Fridtjof Nansen laughs at bad luck

Sick in bed today I nonetheless enjoyed the inauspicious date of this Nansen diary entry:

"Friday, October 13th. Now we are in the very midst of what the prophets would have had us dread so much. The ice is pressing and packing round us with a noise like thunder. It is piling itself up into long walls, and heaps high enough to reach a good way up the Fram's rigging; in fact, it is trying its very utmost to grind the Fram into powder. But here we sit quite tranquil, not even going up to look at all the hurly-burly, but just chatting and laughing as usual." page 116

Nonetheless, at this point the Fram, although successfully frozen solid in the ice, was drifting north-east, then south, then west, and the mood of the crew followed. They were making little if any progress towards the pole and Nansen began to be filled with doubt:

"Wednesday, November 8...Far off I see the threads of life twisting themselves into the intricate web which stretches unbroken from life's sweet morning dawn to the eternal death-stillness of the ice. Thought follows thought--you pick the whole to pieces, and it seems so small--but high above all towers one form.... Why did you take this voyage?...Could I do otherwise? Can the river arrest its course and run up hill? My plan has come to nothing. That palace of theory which I reared, in pride and self-confidence, high above all silly objections has fallen like a house of cards at the first breath of wind.... But no, there is no getting over the evidence of that Siberian drift-wood."

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