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datatime: 2022-09-29 19:49:35 Author:DmyVknTB

And you're going to live there, make your home there-after sixty-nine years in another country?

Tm sixty-nine-tomorrow, he answered obliquely.A new life? Let's say, rather, that I'm going to end an old one.

You-you're going to start a new life there, Mr Mahler?

Not Europe, Dr Mason. I could hear the machine-gun-like chatter of his teeth.Israel.

And you're going to live there, make your home there-after sixty-nine years in another country?

Theodore Mahler, strangely enough, proved only too anxious to talk-and keep on talking. It was so completely out of keeping with the idea I had formed of his character that I was more than surprised. Loneliness, perhaps, I thought, or trying to forget the situation, or trying to divert my thoughts and suspicions: how wrong I was on all three counts I wasn't to find out until later.

The first twenty miles were easy. On the way up from the coast, over four months previously, we had planted big marker flags at intervals of half a mile. On a night such as this, with the moonlight flooding the ice-cap, these trail flags, a bright luminous orange in colour and mounted on aluminium poles stuck in snow beacons, were visible at a great distance, with never less than two and sometimes three in sight at the same time, the long glistening frost feathers stretching out from the poles sometimes twice the length of the flags themselves. We counted twenty-eight of these flags altogether-about a dozen were missing-then, after a sudden dip in the land, completely lost them: whether they had blown away or just drifted under it was impossible to say.

Well, there it is, Jackstraw, I said resignedly.This is where one of us starts getting cold. Really cold.

Well, there it is, Jackstraw, I said resignedly.This is where one of us starts getting cold. Really cold.

He looked pale and ill, but he nodded silently, and Zagero said in a quiet voice:Corazzini and myself too high up on the list of suspects, huh?

Well, Mr Mahler, it looks as if the itinerary of your European trip is going to be upset a bit. I had almost to shout to make my words heard above the roar of the tractor.

Never been there in my life.1 There was a pause, and when his voice came again it was all but drowned in the sound of the engine. I thought I caught the words 'My home'.

We've been cold before, Dr Mason. Me first. He slid the magnetic compass off its brackets, started to unreel a cable from a spool under the dashboard, then jumped out, still unwinding the cable, while I followed to help. Despite the fact that the magnetic north pole is nowhere near the north pole-at that time it was almost a thousand miles south of it and lay more to the west than north of us-a magnetic compass, when proper variation allowances are made, is still useful in high latitudes: but because of the counter-acting magnetic effects of a large mass of metal, it was quite useless when mounted on the tractor itself. Our plan, therefore, was that someone should He with the compass on the dog-sled, fifty feet behind the tractor, and, by means of a switch which operated red and green lights in the tractor dashboard, guide the driver to left or right. It wasn't our original idea, it wasn't even a recent idea: it had been used in the Antarctic a quarter century previously but, as far as I knew, had not been improved upon yet.

Behind the heavy transport sled was towed the empty dog-sled, with the dogs on loose traces running astern of it, all except Balto who always ran free, coursing tirelessly backwards and forwards all night long, one moment far ahead of us, the next ranging out to one side, the next dropping astern, like some destroyer circling a straggling convoy by night. When the last of the dogs had passed by him, Jackstraw would run forward to overtake the tractor and jump in alongside me once more. He was as tireless, as immune to fatigue, as Balto himself.

He looked pale and ill, but he nodded silently, and Zagero said in a quiet voice:Corazzini and myself too high up on the list of suspects, huh?

I wouldn't put either of you at the very foot, I said shortly. I waited till Mahler had climbed down then dropped the canvas and walked round to the driver's seat.

Well, Mr Mahler, it looks as if the itinerary of your European trip is going to be upset a bit. I had almost to shout to make my words heard above the roar of the tractor.

Never been there in my life.1 There was a pause, and when his voice came again it was all but drowned in the sound of the engine. I thought I caught the words 'My home'.

Behind the heavy transport sled was towed the empty dog-sled, with the dogs on loose traces running astern of it, all except Balto who always ran free, coursing tirelessly backwards and forwards all night long, one moment far ahead of us, the next ranging out to one side, the next dropping astern, like some destroyer circling a straggling convoy by night. When the last of the dogs had passed by him, Jackstraw would run forward to overtake the tractor and jump in alongside me once more. He was as tireless, as immune to fatigue, as Balto himself.

And you're going to live there, make your home there-after sixty-nine years in another country?

I wondered, too, what right I had in exposing Jackstraw to the dangers which must lie ahead. He was sitting beside me as I drove, but as I looked at him covertly in the moonlight, at that strong lean face that, but for the rather broad cheekbones, might have been that of any Scandinavian sea-rover, I knew I was wasting my time wondering. Although nominally under my command, he had only been lent me, as other Greenlanders had been lent as an act of courtesy by the Danish Government to several IGY stations, as a scientific officer-he had a geology degree from the University of Copenhagen and had forgotten more about the ice-cap than I would ever know-and in times of emergency, especially where his own pride, and he had plenty of that, was concerned would be extremely liable to do what he thought best, regardless of what I thought or said. I knew he wouldn't have remained behind even if I had ordered him to- and, if I were honest with myself, I was only too damned glad to have him along, as a friend, as an ally, and as insurance policy against the disaster that can so easily overtake the careless or the inexperienced on the ice-cap. But even so, even though I quieted my conscience as best I could, it was difficult to push from my mind the picture of his dark vivacious young schoolteacher wife and little daughter, the red and white brick house in which I'd lived for two weeks as a guest in the summer. What Jackstraw thought was impossible to say. He sat immobile as if carved from stone, only his eyes alive, constantly moving, constantly shifting, as he probed for sudden dips in the ice-cap, for differences in the structure of the snow, for anything that might spell trouble. It was purely automatic, purely instinctive: the crevasse country lay, as yet, two hundred and fifty miles away, where the ice-cap started to slope sharply to the sea, and Jackstraw himself maintained that Balto, his big lead dog, had a surer instinct for crevasses than any human alive.

Every twenty minutes I changed position with Jackstraw and so the long hours of the night dragged by as the cold deepened and the stars and the moon wheeled across the black vault of the sky. And then came moonset, the blackness of the arctic night rushed across the ice-cap, I slowed the Citroen gratefully to a stop and the silence, breathless and hushed and infinitely sweet, came flooding in to take the place of the nightlong clamour of the deafening roar of the big engine, the metallic clanking of the treads.

Well, Mr Mahler, it looks as if the itinerary of your European trip is going to be upset a bit. I had almost to shout to make my words heard above the roar of the tractor.

Behind the heavy transport sled was towed the empty dog-sled, with the dogs on loose traces running astern of it, all except Balto who always ran free, coursing tirelessly backwards and forwards all night long, one moment far ahead of us, the next ranging out to one side, the next dropping astern, like some destroyer circling a straggling convoy by night. When the last of the dogs had passed by him, Jackstraw would run forward to overtake the tractor and jump in alongside me once more. He was as tireless, as immune to fatigue, as Balto himself.

Tm sixty-nine-tomorrow, he answered obliquely.A new life? Let's say, rather, that I'm going to end an old one.

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