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I want to tell you a story. It is the story of the ill-fated Franklin expedition to the Arctic in 1845. That odyssey was a turning point in Arctic exploration because of its well-publicized failure.


The preparations were made. The preparations were more suitable for the Royal Navy Officers Club in England than for the frigid Arctic. The explorers made room on their ships for a large library, a hand organ, china place settings, cut glass wine goblets, and sterling silver flatware instead of additional coal for their steam engines. The ornate silver flatware was engraved with the individual officer’s initials and family crest.


Search parties found clumps of bodies of men who had set off for help when their supplies ran out. One skeleton wore his fine blue cloth uniform, edged with silk braid.

Hardly a match for the bitter Arctic cold. Another apparently chose to carry with him

the place setting of sterling flatware.

(Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters, New York: Harper and Row, 1982, p. 24-26. Cited in David Garland, NIV Application Commentary on Mark, p. 408,)