d keep seein’ that man standin’ on th’ ice, an’ I’d be sorter half-awake like, sayin’, ‘But’ not th’ doctor. Sure not th’ doctor.’”

There was silence for a few moments, and George Andrews looked out across the blue harbor to the sea.

“’E sent us watches an’ spy-glasses,” said he, ‘‘an’ pictures o’ hisself that one o’ you took o’ un, made large an’ in a frame. George Read an’ me ’ad th’ watches an’ th’ others ’ad th’ spy-glasses. ’Ere ’s th’ watch. It ’as ‘In memory o’ April 21st’ on it, but us don’t need th’ things to make we remember it, tho’ we ’re wonderful glad t ’ave ’em from th’ doctor.”