Portrait of Robert Walton

He stands at the helm, his arms holding unto the ropes as his face is lashed raw by the sub-zero winds. In the back of his mind he knows he might freeze to death, but he can barely feel the cold and he does not care. His eyes, tired and incredulous, follow the black stain against the frozen horizon and he dares not think of its fate. There is something new in his heart, something dark and icy; it might be that the Arctic cold has gotten beneath his skin, but he thinks it has something to do with the corpse in his room and the monstrous figure which treads across the ice. Even as it disappears into the mist and snow, and fades into a dream, the feeling remains; it is a phantom feeling, unexplainable, but he is incapable of ignoring it. The ice is breaking, and they are moving towards land, away from the pole, towards Archangel. In a moment he recognizes the feeling that plagues him. It is fear; fear of himself, of his obsession, of the capacity of human beings to do great and awesome, terrible things.

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