March 18, 2012

Monday, 18 March 1912


"My right foot has gone," Scott wrote, "nearly all the toes -- two days ago I was proud possessor of best feet. These are the steps of my downfall. Like an ass I mixed a small spoonful of curry powder with my melted pemmican -- it gave me violent indigestion. I lay awake and in pain all night; woke and felt done on the march; foot went and I didn't know it. A very small measure of neglect and have a foot which is not pleasant to contemplate. Bowers takes first place in condition, but there is not much to choose after all. The others are still confident of getting through -- or pretend to be -- I don't know! We have the last half fill of oil in our primus and a very small quantity of spirit -- this alone between us and thirst. The wind is fair for the moment, and that is perhaps a fact to help. The mileage would have seemed ridiculously small on our outward journey." [1]


Publisher William Heinemann, writing to Nansen, thought that Amundsen's story in The Daily Chronicle was dull. "I am disappointed with the want of imagination he displays ... in even so thrilling a thing as his achievement.... I cannot help feeling that however great Amundsen's feat is, he is not likely to write a good book." [2]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 18 March, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] William Heinemann, letter to Fridtjof Nansen, 18 March, 1912, quoted by Roland Huntford in Scott and Amundsen (New York : Putnam, 1980, c1979), p.552.

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