breathing was as compacted as on a high mountain peak – Erebus, with the Prof. After that, every time I scratched myself and dreamed of a hot bath and clean towels, I thought of the slimy waters of the bay – that anti-creation of the cold – and contented myself with my warm bag.

Their limbs are so white, though, as they frolic and horseplay in the snow. Laurence is prancing about like a schoolboy – he practically is a schoolboy; a clean-limbed lad fresh out from England. The older Swiss, Filippo, tries to match him, such Alpine intensity in his determination to be merry and sportive. Can’t they see that it is too cold for that? They don’t seem to care, shrunken pricks bouncing around between their legs as they swing their arms to and fro, embracing the wind as a lover.

Funny, really, these pashes that grow up down here – as at a girl’s boarding school. Those two are friends beyond all expectation. One young, impetuous, the other gnarled and worldly wise. What do they find to talk about? Once I overheard Laurence trying out his Italian on the older man– something about la tua mano è gelida – and the other laughing that deep, troll-like guffaw of his, half-swallowed in the throat, a kind of ghostly chuckle echoing from caverns below. A crevasse laugh. Laurence was ashamed and took some time to come round after that. I notice these things, must do, for the good of the expedition.

I think that these should be the two who come with me on the inland run. The main reason is the fact that they know the dogs so much better than anyone else, having come out with them on the outward voyage, but it is also because there is something fascinating in their absorption with each other – a kind of strength which I think will buoy us up when we reach the plateau.

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