As usual the food ration was reduced. This caused us to have more than ordinarily vivid dreams. I happened to be awake one night when Laurence was sledging in imagination, vociferously shouting, “Hike, hike,” to the dogs.
Last night I had the strangest dream so far. The last crevasse Laurence fell into was the deepest to date. He was roped to the sledge, but it took us quite some time to get him up onto the surface, and by then he was chilled to the bone. Even out in the wind on the lip of the precipice we were better off – constant activity does that for you. Down there, though, he suffered that death of the extremities that comes from inanition.
We put up the tent and stripped him off, and Filippo climbed into his bag with him. The two bodies were as close as lovers, and all of a sudden I felt jealous. I wanted to be in there with him, holding his white limbs close; the Swiss seemed to me to be an interloper. Of course I said nothing. What was there to say? There is no beastliness between the two of them, I feel sure of that – else they would be more guarded, less open in their affection. The beastliness is all in my head.
I lay awake for some time, listening to the wind, which is unusual for me, for any of us. Normally we are asleep as soon as the bags become truly warm. I lay there, as I say, and after a time I thought I heard a voice outside the tent. I looked over at the other two, but they were fast asleep in each other’s arms.
I could not distinguish words, but it sounded like a woman’s voice. Still in my bag, I crawled over to the flap. We lace it very firm, so it took me a little time to get the knots disentangled. I looked out – it was light, but I could see nothing: just the whistling arrows of wind polishing the snow-scales.
The next thing, I was outside the tent. The voice was no longer audible, but I was walking through the drifts, somehow unaffected by the wind. By now I knew it was a dream, but my curiosity had begun to grow; I felt there was something to discover there about our expedition. Something of the greatest importance. I looked down to see that I was dressed only in trousers and shirt, but I felt no cold. I was as free and natural as on a summer’s day at home.
On and on I walked in the bright slanted sunlight, the visibility better than I have ever seen it on this godforsaken stretch of coast, until I saw a black mark appear in the distance. Shackleton, I thought. He’s made it at last. I could