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Cold land, bright stars

Misleading title that, but I want to write these bits and pieces down for the future. I find it very difficult to write the last quarter of my manuscript; wrestling with a desire to get it done means rushing rather than writing, and there's trepidation because its such a zigzag mess right now. Even when the text is all done, it is going to need a lot of editing and redrafting. I must finish it to prove to myself that I can. So, I give myself half an hour to ruminate on other matters and enjoy my coffee.

My mind is still fascinated by the Franklin expedition and beyond it, poor old Captain Crozier. He seems to have been passed over for command because he was Irish. He fell in love with his commander's niece, Sophia Cracroft. I have read some bits and pieces that claim she was impressed with the man but wasn't going to connect herself to a sailor; if that was the case, maybe she could have persuaded him away from the deadly quest. But everything else I've read implies that she just wasn't interested at all. Some say she had a crush on James Clark Ross, whose house is down in Blackheath. Her drawings and papers are kept at the Scott Polar Research Institute, (http://www.spri.cam.ac.uk/museum/catalogue/search/?q=cracroft which is just as well or she would seem to have contributed little except a heartbroken sailor and fulsome support for Lady Franklin's pursuit of her disappeared husband, whose influence included cash for rescue missions and public scorn for the first European to solve the mystery.

I am delighted to find someone who isn't Aragorn actually called, 'Long Strider.' Named as such by the Inuits, John Rae used local knowledge, learned how to survive from the people who understood the territory; he was the first to find evidence of the expedition's end, including the tales of cannibalism. Lady Franklin wasn't having that. She seems to have been a redoubtable woman, full of fire and courage, but telling her that her husband's great work had ended with men 'dying as they walked' on the ice, and cooking each other to survive... perhaps that was too much to expect. Inuit accounts were disparaged, Long Strider's work was eclipsed. Inuits spoke of the men who left the icebound ships, led by the one with the telescope; it has been assumed that this was Crozier, that he was among the last standing and died somewhere on the ice, though some say he actually made it out of this last march, and ended his days living peacefully among the Chipewyans of Northern Canada. And I can see it somehow; after all that, how could you go back, how could you face the likes of Sophia Cracroft and Lady Jane Franklin, how could you face society's condemnation of what they never knew? I like to think he found some peace; he deserved it.

And so I write as though I remember it myself. Indulged myself with a little more than half an hour. Time for another cup of coffee and to get on with my work.



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