December 17th to 23rd
Thirty below freezing! It was inconceivable till one stepped out into it at midnight, and the first shock of that clear, still air took away the breath as does a plunge into sea-water … The night was as keen as the edge of a newly-ground sword; breath froze on the coat-lapels in snow; the nose became without sensation, and the eyes wept bitterly because the horses were in a hurry to get home; and whirling through air at zero brings tears. But for the jingle of the sleigh-bells the ride might have taken place in a dream, for there was no sound of hoofs upon the snow …
This is from “In Sight of Monadnock”, collected in From Tideway to Tideway.
The young Kiplings. On their honeymoon, have just arrived in Vermont on a freezing February night.
The sky above them was an intense velvety black, changing to bands of Indian red on the horizon, where the great stars burned like street-lamps. From time to time a greenish wave of the Northern Lights would roll across the hollow of the high heavens, flick like a flag, and disappear; or a meteor would crackle from darkness to darkness ‘’’
This is from “Quiquern””, in the Second Jungle Book.
The Iniut t tribe are short of food, in danger of d with starvation. Here a young couple are trekking out into the Arctic night to find the seal.
‘It was a bit by Sampoux, that we had taken over from the French. They’re tough, but you wouldn’t call ’em tidy as a nation. They had faced both sides of it with dead to keep the mud back. All those trenches were like gruel in a thaw. Our people had to do the same sort of thing—elsewhere; but Butcher’s Row in French End was the—er—show-piece. …
‘My God, yes! When the Buckboard-slats were missin’ you’d tread on ’em, an’ they’d creak.’
‘They’re bound to. Like leather,’ said Keede. ‘It gets on one’s nerves a bit, but——’
‘Nerves? It’s real! It’s real!’ Strangwick gulped
This is from “A Madonna of the Trenches” in Debits and Credits. A young ‘runner’ is remembering the horrors of the trenches on the Western Front, in winter. Where frozen bodies were used to line yhe walls.
It was not these real familiar horrors that had unhinged him, but a vivid ghostly vision he had seen.