Due to our leader’s ambition we traveled too far. We must be long past the Northwest Passage, past Quebec, past all known civilization in a world of snow and ice whose power lie not in resource, but in intimidation.
Stark fear overwhelmed me as I beheld the black rocks streaked with white for the first time. Our ship skimmed slowly and relentlessly toward a perilously rocky shore. I wanted to beg a halt to the proceedings, but I was a mere particle in the complicated network of our society.
The barren taiga gradually emerging in the mist promised no sustaining nourishment, nor relief from the pervading cold. We were to be sacrificed to our leader’s ambition.
I kept my mutinous thoughts to myself as I watched men preparing to anchor the ship.
The seas had been rough, and I had spent as much of the journey as I could within the hull, writing away by dim candlelight. The sailors did not think much of me, but that I was a waste of bunk and provision. I couldn't do my fair share. I wasn't interested in forging my way through the unknown-- not like my father.
A seeker of wealth and fame, he left my mother and sister in the English countryside and journeyed with me in tow through the Canadian wilderness. I kept his pace, looked after his things, hunted game along the way and even fashioned a crude map of our undertaking, though cartography was secondary to my principal love: the glorification of the natural in prose.
I left a girl, Georgiana, behind as well. Our families had known and loved one another for generations, occupying adjoining farms. It was only a matter of course that my childhood playfellow would become my sweetheart. Georgiana was the fairest maiden I had seen and I was convinced I loved her as well as I could love anyone.
I was fit for a smallish boy, more than adequate in forging trails and survival in harsh conditions. I was the only person on the ship not to succumb to illness-- except seasickness-- and due to this I spent much of my time in the hull for prevention.
It was not till we sighted the black rocks that I took an interest in surfacing. It was here on the deck that I first glimpsed our captain, whose impression on me was already marked.
His changeable temperament was legendary, his ambition and avarice seemingly eclipsing all else. My fellows found this exciting, rather than deplorable. With such a leader, they might advance far beyond their own capabilities. They did not mind the risk or what personal cost they might pay. Like my father, they wanted to return to their families with fame and fortune in tow, or not at all.
I am no discoverer, but a poet of nature, a lover of beauty, and to be subjected to intent so averse with my ideals was excruciating.