Having now been exposed to the cold and the snow near an hour and a half, some of the rest began to lose their sensibility; and one Briscoe, another of Mr Banks’s servants, was so ill, that it was thought he must die before he could be got to the fire.
At the fire, however, at length they arrived; and passed the night in a situation, which, however dreadful in itself, was rendered more afflicting by the remembrance of what was past, and the uncertainty of what was to come. Of twelve, the number that set out together in health and spirits, two were supposed to be already dead; a third was so ill, that it was very doubtful whether he would be able to go forward in the morning; and a fourth, Mr Buchan, was in danger of a return of his fits, by fresh fatigue, after so uncomfortable a night: They were distant from the ship a long day’s journey, through pathless woods, in which it was too probable they might be bewildered till they were overtaken by the next night; and, not having prepared for a journey of more than eight or ten hours, they were wholly destitute of provisions, except a vulture, which they happened to shoot while they were out, and which, if equally divided, would not afford each of them half a meal; and they knew not how much more they might suffer from the cold, as the snow still continued to fall. A dreadful testimony of the severity of the climate, as it was now the midst of summer in this part of the world, the 21st of December being here the longest day; and every thing might justly be dreaded from a phenomenon which, in the corresponding season, is unknown even in Norway and Lapland.
When the morning dawned, they saw nothing round them, as far as the eye could reach, but snow, which seemed to lie as thick upon the trees as upon the ground; and the blasts returned so frequently, and with such violence, that they found it impossible for them to set out: How long this might last they knew not, and they had but too much reason to apprehend that it would confine them in that desolate forest till they perished with hunger and cold.